Monday through Thursday, our after school program concludes at 5:00PM. For the most part, students pack up and eagerly await their grown up's arrival. The process is swift. Grown ups line up outside our portable wall and show their pick-up tag and students hug me goodbye. Our 5:00-6:00 hour is dedicated to targeted tutoring and special clubs. The student pictured above does not pack up at 5:00. She has made herself comfortable with staying and often asks for help, then pauses and says, "never-mind, we will work on it when the other kids are gone". Her family is from Africa, she and her older sister are in school and working hard to learn the language and understand the culture. While their family is Muslim, their father came weekly for a month last year seeking a spot for his girls in our program. A friend of the family already had his girls in Graffiti 2 After School and shared about it. When we were able to extend an invitation to accept his girls, he was overjoyed! As a part of our intake process, we explain to families that Graffiti 2 is a Christian program and we instill Christian values daily. Bible Study is a vital component to our schedule. Dad agreed that his girls would be allowed to participate by sitting in on Bible study and showing respect. The younger of the two sisters has always shown a desire to continue learning past our scheduled Bible study time. Yesterday, she grabbed my Jesus Storybook Bible, (as she often does) and continued reading on her own. When students were picked up and our interns were set up with our tutoring groups, I sat down with A.D. I asked her what she was reading and she showed me the picture of Noah's Ark. She continued to read out loud and then stopped. "But Ms. JoAnn, I have a question.." and it started. She had question after question about the stories we have studied. She turned back to our story about creation and asked, "If God was here and created the world, how was He born here?" and turned to the story of Jesus' birth. Other questions included:
"but who is the enemy?"
"where did he come from?"
"why did God make the tree if He didn't want Adam and Eve to eat from it?"
"where is the enemy?"
"how can we believe in the Holy Spirit, why can't we see it?"
The questions went on and on. She finally asked if I had another Jesus Storybook Bible. I explained that I only had one and asked why. A.D. said she wanted to take one home to read. I shared that she was always welcome to read mine here at Graffiti 2 and that if her parents were ok with it, I would gladly get her one. Please join me in praying for A.D's parents. I am filled with joy seeing the Lord work in the lives of our students. Please pray the Lord would draw their families to Himself and soften their hearts to hear His call.
My life in Texas consisted of 45 minute drives. I lived 45 minutes from my family in Cleburne. The drive to my bestie's was 45 minutes. Church was more like 30 minutes, but if the Cowboys were playing at home.. you guessed it, 45 minute drive. How I dreaded those drives! This year I have braved the streets of New York, not just on foot, but behind the wheel! My faithful car has a new home but I am grateful for our Director Andrew's generosity and trust in letting me take his ride for a spin! This particular week was multiple adventures. I became familiar with the road to the post office and conquered fear #2. New York Post Offices. I have heard more than my fair share of horror stories about customer service in New York Post Offices. Praise the Lord for HIS constant protection and favor! I drove to the post office to seek training on a mail out system and was not sure what kind of welcome to expect.
There she was. Vicky works in the bulk mail department and offices around back from the main entrance. Not only did she greet me with a kind smile, but she sat with me and walked through the entire process. She waited for me as I took notes and asked questions and even repeated steps multiple times to ensure I understood. I would be hard pressed to share about a time with better customer service. She did her job with excellence.
As we work with our students at Graffiti 2, I love to share stories of people I encounter every day that take pride in their work. To take it a step further, we talk about honoring God in our work. I challenge our students to dream big and ask the Lord to guide them even now to begin preparing for the roles He has designed them to take on. Join me in praying for the students at Graffiti 2. Pray that they would see that God has created them for a special purpose and that they would be encouraged to pursue their education with excellence!
I'm JoAnn. I am a God worshipping, Jesus following, child teaching, puppy petting, daughter of the King of Kings, who is grateful for daily grace and forgiveness!