Snapshots from Sunday Picnic

April 18, 2012

This Sunday we brought 14 kids to church! And afterwards we had a picnic, as we usually do. We cooled off by making pools in plastic bins on our front porch. Pamela particularly enjoyed dumping the cold water on her head! I love this series of photos, and thought you might, too.





Catching Up

April 18, 2012

Just wanted to share some photos from the kids clubs – it’s going really well. Everyday is a new adventure; everyday brings laughter and joy. We’re getting closer to these little hearts and at the same time bringing them closer to the love of Christ. Love breaks down barriers, melts the hardness and always makes a way.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”
Psalm 127:3

Prevention is…

April 6, 2012

We’ve said before that the goal of our work with children at risk is prevention.

If someone doesn’t step in and intervene many of the children in Jaco are on a life track straight into poverty, prostitution, exploitation and crime.

So what does prevention mean? And what does it look like?

Prevention is reading Dr. Seuss. Again and again.

Prevention is going to church each Sunday.

Prevention is sharing a picnic…

… and resting on a blanket in the shade of a tree with a full belly.

Prevention is surfing,

and sandy snacks.

Prevention is holding puppies…

…and making new friends.

Prevention means visiting homes…

…and opening your heart.

Prevention is self portraits…

…and sandcastles.

Prevention is paintings of sunshine…

…and expressing yourself with scissors and glue

Prevention is doing these things over and over and over again.

It’s being consistent, committed and never giving up.

It’s loving when you’re tired and having hope when things seem hopeless.

Prevention is the Spirit infusing every ounce of what you do, being a consistent presence in the lives of these children, showing them a different way of relating and what love is.

It’s showing these kids that you believe in them, that they have value and that just because the lives of people around them are destroyed doesn’t mean that their’s has to be too. There’s another way to live.

It’s showing them that their life can be beautiful. Lift your sights out of the mire! There is beauty to be found each and every day!

Prevention means all of this and more – and it’s what we’re all about.

What Does Success Look Like?

April 6, 2012

I pulled up to El Precario to drop the kids off. One girl was reluctant to hop down out of the van.

“I don’t want to leave,” she said, her eyes penetrating mine.

We had spent a hectic afternoon at the library, in my opinion at least.

First of all, I had too many kids. Instead of picking up 6 for a watercolor class, I ended up with 14. (Yes, I need to learn to say no).

Some of the highlights included a little girl wetting her pants; looking over to see two boys rolling on the ground fighting and having to physically break it up; helping children ages 3 to 15 simultaneously create beautiful works of art with watercolors; board games, books and an endless stream of, “Leslie…look at this! Leslie… help me do this!Leslie… watch me! Leslie, Leslie, Leslie….”

And then my own son, Kai (9), decided that he messed up his painting and started to cry.

Time to wrap things up, I thought to myself.

I was feeling hot, frazzled and tired. Was this just a total disaster? It sure felt like it!

But then I look over and see Ana, totally absorbed in painting – she could clearly keep painting for several more hours. And I look at Steven finishing his painting. He’s the 15 year old sleeping on the street. His painting is beautiful and expressive – and, could it be? Is that a smile I see creeping at the corners of his mouth as he looks at it? I ask him to sign it and he scratches his name in the corner. I imagine framing it and hanging it in the library.

And now here’s Chorlin, staring at me, face downcast. She doesn’t want to go home.

I hug her as she hops down and we stay another 45 minutes in the barrio playing with puppies, chatting with moms and greeting kids coming home from school.

So in this type of work what does success look like? I think maybe success is messy ~ maybe it includes some fighting and crying, dripping paint and a constant need for attention. But it’s also hugs and masterpieces. It’s that feeling of accomplishment when you like what you’ve made. It’s love and friendship, chatting, playing and learning.

It’s hearts filling up.