Archive for the ‘Sagrada Familia’ Category
This week at The Community, we have been trying to help our children appreciate the five senses that God has blessed us with. With three to six year olds, you basically share in the hour long worship devotional time, and then do centers where they experience, discover, and celebrate the senses for two hours. Thursday was all about the gift of hearing.
The first part of our centers’ time was largely chaos. Not because we were unprepared — we had a lot of activities and ways to utilize them. Not because we were unplanned — we had detailed plans and back up plans. Our source of chaos was the reality that at The Community, there is no such thing as silence during the waking hours of the day. We were planning on contrasting silence and quiet with loud and noisy. So much for plans and preparation!
Outside our classroom while we were teaching, workmen were running a dump truck and a concrete mixer as they added on a second story directly adjoining our classroom. In fact, if you watch our videos on previous blogs, you will see temporary ceiling supports all over classroom because they have been pouring concrete above and directly contiguous to us. In addition, our classroom space is walled, but only with 3/4 walls with no sound insulation or batting and there are two other age groups sharing the same sound space. Plus, we are near the front gate of the community, so there is constant coming and going and we have to keep all of our windows open for ventilation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. We have the best facility for classroom space for any age group 0-18! The pre-school building is new and getting newer with the additions. It’s just that the reality of The Community is very simple: there is no silence, no quiet, no calm … at all, at any time, at any daylight hour! With that many children (900+) and that much building and that much activity, there is no place for silence to be experienced!
So while we could celebrate sound — loud, louder, loudest, and even louder than loudest — we could not celebrate silence or quiet. So any activity designed for quiet was … well, loud or louder or … you get the picture.
But, we adapted and celebrated our gift of hearing loudly, grandly, and humorously! We finished it off with a parade that was all about loud! We had one of our Peruvian partners who has been a precious translator bang the drums. Our little girls had made noise makers out of empty plastic bottles, buttons, bells, beads, and other small bits of hard objects. So they shook them vigorously and we celebrated loudly. If that wasn’t enough noise, we had a small air horn to add to the tumultuous joy.
So when you get a quiet spot tomorrow, pause, give God thanks for the gift of hearing, the joy of sound, and the opportunity to create a space for silence. Each of these is precious and none should be taken for granted!
Blessings as you pray for us and our finale on Friday — a half day of teaching and a half day of celebration and party, finished by saying good bye and having to see the heartbreak in the eyes of little girls who know it will be awhile before we are back … but praise God, the know that with God’s help we will be back. For that, all of us give thanks and offer to our LORD a shout of praise!
OK, I’m posting for two days and excited about two different aspects of our trip to Peru — so, two for one. But before getting to those two things, a few quick answers are in order.
Yes, the days are long. We go about 18 hours when you include the blogging, videos, preparation, and travel. So we are getting by on 5-6 hours of sleep each night … and, no, that’s not enough, but we steal cat naps on the drive to and from The Community and the lack of sleep is “so worth it”!
Yes, we are a long way from home and miss people precious to us. But, we are with God’s people and we are serving precious children from the ages of 2 weeks to 21.
Yes, we hope to return next year, God willing and the funds are there, because we can’t imagine letting our little girls know they are loved and prayed for every day and I would never want the older ones to ever doubt that someone cares what happens to them.
Now for blessing number one of this week!
Donna and I work with a great team from our home church in Abilene — Ron and Dena Heaton, Diane and James Minatra, and Craig and Jodee Rideout. Each one is precious in his or her unique way. We were all together last year as a team and it has been incredibly cool to still be together this year. In addition, we have two great young Peruvian partners, Claudia and Diego, who translate for us and work alongside us.They both rode the bus 15 hours to get to The Community and they take precious time away from work and school to be a part of what is happening. They have been great.
We work with Casa Susanna, the three to six year olds. Many of “our little girls” (as I like to call them) have moved up to an older casa and so our number is smaller (33 plus 7 older girls who work in one way or another as the “house girls”), but I can assure you, they are plenty to handle. Each of “our little girls” has a unique and distinct personality and we adore them — even the stinkers! They crave love, one-to-one attention, and the reassurance that they matter to someone outside The Community.
Our day consists of about an hour of singing, story-telling, and fun worship all together in the chapel with the other kids at Sagrada and our partners who translate and our team of nearly 100 people. Ricky Pruitt is at his best leading us in worship! Wow, what fun for the kids and adults alike.
