Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I have known Elvis for almost 5 years.  He was one of the first youth to come to the woodshop when it opened.  His attendance at the shop has gone in spurts.  He will have months or even a year that he is at the shop faithfully several times a week, then a few moths in which we won’t see him more than to say hello.  As I am not at the shop everyday my interaction is limited with Elvis.  However, I cherish the interactions we do have.  He may be the most knowledgeable Tico I know when it comes to U.S. sports such as football and baseball.  So of course we often talk sports and he frequently tells me the Broncos will never win the super bowl.

I enjoy these conversations about sports but more so enjoy the conversations about life.  I frequently ask Elvis about what he is learning and what God is teaching him.  For a long time if he had not gone to church recently he didn’t know how to answer, because to Elvis what God was teaching him was exclusively tied to the last sermon he had heard.  And too be honest Elvis’ church attendance is let’s just say sporadic.  However he is receptive to the Lord and eager to talk about spiritual matters.

Over the last five years I have watched as Elvis has grown from a squirrely young teen-age boy into a man.  He has grown in patience, perseverance, responsibility, truthfulness, and grown closer to the Lord.  Recently two events have demonstrated Elvis’ growth.  First he finished 8th grade.  Elvis dropped out of school several years ago, and went back to night school this year.  He stuck to it and was able to pass the year and advance to 9th grade.  He also finished a ukulele at the shop (the photo above is of Elvis with his ukulele in process).  He persevered and showed patience as he chiseled, planed, and sanded his ukulele by hand.  The Elvis I met almost 5 years ago would not have accomplished either of these.

Over the time I have known Elvis God has slowly transformed his life.  It has been transformed through consistent interactions with our staff members at the shop who have faithfully and consistently poured into his life.  Thank you Jeremy, Dustin, Jehudi, and Joshua for pouring into Elvis!  I see great potential in Elvis as he continues to become the man God is calling him to be.  I look forward to watching what God will do in and through my friend in the years to come.

La Convivencia

In October we were approached by the principal at the school we partner with in La Capri (this is the school where our Special Education Ministry Site is located and we also have sports programs at the school) about helping with the “Convivencia” for the 6th graders.  The “Convivencia” is a traditional year end activity celebrating the 6th graders accomplishment of finishing elementary school and launching them into high school (here we don’t have Jr. High/Middle School.  It is straight from 6th grade to High School).  Usually this event is done in conjunction with the school religion teacher and very rarely is an outside organization trusted with thus event, let alone an evangelical one.  As we continued to talk with the principal it became clear that she did not want us to help with the event, but rather she wanted us to take charge of the event.  So we politely said we would be happy to do so, but we would clearly present the Gospel during it.  She said that would be fine.

Over the next few weeks as we began to plan I asked myself several times what we had gotten ourselves into.  You see there are 4 sixth grade classrooms at the school with over 30 students in each class.  So we were in essence planning a party for over 120 6th graders who look forward to this day for years. No pressure.

A local camp connected to the church we attend agreed to let us use their camp for the day at less than 25% of their usually fee, since it was during the week and an event working with youth from an at-risk neighborhood.  We also were able to schedule the day during an outreach so we would have extra logistical help.  The team members from Highlands Church in Paso Robles, CA were amazing as they helped prepare and serve food, fill water balloons, clean up, etc.  We could not have done it without them.

Too be honest I had little to do with the actual planning of the event as our staff members Diego, Jana, and MacKenzie took care of the planning and preparation.  The rest of our staff joined us for the day and it was a tremendous success!  Our staff members worked in teams as each team was in charge of a group of about 15 6th graders as we moved through 4 game stations in the morning.  Each game was debriefed afterward discussing the values we could learn from each one and how those could help us as we started high school.  Our staff also took advantage of every opportunity to talk about Jesus, and how we all need him.

Following lunch the associate pastor, Roberto, from our church shared a great message about conquering the giant that is high school and clearly presented the Gospel.  After a time of response and reflection each student received an envelope of letters from key people in their lives encouraging them during this time of transition.

The day went better than we could have imagined.  The 6th graders had a great time, a memorable time, and repeatedly heard about Jesus.  It was also a humbling day.  Humbling to think about the favor God has given us in the communities where we work. To see some of the now young adults whom we have been working with for the last 4 years enjoy this day was rewarding.  It is also humbling to reflect on being asked to do this event.  For an evangelical organization to be asked to do this type of event by a public school is unheard of.  Praise God for his faithfulness and for allowing us to be his hands and feet.  Please join us in praying that the seed that were planted and watered that day would grow and flourish into Godly men and women.

Here is a slideshow of pictures from the “Convivencia.”