For some time now, I’ve been visiting a school for children with autism, spending time with them and their parents. People in the fellowship I attend often ask if they can come with me. I have to say, “no,” but did promise that if ever there was a one-off event where I needed helpers, I’d let them know. Then I had the idea of a Jungle Party!
It began with me throwing out an invitation to possible voluntary helpers to attend an organising meeting. Fifteen people turned up eager to take on responsibility for crafts, costumes, decorations, communications, enrolments: all those tasks that are too much for one person.
Two months later, the evening before the party, a group of volunteers came together to cut, glue, and prepare craft materials and decorations in readiness for the big day. Many people had enrolled and the team was excited about being able to serve in this way.
The next evening, a large group of happy parents and their children arrived at the community centre we had transformed into a jungle. Greeted by smiling volunteers, they were handed a painted welcome bag with a treasure hunt, a jungle-themed venue map, and a soft-toy. Following animal footprints, they could enter one of the activity rooms: the craft room (to put together some of the beautiful crafts especially designed by an artist on our team), the headband room (to work with a volunteer to create an elephant, toucan, or monkey headband), or the jungle room (amongst colourful decorations and leafy plants, they could sit by the cellophane campfire or in a tent listening to one of the volunteers read a story).
Before long, almost everyone was in the jungle room, drawn in by the music streaming from it. Here they encountered volunteers dressed as tigers, butterflies and parrots swaying a big rainbow parachute, or leading the children through animal dance moves with jungle rhythms and big artificial-grass pads equipped with homemade electronics. The children discovered they could leap on these and contribute different sounds to make up a song.
The looks on the parents’ faces just blew me away. Two months of organising couldn’t prepare me for how good it felt to see parents arriving with their children, and to see how enthusiastic the volunteers were to minister in this way.
Through hard work and a great deal of dependence on the Father, we were able to show love to these families. I think this is something worth repeating—the volunteers have already started talking about it.
From Peter in East Asia