The best way to sum up our weekend at the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home is this:
“We went looking for them, and in return, they came looking for us.” Rick Nichoson during devotions after our last day of working at the Children’s Home
The first day, Friday, was full of hard work, laughter (mostly because half of the team arrived in Tennessee around 3 a.m. and were so slap-happy they couldn’t help it), and fellowship; but the second day, Saturday, we all experienced something I’m positive none of us would trade for the world.
After The Crossroads’ team finished working on the last day, we took a tour of the campus which included a walk-through of one of the boys’ cottages. During the walk-through, we were able to talk to the kids and their fill-in house parents, learn about their schedules and rules, and even pass along some good advice to a few of them. Before we went on the tour, Brittany and Corey had gone to War-Mart to buy the kids a new basketball hoop and backboard because the one they had was falling apart. As they began to hang it up, we noticed the kids walking down the road from their cottage, heading towards us. This was the moment Rick was referring to.
We made an effort to spend time with those kids in their home, and whether we realized it or not, it meant a whole lot to them. Enough to the point where they came looking for US and wanted to talk and hang out with US. So, for the next two hours or so, we were able to socialize with all of them. Whether that meant playing basketball, throwing a football, spinning on the carousel, or just a simple conversation, we were able to be a part of their lives. Two hours may not seem like a lot of time, but at least for me, it was the most valuable two hours I’ve ever experienced.
I can’t speak on behalf of everyone else, but I was able to talk to one of the boys one-on-one for a while with my mom, Kristy. He opened up a lot to us and shared some very personal stories, and we were able to share some of ours in return. He shared that he has a child on the way, even though he is only 15, and that his father was never present in his life so he doesn’t know how to be a good one. It was a very intimate bonding moment that touched our hearts immensely.
We ended the workday with a nice conversation wit the groundskeeper, John, who informed us that we were one of the best, most hardworking groups he’d come in contact with. He expressed to us that our team had surpassed his expectations and went above and beyond what he had planned for us to do.
“Mission trips are all about sacrifice.”, said Pastor James, and what better way to sacrifice our time than following the will of God and working for His kingdom.
~ Riley Goodwin