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Thursday, December 5, 2013

december update

It has been a long time since I last wrote news about us. A lot of things have happened since then. Since we consider that all we do, including the seeds we sow through even the least of our activities and acts of service, is important and has value, for the sake of being brief I want to update you on the relevant events.
We appreciate and are thankful for all the different kinds of support we received for our summer camp. We took the highest number of kids (44) we have ever had in this one-week camp. The children in the camp were from three of our programs – the Community Center La Vale, the Daily Center in the village of Tudor Vladimirescu and from the Hidden Treasures Club which happens every Saturday.  In spite of the high number of children and our fears of how to cope with such a high number, we consider that our camp was a fruitful one and full of joy for the children and for the staff. Both the children and the staff learned with a lot of fun and joy things which most of us middle class people take for granted – from simple life skills like how to sit and have a meal, how to use the toilet and how to brush your teeth to the deep discussion about what it means to be Christians on the narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7.13).
Our summer program was full of fun activities. We aimed to spend time with the kids, to have fun educational activities and to develop our relationships. The most fun were the clubs we held – photography, creating a photo album, origami construction, modelling clay, volleyball, ping pong, basketball, knowing our city, music, creating stories.
I wrote about Cati in the last update. She had finished high school and was preparing for taking her final exams. Unfortunately she didn’t pass them. She worked for a few months at a fast food shop and is preparing to retake the exams next summer. Please pray for her to be consistent in her preparations.
After much reflection, analysis and discussion in our community, we decided to change our approach to how we organize our parent meetings. We want participation in these meetings to be a pleasure. We usually organize a meeting once a month. We consider that our first three meetings (starting with the new school year) were successful – the parents were treated with dignity, empowered and listened to. They are now more motivated to collaborate with us for a better future for their children. We invite you to continually pray for consistency in considering and making good and thoughtful choices, which is against their cultural environment (being surrounded by a fatalistic culture).
Also, the beginning of the school year, which is the start of a new year in the rhythm of our community, was fruitful. We started receiving new kids, having taken in 15 up until now. Most of them are in preschool, first and second grade. Pray with us for these children to have a holistic development which God intended for all human beings. Also pray for our staff (especially our educators) to continually have their energy renewed, creativity in relationships and in developing activities. We need to practice the discipline of sowing, cultivating and caring with love, hoping for a better future and having faith that God is growing the planted seeds every day.
We are preparing for Christmas events these days. We are planning to go caroling to the children’s families, as well as other families and companies who are involved in supporting us in various ways. We will also organize a celebration of Christmas for the families of the kids who come to the Community Center as well as a party for the children on Christmas night.
Please pray with us for wisdom, presence and creativity. Our desire is to truly celebrate our Hope. The following are some of our regular struggles we face and we invite you to pray through these with us.
We struggle every day to have hope in the face of powerlessness, fatalism, abuse, neglect, addiction, indifference and immorality.
We struggle every day to look for the Kingdom of God in our midst.
We struggle every day to have integrity, to be transparent and to follow our vocation of serving Jesus among the most vulnerable.
We pray and hope that in the coming year every step, every decision we make and every activity we do will bring us, the children, their families and you closer to God, closer to one another and closer to living out our vocation – to glorify God.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

a short and simple reflection on life

For our chapel time (which starts at 8.00 a.m.) we had to reflect and answer some questions. I am going to share an answer for one of them: When was last time you obeyed God? My first thought was: this morning. Our alarm went off for the second time at 7.00 a.m. The first time it went off at 6.30 a.m. Because I wanted to sleep some more, my first impulse was to stay in bed and invent an excuse for not going to chapel time.  Fortunately, I resisted and I got out of bed immediately. I went down stairs and I started to make coffee.  It is a discipline to resist your comfortable life patterns which can make  you break your commitments. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

the hunger games trilogy

Last night I just finished listening audio books trilogy of The Hunger Games: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins! These were my days off, reading and struggling with a cold! I am still processing the plot of the book.  The complexity of what human beings are is tremendously presented by the author! How vulnerable and adaptive is the human being?! How hard you can break the human spirit?

