It was a bittersweet feeling this morning waking up and realizing that we've passed the halfway point of our time here in Antrim. On one hand, everyone is excited to begin impacting and serving our own cities on a grander scale than we have before when we return home, in the same way that Journey Church impacts and serves Antrim on a daily basis. I speak for myself, and others on the team when I say that being around the amazing people of Journey for just a few days has already opened our eyes, and inspired us to have more of a servants heart that before and to be genuine with every person that crosses our path. But on the other hand, we've built such close relationships with these people and learned so much from them in just a short time... it will be incredibly hard to say goodbye. But thankfully our time is not over yet!!
After breakfast and devotions in the hotel this morning, we went to the Grammar School for another day of Kingdom Chronicles. Many of the kids have really taken a liking to the "Amiracles" (as one four year old girl refers to us Americans) so it's a common sight to see a child walk in to the Main Hall at the beginning of the day, their face lights up as they spot their favorite American teacher or friend, and run over to give them a huge hug! For those that haven't already seen it: I posted on Facebook the other day about one of the boys in my Kids Club group. At the beginning of the week he would constantly act out, deliberately disobey his teachers, and do whatever was necessary to receive attention. But God has begun such a work in him and yesterday he approached me saying "Miss Kirstyn! Last night I read my Bible instead of playing video games! And I memorized our Scripture verse for today!!!" His face was radiating with excitement about Jesus, and that alone was a testament of the change that has started in him, but that's not the end of the story! Every American was given a small pocket sized Bible to give to one of the children today, and when I received mine I automatically knew that I wanted to give it to Corey. I presented it to him as we were walking through the hallway to class and his face lit up with surprise and appreciation. My silent prayer as he slipped it in to his pocket was that it wouldn't be just a novelty to him, but that we would continue to be in God's word and constantly draw near to his Creator. Little did I know that I would see that prayer answered so soon. As the kids were transitioning from snack to lesson time, I glanced to the back wall and there in a big group of his friends sat Corey. The boy that had a few days ago been the main trouble maker in our class, was sitting there reading the Bible that I had given him, amidst the chaos of 60 kids carrying on and moving around him. I'm so proud of Corey and I make a point of it to encourage him and tell him everyday. Many of these kids comes from a home environment where no one outwardly values, encourages, or invests in them so even the smallest accolade means the world to them. I feel so blessed to have gotten to witness the beginning of Corey's transformation.
Below is a picture of the shield that another boy in our group, named Ben, made during craft time. His only direction from us was to decorate his shield (we taught them about the shield of faith today), and he chose to create a masterpiece. :)
Written in Latin is "God favors Christians" and he drew a battle scene of God and his army fighting against the Enemy and his army. In the words of Ben, in his 'Norn Iron' accent, "Ehm... the Enemy is losing." [AMEN!!] Ben willingly shared his art with the rest of the class and I believe that his peers were as impressed as I was at how he used his artistic abilities to glorify the Lord.
The day continued with lunch in Belfast at the Northern Ireland version of Chipotle called "Boojum". The overall consensus of the team was the it doesn't compare to America's Chipotle but much better than Neato Burrito. We even spotted some fellow Americans along the street near Boojum, but they didn't really respond as we drove by in a big white van and screamed out the window... "HEY! WE'RE AMERICANS TOO!!!!" Oh well, maybe we'll catch up with them in the airport on the way home. ;)
We took a wee sight seeing adventure to stop at C.S. Lewis's house where he first dreamed up The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. We also stopped to see where the Titanic was built. Our team 'litter picked' in a local estate, and then helped Journey Church put on another amazing block party. It was "good craic" (good fun). The night concluded as the team went back to 15D and filled over 2000 water balloons in preparation for tomorrow's Kingdom Chronicles Water Battle Royale on our final day of VBS. Needless to say, we're all ready for a good night's sleep and a brilliant final day with the children of Antrim. More pics to follow!