Wednesday, June 30

Summer is here!

Summer is in full swing here, and most days it's absolutely wonderful. Here are some things that summer means to us:
  • Getting together more with friends that are school-age. That means extra playdates with our W friends that live clear across town now, the Arce clan, and others
  • Long days at Grandma and Grandad's pool or various splash pads
  • Free lunches at several local parks
  • Sun-splashed skin and hair
  • Lots of extra outdoor activities
  • Sports, sports, and more sports
  • Less structure, more fun and spontanaity
  • An always messy house!

On a much different note, I have had so many "deep thoughts" lately I don't even know where to begin to communicate them. That fact would make me tempted not to even try, but it's good stuff to wrestle with (if I do say so myself!) so I guess I'll make an attempt to give a snapshot of one of the issues that's been on my heart:

I have had the bittersweet chance to keep working the first 2/3 of the summer. Bitter just because it makes my Tuesdays and Thursdays inflexible, but sweet both because we need the money and the 3 students I have are precious. God totally provided them for me and, hopefully, me for them. However, because of their home-life situation, I have been thinking a lot about poverty. Now, I've read some Ruby Payne and I spent a semester in a third world country. Our daughter is with us in part because of the horrific grip of poverty, and all the kids I've been tutoring this year struggle in this department. Even so, it's just been on my heart more than ever lately as I interact with these 3 kids (all from the same extended family) and their moms. Take, for instance, 1 1/2 weeks ago when I found out they hadn't eaten for 2 days. All I had were the dimes and pennies I had brought for a counting lesson plan....amounting, after my littlest guy counted it, to $3. So, we went to the gas station afterwards and they each bought a bag of "Hot Fries." I dropped them off at home to another 6 or so (no joke) kids swarming around them asking for some. As I drove home through various neighborhoods (our family does not live in the inner city) I was struck with just how many people live in poverty...even here in the United States. It's complicated. I can't even begin, nor do I want to here, to expound upon all the factors that lead to generational poverty. It's just so much to grasp and understand. I am baffled when I suggest to my precious students who will not have much food again until July 1 when their new food stamps come in that they go to the park for free lunches--something our family does--only to hear them say, "It's not hot. I don't like cold food." I don't understand why the moms would let their kids go hungry for 2 weeks when there's a mission right down the street that serves food at least twice a day (I doubt they serve breakfast). I don't understand why managing food stamps can't be taught and practiced so that it's not "feast or famine"--2 wks of plenty and 2 wks of almost nothing--but rather a steady stream of food the entire month. These are some of the complicated things. But one thing I do know is these kids shouldn't have to suffer. These kids are hungry. Their education is, at this point, declining. If they don't have a turn-around, these kids that are still so full of life will become jaded and fall behind to the point that it will take nothing short of a miracle to lift them up again. And it's not fair.

Life is completely not fair.


Britney said...

Oh, Danielle. I was just thinking about poverty today. I took a friend to Midway in Chicago. Driving through the city reminded me of the semester I spent there and all that I learned about poverty and those who live in it. Our hearts are so much alike! I'll be praying for your students and their families. God has already used you to touch those kids' lives. I'm confident that he'll continue to do awesome things in you and through you as you tutor those kids in the ways of school and life. ***big hug***

Tisha said...

Danielle, poverty is a horrible thing and it breaks my heart. Espeically when it effects the young. You are doing a wonderful thing with those children.

The pictures are adorable!