Whoops. It's been over a month.
I'd say it's been really busy, but honestly that would be a lie. I was crazy busy for about 3 weeks after that last blog entry, what with conference intensives and then conference (and that will all be recounted if you read on), but after that... well, it feels like I was super busy for a lot of it, but honestly, if I really think about it, I don't have a clue what I was doing for my two weeks of break. I really do have to rack my brain. Anyways. This week we're now back into the full swing of school, in another, completely different (and AWESOME) set of intensives. Read on for more, vaguely chronologically...
So. Conference intensives. That week really was crazy. The job trial went REALLY well, my boss basically told me I had the job on the day and I had my first official shift last week, during my first week of break (hey, that was something I was doing during break). All the details are still getting sorted out (namely the pay details... so I'm owing rent, again) and I haven't actually had enough hours per week at the moment to actually pay rent, but I'm holding out in faith for when I get my school timetable that I'll have enough availability to get said shifts and that I'll get rostered them. And even if I don't, there have been a couple of families I've heard of at Church looking for nannies so I can probably work out a few extra hours with them. God really is providing magnificently, and I need to quit forgetting how powerful God is and that I really am praying to a living God who answers prayers. So glad I can rest in grace and acceptance over and over and over again. God is so good and a life lived for God is ridiculously powerful.
Anyway. I told you the chronology would be vague. So back to conference intensives. I felt like I was in Kids non-stop for all of that, it was completely on the brain; if anything I learned, through that and Conference itself, that I really do need my downtime. Don't get me wrong, I completely loved the experience - I got to go to a Scripture class and hang out with school kids again (felt just like being back at a Kingsquad - action songs and all!), it was such a worthwhile experience to do all the behind the scenes stuff and manage my time independently and Kidsong was out of this world - it was just I never got out of the mindset and my identity as a Hillsong Kids leader. At night I almost got out of bed and switched the lights on because it just wouldn't do for me to be in bed and for the place to look so unwelcoming when all our families came in to drop off their 3-5 year olds. That's in complete honesty!!
And then during the break, I was just so unused to anything else I realised that my identity was growing more and more and more into purely a Kids' leader. Now, I don't think it's a bad thing for me to view myself in part as a kids' leader. But if that really is all I am, if all I do is for and because I serve in Kids' ministry, then I'm in danger of losing my true, base identity as a child of God, and losing all else that God has made me for and with. I can't build the Kingdom as well if I'm that one-dimensional. God gave me other interests and talents - that nerdy side of me that giggles in glee when I watch 'The Guild' or read The Lord of the Rings (or read anything, really), the creative, wordy aspect of me that means creative writing feeds my soul - all of these things fit into my identity in Christ as well. And I need to make sure that I am a person outside of Hillsong Kids, not just a Kids leader, though I really believe that's a big part of my calling. And I think it was important for me to learn that.
Saying all that, I really am flourishing in Kids. I'm so blessed to serve under Dave & Beci Wakerley, under Taryn (the Ark pastor) and Pauline (City EC pastor) and all the other amazing, amazing leaders in Hillsong Kids - I learn so much from all my leaders every week. I really do feel at home and at peace in Hillsong Kids and it would be ridiculously hard to leave there now. I'm developing a passion for kids of all ages and it's so rewarding personally to serve there too. How awesome is God that He actually wants us to love where He puts us?!
Umm. Chronology. So I've kind of talked about intensives now... I could move onto Conference? That was kind of included in the above spiel, but it was separate. and way more intense. but awesome of course too.
So my role at conference was as a leader in the blue pod during the day. The theme of conference overall was Uncharted Journey, so there were planes and boats and trains EVERYWHERE. In The Ark we wanted one focus for all the kids, so we focused on trains, meaning our pod's little chant was "choo, choo, we are blue!"... Love it! Anyways, I hung out with the blue pod for most of the time, playing with the kids, settling them in, getting to know them - I got to really build relationships with some of the City kids, which was really awesome. One of the little boys in my pod - he's really little, if he's 3 he's only just 3 - was in the service before mine last weekend, and I was really excited to see him so I said 'hi!' really excitedly and the biggest smile lit up his face and he actually ran over to say goodbye when his Dad came to pick him up. I was like 'yay!'
