This blog post was written by Shawn, a summer worker with Servant Partners Saskatoon. After a fun summer investing in the lives of kids and families in Appleby apartments, Shawn has decided to move into the community to create further opportunities for fellowship and encouragement within the community. He writes about his experience of discovering Joy in God through his summer in the community.
Every morning as I leave the apartment I recently moved into and drive to work, I’m waved off by a small group of children who await their morning bus to school. I wave back and smile knowing that if it weren’t for a small Kids Club I was privileged to work with over the summer, my car would've been would be just another vehicle on the road to them, and there would be no smiles sending me off to work.
The Kids Club was set in motion by two Servant Partners Saskatoon interns who had already been actively involved in the community of the Appleby Apartments. Their close connection to the community taught them that the excitement and enthusiasm of the kids in the apartments wasn't always received kindly by the other tenants. In response, the interns created a space for kids to gather in the summer that was small, simple, and based around the goal of building community and breaking down barriers in the diverse apartment complex. They invited short-term workers (myself included) and some youth from the community to share in building this vision.
Every Wednesday and Friday for two months, a team of five young adults and two brave high school students would wait outside by a fenced basketball court near the Appleby apartments to lead games, songs, and other activities. Of course, it didn’t take long before the kids would be waiting for us instead, offering to help set up and begging to play their favourite games from the previous week. We had a simple pattern for the summer: Arrive at the apartments where we held our Kids Club, work our way through the inevitable swarm of excited kids up to the apartment where two members of our team were living, and then try to have something of a meeting. All the while, we could hear the kids outside shouting and trying to get our attention.
Inherent in the vision for community building was the desire for a flourishing team rooted in joy in God. Before we ever started with the Kids Club, the supervisors would meet with each of us to discuss how we encounter God and brainstorm some ways we could bring that joy into our planning for the Kids Club.
The discussions around encounters with God were one of the most valuable parts of the summer for me. While there is an undeniable piece of heaven in the joy and laughter of the kids, that is not how I personally experience God the most. The reflective discussions we had as a team forced me to consider how it is that I meet with God and what I could do to have more of those encounters. I frequently recall an evening of our team sharing photos of sunsets that they had seen and appreciated, and because of that night, I mindfully keep my eyes out for beautiful sunsets that direct me to wonder and love of God’s creation. The colours of a sunset in Saskatchewan are hard to beat and there’s nothing better than sharing them with friends. I spent most of my summer trying to remember to thank God for the little blessings he provides throughout the day and having friends who could help push me in that direction was absolutely invaluable over the course of the summer.
I loved my time spent with the kids of the Appleby community and I loved being part of a team that advocated seeking out encounters with God. As the summer comes to a close, the kids head back to school and are already demanding a return of the summer kids club. For now, I’ll remember the lessons of the summer and thank God every morning as I drive to work and wave back at the smiling kids of Appleby Community.