#Cambo15: Airplanes, Loom Bracelets, and Special Education

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Want to hear more? Come to the team debrief  TODAY – July 27, 7.30pm at  the Weimer’s home (address on the calendar or worship guide!)

The Lord Equips

When my husband, Matt, and I are heard about the Cambodia trip, we jumped at the chance to go for two reasons: it fit within our timeline of vacation days as teachers about to enter summer break, and we were eager for an opportunity to serve and explore missions together. Married just over a year, both of us had prior experiences in short and long-term missions as individuals but this trip would be our first chance at serving a community and a church overseas as a married couple. I knew I could help with the administrative logistics of planning the prayer retreat and I also felt comfortable with the idea of prayer ministry time for the Khmer pastors during the first week of the trip and working with children for Vacation Bible School for the second week of the trip. Beyond that, however, I felt intimidated by the idea of being a co-leader of a trip to a place I had never been and unsure how my particular talents and giftings as a special educator and school leader would be of use to the team or the people we were coming to serve.

A couple days before Vacation Bible School started, we learned from a member of Church of Christ Our Peace (CCOP) that a boy, ‘J,’ with behavioral challenges and special needs was signed up and would be present on the Yellow Team (9-12 year olds).  His mother wanted to know, however, if she should just keep him at home due to his behavioral challenges or if someone might be able to give him some extra attention to help him during the week. My heart smiled when I heard his story and his needs. Attention issues? Got it. Needs to move around a lot? Sure thing. Has a hard time interacting appropriately in social situations with peers? No problem. I spent the past year working long hours day after day with 10-12 year-olds with similar learning and behavioral challenges and fell in love with their quick wit, high energy, honesty, quirks, and desire to engage and be heard. Children with learning challenges and behavioral needs are capable, interesting, and in need of a few extra supports to access activities like the ones we had planned at Vacation Bible School. So, I jumped with joy at the chance to be J’s ‘special friend’ for the week.

To earn his trust, we spent half of the first morning getting to know one another by talking and playing. He talked in highly technical terms about airplanes — far above my head — and I listened with fascination and respect as he was clearly passionate and knowledgeable about transportation. Later, we joined the Yellow Team again to make loom bracelets and J realized that he loves to create! We set up an incentive system where he could earn stars for listening and participating and once he earned 10 stars, we would take a break together to talk about airplanes. For all future Bible story times and worship times, J could be found making loom bracelets, necklaces, and key chains while his VBS teachers led the activities.  J left that week with love from his VBS teachers, a confidence that he had an ability to create, and questions about Jesus’s baptism from John the Baptism.  All in all, a great week!  God equips us with unique talents, skills, personalities, and spiritual gifts to do the work He has called us to do.

Hebrews 13:20-21

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

~Kelley Spainhour