From our very first meeting with the pastor and elders, this group of people opened their arms--and their hearts--widely. You see, they had also been praying--praying that God would send them the people that He would have them partner with and invest in. Viewing us in that light, they said yes immediately and without hesitation. Interestingly, this same church had envisioned a school eight years ago, and some of our school parents had participated in a prayer walk then that God would put a school there.
As the elders took us around the 23,000 square foot building, we could see so much potential for growth and for creating the warm, inviting atmosphere that is characteristic of a Mason school. The huge kitchen would accommodate large groups of students to prepare our monthly At Table meals. There was plenty of gardening space outdoors. There was a preschool wing already built, which meant that we could begin to seriously plan to add programs for children ages 3-5. There was even a "coffee shop," which we knew would be a favorite hang-out spot for our teens. But best of all, there was an outward-focused and service-oriented group of people who were eager to embrace our school and be partners in ministry.
Once we got the green light to move in, we began preparing the physical space. There was painting to do. And packing. And moving. Many hands made light(er) work during this time, but we all went to bed bone tired many nights. A local interior decorator came in to help us create the atmosphere we were looking for. We scoured salvage and thrift stores for home-like furniture. We also received very generous donations. We spent many hours cleaning and organizing everything in order to make a beautiful space for our students.
The students began classes in their new school on Wednesday. We broke in the "Shakespeare" stage with the first scene of Much Ado About Nothing. We caught a spectacular moth, which we have yet to identify. The children were introduced to scrapbooking, this term's handcraft, because a friend from two hours away brought us a carload of materials when she came to help out with the move. It was a wonderful start to our third year in operation.
So I would like to say thank you. Thank you, God, for pouring out blessing upon blessing this summer. Thank you, Boiling Springs UMC, for providing a home for us in our first two years. Thank you, parents and volunteers, who gave your trucks, your time, your money, your "stuff," and your sweat to help make Willow Tree beautiful. And thank you, Christ Covenant Ministries, for partnering with us. I can't wait to see where this leads. And I hope that Willow Tree can be at least as much of a blessing to you as you have been to us.