Ahhhhhh...the week is over...plus a few days :-D...and I am recuperating still. However, the week went pretty well.
I will tell you, though, that I was and am still plum tuckered out. I worked 12 days straight, and averaged 14 hour days, though many days went longer. I walked and moved for many of those hours, and would often not return to my desk (my usual residence while at work) for six or more hours at a pop. Thus, I was/am tired. :-)
There was some stress too. Lots of people to manage; a new director; doing some tasks for the current and the following week (early) since my boss was leaving the country; getting the mission team out of the country; organizing the final program. But here were the two humdingers:
1.) I got a call from OUT OF THE COUNTRY from an irate parent because of one teacher's disciplinary action. When the waters settled, we realized that the teacher hadn't really done anything wrong, but it might not be a good idea to repeat the behavior either. And the parent apparently called me first, so I caught the worst of it--and his response was pretty bad. But by God's grace, this isn't the first angry parent I've had to talk off a ledge in my life (and it probably won't be the last), so I was able to manage the scenario okay.
2.) In the final program, each class is to share a tiny bit of what they learned that week. Puppetry puts on a brief puppet show, violin plays a short song, etc. The one class--the one class (the one with the teacher who would never do something like this)--that we didn't verify what they were doing...hijacked the showcase with 28 minutes of presentation. Ugh. My stress level was out of the atmosphere. The program is an hour and fifteen minutes to begin with. You can imagine how happy the parents (and extra kids) in the audience were to be sitting watching kid presentations for almost two hours. :-( I was not happy. However, I will say, not one person verbalized their complaint to me. And that was more than gracious of them...really.
But overall, the week went really well. The children got to try new forms of art or build on skills they had already tested, learned of the beauty and creativity of our God, and really seemed to enjoy themselves. But the highlight of my week came during the final program (before the hijacking).
There is one student who comes to these events each year. And he is a particularly...um, challenging student. He is quite big for his age and has some kind of disability or disorder that makes impulse control exceedingly difficult for him. He has no ability to whisper and his mood can swing on a dime (happy kid one minute, belligerent the next). You can imagine the sometimes less-than-thrilled-responses of the staff and youth workers when he shows up.
But you know, I like this kid. He's not trying to be the 'trouble-maker' he is often described as. He just doesn't know how to do differently. Some of that is a physiological inability to control himself, and some is simply stuff he hasn't learned yet. So after many attempts to manage him from afar during the final program, I found myself sitting next to him, trying to help him know how to respond appropriately. He wanted to share every story he knew related to what was happening on stage. He wanted me to know that he knew that song, or that that joke was funny. Every word was loud, every clap or laugh louder, and it was growing clearer by the minute that those around him didn't appreciate him being there.
And then, the signing class got up to share, and on came a worship song (one you would know if only I could remember which one it was now...). And this little boy could not keep himself from singing along, in his loud attempt at a whisper. He was trying to be quiet, and I was trying to show him how to sing along but not voice the words, just move his lips. But his off-key song just couldn't be contained. And suddenly, I didn't want it to be. For while everyone else there was enjoying a performance, this little boy was worshiping God.
Even now--as I did then--I find myself crying at the thought of it. It was such a beautiful thing to me to see him lifting his voice in worship to our Savior. This little boy who really does have all kinds of challenges and 'issues', just unable to contain his adoration for God. And all I could think is, "THIS is why we are here. THIS is what it is all about." And without warning, I found myself singing along.
I could not be more grateful to God for the way He capped off a long and grueling week. That one moment, maybe 120 seconds long, made every sacrifice worth it. And I hope that in heaven I get to stand next to that little boy again, and sing along there too.