A Life Shattering Experience

Today's featured blogger is Neale Zeringue. He is 18 years old and a member of the Westside Church of Christ youth group from Searcy, AR.

My second day with Fortress was amazing! Right from the start I knew it was going to be fun! The fourth and fifth graders in my Donatello group all learned a new game before breakfast. After I watched Adrian and Fabian munch on Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal bars, we had worship, and I learned three new songs.

Our first group class was arts and crafts where Klarence and Elijah decorated backpacks with their favorite basketball teams, and I heard them saying, "I'm gonna wear this every day!"

Our intern, Haley, really impressed me with her reading. When she asked if anyone wanted to read, practically everyone raised their hands! They all read so well and barely left two pages for Haley to read at the end. Sadly, it was during this class that I learned my buddy was in summer school. It is such a blessing to have this place aid kids' real life relationships with God, peers, and their grades.

Neale and JaQuesha being silly together!
In math a buddy found me! JaQuesha clung to my arm, and we worked hard on two worksheets until every problem was solved! After lunch we went to a world culture class, and I learned just as much about Zambia as all the children! JaQuesha and I even ate nshima together and talked in their native tongue! These kids learn so much! It was the most precious moment of my day when she said to me, "I love you," in Zambian.

When every child was out of Fortress, it was time for another Urban Experience. My team went to the neighborhood of homeless surrounding Lancaster Drive. It was life shattering to me! I had always assumed that the homeless were always shady characters, but after talking to people like "Captain Kirk" who have had multiple careers, lived several different places, but still love the community of Lancaster more than anything else in their life, my eyes were really opened. I just never imagined myself talking to a complete stranger on the curb of the street about anything and everything from welding to alligators to our life stories for over an hour it seemed! I certainly am thankful that I wasn't born into poverty or haven't fallen into it, but now I know there is a lot I can learn from those who are less fortunate than I. I will remember Jeremiah 29:11 no matter where I am.

My first two days at Fortress have already blown all my expectations out of the water! I can't wait to see what is left in store for me!

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." Jeremiah 29:11