By Amy B., Amy A., Andrew, Michael, & Larissa
I watched silently, as the chess game unfolded one move at a time. This requires amazing skill, I thought to myself, as the eight year-old and the college student each took their turns. Now, I wasn’t amazed at the skill required to play chess. Anybody can do that. I was impressed by the skill required for a college student to subtly lose at chess to an eight year-old who doesn’t know what she’s doing. I realized, watching the game, that the PEACE Program has taught us, the volunteers, skills that might not seem extremely valuable to the rest of the world, but in our little building four days a week, these lessons have meant the world to us.
Here are 45 of those lessons:
- I have learned at PEACE how to play Frisbee, throw a football, and swing a jump rope all at the same time.
- I’ve learned how to split 10 apples evenly for any number between 10 and 30 at a minute’s notice.
- I’ve learned the perfect timing to feed a tank full of fish (It makes a beautiful distraction for a kid throwing a tantrum).
- I’ve learned how to make a plain brown Band-Aid seem like the coolest thing in the world.
- I’ve learned that Play-doh is thankfully non-toxic.
- I’ve learned that doing the right thing is still the right thing, even when I don’t immediately see the results I want.
- I’ve learned that “peace” and “quiet” are not the same thing. They’re just not.
- I’ve learned to say “take away” instead of “minus” when doing math with a 2nd grader.
- I’ve learned that kids do better in groups of 6-8 than in a group of 20-30.
- I’ve learned how to block snow balls from flying through the door and into the building…with my face!
- I learned that some of the most precious prayers come from the most unlikely of mouths in the most unexpected circumstances.
- I’ve learned that mud doesn’t permanently stain.
- I’ve learned that some marker stains never come out of your clothing, no matter what you try.
- I’ve learned that real men turn the other cheek.
- I’ve learned that tough guys do their homework first.
- I learned that giving children opportunities to take responsibility (while still being near to provide aid if they should need it) allows for growth and maturity without pressure.
- I’ve learned that, to a six year old, uncooked Ramen noodles make for a tasty snack.
- I’ve learned that there is such a thing as too much tickling.
- I’ve learned that my way is not the only way.
- I’ve learned that my way will work fine until somebody else has a better idea.
- I’ve learned that math is more fun when it involves running.
- I learned that my heart can melt quite thoroughly at the mere smile of a four year old boy with the cutest cheeks in Kirksville.
- I learned that the best way to play Apples to Apples does not involve tossing the cards in the air like confetti then proceeding to roll around in them.
- I’ve learned that when you hold a kicking child, there’s no guarantee they’ll stop kicking.
If they do, you’ll feel better about your chances of having left some kind of positive mark on their lives.
If they don’t, you’ll feel the marks they left on you for a while to come.
- I’ve learned that you can fix anything with green tape, but green tape doesn’t keep pictures on the wall…for that there’s sticky tack!
- I’ve learned that even when you are pretty sure you can’t do something, it is always worth trying.
- I’ve learned that bananas are great rewards for motivating kids to be quiet (some of them were quiet for almost 20 minutes)!
- I’ve learned that glitter never stays in one spot, ever.
- I’ve learned that imagination, beauty, and song are the quickest ways to a little girl’s heart.
- I’ve learned that I don’t know the quickest way to a little boy’s heart. But it’s not making them be still.
- I’ve learned that listening is as important as talking.
- I’ve learned that talking is as important as listening.
- I’ve learned that everything tastes better with ranch dressing.
- I’ve learned that even if you get spit on and ridiculed, children really love it when you help them do what is right.
- I learned that no matter how long someone has been volunteering at the Peace Program, there is still the likelihood that a child will assume her name is Amy.
- I learned that there is no formula for control, peace, or respect, but there is always a moment to recognize your inability and ask the Lord to help you grow wisdom.
- I learned that having one beta fish donated by a college class can give the impression that you are suddenly in the fish adoption business.
- I’ve learned that kids actually do love vegetables and that no one is too old to try their first carrot.
- I’ve learned that playing tag in the mud can have the same result as a slip n slide…Amy A. learned that one the hard way.
- I’ve learned to make sure kids have dry pants before giving them piggyback rides…Mike learned that one the hard way.
- I’ve learned to take “I hate you!” as a sign that I may be doing something right, that “I hate you!” often comes just before real trust and love.
- I’ve learned that a mild-mannered fourteen-year-old, filled with the love and power of the Holy Spirit and being raised up in the presence of God, is the church’s secret weapon.
- I’ve learned that all I can do is a whole lot more than what was being done before I obeyed, and tried.
- I learned that my heart can break, expand, tighten, and sing all at the same time.
- I’ve learned that I cannot boast in one single thing except the cross of Jesus Christ, and that all that is precious to me—this work, this team of extraordinary workers, these children, my crown and joy—were given to me only so that I could cast them all at the feet of Jesus in worship. We are learning how to worship.