4:00am came too soon so I sat in snooze control until 4:50am. As I drifted off to sleep, I cut my time to get ready by half in order to get more sleep. I woke at 4:50 with a bit more energy and enough concern about running late to keep my adrenaline high to complete the morning tasks. With the rush complete, I headed out the door. As I ran down the stairs to the train platform, I was glad that I got there a bit early because it decided to do something novel and arrive two minutes early. Gotta love WMATA.
As I rode the train to my first stop, I thought about what this day would mean to the students that we would be serving today. At that time, I didn’t know exactly what we would be doing but I knew if we showed up ready to serve, God would get the glory, and everyone would be blessed.
I arrived at the Southern Avenue stop around 6:20am. I had no clue where I was in relation to where I’d started at Georgia Avenue-Petworth (my sense of direction is a bit challenged) but I knew someone at the train station would help me on the next leg of my journey. I saw the WMATA employee and asked him which bus went to the Oxen Hill Park & Ride. He answered with a smile that his bus was headed that way. I gave God a mental hi five and headed to the P18.
Ten minutes later, I was headed to my destination. As soon as the bus pulled up and I saw the black t-shirts with the white lettering getting on the charted bus, my heart warmed. I was glad that I switched my itinerary to ride the bus with my ASBC family instead of taking Uber straight to the school.
As I boarded the bus, all the worries I woke with dissipated. Theron Johnson was the first face I saw. Her infectious energy was the thing I needed to clear away the morning cobwebs. I am definitely not a morning person, but I am a good actress. However, the bus energy gave me a boost and my acting skills a break. The introvert found a seat and allowed the extroverts to do their thing – pull me to my ambivert self.
I sat next to Wanda Davis, a DC native and 30-year resident of Maryland. As we got to know each other, I felt truly blessed by her positive presence. And, the atmosphere of the bus continued to flow in love and laughter. During the short 15-minute ride to Simon Elementary, God filled my cup to overflowing and I was ready to serve from the overflow.
As our bus pulled up, the rain greeted us, showers of blessing right before we did our assignment. The rain cooled and cleansed the earth as a sign of the first day of the 2018-2019 school year. We sat and waited for Mother Nature’s morning movement then we exited the bus to form two lines of greeting from the school entrance to the driveway. Our assignment was simple. We were there to share our smiles and our enthusiasm with the students as they arrived. We were the cheerleaders, the first faces the children would see. We were there to let students know that they and their education mattered to us. And, even though some would say I have a perfect emotionless poker face, (a holdover from childhood days of being taught by the elders to appear strong), I love to smile. And there is nothing easier than smiling to let children know that their lives matter.
As we did our thing, of course being ASBC we went above and beyond the assignment. We made up songs to go along with our smiles, including taking Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” and changing the lyrics to “Happy First Day to Ya.” Theron reflected that we as African Americans always find a song, from the plantation on. I agreed. Yes, we do, from the ship to the land to the city streets, we’ve demonstrated the power of music to sustain, give meaning to, and change lives.
Once we added our songs to our smiles, there was no stopping us. Our reward was to see and feel God’s presence in the smiles on the faces of children and their parents – even the children who tried their best to steal away from the crowds as Jesus did. I felt so lucky to be there to see their multiple reactions to a church crazy enough to believe that volunteers, dressed in black t-shirts with white lettering, can make a difference with a song and smile. #ILoveMyASBCVillage! #hiddenhalos #kindnessmovement