by Megan Brooks, Director of TVN
To be honest, it was hard for me to choose just one moment to focus on this month. September was so full of love, new faces, great questions, and awesome conversation. I have been brought to tears by the hearts of volunteers, both new and seasoned. This month though, I would like to share a little bit about a new little boy that we serve named Jayven.
Jayven is in second grade and in Blue Zone. The very first thing I noticed about him, after his cute smile (missing several teeth) …was… “Oh boy, this is going to be a behavior challenge.” Jayven did not listen to any rules, was openly and purposefully disobedient, and didn’t seem to appreciate any kind of structure. I found notes in his backpack from his Special Education teacher, indicating he would need extra attention with reading help. Soon, I learned he wasn’t able to read much at all… but I couldn’t keep his attention for more than a few seconds, before he got angry with me. I left day one praying for patience and understanding.
Over the last few weeks, I have seen Jayven catch on to the rules. I have heard him ask intelligent and pertinent questions to volunteers. While he still acts out sometimes, I see him actively trying to engage appropriately and respect volunteers. He has begun responding VERY well to firm “No’s” or “Please do this now”. I began to thank God, but also wonder what changed.
Last week, I was walking Jayven up to Lit Zone for some reading help, and he looked up at me with his big eyes (holding my hand) and said “Can I ask you a question?” He was being kind of cute, so I thought he was maybe trying to manipulate me to avoid having to do work. “Yes, baby” I said.
“Why are you so nice to me?”
(Cue my watery eyes.) I sat down with him, and he proceeded to show genuine confusion as to why every one of the volunteers had been so kind to him. I realized that he probably doesn’t get that a whole lot at school, because of surface level behavioral issues. I was able to engage in a heart-felt conversation with Jayven about how Jesus is the only one who can help us to be patient and kind with one another, even when we’ve had a bad day. God wants us to love each other, and show each other his love. That’s why we are so nice here. Because we have love that comes from God. He really seemed to understand that.
Over the last week, I have come to realize that my interactions with Jayven are some of my favorite moments in my day. He still acts out sometimes, but I get him. I see his craving for attention (positive or negative). I see his frustration when he doesn’t understand. I see that he has needs that have, for a long time, been pushed under the rug out of desperation or lack of time. I get it.
Kids like Jayven are our TVN Big Picture. I feel like my conversations with Jayven have been a gift from God, reminding me why we started. I came to TVN praying for God to give me the kids who needed to see more of who He is… the kids with the behavior problems... the kids who couldn’t read… the kids who needed help… the kids starving for attention and love… the kids who needed to be listened to… the kids who need a hand up… the families who need Jesus… the families who need hope.
Jayven is my gift this year. Watching him learn, and watching him get a glimpse of Jesus through this program, helps to remind me why I started. Watching other volunteers fall in love with him, and see his needs reminds me that every person at TVN has a desire to reach the hearts of these kids. We are fighting the good fight, and I can’t think of anything more encouraging than to be surrounded by this awesome team.