By Rachael Burnett: I think for most of the team, today was both absolutely amazing and heartbreaking—we experienced pure joy and deep sadness. It was our first day at the drop-in center. When we arrived, they had the sweetest welcome ceremony for us! Candice and Nicci had helped the kids make a banner saying, “Welcome Central Church!” and they were singing with the biggest smiles and they had red roses for each of us. I was totally overwhelmed and had to hold back the tears. I know those who have been here before were so excited to be back and see the kids, but they allowed the “newbies” to go through the gate first; it was so special! They served us a cake and popcorn, and then Nega introduced the staff of Onesimus. Nega and his staff are incredible—selfless, enthusiastic, faithful. I fell in love with the work of Onesimus even more after meeting the staff and just watching them interact with the kids and us. They truly are making an impact for the Kingdom.
Candice did such a wonderful job leading us all in worship! We sang and danced, having a blast praising our God who is “mighty to save!” Then we spent the morning rotating through different activities—crafts (Megan, Joyce, Bree), games (Candice, Brittany, Rachael), and Bible lesson (Liz). The small groups were led by Kelly D., Ben, and Howard, and Nicci did an awesome job keeping us all organized and on task. Kelly M. floated around and helped Nega. Morgan Frey also joined us today! We had the best time loving on the kids—lots of hugs, high fives, and laughs! As we debriefed tonight, many of us mentioned how well we all worked together as a team; we are thankful the Lord has unified us and is meshing our gifts to work for His glory.
After lunch, we went to the soccer field nearby for some drills and games. Candice—our soccer superstar—led the way and many of us got totally out of our comfort zone and played soccer—something most of us girls had never done before. It was quite hilarious at some points—Joyce [accidentally] took out one of the kids, Brittany landed on her rear after attempting to kick the ball, and Rachael face-planted before the game even started. Even though we were initially afraid to jump in and play, like Brittany talked about tonight in our debrief, we were reminded that it is not about us. It’s about the kids. It was such an awesome afternoon.
On our way back to the guesthouse after soccer we had to stop by the drop-in center to pick up something. When we pulled up, two of the precious little boys who were at the drop-in center today were sitting on the side of the street. [Onesimus’ day program gives them a safe and loving place to stay and have food from about 8 a.m.-3 p.m., but they go back out to spend the night on the street.] They ran up to the van to greet us so excitedly, and then sat back down on the street and pointed up to the tree and made a sleeping motion. We realized that there were two bags up in the tree and that this is where they would be sleeping tonight. Those same emotions and questions we experienced yesterday seeing the dump community flooded us again. How can these precious boys sleep in a tree on the cold, dangerous street? And they are just two of thousands. Please pray with us as Nicci did tonight: that these street children who are in a tunnel of darkness will be able to see the Light of Christ shining at the end of it—their only hope—our Only Hope.