“With God, you know that anything’s possible!”
– Francesca Battistelli “Giants Fall”
“Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be small
But watch the giants fall” – Francesca Battistelli
Biola Enrichment Days are an opportunity to fulfill the mission of Inspire One where we build bridges across socioeconomic and cultural barriers. I started the summer program 10 years ago when I realized that there is very little for the kids to do during the summers – especially with many of their parents working in the fields all day. 10 years ago we started each morning by reading books donated by my niece Hannah, then ate fruit and cereal for breakfast, and made violins out of egg cartons and paint sticks. Crafts were mostly paper airplanes but when people heard what was happening – they would come out for a day and share their lives with the kids. The last week of that first year, a donation was made that allowed for me to purchase REAL instruments for the kids. We played the one song I taught them over and over on the evening of the BBQ/Celebration. If you were there – you’ll never forget it!
This year we had around 40 volunteers and about 85 kids in the program.
Every morning we sang about hope, courage, and love – then the volunteers AND the participants got to act it out through hugs and laughter, reading together, playing games, going on fishing trips, getting messy in the kitchen, making their own light switches, and taking pictures of each other.
Biola Enrichment Days are an incubator for friendship and caring. It’s a safe environment where kids put away their phones and play, and create, and make memories.
Some of my favorite moments were watching the High School Volunteers and their pastor (nicknamed “Big Guy”) play “What Time is It?” with the 5-7 year olds.
Big Guy “What time is it?”
Little girl whispering in Big Guy’s ear just loud enough for me to hear, “25!!!”
Big Guy – “No – a real time.”
Little Girl – “27?”
Little boy – “3!”
Big Guy – “It’s 3 o’clock!”
All the other children take 3 steps towards the the Big Guy in the middle of the play area.
Big Guy – “What time is it now?”
Big Guy – “It’s time to eat you!!!!” and he chases them all around the grass to squeals of laughter and glee!
Then there’s watching the kids make desserts for our last day BBQ/Celebration. They nicknamed Chef Diana “Cookie” and her helper mom “Ms. Mush”. Hand dipped pretzels covered in sprinkles…everyone covered in sprinkles!
“Make a Difference Outdoors” non-profit came alongside Inspire One and taught the kids how to fish. Most of the teachers are Veterans. One man walked from child to child baiting hooks on an artificial leg. He lost it while serving our country as an airplane mechanic. He told me of his struggles with depression and how much it helped him to come out and help the kids, no matter the pain in his leg.
My favorite story was the day that “Big Guy” (Youth Pastor Clint Letterman from Campus Bible Church) was interviewed. Traditionally, I interview someone different each day in the opening session before we break up into 3 different age groups. The day “Big Guy” answered the kid’s questions was pretty much the same until they asked him what the scariest thing that ever happened to him. He shared about when he watched his father drive away from their family after his parents divorced. You could’ve heard a pin drop…
Both Clint and I shared about asking Jesus to come into our hearts at about age 5 and 6 but that troubles (like his parent’s divorce) came and then so did anger. He shared about pulling the hoop off of the backboard in anger but then shared about the difference that God made in his life when he trusted Him more. Honestly, I know many of the stories of the children that were in that room. Stories too difficult to tell. So…I dismissed the children to go outside and play but offered to pray with any that wanted to stay back for a little bit. Most of the kids jumped up and ran outside but 16 scooted closer to our chairs. One little boy (about 6 years old) scooted so close to my leg that I could pat the back of his head while he cried silently. Clint prayed for them and then we went around to each one and put our hands on their heads and shoulders and prayed a blessing over them. All remained with heads bowed – some breathed in deep as we prayed, others let tears flow down their cheeks until each one had been prayed for. It was a day to remember – a day I’ll never forget.
The new school year began this week. Close to 200 homeschooled children will be running from choir to art, handbells to dance, photography to sign language (Visual Sound) and to orchestra. Biola had 58 students that signed up to play in their elementary orchestra this semester, and 77 showed up the first day! What excites me more than anything is that there are students at each Inspire One site that can’t wait until they see each other again. Last semester they sang in the same concert but they didn’t know each other. At 6 pm at Peoples Church on November 16 they will want to stand with each other – singers with orchestra – High School with Elementary – I’m picturing it now. You won’t want to miss it.
Even before the concert, some of them will be performing together at our 2nd Annual Fundraiser Dinner on October 12. Reserve your seat at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inspire-one-fundraiser-dinner-tickets-37325593856
Many of you are receiving this update because you’ve already prayed, volunteered and financially supported us. Thank you, and please don’t stop. Good things are happening because we’re in it together.