It was terribly outside my comfort zone. Driving through the most impoverished neighborhood in all of Colorado. Honking my horn, driving slowly, waiting for little feet to run out of screen-less, screen doors and jump into a van with drivers they never knew before.
As a mother myself, I couldn't imagine. I couldn't imagine that my children would be roaming free through our neighborhood and even if I knew Kid's Club was every week, Monday-Thursday at the same time...that if I called for them at some point and they did not answer, that they must have hopped into one of the white vans and gone to Kid's Club.
Not every situation is like this. Some children are dropped off and picked up at the church hosting Kid's Club. But some without a meal for hours or days. Some without shoes. Many without hope.
I was amazed at how quickly I had fallen in love with each of the children on my pick up route. How I was concerned for their safety. How I felt compassion for their situation; When I heard from the back seat, them tearing themselves or each other down, I tried quickly to build them up. Knowing some of their circumstances I wanted so badly for them to know that those circumstances don't dictate their worth.
This is their reality. And for many of them Kid's Club is the thing they most look forward to each day. On Thursdays they are already asking "will you pick us up on Monday? Please!"
It seems they grow attached to the church groups that come each week to serve as quickly as those of us serving do.
T & T (using initials to protect privacy) are brothers and the first day I was on their route was the first day they had come to Kid's Club. They were so disappointed they could not come the next day due to an eye appointment. I admit my first reaction in my mind was: maybe their mother does care because she takes them to the eye doctor. How simple minded of me. I immediately pleaded forgiveness for even thinking such a thing.
On the second day on the route, I decided to stop at T & T's home just in case. If they were home, I did not want them to miss Kid's Club. They were not there. My heart sank a bit. I missed them already. We finished the route and returned to church with a van full of eager children for water day!
As I pulled up to the curb I exclaimed to the youth from our church who were helping me on the route, "Look T & T are here today!!!" They were as elated as I. As soon as the van was emptied and parked I ran to find T & T to tell them how excited I was to see them. Their mom had dropped them off after their appointment. We had a great afternoon and our route home was full, so T & T waited at the church for us to come back and take them home.
They were quite talkative on the way home and asking a lot of questions. Mostly they wanted to know if we would be picking them up next week on Monday. We told them, a new group will be there and they will be picked up, just not by us.
There was a community cookout that evening (our last evening in Colorado) and we made sure to invite all the children/families we had served that week, including T & T. They were pretty sure they would not be able to come. I was hopeful. When they got out of the van that Thursday afternoon, we said goodbyes with a high five! They were walking to their door, our van windows rolled up just waiting to make sure they got in and out of the corner of my eyes I see them both waving again and saying something.
I rolled down the window and they both yelled "Bye, see ya later!" I waved back and the senior high youth that had accompanied me on the route looked at me and we both melted a bit, knowing that was unlikely.
Later that day we arrived at the Community Cookout at a local park. I pulled our van into a parking spot and exclaimed "oh yeah T & T are here!!!" I was able to spend some time with them and their mother. When the cookout was over we once again said our goodbyes...it was harder because I knew this was really it. I gave them each a hug and told them how wonderful they were and to take care of their mama, and to be good and Jesus loves them so much!
And when I was far enough away, that I am sure they did not hear me I whispered "See You Later"