For the first time in weeks, I’m sitting at the school and it’s quiet. A crew of 25 volunteers just left after accomplishing a tremendous amount of work. Tremendous seems like too small a word to describe how God has brought together so many people from so many places to transform this building into a space that is truly beautiful. I can’t wait for Friday night when for the first time we get to open up the doors of UCA and throw a party to celebrate all that God has done. I sure hope you can make it.
All that work is being done to communicate to 30 bright eyed scholars that they are worth it. Every drop of sweat and every paint covered hand has been a declaration that UCA scholars are valuable and worth fighting for. And last Wednesday when they walked through the doors my heart nearly exploded as I got to see in their eyes and through the smiles that they feel safe and at home and loved. Those smiles made every late night seem so insignificant. That what makes my job so unfair. It’s this grand UCA family of champions that has made sacrifice after sacrifice to invest in the scholar’s lives and I get a front row seat to watch the fruit of it all. I could never say thank you enough.
Like all transitions year two has come with it’s fair share of bumps and bruises. We went from having 10 scholars at the end of last year to nearly 30. The bus is packed, the hallways are full, we have real cafeteria tables that make us feel so legit. We even upgraded our UCA uniform swag t-shirts collared polo’s that literally turn your heart into a puddle.
On day one our air conditioner broke, a projector burned up, we called the police (thanks to a rather belligerent drunk woman at the park), we were spit on and hit by new kindergarten buddies who wanted to make sure we really mean what we say, and we had a little pal who liked to run away more than he liked to stay with the class. The words, “what did we get ourselves into?” resonated through my head all day. And then there was day two. I came to school prepared for another day that rivaled the first and was pleasantly surprised. There was a deep sense of calm that filled the building that day. There were some typical first week of kindergarten tears for mommies and those crazy eyes that search your soul when a kid says no and then looks at you as if to say, “what are you gonna do about it?.” It was a good day. And Friday was even better.
The first graders came ready to learn. They all look so grown up, it’s crazy. They fell right back into the swing of things and Miss Berg led them with an effortless ease that had them captivated from the first moment they walked in the room. She’s teaching them all about their brains and cerebellums and they are soaking up every word that comes out of her mouth.
The kindergarteners are a squirrelly crew. They are learning to sit still for more than 5 seconds, how to raise their hand for permission to speak, how to pee in the toilet and not on the floor and all sorts of basic human skills. They are so fresh. We are so eager to get to know them, to know the things that make their eyes sparkle, to know what things will calm their hearts, to know what things will put a silly little grin on their face. It’s overwhelming to look into little eyes that you have every intention of walking through life with and feeling like you have no idea who they are. Their potential is endless. They are so good at coloring and they can whip and nae nae with the best of them. Miss Moore is inspiring us all with her patience and grace. The energy she brings to the classroom is beautiful beyond words. Her presence is safe and the little buddies communicate they know that by the overwhelming number of hugs she’s received in 3 short days.
And in the midst of the beauty of the kids being in the building, God has filled the spaces with generous people giving sacrificially of their time and resources. We had two amazing friends spend all day every day the whole first week helping us prepare for and execute the first days. We had friends work late nights pulling weeds and hanging projectors, people scrubbing floors and organizing closets. In one weeks time UCA champs have logged over 230 volunteer hours. Thats equivalent to almost 6 full time staff people. And if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, God connected us with an incredible unexpected $20,000 gift.
Our hearts are full. Our bodies are tired. There is excitement and anticipation running wildly through our veins. We hope you can make it down Friday sometime between 6pm and 9pm to celebrate with us (and eat a free taco).