Blessing number two has been our reading the Bible with the teenagers at The Community. We call this Sharing Jesus’ Story. We tried this last year, but it was chaotic and a bit frustrating, though a wonderful blessing for a first year run at something new. This year, however, has been a greater blessing that I think any of us anticipated. You cannot help but love these young adults as much as you love the young children. They are hungry for love and attention. They are trying to better themselves. Plus, nearly all of them are interested in learning more about Jesus. It can’t get much better than this. And our team of those reading with these students has been precious, patient, and loving.
So, after four days of being at The Community this week, we are tired and filled with thanksgiving as we have seen Jesus show us and use us to be a blessing to these kids so dear to use. We’ve also seen Jesus shown up in the face of these kids as well as empowering the work of our hands and heart.
What a sweet, exhausting grace we’ve experienced!
Keep praying and there should be video 0osted with this, soon.
Monday is the big launch day for our week at The Community. We see which of our kids are still in the casa from last year, we get the rooms set up for the morning, we see how the new format for the worship time is going to work, and we are seeing how our recent tweaks to the Bible reading to learn English — we call SJS for Sharing Jesus Story — is going to work.
We board our buses and leave by 7:00 in the morning for the 60-80 minute ride to The Community. We rest, talk, and read through our lesson plans each day. Several of us, primarily led by Donna, put together our suitcases of supplies for each day so that there would not need to be much packing or unpacking for us at night. We take ALL of our teaching supplies for 8 learning and experience centers for each morning. These are placed on the bus along with all the other teaching teams’ resources. Our focus this week is on God make all five of our senses to experience His beautiful world, so the exercises are very important.
We arrived right on time to go get our girls from their casa and help them find their place to sit. It is great to have them seated in their correct spot, but since we are first in, the morning can get a little long for our little girls! The worship time is always fun and Ricky Pruitt did a great job leading the worship today — most of which was in Spanish, but some was also in English. The songs were most fun songs, but many of our girls — even the youngest ones — love to sing. Spicing the worship time up was a skit performed b our own Steve Rowlands who was father Abraham, with an assist from Robert Oglesby. After about an hour of songs, skits, and good times praising God, we were dismissed to our class time of about two hours.
Our tables were organized for our centers and our girls were divided into four groups. We began, however, with me telling them the story of John 9 about the blindman to help them think about what it would be like to not be able to see. We used this to partially tell the story, partially to give them some fun experiences, and also to get name tags on the front and back of the little girls in our casa.. This actually went much more smoothly than I anticipated and got us launched into our centers. With many hands on activities to experienced and share in learning discovery about the gift of sight, the morning flew by. We were soon trying to finish up with the final big event of our morning with the girls of Casa Susanna: making play glasses and putting them on for our bubble parade back to the casa. It was expectedly chaotic, but precious and about perfect for them.
After a lunch snack, i prepared and visited with our SJS friends. SJS is short for “Sharing Jesus’ Story”. We were blessed with many great readers though the afternoon. I read with four, Donna with two, others with numbers from 10, the Oglesbys read with seven. Others had 1 to 4 readers and everyone seemed most blessed by the day.
Pray for us, and please be blessed!
It really does feel like going home. Not quite like going home to where I live now, but more like returning home to where you grew up — where there are deep emotions and special memories. After a week in Concepción, Chile, to see the Shutts who are very precious to us, we arrived late into Lima, Peru with Robert and Jenny Oglesby. We joined several busses of other folks from all over the U.S. and headed for the motel. By the time we had unpacked and everything was said and done, it was about 2:00 in the morning before we turned out the lights.
First timers and a number of veterans made the Sunday trip out to say hello to the children of The Community. Our arrival was a complete surprise to the kids there. I have to admit, I felt a lot like a kid on Christmas day. I was excited to see our girls from Casa Susanna!
When I stepped off the bus, the first person I say was Mario. Mario works with The Community as the spiritual counselor and Bible curriculum coordinator. One of the incredible things about The Community is that the 900 plus children have their own accredited school. Mario works with the curriculum and also counseling needs for all of these children. He has a wonderful heart and a deep love for Jesus! (I also love the new playground with artificial padded “grass” in the background.)
It wasn’t long before the children began to pour out of the places where they lived, called casas. They came to greet us with a kiss, a high five, or a hug. All with smiles.
