I wanted to give an update on our mission.
The academy is going pretty well. Here in Travesia, the boys go to school during the summer, their break is in the winter. They boys have tutoring/homework time everyday. The hard thing for us has been that the school here is so underfunded, with under qualified teachers who have little or no interest in actually teaching the boys anything. The school has more days closed than I have ever seen. This week the school was closed 2 days due to a taxi/bus strike. The teachers take a bus everyday so they couldn’t get to the school. The boys have few days with assigned homework so we have to be able to provide supplementary material to help improve their education in math and reading. Well most of our boys have been passed from grade to grade without obtaining the skills they need in the previous grade. We have boys in 8th grade who can do basic addition and subtraction. We have kids in 6th grade who can’t read. They don’t know the sounds that the letters actually make. Some don’t know the letter at all. The classroom we have here is by far our area that is the hardest to run, but is the most beneficial. It is also the place that we have had our hearts broken seeing the struggles these boys have. In the class is where the boys get the most frustrated and, at times, will open up their hearts and share the struggles they have at home. We pray that a mission or organization come join us here in Travesia to help provide a school rooted in Christ, to help this community that has so much potential but so few resources.
Living your lives on mission changes you. It changes your family. We have seen our family grow so much. Being here gives us opportunities to teach Alek and Jackson lessons that would be hard to demonstrate in the US. They are understanding what values make a person a “good person.” They understand that integrity is something that you choose. They are learning that the lessons and parables of Jesus Christ can be demonstrated daily to people you meet. That the words of Christ are instructions on how to live a life of love and service towards others. They remind Maria and I that love is so powerful and so basic that the smallest of actions, based in love, have a huge impact on the lives of the people around you. We have decided to homeschool the boys next year. The schools here, even the private ones, are not to the standards that our boys need. I think about being in the St. Johns school district and how much different things are done here. It would truly blow your mind. Alek and Jackson are doing so well emotionally. Their Spanish is really good. So good that they constantly correct me. Yeah that can becoming annoying some times. But I am thankful. Its funny when I have to go into a store or work with the community, Alek always ask if I need him to help with my Spanish. He is doing so well. Jackson is a fiery 8 year old. His emotions are so strong. He loves and plays hard. He is very competitive. He likes to go out with our older boys, 14-18, and work out with them.
Maria and I are doing well also. It is hard to be without our friends and family, but the power of Christ reminds us that we are here for a bigger purpose. We see our marriage and partnership in a different life. We depend more on each other that we ever have. We are working really hard to provide for Alek, Jackson, and our academy boys a solid foundation of faith and family.
We still need prayers daily. A few of our older boys have dropped out of the academy. This is something that we expected but it is never easy. The ironic thing is that a few of them have come to the United States with their families. They spend years preparing their documents and visa’s to go to New York City, well the Boro’s. It is bitter sweet for us. We pray that the opportunities their help them find Christ and grow into the men we know, and hope they can become. We lose others to the streets. They just stop coming. They are hanging out with friends and just don’t come anymore. That hurts us. But we have faith that God has them exactly where he wants them and exactly the time the he wants them to be there. We pray that God brings them back to us if it is His will. Pray that with us and for these boys. These boys have so many needs. Food, money for school supplies and clothes. They walk a lot so the boys want to earn money to buy a bike. All while living in poverty and the hardships that their families endure. Pray for their families and for their futures.
But God is working here. He is alive. He smiles down on us, even during our pain, our heart ache, our anger and our weakness. He is good and merciful. We have boys that are learning about humility and integrity. About the stories of the Bible. About the love and fear that Abraham had for God. About Peter’s denial of Jesus and Peter’s redemption after Christ’s resurrection. They are learning about forgiveness and love. The word of Christ ring in their ears and is making a way into their hearts. God is using us to spread his seed of Hope, of Mercy, of Love and we encourage the boys to continue to grow those seeds in their actions inside and outside the academy. We have seen some anger melt away and show us the heart of some of the boys. Fear is slowing going back into the shadows and allowing light to enter the eyes of these boys. To see that a future is possible and not just something that others get. Hope is returning here. Pray for us.