As we count our blessings from the last 10 years, here is a top 10 highlights list from 2011!
1. We put a roof on the Refuge house! As we worked towards operating a shelter for abused children, many churches and individuals gave generously for us to purchase the house next door to our main facility! A team from Discover Church came almost immediately to renovate it. (January and February)
2. Emelina Araúz joins our staff and the beginning of our after-school program starts, called Segundo Paso or Second Step at the time. The «first step» was the large group worship program that gave us broad but shallow reach with children. Second Step was more individualized help with homework and greater mentoring time with students, and the «third step» would have been to move children into the Refuge House full time! This third step never panned out (more on that in a future post), but seeing how influential this smaller group mentoring/teaching time has shaped the way we do most things now. (February and March)
3. Woodcreek Church sends a team who paints new and old furniture at the Refuge House and helps lead some piñata events. (April)
4. Katie Loos and Yeril Lozano (who had been volunteering with us for awhile) get married! (May)
5. We have five teams over the summer: Wildwood Church, Westside Church, Crossroads, Kingsland, and Discover. With these teams we begin a tradition of carnival game events with kids (where they win donated items), prep a computer lab for Segundo Paso kids, knock a hole in a concrete wall to make a backstage room, keep the facility in great shape, build rapport in our nearby neighborhoods putting on clown shows, and receive lots of donations like sound equipment, office supplies, basic hygiene items, and a ton more! (June through August)
6. We buy our first ministry bus with donations from members of Discover Church. This helps us transport teams and bring Segundo Paso kids to our center for tutoring without spending a ton on hired transportation. (July)
7. Co-director of children’s ministry Julie Russell is given medical permission to spend time with kids again after 9 months at home recovering from an autoimmune attack that damaged her kidneys.
8. Seventeen people are baptized at our first baptism service. (October)
9. We begin working with two Nicaraguan-led churches to help get their children’s ministry up and running. Most churches we’ve met with don’t have a vision for reaching young children with gospel teaching on their level. (November)
10. A mom of one of our Segundo Paso girls shows up to our youth service—and brings friends—because she sees such a dramatic change in her daughter’s life.