So you know how when you put something off for one reason or another and suddenly you are staring at a daunting pile of lots to do? And you know how you feel like it’s such a big pile that you don’t even want to start? And that just makes it even harder to start…
Welcome to the life of a blogger, Andrew! We have been without internet in our house for somewhere around 2 weeks, and because of this, I’ve put off writing a new blog post. Unfortunately, each day adds more material to my arsenal of thoughts that I want to share, and at this point, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that if I don’t just write something about the major happenings since my last post, it simply won’t happen at all. So please enjoy as I try to remember anything from the past few weeks!
Christmas was a bit sad because I missed people back home, but New Year’s Eve made up for it completely. Becky, Steffi, and I invited friends up to the house for the evening. We made pizzas, played games, watched television, and engaged in some merry chitchat. And then the fun started. We moved from the house to the cottage to watch fireworks from the balcony overlooking Belfast. There was no great display of fireworks or anything, just some small ones bursting here and there, but it was really fun to stand out on the balcony with friends and hearing the ooh’s and ahh’s as we watched bursts of light pop up all over the city. Awhile later, we found ourselves sitting inside listening to Jonny play guitar, and suddenly, the mood turned. We sat around the room, and for no reason in particular, we began singing praise songs together. Have you ever been in a moment where you consciously think to yourself “things couldn’t be any better?” I was the happiest, most content and at peace that I have been in recent memory, and I wouldn’t have minded if I didn’t sleep at all that night. And I think that if we hadn’t run out of songs that we knew, we would have continued to sunrise. It brings a smile to my face just to remember the night.
Then it was back to work a day later, and to be honest, I was happy to be back to work. After a week and a half, I was missing seeing the boys and girls. Things returned to a normal routine for the most part, and the children were as silly and fun and difficult as always. One night, one of the afterschool boys sitting next to me during snack time suddenly leaned over to me and wiped his buttery face right on my shoulder and then turned back to the others without so much as a thought that this was out of the ordinary. I would have paid to see the surprise on my face. Another night, I was driving one of the buses, and we drove over a section of road which vibrated the whole vehicle. One boy exclaimed, “The bus is tickling my tummy!” Man, I love these kids!
How else do I know I love these kids? Because one group of them leaves us at the end of this week and that makes me sad. After four and a half months of being here, I have grown extremely close to many of them, and knowing that I won’t be able to see them after this week breaks my heart. They are my friends as much as the people from NYE are my friends. It’s even harder knowing that many of them need a place like Quaker Cottage to give them a break from life’s hardships.
[Time out - Everything I wrote before this break was written several days ago - Time in]
We just had our first leaving party. I’m a bit gutted to be perfectly honest. I have kind of been dreading this evening because I didn’t want to think about saying goodbye to one boy in particular. He and I made this connection that I didn’t really have with anyone else. I could go on describing how great he was and how much his friendship meant and how I know he really looked up to me, but I don’t feel up to it at the moment. All I will say is that I had to hold back tears at least four times throughout the evening. Oh, and we also said goodbye to four other children tonight, each of whom I’ll miss loads for separate reasons. *sigh… Two more days of saying goodbye to the rest of this group.
I guess I’m pretty sad about saying goodbye, but you know what? I’m actually really happy that I’m feeling sad. That must mean that I’m doing my job. I’m here to love these kids, and if I feel like this, then I really do.
(There, see! I’m happy, so please don’t worry about me!)
|This picture is not me. It's from Google. Because we are not allowed to share images of the children from Quaker Cottage, it's purpose is to help you visualize the children we said goodbye to and the feelings that were expressed.|