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Today I Saw God

Surprising Moments of Grace

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Have you ever been surprised by a moment of God's grace? Maybe you haven't been bopped over the head by a tidal wave of undeniable grace, but what about a precious moment? Living with our hearts and eyes open helps prepare the soul for an encounter. I had one recently. It happened so fast; I wasn't prepared. But it was definitely God's grace.

I've been volunteering at Hutchison Elementary School with the PALS program since it's inception nine years ago. (This program matches elementary students with adult mentors once a week.) Five years ago, I began meeting with a young boy named Josue. He was in the fourth grade at the time and is now a freshman at Herndon High School.

After Josue moved on to middle school, I began meeting with his sister, Emily, and his brother, Jonathan. Josue had told them all about "Miss Becky," and they wanted the chance to meet with me too.

Emily is just finishing fifth grade, and Jonathan is moving to third grade next year. I meet with Emily and Jonathan on the same day but at different times. I bring LEGOS, crafts, books, games and drawing supplies throughout the year. I spend 30 minutes with them, and we talk about their life, struggles and joys. Their life is very different from mine in many ways. I feel fortunate to have been with the same family for so many years.

Recently the kids told me their mom works at Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Herndon. In between my meetings with the kids, I have often gone to Potbelly to get a sandwich and read in a booth until it's time to go back to Hutchison. The other day I decided to ask about their mom. I was early so the lunch crowd had not yet arrived, and I was the only one in line.

As I ordered my sandwich, I glanced at each of the workers behind the counter to see if I could spot a family resemblance, but I could not. As my sandwich glided through the toaster, I had to ask, "Is there a Martha who works here?" The woman who was about to put lettuce, tomato and mayo on my sandwich looked up and smiled at me. The woman next to my sandwich maker nodded and said, "That is Martha."

I smiled and said hello. I told her that I meet with her kids each week at Hutchison. And then I experienced that precious grace moment I was talking about: her eyes opened wide, and she said, "You?! You are Miss Becky?!" The recognition in her eyes was priceless. Her English wasn't perfect but she told me her kids' favorite day of the week was Tuesday, the day they get to see Miss Becky.

My heart warmed with her unexpected blessing. Showing up at Hutchison, week after week for nine years could be called obedience. But this meeting, while I was thanking Martha for making me a sandwich, is where God touched us both by a surprising moment of grace.

Submitted by Becky Kendall.

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Being a PAL by Cindy Kohler

This is my second year of being a Breakfast PAL at Hutchison Elementary. Last year I was not sure if I could commit to the 1/2 hour weekly because I travel a lot for work. As it turns out, there was flexibility with our scheduleand I am happy to say I am with my same PAL this year also.

Our time together is usually spent reading, completing homework, or my PAL enjoys making cards for her family for special occasions. I will bring in construction paper and crayons around holidays for her to make her cards. It is a great way to start the morning before going to work and has been very rewarding.

In the beginning, we got off to a slow start. My PAL is very shy and English is her second language. It appeared that she was not enjoying our visits. After a few months of meeting, I met with the teacher to ask for suggestions or possibly change students. The teacher told me my PAL did not talk very much in class so the fact that she was conversing with me at allwas a significant milestone. She really lacked the confidence and we needed to establish a trust so she would feel comfortable to talk freely since English-speaking at home was minimal. I thanked her and decided to continue meeting with my PAL.

When I went to meet my PAL in the cafeteria on the same day, she came running over to me with a big smile and shewas so excited to share her family's recent visit to Chuck E Cheese. That day was a "God winks" moment. Since that day, she always has a big smile and has shared with me that Thursdays are her favorite days to come to school because that is our day to meet.God had me exactly where I should be; I just needed to be patient to reap the fruit of our time together.

This program provides these children with a role model and positive individual attention they may not get at home. Every Thursday, when I see my PAL smile and giggle, the reward is to know our half hour is making a difference in her life and in my life too.

For more information on how to become involved with the Hutchison PALS program, contact Jake McGlothin at .

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