2. I need to learn patience. But I'm afraid of praying for it. That's a dangerous prayer to pray.
3. It's been awhile.
4. Dad is doing MUCH better!
5. Pictures of NYC will be posted later.
6. This is going to be an extremely ADD post...
7. ...one in which I talk about my summer, NYC, my heart, Chad, Lee, family, the flood, and assorted other things.
Let's start at the beginning.
After summer class, which ended June 4th, I ventured home. Home was still very much under construction, but was coming along slowly but surely.
I jumped right into my summer activities with leading a kindergarten class at Vacation Bible School...where I caught laryngitis.
I was then recruited (thankfully!) to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with the youth group. For the first part of the week I was a middle school g
irl's leader, and the second part of the week I would be in charge of freshman girls. The first part of my week was SPECTACULAR. I didn't get a sunburn, made some really fantastic friendships, and got to baptize one of the girls in my small group. It was just a really great experience.
Until I came down with laryngitis. Thank you, weakened immune system from lack of sleep.
Spent a week resting. Got back in the saddle. Worked on Mondays at TPC with the staff kids and doing odd jobs around church. Fell in love with my two favorite kiddos, Seth and Canaan. They are three. They chop me up with fake lightsabers. Sometimes they even drop eraser bombs on me and claim that they've erased me into oblivion (don't ask how a three year old knows that word). But they always bring me something magical (they're recent favorite is magical blueberry pancakes made of Play Doh) that heal me and/or bring me back to life. Why yes, I love my job.
The house was finished in this time...new floors, new walls, new paint, new cabinets in the kitchen, new appliances in the kitchen, new doors, new knobs, new...everything. Which is kinda weird, because it all still looks the same. Well, not the kitchen. But I'm glad that got upgraded. :)
I was able to go to Atlanta for July 4th weekend to see Chad. :) Extreme happiness all around. We made pizza, and cinnamon rolls, and Oreo truffles. We gained about 486 pounds in Chinese food that we ordered. We watched movies and spent time just hanging out. We got closer. I learned that I am just so thankful for him. :) Like I said. Extreme happiness all around. I could write all day about him...but that's kinda heart language for the two of us. I am just thankful, thankful, oh so very thankful, for him. :)
I was also able to see Ryan. He was at Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta. He has made lots of progress. When I walked in, he teared up...which made me tear up. We (correction, I) talked for about an hour or so. I had lots to tell him. He remembered everything prior to the wreck, but had some trouble remembering things from a few days prior to the day that I talked to him. I filled him in on everyone that I could, but soon had to be on my way to go home. Ry's at home until the end of this week letting his bones (and spirit, in my opinion!) heal some more. I've talked to him via the phone a few times, and he seems to be better each and every time we talk! God is so good.
NEW YORK CITY!
I went to NYC two weeks ago. If you've been around me within these two weeks, I'm either talking about Chad, the TPC kids, or the New York Kids. The love I have for each one of these things just fills my heart to overflowing and I can't help but to just smile. :)
New York was everything I thought it would be and more. It was beautiful, it was smelly, it was inspiring, it was challenging, it was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life.
I went to the top of the Empire State Building. I saw Mary Poppins on Broadway. I had a shopping experience for the storybooks in Times Square. I went to a Yankees game. I gazed at the constellations on the ceiling of Grand Central Station. I took many pictures. I rode the subway all day long. I bartered in Chinatown, and ate Italian in Little Italy. I became a "regular" at Jamba Juice. I fell in love with Soho, I waved my hellos to Lady Liberty. I constantly stood in awe of the mass of humanity coming at me from all sides. I fell in love day after day after day...for a million different reasons.
I also taught in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for a week. I traipsed through a park, talking to the Lord in my mind about how beautiful the trees and His creation were. And then, I looked at my surroundings. And I realized there were hundreds of homeless around me, asleep on park benches or the ground or in flower beds. I also witnessed a mother scratch off a Lotto card while her two children wistfully watched my students eat their lunch and laugh with their friends.
And it hit me: I'm in another world. Amberly is no longer in Franklin, Tennessee. And she didn't want to click her heels three times and go back home to Auntie Em and Toto. She wanted to strap on a helmet, open her heart as wide as it would possibly go, and love the kids of Lower East Side into oblivion. Because they were so hungry for it. For truth, for love, for honesty, for hope.
In the mornings, I taught mat chants at Upward cheerleading camp. I am in no way, shape, or form a cheerleader. I was in marching band in high school. But, I got through it! And really loved on some girls while teaching them "U-P-W-A-R-D! Upward! (clap, clap) Upward!" cheers over and over.
