For the last 5, almost 6, years I have been privileged to be the friend of many an inner city child. when I was 12 my dad and sister started going to a little school 20 minutes from my house, but practically in another world, called Jackson elementary, I decided a little while into this venture of theirs that it was time for me to join in and be a part of what they were doing every Tuesday after school for a few hours. this was called Discovery Clubs.
it didnt take really anything at all for them to bring me along. the first day I was hooked. now these little girls were only 4 years younger than me, but they looked up to me like I was far older than them. It was like I had suddenly acquired 13 new little sisters.
what we did every week there became my favorite part of the week. I could not wait for Tuesday to come around, for me to be able to see their faces again, and sing songs with them, and play on the playground with them. without me knowing I was showing the love that they dont get from their: mom who accidentally had them. from dad, who left a long time ago. from grandma who is raising them. from big sis who doesnt even live with them because she lives with her boyfriend. they think that what the older sister has with her boyfriend is love. they think that when a boy holds a girl’s hand, that’s love.
sadly that is not what true love is.
I grew to love these girls. so deeply. when I think about them now I cry, because im almost sure i’ll never see them ever again for lack of no communication. my heart is heavy for these girls that I invested so much time and love into. each of them has a little piece of my heart, no doubt.
after 3 years at this school I was told that they had been put on academic probation so any extra after school activities had to be done away with, I know that its sad that the school had to chunk the bible club, the principle didnt want to but he also didnt have a choice in the matter.
so at the time I was 16 and I have to find a new school, they send me to one that is a little further from the one I used to go to, making the trip 25 minutes, I wasnt very comfortable with the school though, something didnt feel right, then my supervisor told me there was one other school that I could go to that a lady, who I had known all my life and actually had taught me when I was little, was at. It was called W.J. Christian…and it was in Roebuck…
…30 minutes away. was it really worth the drive?
apparently yes, because im on year two at this school. last year, my first year there, I started to actually teach a little, the teacher in my class was the lady who I grew up knowing so she let me teach a few times. I fell in love. so when this year came around, after 4 years, I was finally told I could teach. I had my very own class of 3rd grade girls!
so here I was, the veteran, with 5 years of inner city children ministry up my sleeve, also being the youngest teacher I think ever in d-clubs, and over all just the youngest person there, the next oldest being 40 something.
I am in love. I love these girls, even when they are in bad moods and talking about how they beat up boys in the hallway, and when they get mad at me because I didn’t point to them to answer the question, because I know that if they had something heavy on their hearts they would come to me, and I am there. now you’re probably thinking, ” what could a 3rd grader have heavy on their heart?” well let me name just a few things that they have come to me with.
1) my cousin was murdered last night. he was killed and thrown in the back of his car, that’s where the found him later.
2) my grandmother just died.
3)my auntie got knifed in the leg last night.
4) my mom just lost her job and my dad doesn’t have one.
they come to me in tears with these things. I cannot in my life relate to anyone of these things, no one in my family has been murdered, I still have all of my grandparents, my father has never just lost his job and my mother has never even had to have one to support the family. but I can relate with them in one way. through the love and life of Jesus Christ, there is no other way I could comfort these little girls, or dry their tears, or hold them and tell them everything will be ok. thank the Lord I was saved, for these girls sake.
so now I come to the reason I even thought to blog tonight.
I was walking into the school this Wednesday, treasure box full of candy in hand and as I walk past the dumpster that I pass every week I notice something some one has spray painted on it that I had not noticed before. I had to double take because I was startled by it. I proceed to walk into the school.
Now one of my favorite things is to walk to my classroom, and it’s because I hear this in the most high-pitched squeals every week. “miss. Haley!!!!” now that may sound self conceited, but when you are standing in a hallway, arms loaded with bags and boxes and 6 little girls come running at you screaming your name with smiles on their faces and they all tackle hug you when they get to you, you can’t help but think, ” i love this! ” and I undeserving get this royal treatment every week. Its like I have 12 daughters.
once we’re finally all in the class room, we’ve gone to the bathroom, and I’ve gotten my hug from Josh (the 3rd grader in one of the other classes) I call role, and we reinstate the disciplinary system of sticker removal, I finally start the lesson. It’s the story of Moses. now, the book wanted me to start the story where Moses is already grown and just calling on God for the plagues. ha! yeah right! I start with the beginning of his life and everything that led up to it, when I got to the part about the burning bush, Sofia (my only little white girl) fell out of her chair because she was laughing so hard at what I said.
so if you know the story of Moses well enough, you know that the last plague was that the death angel, sent from God, killed all the first born in Egypt. I’ve already had to explain why Moses was put in a basket and sent down river, and last week I had to tell them about the time Abraham almost killed his son…for God.
I don’t know about you, but its kind of hard to look a group of 8-year-old girls in eye and say, “and then the children and babies died.” I sometimes hesitate when I get to these parts and try to think of a way to make it easier to say, less harsh that is, but you cant, and so I don’t. I have to realize that death is death, and sadly these little girls, most of them at least, have had to deal with this before. I think back to something I had seen earlier that day and I finish the last plague and the lesson for the day. class is over and I head to my car. I pass the dumpster again. I bet you’re itching to know what was spray painted on the dumpster now aren’t you. ok well here it is:
ABSOLUTELY NO DISPOSING OF CORPSES IN THIS DUMPSTER
I don’t know about you, but this is not common where I come from…
this dumpster is in the school parking lot, right outside the gym.
My stomach is queezy when I look at this, and my hands and eyes shake. but I look at this picture often, to be reminded.
death is real life. humans become corpses. and most of all, people are going to hell.
so how will I let this affect my day-to-day. I will let it immensely. I have a passion for children, especially ones that have a warped view of love and clear view of loss. I don’t know why, but this passion has led me to inner city ministry, and when I finish high school this will lead me into orphan ministry hopefully in Dominican Republic with the Little family.
this is me.