When we set our intentions, but let God guide the outcomes, things end up surprisingly different but infinitely better.
Wow, the last few weeks have been so full, jam-packed with amazing things, I don’t even know how to start.
But I know I want to write and share with you all that’s been happening and the way the Lord is leading this ministry.
As our clubs at the library were bursting at the seams, we felt the winds of change upon us. With the amount of children now wanting to be involved in kids clubs, we had to re-strategize.
We put the clubs on hold for two weeks while we went into an intense time of re-organizing. But this didn’t involve sitting in an office doing paperwork. Nope, our way of re-organizing meant getting out on the streets and in the homes of these children and families.
This meant first getting each child’s school schedule and age. Then onto the white board placing them into groups. We kept club enrollment at 5-6 children per group so we can have intentional one-on-one time with each child. Because of their intense emotional needs, we felt this was going to be a much more effective way to minister.
Once the groups were set we made an invitation for each child and a special club card. After that we interviewed 50 children and families. This involved a home visit to chat and talk with the family, fill out a file for each kid and hand out their invitation to be a part of a club. The anticipation was building in the children. They could hardly wait for their club!
Now whenever I pass through the barrios instead of the mass confusion of children surrounding me saying, “When are we going to the library? Can we go today? Can we do something?” Begging me to go do something with them.
Now the kids smile and shout after me, “I’m on Tuesday!” “My club is Wednesday!” And chat to each other about whose club is when. Everyone is happy because each child has a special time prepared just for them.
At the same time, God is building and bringing in people to help meet all the various and complex needs of these children. We now have two full-time tutors who are pulling out the children and creating a separate schedule so each of these 50 children, who we have targeted as the most at-risk in Jaco, are now receiving a club and a tutoring session each week! Isn’t that incredible?
This is truly the work of prevention. These are truly things that can change the course of these children’s lives.
But wait, it gets even better!
Our church, Iglesia Radical, meets in a store front in the middle of town. They rent two store fronts – one for services and the other for Sunday school and an office. Well, during these two weeks the church decided because of all the new kids coming to church they needed extra space for Sunday school. They rented another store front next to the two they already have! We were so excited to hear this news.
The pastor and his wife offered us the closet in the new room to store all of our club supplies. We were overjoyed. They even had a staff member custom build shelves for the closet for us. Oh, man. I’m going to be honest, I was just freaking out with joy about this. Because the “stuff” is important. It’s all donated supplies – art supplies, board games, puzzles, which are the important tools that we use to connect with and minister to these children. And now these supplies have a home.
But, then, the very icing on the cake. The church offered us the use of the room for our clubs. It is a beautiful room, with big open windows, air conditioning, tables, ready-to-go. And we get to use it every afternoon.
We just finished our first week of re-organized clubs in our new location and… it was absolutely incredible.
The location was perfect, and even better than that two members of the youth group showed up every afternoon to help us clean and prep and lead the clubs.
These teenage boys sat on the floor and played puzzles, board games, read stories, painted pictures, played and sang songs with these children. Just like big brothers. And at the end of the club we all sat on the floor and prayed for each other, the teenagers helping lead the children in prayer. It was powerful.
These boys have been part of the church for six years now, growing in their faith, and now they are giving back by being an example to the younger ones coming up.
When it Rains it Pours
And I mean pouring down blessings. Just showering it down.
At the same time of everything above, the Lord decided it was time to give us a property of our own. Our very own! Where we can live, raise our family, and minster to the depths we desire in this community. The property is a tool. A beautiful, life-giving tool that we hope to use to not only raise four healthy sons, but also create a safe place for children and youth.
The Lord’s timing is absolutely incredible. I feel like He has us just right in the palm of His hand and He’s giving us just the exact experiences we need to learn and grow and understand His desires for this ministry. He’s showing us His strategy.
At the La Ola property where we worked last year we learned a rhythm to caring for children in the midst of “free play.”
Now, in this season, we have created patterns that have beginnings and endings, clubs with limited enrollment and waiting lists. Children like knowing there are expectations and structures and boundaries. Their lives define the word “chaos” so when we infuse design and clarity and order and peace, we are giving them a gift.
Ultimately, when we have a property, we want our ministry to have both – open times when everyone and anyone is invited, and clubs/classes that are limited in enrollment.
It’s similar to the design of Jesus’ teaching – broad messages to large groups, and smaller intentional sessions with his disciples.
So, in a way it’s like as a ministry we’re getting a practicum in both levels – we had a year of the free play, open for all structure – which was AWESOME. Now we are having a practicum of a more structured time. And finally, we will put the two together with a deeper understanding of both aspects and how to put them together.
(I have to mention here the guidance of my friend and mentor, Jill Aspegren, who shared these words with me several months ago, and now I am seeing it play out before my very eyes… thank you, Jill.)
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—” Proverbs 1:5
What we are thinking about now is maintaining focused clubs at the church, and as the Lord provides, using the property for a drop-in. A refuge and safe place for children. From the drop-in we can plug children into a focused club, small-group tutoring, and loving church community.
There are a lot more details to share, and I want to do that. Especially more specifics of owning a property and where we are at in the process. We are not quite land owners yet, we have only signed a purchase agreement. But this post is so long already, I will write more about the property specifically in a new post.
Thank you for reading and following along on our journey. We need your prayers so desperately. And your support. Your financial giving and prayers make all of this possible. We would not be here if it wasn’t for you. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts. ❤