I taught VBS the last week of August at the chapel we attend. I was exhausted dealing with fourteen little 6, 7, and 8 year olds–I can barely remember that this was my “life” just over 4 years ago. The children who attended were all truly great kids, but there were a few moments and a few personalities that tested my patience a little bit.
Our class had a few volunteers who were young sailors and Marines who are stationed here for their A-schools, and they were amazing with the boys and the girls and an incredible help to me. The kids climbed all over our volunteers, racing and challenging our sailors and Marines when they played at sports time, showing off their artistic talent during craft times, and trying to impress them with their knowledge during our lessons. It was also great fun for me to be around such helpful and positive young people–a blessing of our work here in Pensacola.
There was one little boy (actually more than one), who though very intelligent and sweet, began to get under my skin just a bit. I was so impressed by his vocabulary and utter cuteness that at first I didn’t notice his neediness. He would screech when the kids cheered and was often demanding and clingy. He didn’t want to participate in the outdoor activities for longer than a few minutes and he quickly finished his crafts and looked for more “creative” things to do. When there was a drawing for prizes he cried when he didn’t win anything and I kindly reminded him that there was a whole room full of children who hadn’t won anything. I found myself saying teacher things like, “Use your words!” and “We aren’t moving until you’re quiet!” or “Dennis–just STOP!” I don’t remember Jesus talking the the little children that way…
Finally on the last night, after the closing ceremony, I asked a friend about Dennis.
It turns out Dennis’s dad has died. His mom has an addiction and she recently spent some time in rehab, so he lived with her parents. When she came home, she made the difficult decision that she couldn’t support Dennis and so his aunt and uncle–his father’s brother-decided they would adopt him. So he just moved across country, became a big brother and he has a new mom and dad. TWO WEEKS AGO.
Imagine. . .
I told Jonathan, one of the young Marine who worked with Dennis, his back story and I could see the lump form in his throat. All week Jonathan had poured into a little boy who has so many empty spaces–he couldn’t be filled.
I wish I had known and I would have loved him more like Jesus loves me.