Today the whole team were back together again for our last day at AFE. As some members of the team were still feeling quite fragile, we had another relaxing session with the 6th and 7th Graders making more (yes, more!) loom bands. I think it’s safe to say, we could do with a break from loom bands soon. The one thing which was great was teaching the 7th Grade boys how to make them. Once they got the technique, they were brilliant! One even made a lime green loom band necklace.
After this, it was time for our last session of the week. This time, we decided to throw an ice cream party for the 9th, 10th and 11th Graders. From chocolate to cappuchino, we had an array of very tasty ice cream choices as well as a lot of sugary treats to go on top. I think it’s safe to say the ice cream was a huge success with the young people, and with us too! It was a really good way to say thank you and goodbye to those we had built relationships with this week. Some of us even have a few new Facebook friends!
At lunch time, we were asked to stay in the outdoor kiosk whilst the whole school gathered together in the dining hall for, what we were later told, a special goodbye ceremony for us. We entered the dining room to a rapturous applause from the staff and pupils and were asked to sit down ready to watch a very special performance showcasing the talents of every grade. Each grade performed a dance routine for us and they were all very good. The kindergarteners were particularly cute!
One performance which stood out for me was the 6th graders dance, They were performing to a heavy rock song where they were each wearing a label, including ‘alcohol’, ‘drugs’, ‘prostitution’. The dance started off with one of the pupils representing the devil, leading those with the labels on further into the darkness they were living in. As the song gathered tempo and reached it’s climax, another pupil entered, this time clearly representing Jesus. He took off the labels from each person and put them on himself symbolising Jesus dying for us and taking on every one of our sins. For me, this was a very powerful and moving performance, particularly as some in this Grade were only 10. It reminded me that the love of Christ and the faith in God is so strong in AFE, and it was truly amazing to see God at work within some of these students.
After all of the performances and after being presented with thank you cards, we were asked to stand in the centre of the dining hall while the whole school formed a circle around us to pray for us. After the prayer Pastor Adam, who had been standing in the centre with us, seemed to quickly dash away - we soon realised why. The whole school ran in towards us for a group hug which was amazing yet quite scary! This week in AFE has been unforgettable and it has been great to see the work they do here as well as meeting the wonderful staff and students. I know I can speak for everyone when I say we’ll never forget AFE!
After an emotional (final) goodbye, we headed back to the Miller ready to have some lunch and a relaxing afternoon.
As Steve, Jonny and Ally were all feeling pretty ropey, I headed down to a Pyjama Party in the church at 8pm, organised for the local young people. It was unbelievable! It was a night full of (very fun) team games, worship, bible study, food and a midnight movie. One thing that struck me was that I was in a room full of 50 or so young people, engaged in learning more about God and excited to come together to worship him as a community. I felt really blessed to have shared this with them and to have been given this opportunity to meet and to get to know the wonderful people of the Miller.
It really is going to be hard to say goodbye.
Sending our love to you all,
Robyn and the team