I noticed, however, that our little ones weren’t coming. I decided to head on over to the casa and check on them.Some of the little girls recognized me immediately. Some by the sound of my voice. Others by my name. It wasn’t long before we were playing and laughing and having a great time.
For me, two special things stand out. First, they are healthy and not skinny little sticks like so many of them were two years ago. Second, other groups have jumped in to help this effort in the last 8 years — from barren bunks with only a thin fleece cover two years ago to beds with stuffed animals, pink comforters, and touches of personal care, all bearing witness to others who have helped and to suggestions that we have made that have been heard.
After about 15 minutes, Craig and Jodee joined us. The house girls (helpers who are a little older than the girls who live in the casas) had already asked about Craig and Jodee along with the rest of our team, calling most of us by name. They and the little girls remembered about Jodee’s pregnancy last year. With all the preparations for the trip, I had prayed for Craig and Jodee and the pain in their hearts from losing their little boy Cade within an hour of his being born. I knew going on this trip would awaken many precious and also challenging memories. I had not thought about them needing to tell all these little girls about what had happened to their baby. Fortunately, they had. They shared the story and some sweet pictures of Cade with some of the young women helpers and also the house mom. The house mom, Tia Susanna, will share this news in a way they can best understand. But my oh my, what sweet and precious people Craig and Jodee are and how thankful I am to have them on our team with these little girls. The last year has been a very hard journey for them and all of us who love them. But as Jodee reminded us, “While I want these little girls to have food and clean water and a warm place to sleep. I have all of those things and none of them helped me make it through this last year. Jesus helped me make it through and I want them to know Jesus.”
The house girls were in charge for the afternoon, and they were worried about taking the little girls to the reception line because of the heavy mist — not something at all uncommon and the little girls were outside playing, but this was an issue of their being responsible. Craig and Jodee and I helped them walk the little girls down for the greeting time and an opportunity to see the other folks who were new on our team. It was a treat.
The amazing thing about these little girls, ages 3-8, is that they remember. One didn’t want to let go of my hand. Another wouldn’t let go of her hand. Then when we posed for pictures, they dogged piled on top of me. This all started two years ago, and it didn’t take long before they were just stacking up on top of me and asking me to do the crazy laugh they like. Yes, it seemed like returning home. Such precious treasures. My heart literally bursts with hope that they can know they are loved, that we can be consistent in our care, and that we can see many of them through to maturity and to their own faith.
Return to Sagrada Familia. It will be a wonderfully exhausting week. May God use it for His purposes and for His glory.
It is time to be thinking about going and serving in the orphanage in Peru this next summer. The dates for the trip are July 14-22. If you are interested in going, I need to hear from you ASAP. Email me as soon as you think you may have interest in going. Here is a short video to give you a feel of what is going on these days at Sagrada Familia!
The forgiven and formerly sinful woman of the city risks everything to come into the Pharisees house and then cleans Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears, anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfumer, and kisses Jesus’ feet to show her great love. Her love is extravagant and dangerous … it’s crazy love! But her risk-taking and her extravagant giving show her great love to Jesus for being forgiven (Luke 7:36-50). Her actions remind us that the heart of loving — and knowing we are loved — is giving. We are most like God when we show crazy love … when we give extravagantly. And when we do, like the woman, we enter a life blessed by Jesus with true shalom — grace and peace, wholeness and joy, life lived to the full!
The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16 and you probably know the next word that follows this quote: “For God so loved the world that He …”
And what is that word? Yep, you got it. The word is “GAVE.” Yes, we are most like God when we give and show crazy love!
We are entering the season of giving. We are reminded that we have so much for which we can be thankful (Thanksgiving) and we are reminded of the gift God gave us (Christmas). So let’s open up our hearts … and schedules … and pocket books … and practice some crazy love!
And speaking of Crazy Love, here’s a powerful little video segment from Francis Chan!
And where should we give? Ah, that’s easy.
To your church. I know that’s what I’m doing this week, because right now our church has …
- Giving Tree (Christmas gifts for mentally challenged and disadvantaged children and adults)
- Harvest Missions (funding mission works and mission trips for next year)
- Food Offering (for a local Christian pantry ministry)
- Sock and Underwear Offering (for Love and Care ministry to the homeless)
Not sure about your church, but I bet it has some places you can be generous and these kinds of things are worthy of gifts!
In addition, I would point you to a couple of other things that are especially close to my heart: