We had an early start (7:00am) and were greeted with the sounds of the school children enthusiastically singing “This is the Day” as we entered the school grounds. They were led by Pastor David who was accompanying the students on the new keyboard which we delivered earlier in the week. We participated in the morning devotions where Pastor Fred presented the story of Zacchaeus with team members playing the role of “Jesus”, “the tree”, and the voice of Zacchaeus. The smallest child in the school was given the starring role of Zacchaeus and was placed at the top of the “Nicholas” tree. The drama made the children laugh. Pastor Fred said a few words about the message in the story; you can’t hide from God; the command to be obedient; readiness to change and be changed by God. We also had some fun teaching the kids a new song “Peace Like a River”. There were lots of smiles and laughter as they tried to mimic and keep up with the actions being demonstrated by the team.
A special presentation, which was a local dance performed by the grade 4 students was a touching farewell tribute on behalf of the students and staff of the school to the team as this was our last day at the school.
Following morning devotions the team was taken on a tour of the AOJ office in downtown Parramos and the construction workshop where the panels for the homes are made. The workshop setup was an impressive operation given that the team assembles the walls panels (16 per house) for over 50 homes per year out of this location.
During the remainder of the morning, the team spread out (at the school campus) to complete a number of remaining activities which included a photography workshop; a follow-up round table discussion with the social workers; completion of the craft item that was started on Day 5, and continuation of the painting of the perimeter wall – the team completed approx 300 feet of wall over the 2 days.
Just before lunch team members who were sponsoring children were able to meet their sponsored child and family and spend some time together. This was a very precious time talking with the children (with the help of a translator) learning about the children’s interests, playing with them and sharing hugs.
We were honoured with a beautifully prepared and presented lunch at the AOJ Kids Restaurant. We were served by the children who wore traditional clothing. These children are in training as waiters and waitresses and were enthusiastic in showing us their skills, while serving with pride.
After lunch it was time to gather our stuff together and to bid farewell. (final team pictures, and hugs from the children and the staff.) We left with mixed emotions - we had accomplished all of the planned activities, but we know there is still so much more to do and will miss the wonderful children and staff that we met.
In the evening the team and members of AOJ went to dinner for to thank the leadership of AOJ for a wonderful week and to share the highlights experienced by each team member.
Peggy E. & Tim N.