We are excited for the summer and the 7 weeks of groups out of three months we will have working with us along with various individual missionaries that will be here for extended periods of time. We have groups coming from all over the south east; many new, a few returning. Most will be working on the second floor of the school and/or doing vacation bible school in three different areas. As we begin preparing for our first group to arrive this Saturday, we also prepare for the other activities that will take place this summer. Last night the 10 of the 11 boxes we shipped with donations arrived and I was able to take them out to the school today. Kendys and I organized the classroom a little better and she is excited for the kids to see the new toys. Turibio, one of the uncles in the community, told me our school is better equipped than any other school in the area! That is a big change from when we opened a few months ago and we barely had anything! A huge thank you to those who donated, especially East Lake UMC’s Toy Makers who had made wood cars for the classroom!!! Many of the school supplies will be used next year for the opening of our tutoring program as well as gifts for those graduating. Some of the older kids have heard about the program and are excited to be able to come! Most of them were very disappointed we opened the school for younger kids because the older kids were the ones that physically helped build the school; making cement, carrying buckets, painting, etc.
As the school year comes to an end, we are beginning to plan our first graduation! We have now learned we will have 8 leaving us: Ashley, Braylin, Eshmarlin, Luz Mery, Wendi, Yordanis, Yuleisi, and Argel. The graduation ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 8. We have just started the planning but if any would like to come for the ceremony please let me know. We would love to have you celebrate with us!!! I will give more information as plans begin to form. I will begin meeting with the parents of the graduates in the upcoming week to begin planning.
Last night, all of the leaders of the church met. It was an exciting meeting to hear them talk about ways to meet the needs of their communities and how do be a unified body. Sairy had me talk about the various mission groups that will be visiting. I explained how the members of the church are the face of the church to the community and we are simply here to help them. Sairy, as always, encouraged each of them to take time off work to come work along side of us. They are excited to meet new faces but are always asking about old teams and team members and when they will be returning.
Small groups have started in the various communities on Thursdays. I have had the privilege of traveling to Cuesta Arena Thursday afternoons with Estella and Guillermo. They have been averaging around 10 members of the community attending the study, none of which I have had much contact with! The new bibles arrived last night in the boxes so they will be dispersed to the various groups around the city to help teach people how to use them, how to look up verses, and most importantly to be comfortable reading it. Many of the leaders have been asking me since I returned when the Bibles would arrive because they had so many new people that had never used a Bible before, let alone owned one.
The youth ministry is growing under the leadership of their president, Luis. Right now they are studying the story of Abram in the book of Genesis, reading a chapter a week and discussing the importance of that story. They are excited to have a “Youth Sunday” June 30 where the entire service on Sunday will be lead by youth. Since we will have a youth ministry here that week from City Beautiful Church in Orlando, we have made plans for the two groups to merge to form a band for worship, dance, and preach.
It is crazy to think that in a few short months, my year commitment to living in the country will be coming to an end the end of July. Unfortunately, it is time to return the states and get a job to pay off my student loans!! My goal is to find a job in the Orange county school system so I will have summers available to travel with teams. Last night I was overcome with emotion as I was discussing the end of my time living here with the leaders of the church. I have discussed it with numerous individuals but having to talk about it with the leadership caught me emotionally by surprise. This summer will go quickly as we have only a few weeks out of three months that we do not have groups or missionaries here! Make sure you check the website throughout the summer and read the blogs of the missionaries while they are here and see pictures of their amazing work.