Wednesday morning, students frantically boarded the coach with one goal in mind: sit by a friend or perish! We embarked, and after a couple hours of harmoniously suspect Disney medleys we arrived at our first destination: The St. Louis City Museum. What was once an old shoe factory had been transformed into an amazing series of tunnels, caves, and slides that kept the seventh graders busy for hours. An outside wire jungle gym, towering high above the ground was also a source of great adventure and risk for anyone afraid of heights. Pizza and blue slushies filled the students’ stomachs and lined their lips with hypothermic color as we went to our final destination of the day: The St. Louis Arch. Students were in awe of its enormity and architecture. After the Arch we shared a delicious meal at the Spaghetti Factory , checked into the hotel, and students swam until bedtime. Day one, obviously, was a great success.
Thursday consisted of two destinations: The St. Louis Science Center and the St. Louis Zoo. The Science Center had its fair share of hands-on, interactive amusements. Students dug up fossils, created their own computerized fish, and built a replica of the arch. This was a great start to our day, however, the zoo stole the show for most of the students. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, It’s just a zoo. Don’t you work in a zoo-like environment every day? Well, yes, but this zoo’s animals don’t talk so much. An aquarium exhibit gave kids the opportunity to pet stingrays. An insect exhibit tested whether or not certain girls could stifle their screams. The weather was perfect and the animals were awake. After the zoo we had dinner and shopping time at Union Station. Somewhat of a ghost town, we had the run of the place. Boys bought flat bill hats and one girl almost bought a new straightner. It was a nice place to wind down and get off our feet. Hotel and swimming closed day two.
Today was the most exciting day - it was time to serve as the body of Christ. We arrived at Jubilee Church early Friday morning. We split into groups and were assigned certain areas outside to cultivate. Weeds were pulled, mulch was laid, and trash was collected as we attempted to landscape the border of the church’s parking lot. What once looked like an unkempt piece of land became a really beautiful scene. And it was on this day, in these moments of working side-by-side with my students that I became entirely aware of how unique they really are. Throughout the entire trip those we worked with or innocent bystanders offered up compliments toward these students. They were impressed with how respectful and well-behaved these students were acting. They commented on their work ethic and maturity. It is unfortunate that these strangers only saw a glimpse of what I have observed all year. Yes, these students deliberately served Jubilee Church within those several hours of the day, but I have been so blessed to have observed such a large group of kids who are willing to respect and serve each other on a daily basis.
To sum it up: this class is full of really great kids. I think it is safe to say that this trip was a blessing to everyone. To the kids , they had time to hang out, take weird pictures, and buy superfluous souvenirs. Their behavior and service project were not unusual tasks because they have been in constant practice of these things at ECS. But to the adults, this trip was a refreshing reminder of what a great group of kids we have all had the opportunity to influence and encourage. And , finally, to the strangers and Jubilee Church, it was a chance for the students to show Christ’s love in an impactful and tangible way. To God be the glory.
After our project we left town and headed home. To most kids the drive home was a chance to drink more soft drinks and discover each others’ hidden talents – making weird shapes with their tongues, wiggling their ears, and learning how to whistle. For me the drive home was a chance to thank God for the privilege I’ve had to teach this group of students. I pray that I have been a blessing to them as much as they have blessed me.