So yeah, blue pod for much of the time... then for 2 hours-ish (and for a little while during the morning when I was running around with crafts and colouring sheets and such-like) every day I was Craft Oversight, meaning I had a craft room to run and look after. That was so fun, and a little stretching at times, especially near the end when my energy was running low to the point of frazzlement! It was actually more of a challenge to get my own pod to do what I wanted them to do than anything else, because I was using their room for the craft area and they were just used to running around and playing in that room. And they were in the craft room twice, so they were already pretty used to it on the last day, when to top it off they were also exhausted. The little boy I was talking about before almost broke me when he decided that playdough was the staple food of a toy shark he was playing with and stuffed a large ball of it into the shark's mouth. It was hard to get a leader properly supervising it too, because they were all so used to their own room, and I think I almost had nighmares about all the playdough that got trodden into the carpet. But over the week I settled more and more into the role and learned the best ways to get kids doing the craft right. I had my little opening speech almost by heart:
"Now, where does playdough stay?"
Kids: "On the playdough table."
"Does playdough go in your ears or in your mouth?"
"Nooo!" (occasionally 1 or 2 kids: "Yes!!")
"And where does glue stay?"
"On the table."
"Do we eat glue?"
"Nooo!" (occasionally 1 or 2 kids: "Yes!!")
The smaller pods were lovely, mainly because they actually fit into our room and onto the tables properly, though the larger pods were kind of crazy. Still, by the end of the week I was at least keeping the larger pods tidy. I'm so grateful that I got the opportunity to look after that little room and have that responsibility; I learned so much from it, about up-front stuff, running a room and a bit of leadership, and by the grace of God that will be capitalised and stick!
The evenings at conference were really fun, too - we had one big room packed full of kids, with 2 bouncy castles that had a habit of shuffling away from the wall and then collapsing as kids tried to climb over their walls, and kids were just everywhere playing, crying, occasionally throwing things at each other and then crying some more... it was actually my favourite part I think. It was just exciting! I even got a little radio to plug into, which made me feel super important and trusted (I'm still working on the humility thing...) even though I barely said two words into it.
It was just great to have to opportunity to see these kids - all preschool age - grow and learn about God. There were kids who were totally worshipping, with everything, by the end of conference. There were kids whose behaviour totally turned around, in a way that could only have been God. There's one little boy from the 9:45 service in the city - the busiest, craziest service - who barely spoke any English. He's about 3, so you can imagine who frustrating it must be for an adult, let alone a child that young, to be unable to make you understand what he's saying. He outworked that frustration in anger when he first came to kids.
Actually, when he first came to kids he just wouldn't stop screaming when his parents left him. That actually turned around at Colour Conference this year, which was also amazing.
So he's really been improving over the past few months. He's stopped yelling at other kids and throwing stuff around so much, but he would never sit down and sing or listen to the preaching. Which makes sense, given how little of it he would understand. The only thing was he would make lots of noise while the room was quiet too.
So at Conference, I barely even noticed he was there. He was sitting beautifully and joining in with the praise and worship, sitting right in the middle, doing the actions and everything. Then even during the rest of the up-front stuff, he stayed completely engaged. It was really quite incredible; I was astounded! And the best thing is, much of it has actually carried over. He is way less disruptive, gets bored much less quickly and throws way less temper tantrums. He's always had the biggest heart - if his friends are upset, he will always go over and try and comfort them and cheer them up - and now I think he's really starting to settle into that and express it more. I love what God can do in these kids in such a short time!
Sooo this has already gotten pretty darned long, I think I'll leave it at that... I've touched on the stuff over the break, I'll just finish saying how awesome it is being back in class! It took a couple of lectures to really get back into it - it'd been over 5 weeks since I'd been in a lecture...! - but I'm totally loving it now. Over intensives I'm studying teamwork (learning that it really isn't all about me!) and getting to hear from a bunch of Hillsong Kids pastors/leaders all about kids' ministry! I'm so loving that, I'm developing a book list and a people-to-look-into list over the whole thing. Loving loving loving it!
And my plans for the weekend? (including Monday in Hillsong College world!) Tomorrow I'm going shopping for a big green sheet to make my costume for next weekend's "P" Party in kids - dress up as anything beginning with a 'P' (there will be photos, I promise!) - then Church, Church, Church, then on Monday I am having a Sabbath. I think I will start with heading to Waterloo library, then head to the State Library and possibly the Botanical Gardens depending on the weather. Going to feed my soul with books, nature and possibly some creative writing! Looking forward to it!! Have a great, weekend, world!!!