This summer at the PEACE Program, a lot of amazing things happened. We got our hands dirty gardening, acted the part as knights and princesses, painted our faces with chalk almost daily, rode skateboards in the empty pool, made minion self-portraits, acquired numerous grass stains playing soccer, received a generous grant for our library and new flooring from the housing authority. But, do you want to know what was my absolute favorite memory from this summer?
It was the day the Adair County Public Library gave books out to our kids. Halfway through the lunch program, they pulled up next to the shelter where the children ate. Although, Nate and I knew what was happening, the kids had no idea. They, along with our PEACE volunteers, were scattered across the park, playing cheerfully.
The two librarians walked to the shelter, toting very large and mysterious cardboard boxes. Some of the kids nearby immediately focused their attention on the two unknown figures. Questions began to abound as the librarians sat the books on a vacated table. The kids were buzzing around the table, anxious to find out what was going on.
The librarians started to spread out the glossy new books across the table and the kids could barely contain their excitement. Nate, a few volunteers, and myself quickly called the children over to form a big line, so the guests wouldn’t be too smothered.
More and more children began to stream in from the edges of the park as one by one I sent them to the book-covered table. They hunted through the books anxious to find the perfect one. When they found it, they immediately cracked them open and began reading.
I walked around the shelter, peeking over shoulders to see what book each child picked out. I asked them about it and they’d begin to tell my why they picked it. They were all smiling from ear to ear, joyously perusing their gift. Then after I visited with the child, I’d ask them if they wanted to go thank the librarians.
It was as if I had shared the most brilliant idea with them. Their faces lit up, they would nod rapidly and hurriedly make their way to the two figures. Of course, I discreetly listened in and was amazed at how sincere each child sounded as they expressed their gratitude.
Gazing around at all the children, a scripture echoed in my head: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV)
This summer, joy and gratitude shone on our faces at the PEACE Program. We have so much to be thankful for. Our Father is a good Father who freely gives good gifts to His children. This summer, at the PEACE Program, we saw that. And in response, we have only gratitude.