I volunteered with the 5th and 6th graders at church recently and they were in the middle of a series on change, and the day’s topic: That they can change the world.
We watched a video about an amazing young girl, Katie, who knew that by herself she couldn’t end hunger, but that she could make a difference. Katie’s Krops was born out of one 40-lb cabbage, and has grown to 75 youth-run gardens in 27 states. It was a great example for the kids to see that big changes start small and that often times, people don’t even realize they have made a difference until after they already did!
Next, we broke out into small groups and I was charged with asking the kids about what they could do to change the world, as well as changes they have faced in their life. We went around the circle and I got answers like volunteering at soup kitchens, donating food and clothes and helping elderly neighbors.
When asked to think of ways change has affected them, many of the kids talked about how starting a new grade in the fall was a big change, joining new sports teams or learning how to get around with a broken leg. One sweet, young 5th grader raised her hand bravely and shared with the group that her father had died and how she and her mom had to move in with her aunt because they were left without money to make ends meet.
The group was silent, but sweet girl had no post-sharing discomfort. This was her story. She owned it. My tears threatened to well and spill. I haven’t worked that hard to hold it together in a long time. I was moved mostly because she was strong. Because of her situation, or maybe in spite of it, girlfriend knows she can do hard things. I know every other child put themselves in her shoes for that one fleeting moment. And without setting out to, by being a survivor, she showed the other kids that they were capable of doing hard things, too.
Class was then dismissed a little differently than normal because we ran over on time, and my friend said to me, “Oh! We all forgot to pray.”
Miss Girl is killing me. Again, tears that wanted to come were not so politely told to get the bleep away.
I assured dear girl that even though the others had left, we could still pray. She brought a friend with her that day, and encouraged the friend to say the prayer, but her friend was too shy. I was in no shape to pray because of tears, so like the coward I am, I said, “You can do it,” and bowed my head before she could say no. So my brave, sweet friend, her friend and I, huddled together, bowed our heads, and she prayed. She prayed for other people. She prayed that what we learned in class would help us in our lives to change the world. She was thankful for being at church. She prayed better than I ever could even on my best day. It was pure and it was perfect. I clapped when it was over and gave the girls a high five as they got up to leave because a ginormous lump was lodged in my throat and I couldn’t speak to save my life.
But I could reflect like a champ. How would I change the world? By listening to the cutest girl with the deepest brown eyes I’ve ever seen, tell her sad truths to her 10-year old peers, and hold her hands while we prayed together. I hope it made a difference in her life for that short moment; I sure know it made a difference in mine.
Read about Katie’s Krops here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKg18FLA9IE