Vulnerability, adaptability, hardship of brokenness, survival mode, pain, craving for destruction of other human being, things we take for granted…this are some of the themes in the book! (I don’t want to spoil it for those willing to read it!)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June update

In a short while we will come to the end of another school year. The children we are helping are finishing another year of school – a year of working together consistently, of learning positive and constructive ways to respond to all sorts of violence (either from school staff or from classmates), of developing attention spans and the pleasure of learning, of everything they accumulated in school during this past year...and we are preparing to celebrate the achievements of all 30 children from first to eighth grade.
For the first time we will celebrate the graduation of high school of two of our young people. We want to celebrate 12 years of joys and sorrows, of growth and accomplishments.
Looking back at the last five months, here are some of our community highlights:
In February and March, Lau and I had the honor to host our servant team, Sam from Canada, Emily from USA. For two months they were involved in all of our community’s activities and events, helping the children with art, playing with them, and teaching them how to use a computer. This team was a great encouragement for us, through their openness and the challenges they brought before us.
In April, we, together with all the staff, had training on Clifton Strengths Finder, how to identify our strong points, and how to use them in the activities we are involved in. We also had sessions on how to manage stress and burnout, the stages of forming a team, all meetings lead by Deb Hoffman and Kristel Cody Fortun, from Lifegate Church, Omaha, Nebraska.
In April we were blessed to have Frank with us, a faithful friend of our community for last 10 years, who came with John and David, and helped us with our electrical repairs, and with installing a venting system for our bathrooms. Every time our friends visit, even if it is only for a short time, they bring us encouragement, affirmation and support.
This year our May 1st outing (for International Workers’ Day) happened two days later, in order to enjoy a quieter environment (a lot of people turn their car sound system very loud even when they are out for a picnic) and to have the forest just for ourselves. The children and the staff enjoyed playing outdoor games, eating together and developing relationships.
For Easter, as we have done for so many years now, we had lunch at our community center, with the children and their families. The children enjoyed hitting a piñata and it was a great joy to see them shouting and encouraging their mothers when they were playing the game, trying to hit the piñata, in order to get some sweets. Moments like those, when the mystery of eating together, of speaking about our joys and about our sorrows, and of relating in new ways with one another are moments when we declare that God is alive. Indeed, He has risen.
In May we, as a team, had our annual retreat, putting aside a week for spending time in solitude with God. This year’s theme, that helped us focus our time, was our mission statement: Serving Jesus among the vulnerable ones, through our relationships and personal vocation, in community and in society. This was for us a new opportunity to declare what is central for us: each one of us is searching for Jesus and we all submit to Him. What it is unexpected is that Jesus lifts us up and invites to walk with Him and show that we care for those vulnerable, and to discover Him in the middle of the “deserted places”.
This desire to serve Jesus it is what ties us together, and at the same time that which unties us. We are looking for Jesus, and this is what brings us together. The Bible’s teaching, and nature, and modern methods of building a team, they all tell us that together we can go where we would not even dream we can get on our own. At the same time, it unties us, for we can speak of unity in diversity. Searching for Jesus looks different from person to person, from one place to another. We are praying that each one of us, there, where each one of us is today, to continue to desire this relationship with God, as parents, as teachers or doctors, or workers, or students, either through work or rest, giving and receiving, children and old people, young boys and girls.
Here are some things we invite you to join us in prayer:
·         C. T., a young man we know for 6 years now, had a medical operation. He is recovering now. Pray for his well being, for his recovery, and to be able to help him to find a new job, where he will be treated with dignity and respect.
·         We are planning and organizing our summer camp for children, second week in July. We are asking God for wisdom, and help in finding all the resources necessary for this camp, and that His presence to be felt and experienced in new ways.
·         Please pray for Cati, whom we know for more than 10 years, as she is studying for her exams for graduating from high school. She also dreams of going to college this fall.
·         We just finished planning this summer’s activities. We pray that the children and the staff will enjoy this summer, and that we will experience God together in all we do.
·         We are praying for wisdom for our staff who are helping the children, to help them develop a pleasure for learning, and to set clear and specific goals for the children in their group.

·         Please pray for our meetings with the parents, that they will come to our meetings, and that we have wisdom when we communicate with them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kingdom of God' Features

Return from exile
Victory over God’s enemies (death, Satan, sin)
Restoration of the Temple
Forgiveness of sin
The pouring of the Holy Spirit
Shekina (God’s glory) returns
Inauguration of new priesthood and new people
Inauguration of new creation
Resurrection from death