In the afternoons, I taught an art class. I TAUGHT an art class. A full fledged, bought my own supplies, I am the teacher you are my students, I am responsible for entertaining you/teaching you for the next hour, art class. I spent the month before I left mapping out lesson plans, buying supplies, doing more lesson plans, and doing lots of praying. I also spent the month before my trip freaking out about teaching inner city kids.
But I loved each and every minute of it. Even on Tuesday night, when I was in my room with THE BEST ROOMMATES EVER, (shameless shoutout) when we were complaining that it was "ONLY TUESDAY!!!!" and about how bad our feet hurt, and how tired we were and how badly we wanted macaroni and cheese and sweet tea.
My kiddos learned basic (and I mean BASIC) techniques their first day, did printmaking on styrofoam plates with acrylic paint the second day, painted with watercolor the third day, did self portraits the fourth day, and on the fifth day they worked with chipboard to make their first initial, and did acrylic collages.
I surprisingly learned everyone's names within a day. Considering I had names like Keyshala, Ahava, Ariel, Tameka, and Janiah, this was a task in and of itself! I learned names and likes/dislikes, who got a long with who, who could and couldn't sit next to each other...the ins and outs of my little classroom. I had 4 classes of approximately 10.
The third day, we watercolor painted. Xianne accidentally got paint on Ambree's paper. Ambree pitched a fit and sat in her chair with her arms crossed and refused to lift a brush. I approached her, learned about the situation, and told her politely that if she tried to paint over the paint, she would discover that her new paint would go over the old paint. She vehemently told me that, "No, it would show through, Miss Amberly." I once again told her to try it, she would be surprised. And she once again informed me that it wouldn't work. My gloves came off and I said, in a tone that would be described as nothing short of stern, "Ambree. Are you arguing with the teacher? Who goes to school to LEARN how to teach her students about art? Who probbaly knows more about art than you do? So hows about you pick up your brush and prove me wrong. You have two choices, Ambree. Sit there and pout, or put your big girl panties on, pick up your paintbrush, and paint."
And I walked off.
And you know what she did? She shook off that little attitude of hers, picked up her brush...and had a great attitude (I kid you not) for the rest of the week.
When I walked off, I noticed the other missionaries from Franklin standing agog at my encounter with Ambree. I smiled and couldn't help but laugh a little.
We had a blast. My third "period" was my favorite. But they were the most rowdy. It was a class of 10 very dominant personalities, all vying for my attention.
The girls knew about Chad. They had asked me if I had a boyfriend at cheer camp. And I had some of the same girls in my art class. So on day three, Faith asked me if she could ask me a personal question. I told her that she could go ahead and ask, and I would determine if I was going to answer it. She asked what Chad looked like. I told her. Seth replied with, "HUNKA HUNKA!....No homo, no homo." To which I busted out laughing. And this sparked a 15 minute long discussion about my relationship with Chad...and lots of laughter.
Alliyah: Miss Amberly, does Mr. Chad make you wanna go..... *jumps out of her chair, throwing her arms into the air* "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" ???*sits back down*
Me: (laughter) Yes Allyiah, he does!
Alliyah: KEEP HIM!
Faith: Yeah Miss Amberly! He's a keeper. And bring him next summer when you come back to teach us more art!
Me: Alright girls, get back to work.
Faith: Miss Amberly?
Me: Yes Faith?
Faith: Does Mr. Chad support you? Like, bring you snacks and help you with your homework?
Me: (more laughter) Yes, Faith. Mr. Chad is a great supporter, and he always encourages me.
Faith: Good. I like him, Miss Amberly.
Me: Me too Faith, me too.
This conversation ended with me telling the ladies in my class to see, and take note, about how I feel with Chad. And the questions they were asking me about him. I instructed the girls to remember this day...and to not settle for anything less. Then I told the boys that they better treat every young lady they come across like the princess that she is.
Which evoked a "AWWWW YEAH YOU GO GIRL! YOU TELL THEM, MISS AMBERLY!" from the ladies in the peanut gallery. And obedient nods from the boys.
This is why. This is why I love them. The kids of Lower East Side had a way of exhausting me in every essence of the word. But they also had a way of planting themselves in the very depth of my heart, and digging their roots all the way to my toes, showing no signs of leaving. But I'm okay with that. Because I'm hoping to visit them again.
I have a million stories, spanning from straight up shouting at a girl during cheerleading to bartering with a little Chinese lady in Chinatown. And if you see me, you'll have to ask me about my stories. Because some of them are just too good to be told on here. Some of my stories come with faces and hand motions and lots of jumping. All of my stories are told with love.
Three words to sum up New York: exhilarating. incredible. challenging.
Three words to sum up what I learned in New York: faith. hope. love.
in all things...love.