Kissimmee, FL - Children (Post 2)

"Today, I lost sight of the time. I wasn't wishing it away, something that happens so much during a school week. Today I felt present." When our site leader, Peter, told us this during reflections over some (amazing) milkshakes, I realized that today was probably the best day so far for all of us.

We started off the morning at the Gingerbread house spending our breakfast's serving trays to the families. We saw many familiar faces, and had the opportunity to ask a ton of the kids and families what they were doing that day and get so excited along side them when we heard about Disney princess makeovers, Animal Kingdom visits, and dolphin adventures ahead. I saw the faces of my group light up in response to the kids' enthusiasm, sharing with them this moment of excitement. One of the other members of our group, Kelsey, shared a great moment at the end of the day when a child came up to her and told her how nice she was for helping carry the food tray.

We are all blown away by how appreciative these families are. And then there are always the new faces, but ones that I know all of us will remember from now on. It amazes me when some of our group talks about a child and remembers so many details about them, like "oh yeah! He was the one playing with the trains in the orange t-shirt this morning with… blah blah insert random specific facts*…" We all can see that these families are leaving permanent marks on our hearts.

Then in between serving, we spent our break ballin' on the courts and both teams were equally as awesome, which was great. I'm pretty sure the game ended in a tie….. HA. KIDDING. My team lost, but it was really fun and way better than the naps that were in the back of all of our minds. One of our site leaders, Ashlie, mentioned that we were all starting to act like the kiddos, and it was definitely proven in all of us resisting naptime. Today, we all gave each other props for being so positive and excited with the kids even when sleep was becoming pretty minimal these past few days.  We recovered from the match sitting poolside eating dinner two of our girls, Sophie and Courtney, made for us all. They were so awesome and upbeat about the whole thing, and dinner ended up being one of the most delicious meals we have had on this trip so far.

DID I MENTION IT'S MAYOR CLAYTON'S BIRTHDAY! AH! So, every Tuesday night, Mayor Clayton (the mayor of Give Kids the World Village and a giant rabbit) has a surprise birthday party. Games, ice cream, card decorating, and dancing were all part of the night. We all broke off into different stations, and had the chance to enjoy the time we got to spend with the kids just having fun. The night-time parties are the best time to get to cheer on the kids and get to know them better. It was really cool the way one of the group members, Travis, mentioned how appreciative the parents were when we got to play with the kids. A mom even mouthed "thank you" to us in the middle of a little kiddo bowling. But the dancing is what stood out to me. Man, these kids could dance! I believe our lead volunteer workers at GKTW were truly created to throw these parties. All of our group members were so impressed by the way they got everyone to dance together from "Call me Maybe" to "What does the Fox Say." All I can even say is…SO MUCH HAPPINESS!

So that's it. That was our day today. I really wish I could explain more completely what this day felt like for all of us, but so much here at Give Kids the World is not about words! The magic lies in the smiles and the high fives from the kids. It's in the way they jump up and down and the way you know exactly what they are feeling, because they aren't trying to hide it. It's in the handshakes from the parents, and the adoring looks they are giving their children while they are dancing crazy and eating way to much candy. Today is the third day, and I bet you could ask every single one of us a story about a specific child and family that we have connected with. Our hearts are being changed each day, and I am beyond blessed to be a part of witnessing it in my entire group, while also experiencing it first hand. Can't wait to go back!

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