Yesterday, my track, Compassion Ablaze, did our first of two love feasts.
That sentence probably means nothing to any of you, so let’s backtrack a quick sec. As part of the school, we all had to select “tracks,” or focuses. We spend about four hours a week with our track. The options included everything from Respect the Corners (a cross fit track), to trades (metal and woodworking…basically shop class), to a farming track, to several others, including Compassion Ablaze. Which is, you know, about compassion. I signed up for Compassion Ablaze not because I feel like I am a particularly compassionate person, but because I know that compassion and love are very important in the Christian life and wanted to develop them more. You know, 1 Corinthians 13 and all that.
1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 3 (ESV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
So here I am in this Compassion Ablaze thingy, and the first four weeks are pretty much people talking about how much compassion they have for this or that group and me going, “ummmmmm…I think my compassion circuit is broken, actually…” (I have since realized that’s not actually the case, but I still do want to develop compassion more.) BUT, the cool thing that the track does, and which I was actually looking forward to from the day we learned about the tracks, is love feasts. Basically, they pick a target group and just figure out epic ways to bless them. They’ve done love feasts for the homeless before, block parties in low income neighborhoods, a dinner for a women’s shelter, all sorts of cool things. Just showing people God’s love. Good stuff! The love feast I was assigned to this quarter was for foster families, and it was a doozy.
For some crazy reason, we decided to make this an all day gig. We brought the families in, took the kids off their hands (a full day of probably 50 munchkins running around and requiring entertainment, food, and herding), sat them down for brunch, sent the women to a spa and the men to a man cave, and then sent them out on dates. The families had the time of their lives. The volunteers very nearly keeled over from sheer exhaustion. But it was really, really cool.
As the track students, we were responsible for a lot of the planning and prep, and A LOT of the day of, behind the scenes work. My little crew set up and prepped all the food for the parents’ brunch, then flitted about making sure the men were taken care of, cleaning, resetting rooms, and occasionally popping in to help out with the kids when extra hands were needed. It was quite a day. I did everything from cutting up about a billion pounds of fruit to serving water and coffee to the parents to getting in a shaving cream fight with a bunch of 6-year-olds to sorting gift cards to hefting tables and chairs around to painting a tiger and a leopard and a tiara on various children. It was a fun time! Take a look:
I loved getting to love on all the parents, some of whom were just at the end of their rope, barely hanging in there (I mean…some of these families were taking on 3 – 4 foster kids at a time). Just having a day to themselves meant so much to them. And having us around willing to do something as simple as fetch them coffee and refill their water was overwhelmingly nice for them because they didn’t have to do it themselves for once. We’ve already gotten some feedback that the spa, man time, and dates were also greatly appreciated. And the kids. The kids were SO CUTE! And I was finally not sick so I could actually play with them 😀 We gave them the best day ever. I mean, I wanted to be a kid. Face painting, bouncy castle, slip n slide, shaving cream…it doesn’t get much better than that! It was such a pleasure to watch their happy little faces as they gleefully smeared shaving cream into a volunteer’s hair. lol
I think my favorite part about yesterday, though, was how our fellow F&Fers really came through for us. My track is pretty small, there are maybe 10 of us. And only 8 were working on this love feast, so we needed A LOT of help for the kids. And I think about 20 people from our school, and even some other groups on campus really came through. They were there all day. ALL DAY. Probably about 10 hours of herding children, getting sunburnt and smeared in shaving cream and soaked to the skin and face painted, changing diapers, feeding, cleaning, snuggling, teaching, having infinite patience, and generally loving these little ones up with the love of God. There were a couple times I very nearly cried just watching how much love everyone had. How they interacted with the kids with so much tenderness and joy. How, even as they started to fray at the ends – with sunburnt faces and shaving cream in their hair and bits of face paint on various parts of their body and clothing – they were patient and kind and loving. I think I felt for the first time yesterday how hard it’s actually going to be to leave all these amazing people in 4 months. We have such a joyful, fun-loving, easy-going, family-oriented (all the hyphenated adjectives) crew here. I’m pretty honored, actually, to be shoulder to shoulder with them. I love all of you guys too! (All the ones I know, at least.) So thankful to be part of your lives. I was praying last night, just talking with the Father, and told Him He did a pretty good job selecting His family. Isn’t heaven gonna be fun? Best reunion ever! I’m thankful every day that we have that to look forward to.
Well, on a different topic, I have to sneak in some news about the Paraguay team. Sadly, we are no longer the Paraguay team. Happily, it’s because we are now the PARAGUAY/BRAZIL TEAM!! Woooooo hooooo! We get to go to Brazil for 3 weeks first to help out with a school there called 21 project, then we’ll head to Paraguay after. From everything we’ve heard, it’s going to be AMAZING! We’re so excited! Also, we’ve inherited a new team member! Her name is Emily. She was here for the January Fire and Fragrance school, but got sick about 2 weeks into her outreach and had to come back to the U.S. But she’s recovered and is going with us on outreach so she can finish out her school! We love her, she’s a joy 🙂 So Paraguay/Brazil is 14 strong now. Ready to kick it on outreach!