I really thought that I had been blessed to the fullest during our beginner FPU class at MC3. Boy was I wrong! Our first run of the advanced FPU class was facilitated by Andy Harlow, a First Federal Savings Bank volunteer that has done a lot of work through Bridges Out of Poverty as well. I was mostly in the background during this class run and was only able to attend 3 of the 8 class meetings. Even though I didn’t see the class members each week like before, I hung the group picture from the beginner’s class on my refrigerator, where I go frequently (haha). I lifted each of them up in prayer whenever God would bring them to mind (which was often). These folks were never far from my thoughts and prayers.
When I stopped in to visit, the class members greeted me with such love. I really felt like I was a family member being welcomed back home. It’s just impossible to explain the connection we all made over the course of the beginners and advanced classes.
Last Thursday was the final advanced class with these members. Normally I looked forward to these Thursday nights but this one I was almost dreading. I didn’t want it to be the end. I didn’t want to say goodbye to these precious people. When I arrived early I mingled with the volunteers that were setting things up for class. I went to grab a plate so I could eat before class began and was informed that we were not supposed to eat until everyone arrived (this was not the norm.) The ladies doing the refreshments from First Federal Savings Bank were out picking up the pizza. There was also salad on the bar already prepared. Soon the class members started arriving and to our surprise, they had each brought us something they had made or bought for supper. They said they wanted to do something for us. They brought spaghetti, salad, potato salad, etc. We had a feast. The volunteers had even arranged for a cake to celebrate the completion of the class.
Not only was the food a surprise, but they decided on their own, that they wanted us all to gather around in a circle and bless the food. One of the class members blessed it for us with the sweetest of prayers. All I could do was shake my head in amazement. My cup runneth over with blessings and happiness. This wasn’t just a class with volunteers and students, this was more than that…a family.
We watched the final Dave Ramsey video which happened to be on giving (they didn’t know the subject of the video ahead of time). Then it was time for Andy to hand out the Dave Ramsey completion certificates and the incentive monies to each of them. We thanked them for coming and for being a part of such a special class and encouraged them to share with others what they had learned during the classes. We even invited them to come back and volunteer with the next class run.
My husband came to take another group picture and some individual pictures of the class members. We were getting ready to start that when they told us to wait. They went and grabbed a big poster board from the back of the room and the 7 class members told us to trade places with them. They gathered on the stage and held up the poster they made thanking us for having the class. Each had taken the time to write down some thoughts to us.
If that wasn’t enough to make me cry, they then each proceeded to give a speech about how the class had impacted their lives. One shared, “My life is pretty screwed up right now but I’ve been able to take steps in the right direction by taking this class…” Others shared that they had not only learned a lot about finances that would change their lives but that they had made new friends and would even call us all family. Each has agreed that the incentive money was not the reason they chose to take the class (they didn’t even realize they would get money for the advanced class). The young lady from the beginner’s class that shared she had left her abusive relationship because of the class and the people she had met, shared that she now had a “mom and dad” in 2 of the other classmates and that her life has never been better. She was going to be getting her GED and couldn’t wait to show us how well she was going to do. I don’t believe there was a dry eye in the room.
While I am sad the class is over, each of the students assured us that it wasn’t “goodbye” but “see you later.” They told us not to be surprised to see the next class overflowing with people and that some would be back to volunteer or share their testimonies.
In the beginning I was worried that the love of God would not find its way into this class because it was mostly on finances. I am completely and utterly amazed, but shouldn’t be surprised how God did work in enormous ways through that class. The “mom and dad” members I mentioned earlier, have recruited 2 of the members to join their church. During the last class, I heard another member asking about their church and they wrapped their arms around her and lovingly invited her to join them. There have been prayers and genuine love from members and volunteers that only God can bring. What a blessing! What a blessing!