Two of my highlights over the summer, which was without a doubt my favourite time of this year, were associated with church. It’s probably obvious by now, but it was the people involved who contributed to making these events so memorable and highlights of my year.
I’ve been helping out at VBS (Vacation Bible School) for 14 years now, which is a staggering feat to me, especially as I am only 26. I always love being a part of VBS and I will continue to help every year I can – I try to ensure that I’m available whenever VBS is taking place, getting the date in my diary months in advance.
For some reason, I enjoyed VBS this year a whole lot more than I have in a long time. I loved the songs, I loved the set up of the hall, I loved all of the various activities and I loved my group of children – I’m always a Crew Leader, which involves supporting, looking after and taking a group of children around to the various stations. Some of my favourite moments were when the children came running forward to splash me with water during one of their games, and the group hugs with my crew.
All my crew had a very differing set of personalities and characteristics, which made them an interesting collective that raised a varying set of challenges. I’m always up for challenges though and we got through the week positively, with me striking up a bond with each of them. There was one girl who was particularly funny, with her hard to please persona and who came out with the most unexpected comments. She also took to counting how many songs we sung or were played each day, which was fun to keep track of – I’d regularly ask her what the total was throughout. It is those little things that make the experience all the more enjoyable.
It’s also quite nice to be part of VBS with family and long-time friends. My cousin, Sophia, was the VBS leader, assisted by her sister Rochelle, who both did an amazing job of pulling VBS together, in spite of some adversities along the way. Sophia is genuinely made for this and I commend her for all she did. My mum and my Aunty Debra led out in some of the rooms, making them an engaging experience for all of us. It was great having brother and sister duo, Klavel and Si-Ann, lead out on the games – friends who are family to me. And there was my cousin Kavan, who was a fellow Crew Leader.
A week after VBS had wrapped up, it was time for the Croydon Youth Extravaganza, which led up to our Youth Day. The Extravaganza was well thought out and a special experience throughout the week that brought us all together, but the Youth Day was beyond beautiful. I could not have been prouder of Si-Ann for all that she has been able to achieve and make happen with the youth this year, supported and guided by Pastor Alex, who is amazing in his own right. I mean it when I say that Pastor Alex is a force of nature.
The whole day was emotional, well-organised and involved the majority of us youth from the church. The four presentations in the main service were honest, relevant, useful and very special. I was crying along with Si-Ann by the end of hers. The play in the evening was slick, funny and made best use of everyone’s talents. And the social in the evening was a whole lot of fun, laughter and good conversation.
For me, what made the day beyond beautiful was the people, especially being with those I had not seen for a long period of time. I spent most of lunch with my Kay Kay – who I also had a nice meet up with a few weeks earlier along with Si-Ann – having good conversations and eating on the steps. I exclaimed with joy when I saw my girl, Sh’kira, who I had no idea was going to be there and had not seen for a good few months – we had good chats too, as we always do. I exclaimed with even more shock and joy when Gazza tapped me on the shoulder, as I hadn’t seen him for the longest. We had a little conversation later in the day, but it wasn’t long enough – we fully need more time to catch up.
I swear, I filled with more and more joy as more faces I had not seen for a while began to appear. However, I think I became full to the brim and found my heart overflowing with joy and love, when Ranen walked into the hall. Now I literally have not seen Ranen in the flesh for years, so to be able to hug him and speak to him face to face was beautiful. Ranen was one of the consistent faces in my life growing up, someone I could call a friend. I also remember when he gave me his jacket to wear out in the cold at a social – a true gent. It was great to have him around us again.
To be honest, it was just great to have so many of us in the same space again, as it doesn’t happen so often anymore. Chilling and chatting to Arks, Gis, Sach, Charlie, Nnamdi, Ike, Ryan, Paige, Elliott, Jemel, O’Shea, JJ, Myrin, Karina and a whole lot more. It was one of the best and happiest days I’ve had in a long time. No matter what, I will always love my church family.