I have been in Booneville with YouthWorks for four weeks now and have yet to write about it. Part of this is my lack of time, but the other is that it is so hard to know where to begin. God is stretching, teaching, and blessing me in so many amazing ways that it feels overwhelming every time I consider sitting down and sharing. I've decided that my first few posts will be about a few of the relationships I am making here in Booneville and with the participants who come each week. YouthWorks is all about seeing Christ in others, and God is blessing me with beautiful relationships this summer. He is showing himself to me. (I've changed some names for privacy's sake)I want to tell you about T. T is one of the first few people I met here in Booneville and we became quick friends. T is a thirteen year old boy with a developmental disability. Though none of us know for sure what his disability is, we think it may be a form of autism along with attention deficit disorder. Everything about T screams out his love for life, and for people. He is constantly smiling. He calls me "Buddy", and when he sees others he points at me or puts his arm around me and says, "That's my buddy". Like many young guys, he likes to play guns....but T likes it to the extreme. The other day he "held up" one of the adult leaders, and every now and then he lops off a participants head with an imaginary knife. We are trying to cut back on some of the violent imagery T constantly carries with him, but I did laugh the other day when after telling T I have a force field so he can't shoot me, he came up behind me, opened the back door to my force field and got me with a knife. The back door to my force field sounds a lot like a squeaky screen door apparently.
One of my favorite T moments happened in Church one Sunday. T loves hugs, putting his arm around you and the such, so in church I hardly noticed while T played with my hands--that is until I looked down and realized that T was putting my hand on Kevin's thigh. This was probably the closest I have ever come to screaming in church.
T's family doesn't have a lot of resources. There house is without electricity simply because they can't pay the bills. They don't have lots of food. One day when T was playing at the church with me, he brought a few toy guns. T is very creative, he makes a lot of his own guns out of sticks, and little things lying around, and he does a dang good job. T gave me one of his nice plastic toy guns and told me to keep it at the church where I am staying. It touched my heart knowing that it was probably one of only a few toys that T may have at home, and he wanted me to keep it for him. He also gave me a toy robot to stand guard for us. It is currently keeping guard over our big Astro Van, Pierre (named for the lovely stenciling that resembles a French mustache on its hood).
I am hoping that T and I can teach each other as we befriend and love one another this summer. Jesus lives here in Booneville. He likes to put his arm around my shoulder, share his toys with me, and calls me buddy.