It’s been too long. Much, much too long. 3 months to be exact. This week, however, was too exciting to let slide by without a good ole’ update to the Williamson Shakedown. Read on, dear friend, to hear about it.
About a month ago, I was asked by one of our Principals if I would be interested in coming along on the 8th grade Week Without Walls trip to Jeju island as a chaperone. Like a good spouse, I said I needed to talk it over with Ross, and I came back the next day with an emphatic “Yes!!”. I had never been to this magical land I had heard so much about and was thrilled to get the chance to see it as well as get to know some of our students better. Since my job is administrative this year, I don’t get as many opportunities to work with students as I have in previous jobs.
I was quickly reminded as we made our way to the airport on a Monday morning with 84 12-year-olds, that 8th graders are no walk in the park. The magical land of Jeju was about to get a real run for its money. I’m not going to lie. This trip was not easy. Between activity preferences and lights out mandates, the leaders on this trip deserve an award! My hat goes off to all 8th grade teachers out there! My awesome sister Chris included! Whew!
I hit a point during the middle of the week when I just thought to myself, “I’m just not cut out for this. I’m not peppy enough, not loud enough, not caring enough, not cool enough, not even wise enough to make any lasting impact on these kids.” When I talked to Ross on the phone that night, I shared my feelings with him. I was disappointed to feel this way on a trip that I knew had the potential to be a trip that stuck out to these kids during their 8th grade year. Ross, wise one that he is, surprised me yet again with super sound advice. “Stop trying to be someone else. Just be yourself and trust God to work through you as you.” Right. So simple and yet I forget it so often. Thanks hubs.
I kid you not, the very next day, I was able to have great heart-to-heart conversations with 3 of the girls in my small group. I was amazed as I sought to encourage them and speak life to them, that they softened and even lit up at having someone care about who they are and who they’re becoming. I was so encouraged by their responses and by the fact that “ministry” is just you being you and letting God work through you. There’s no recipe and there’s no “right” personality for it. If I have a willing heart and ears to listen, He does the rest.
Another highlight of the trip for me and for my small group was that we had our own bus for a lot of the traveling, because we had too many students to fit on 2 bigger buses. My group ended up on the smaller bus as the “extras.” The best part about this was our driver. With his bouffant do, stunner shades, cowboy boots, and upturned collar, he was Elvis in a Korean man’s body. We affectionately referred to him as “Korean Elvis” or shorter still, “Kelvis.”
On the last day of our trip, we visited a retirement home. Originally, I planned to teach a short dance to the girls in my small group to perform at the home, but our schedule was so packed during the trip, there just wasn’t enough time to teach it. Two students did short solos, one on a trumpet and the other on a clarinet, which were wonderful! Then, our trip leader asked in front of the group, “Abby, do you still want to do a dance…just by yourself?” Ummmmmmmmm….no. I answered, “No, but I’ll sing a song.” In a relatively out of body experience, I got myself up to the front, opened my mouth, and heard myself say “This one is dedicated to our bus driver this week…Korean Elvis.” Then, I proceeded to sing Fools Rush In by Elvis for the small crowd of age 80+ Koreans. I’m not sure how many of them recognized the song but Kelvis loved it. He videoed the whole thing, giving me a thumbs up sign.
Yes, this was a strange and funny experience…but the truth is that I really felt God moving during it. I just know that God has a sense of humor. I felt as I sang the words of that song, that He was pleased with my offering and my willingness. He was pleased with me, just as me and I was enough. I also felt that the words came alive for me in a new way as I sang the words over the retirement home residents, the students, and even Kelvis. They became a prayer, from me to them, and from God’s heart to theirs.
“I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.”