About two weeks ago, my church hosted it’s annual Holiday Club for kids, this year’s theme being The Lorax (gotta love Dr. Seuss, though I have to admit, I’m yet to actually watch the movie lol 🙈 *guilty*)
I had my reservations about being involved at all: cue all the excuses, it was during the holidays and I was exhausted having just finished exams, and helping out with Youth every Friday since the year began, I barely knew any of the people I’d be working with, I haven’t been able to shake Anemia and was wondering where on earth I’d find the energy to be on my feet all day.
But I had a nagging feeling on the inside of me, that if I missed out on this, I’d be missing out on something truly amazing, for what? Sleeping all day? Protecting my fragile/volatile/ever-changing mood? I love kids more than anything in the world, a thousand times more than I love myself, so in the end, love pushed out fear.
It was not an easy week. I could burst out laughing at just how much of an understatement that sentence is. It was long. It was exhausting. It was difficult. I got home to sleep for three hours straight (even more) every day, dizzy spells came and went, my patience was pushed to its limit by anyone and everyone whether they meant to or not. At the start of the week I questioned pulling out altogether at the last second.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
Was it hard? Yes it was. But the good was like an ocean, that sunk all the bad right down to the ocean floor.
The week leading up to Holiday Club itself was spent helping out paint sets and signs. It was the first time in years I held a paintbrush in my hand and it was all so exciting seeing everyone’s hands breath life into what had once been abandoned cardboard boxes.
I say all this from the perspective of a helper. Can you imagine what all the actual organisers and main leaders felt? I couldn’t ever begin to even imagine it no matter how hard I tried, and still do try.
The Monday of the week itself was spent setting everything up, while we craft team members spent a good three hours cutting out masks.
The week came and went both at snail’s pace and the blink of an eye simultaneously.
It was all so worth it.
The kids filled my heart with immeasurable warmth. I could barely digest it all. It was such an outpouring of love. Hugs on an hourly basis, too many “I love you’s to count” spoken with such sincerity that betrayed the brief time we had known each other, letters and pictures declaring me to be “cheerful”, “kind”, “cool”. Letters I will keep for the days I cannot find a single good thing to say about myself.
A child Rivaldo insisting on introducing me to his mother, declaring “This is my favourite leader!” on the second day. I was equal parts flattered and mortified lmao.
All those boys and girls were amazing. We played ball games, swapped stories as we coloured, held hands and high-fived.
On the very last day I met a kid from the oldest age group who had the most powerful positive aura about him. Conversation flowed in a steady stream of stories, laughter and smiles came easy. I was stunned that such a pure soul even existed. Our brief meeting left me three times more heartbroken than I’d already been about the week drawing to a close.
My week being part of the crafts team was spent helping kids cut, and fold and stick and staple. Masks, hats, painted rocks, trees made up of leaves of hand cut-outs. It was all done. And at the end of the day we collected, sorted, swept and cleaned.
The children were not the only angels that week. There couldn’t have been a more amazing group of people. Strangers who at first glance appeared sinister and hostile turned out to be thoughtful, kind, loving, infinitely hilarious and overall, dare I go as far as saying, friends.
I miss every single soul. It was a utopia of love and acceptance and no judgement and dancing in a metaphorical river (do yourself a favour and go listen to In The River by Jesus Culture) and it has made it all the more harder to adjust to the harshness and abrasion reality has delivered.
I see glimpses of them during church, ghosts of a past I can’t relive, but hope to reclaim a measure of next year. See you soon, Holiday Club.