*I wrote this article below for the newsletter at La Mesa Presbyterian Church and realized I have not spoken yet about some of the work I do with the children. Since I find strong support and encouragement from all of you reading about my journey, I found it necessary to let you all in on my favorite part of my work here in Albuquerque. In addition to Kids Club, I also teach an elementary music class, called Kids Sing, through the Arts Academy which also involves working with intelligent and creative children.*
If you happen to come by La Mesa Presbyterian Church on a Wednesday around 2 o’clock and enter into the Fellowship Hall, you may find yourself standing in front of the children who have embedded themselves as part of the church community through ‘Kids Club’. If you so decide to join us around the circular table, your eyes and ears will listen and watch as the children enjoy snacking on some crackers or a brownie and excitedly explain the ups and downs of their day to one another. As the children finish up their snacks and attention slowly leaves the circular table, you may find yourself in the midst of children scurrying around to the bathroom and eventually lining up in order to head to our next destination: the choir room.
As we (not so) quietly form a half circle on the floor in the choir room, Fred and I will begin a short rhythmic activity for the children to join us in our attention. The children enjoy singing songs such as “I’ve Got Peace Like a River”, “This Li’l Light of Mine”, and “Alleluia, Praise Ye the Lord”, while Fred and I slowly add on dance moves for the children’s engagement. After joining us in praise and silliness, you may feel so beckoned as to join us in our march upstairs into the “Kids Club” room.
After the children find their seats amongst the couches, we bow our heads and fold our hands in order to begin prayer. We will then carry ourselves into either a book or conversation usually centered on love, kindness, and faith. During our last meeting, the children created ‘heart hangings’ and attached a phrase to their artwork that reminds them to keep God in their hearts. Examples of the phrases children chose include love, have faith, protect the Earth, pray, and believe. As the children wrap up their activities, you will find yourself amongst antsy boys and girls waiting to go onto our next destination: the playground!
Outside, the children enjoy running around and playing a variety of games such as duck duck goose, tag, sharks and minnows, and red light green light. Soaking in the fresh air and warm sun, the children learn how to take turns with one another, lead games, and find themselves engulfed in joy and laughter together. Alas, as our time outside comes to a close, the children line up outside the door and quickly make their way back into the Fellowship Hall.
In the Fellowship Hall, you will see an array of colored paper, pencils, board games, and tired children with water cups at their sides. The children attend to whatever captures their attention and spend the remaining ten minutes in small conversation and independent work. The parents now filter in and ‘goodbyes’ and ‘see you next weeks’ begin to fill the room. After spending an hour and 45 minutes with these children, you would understand why my time with ‘Kids Club’ is precious, rewarding, and filled with so much joy.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to be with these children on a weekly basis, and am even more grateful for Yatziri to be joining us and eventually taking over once I leave for my next journey. She is such a blessing to our community!