By Hannah Watson, Discovery Gap Year intern, working at St Jude’s Church, Southsea
I’ve made instant ice cream with the toddler group, played too many games of jailbreak to count, taken a selfie with the bishop, been put in jail for a school assembly and fed a baby lamb.
This year I’ve taken a year out between A Levels and university to do children’s and youth work at St Jude’s Church in Southsea, through the Diocese of Portsmouth’s Discovery Gap Year Scheme.
I’m basically one of those people who volunteers for absolutely everything – except I’m doing it for my gap year.
Broadly speaking, I help to run a toddler group, youth group, assemblies at a local primary school, Sunday morning kids groups, youth residential trips, crèche, youth socials, office stuff and volunteering with Faith and Football – and it’s amazing!
The best part of what I do is spending time with the kids.
I learn just as much from them as they learn from me - probably even more.
They constantly throw me curveballs that make me reconsider things, and they come out with the craziest ideas.
Seeing them learning, making friends, and having fun makes everything I do worthwhile.
It’s not always high-octane stuff. Rotas and registers are constantly being updated so that groups can go ahead.
I seem to always be designing flyers for church events, moving toys and tables and chairs about for toddler group, and buying snacks for the youth group.
One of the things that I’ve learned this year is that doing the smaller things, the things that people don’t want to do or just don’t know happen, is what serving people is all about.
I chose to do this gap year to serve God’s people in the same way that people have served me over the years.
So doing the more mundane tasks is actually really exciting!
I’m now into my final few weeks here in Portsmouth, and I’m sure that I’ve ended every day I’ve had here with a smile on my face.
In September I start university, and I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me post-St Jude’s.
For more information about the Discovery Gap Year, see http://dopdiscovery.weebly.com/
For more information about St Jude’s, Southsea, see stjudes-southsea.org.uk