Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Leaders In Training Retreat Highlights

When we started our Leaders in Training program at the beginning of September for a group of 13 kids from our neighborhood we hoped they would all make it through the first semester, but it seemed unlikely. The commitment was significant, requiring three afternoons totaling eight hours per week. The content is challenging academic tutoring and character development; a tough sell when the alternatives are watching TV or playing with friends. Yet last weekend we celebrated the completion of the semester with all 13 kids! Everyone met the challenge, some overcoming significant obstacles to stay in the program.

Our celebration retreat, a night at Great Wolf Lodge, illustrated the principle that hard work and diligence bring about great rewards. Surprisingly, it was the first time for many of the kids to stay overnight in a hotel. Great food, loving volunteers, and a warm welcome by a choir singing Christmas carols in the lobby were all aspects of their experience that added to the excitement of playing for hours in the water park. The most notable aspects of the retreat were relational. The five adult volunteers observed that kids who began as acquaintances had become a community, caring for each other and having fun together. Throughout the course of the weekend we set aside three times for worship and sharing. During these times we gave each kid a turn on the hot-seat as the rest of the group, volunteers and kids alike, showered each one verbally with compliments, appreciation and encouragement. It was beautiful to see kids shine (and cry) with joy as their peers and role-models affirmed their worth.

With half of our pilot LIT year now complete, we can already see great fruit in these kids’ lives. And it's not hard to imagine what great things God will do with them in the future!

In other news:
  • Praise God! He has met our year-end giving goal of $25,000 through contributions from 42 generous donors!
  • Praise God for providing a well-working vehicle for the single mother-of-three that desperately needs it!
  • Six neighborhood families with limited finances were adopted by local Christian families and small groups, who shopped and generously supplied Christmas gifts that otherwise wouldn't have been under the tree this year.
  • We'll celebrate Christmas Eve together as a community of faith for the first time this year in our facility.

Prayer needs:

  • Pray for the Hispanic members of our community that are suffering being apart from their immediate family during the holiday season.

Current needs:

  • Food items for the resource center, including rice, cooking oil, sugar, dry beans, dry pasta, and baby formula.
  • Beds--any size

Upcoming dates:

  • Thursday, January 22: ESL classes and Kids Adelante resume

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