After enjoying a visit from a friend for a week, I have flown home to be with family during the baptism of my niece. While I am home, I am searching for items needed for the church and school. We opened the school in the fall with only the walls of the school and some tables and chairs donated from a church in Virginia. We are continually adding to the toys, curriculum, and furniture. Luckily this past fall, I was also able to find a shipping company that ships door to door for a reasonable cost. This has opened up so many options for people to donate and for us to buy things that are cheaper and/or better quality in the states. We thank everyone that has donated items or money to make this happen! The school is gradually filling up with things to improve the education of the children and we are currently working on centers for the children to learn.
On the church side of things, the youth group has elected officers and meets every Saturday night. The church has launched small groups meeting in church members homes and inviting their neighbors. We will be shipping more bibles (we took 48 down for the youth ministry) so that the small group leaders can have bibles for their neighbors and new Christians can learn how to use during small groups. The church has also had lots of missionaries: first the Ohio/Pennsylvania group in February and now 2 separate groups from New Jersey working in Los Cocos and building houses in the mountains. In May, June, and, July we will have 5 different groups (new and returning) to work on the second floor of the school in Cuesta Arena as well as various other projects. The church and mission is growing, reaching, and serving.
Sairy has asked me to ask churches here in the states if they have any banners, alter cloths, and church supplies that they may have sitting in a closet collecting dust or taking up needed space if they would be willing to donate them to the church in Santiago. Or if any churches have members of their church that are talented enough to make them to place on the lecterns, alter, and communion tables. The church would greatly appreciate any sanctuary supplies since they currently only have a red and white set that were made years ago and are worn down.
Sairy and I also had a conversation just before I left about the possibility of a new project. Since my goal is independently run projects, I have been brainstorming ways for the church to have an income in order to pay for the salaries of the teachers in the school in Cuesta Arena. I feel strongly that no project is successful if it needs outside support in order to continue. Currently the school is dependent on US support in order to pay the salaries of the teachers (and we thank everyone for their generous donations!!!). The rest of the school (cleaning, maintenance, daily needs) is being maintained by the families of the children in the school. Just before I left, Sairy’s sister-in-law was telling me about a woman that was running a flea market and being very successful. The more I thought about the idea, the more I realized it would be perfect for Cuesta Arena. There are currently not any stores that I know of in Cuesta Arena that sell clothing period, let alone used clothing at cheap prices. In our conversation, we briefly discussed using one of the rooms in the school to set up a store to sell items. Church members, community members, missionaries, and anyone else can donate items to the store and all profits will go toward the expenses needed for the school. Sairy loved the idea so we are beginning the logistical process of figuring out how to make the idea a reality. I would love any ideas, feedback, what to dos, what not to dos, etc as we begin the process of figuring out what all this looks like!