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.