I love getting to spend time with the amazing kids that come to the PEACE Program! I have had so many fond memories through the years of getting to learn, and laugh, and live life with our kids. One of the things that I have discovered throughout the years of being a volunteer, is that you can tell alot about how they’re doing by looking into their eyes.
You can look and get a deeper glimpse of where they are–how their day went and how they’re truly feeling. One of my favorite things to do as the kids first enter the PEACE building is to joyfully exclaim each child’s name and see their eyes light up as they feel welcomed and appreciated. It’s moments like that, where you can see past the outer extremities and into the heart. But perhaps you have never gotten to experience or see that.
Well, let me explain what I mean.
Sometimes, those moments come when a kid finally understands their homework and finishes. I can remember the look of a little 8 year-old boy whose blue eyes sparkled, and a smile crept across his face as he finished his math sheet and got to put a homework sticker on his chart. Or a glimmer in a small girl’s eye as I sat next to her and read some Dr. Seuss.
One of my favorite moments came the other day at snacktime. As they ate, I was telling them the story of Joseph. I asked around to see if anyone knew it. Some of the kids knew bits and pieces, but one boy thought he remembered how it ended. I went over to him and he quietly confided in me what he knew. He was spot on! I smiled and asked him to wait until we got to that part of the story to divulge his secret knowledge.
As I went on through the account, all the kids were listening quietly. (A miracle in itself!) I told them how God watched over Joseph through all the things that happened to him, just like He watches over them. Occasionally, I would ask the kids a question about the story to keep their interest. And every time that little boy would raise his hand to ask if it was his turn to say what he knew. “Not yet,” I would replied. And as I kept telling the story, he just sat in his chair patiently and waited until it was time.
Finally, I got to that part of the story. I told the little boy that he could tell everyone what he remembered. Then, he paused for a moment. He had been waiting for so long that he almost forgot what he was going to say. He looked at me for guidance. I simply encouraged him to give it his best. And then he remembered! He shouted out, “Joseph did the right thing and forgave his brothers!”
He was so overjoyed that he got it. I cheered and gave him a huge high-five. As I wrapped up the rest of the story, there was a big smile on his face and mine. And while we tidied up the room to move onto the next activity, I noticed that his eyes were beaming.
Maybe those moments seem small or trivial, but they sure seem like big victories to me. The more time I spend with the kids, the more I realize it is good to celebrate even the seemingly small accomplishments. I was very proud of that boy that day, and I still am when I think back on it. It is those moments that I treasure at the end of a day at the PEACE Program.