Some college friends and I go to a park each Saturday and hang out with any kids who are there. We come and start games of tag, hide and seek or kickball if there’s enough kids. And even if there’s not we make it work. The kids have a ton of fun, we have a ton of fun. We don’t know the kids, or who is going to be at the park each Saturday. But that’s what makes it exciting. (Technically speaking, it’s a ministry I started through the BSM at my school. I was tired of going to the park and seeing kids play on the playground while their older sibling or parent sat on the bench and texted. Or even just sat in the car and waited for them.)
Anyways, this morning, we pulled up to the park and at the exact same time a white van pulled up next to us. Out comes four preteen boys. God’s funny because, look, I love kids but preteen boys are definitely my least favorite age group. I sat in my car and had a little inner dialogue with God:
“Them, Marlie.” God whispered. I instantly shook my head.
“Um. Nope. we play with kids. Those aren’t kids. They’ll just play by themselves and be alright. We’ll find other kids to play with.”
“Marlie. No one else is at the park.”
I looked. No one else was there. I swear I could hear God chuckling. My two friends and I got out of the car and we met up with two other college students. They had left over cupcakes and we were all standing around at the playground. Picture it; five 20-something year olds and four pre-teens all kind of standing around not recognizing each other. My friend walked up to them and offered them cupcakes. Light conversation started about the cost and we assured them it was free. The boys weren’t really standing in the same place but once the words “cupcakes” and “free” were heard each of them came by and grabbed one. I noticed one was holding a football. Then I spoke up “Hey, guys, I bet we can beat yall in game of football.”
“Yeah right!” one yelled.
They huddled together and planned our impending demise via two-touch football game.
“They have 3 girls! we’re totally gonna win! yeah! game on let’s do this” they all said. We found an empty space and set up some boundaries. One of the college kids, *Shannon had stayed back to talk to the adult who had driven them here. Once she came back we started playing and about 1/4th of the way through that game Shannon came up to me and whispered:
“These kids are orphans. That guy told me. He works at the ranch that they live at. It’s for kids who don’t have families and are struggling.”
It broke my heart. I’ve been sitting here trying to find another way to say it, but just there is no other way. I got to hang out with some kids who are much much much braver than I am and so very strong. I can’t begin to know what their stories are, but it was such an honor to be apart of their lives even if it was only for an hour on a Saturday morning. They made us laugh with their silly banter. they gave a few of us nicknames, they got red icing all over their faces from the cupcakes. They out ran us and out jumped us. They flocked to the male college students,like they were all a band of brothers and asked them questions about college.
They had to leave to go get lunch and when they did the park was empty, on a Saturday afternoon when the weather was perfect. It was obvious, but I said it anyways.
“That’s why we were here. For those guys” We stood silence for a little bit and decided to head back to campus.
We walked to the car and I looked at the van before it drove away and saw four hands waving goodbye.
This will probably be a series. I’ll continue writing about my experiences in this ministry and share them and all that God is doing here.