Friday, April 30, 2010

vbs in usme

When we told our kids about vacation bible school, they were so excited about it. The week before the camp we had a serious talk with them. We told them that other children from the neighborhood would be joining us for a week of vacation bible school, and we were counting on them to behave well and help us. We were under the impression that they all understood and were ready to start the week. We were all really looking forward to an exciting week full of bible stories, crafts, snacks and games. The first day was great. Everyone made shirts and they were so cute! They loved the songs and all got along well.
Day two was a different story. Our program kids segregated themselves from the others, were not listening to us, and were fighting and running all over the place. It got to the point where we had to tell everyone that VBS was canceled on Wednesday and would resume on Thursday.
On Wednesday, we had a long talk with our group. We told them that we were not mad, but we were very disappointed. We try to do fun things and keep the program exciting, but we will stop if we do not get the respect that we deserve. We had them write in their journals and it seemed that they all understood. We also came up with the decision that they're all going to start giving back to the community by picking up trash or painting pictures for the elderly. We're counting on them to think of more ideas.
The last two days of VBS went really smoothly. Padre Romero did the bible stories and the kids did a great job drawing the 'three kings':

Sunday was our big VBS wrap up. The kids performed for the congregation and it was GREAT! Padre Romero told everyone to get on their feet and follow the kids' lead. The kids were all smiling and did a wonderful job!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible! We're looking forward to our next campo biblicos later this summer.

Love, Kate

Friday, April 23, 2010

easter egg hunt in usme/olympics in soacha

Our kids in Usme were treated to a really special event last week when Brittany's boyfriend Andrew arrived for a visit with tons of colored eggs filled with hershey's kisses. To say they were excited about their first Easter egg hunt would be an understatement!
Last weekend, we headed to Soacha to give them the Olympics experience with about 30 kids. It was a little more difficult than it was in Usme as the majority of the kids were under 7 and we didn't have much space to work with. It was a lot of fun and great to work with a new group of kids. Most of the kids in Soacha that we work with live at a foundation for displaced children. They were internally displaced and most have lost their parents in the process. Despite all that they have been through, they are great kids and were really enthusiastic about the program.

This week, we have been at Usme every day kicking off the first of at least 3 vacation bible school programs. It has been very busy and we have learned a lot. I'll update about VBS after this weekend! Again, if you'd like to donate to our VBS fund, click here! Thanks to those who have already generously donated. We really appreciate it!
Love, Kate

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

campos biblicos!

The first half of our time in Colombia has brought many lessons, adventures, and experiences that we will carry with us long after our year here is over. Getting through the various challenges that we have been faced with was made possible by your continued love and support. Your encouragement, prayers, and financial donations have helped to make our lives here both joyful and rewarding and have enabled us to become a part of the community.

Our biggest joy has come in the form of a small group of kids who have become such a tremendous part of our lives. At least twice a week we make our way to the south of Bogotá, to a mission church in Usme, to spend time with these kids, our kids. Our time there includes lunch, homework, English lessons, culture lessons, crafts, and games. We have seen wonderful changes in our kids over the past six months: progress in English and Math, better behavior, increased responsiveness, outgoing spirits, and greater displays of love. We have hosted holiday themed parties, the olympic games, created a place for the kids to play, and were able to provide them with special Christmas gifts. Your continued support has made all of this possible.

Along with the time we spend with our kids in Usme, we also spend time working with other churches in the diocese. At the cathedral we engage in outreach through helping with the children, planning upcoming events, and assisting with a medical clinic. We also spend time in Soacha with Padre Carlos. This is a small church community that is trying to grow. We consider ourselves a part of all three of these communities and are excited to announce our latest initiative.

When thinking of ways we could be more involved we quickly came up with one answer - Vacation Bible School! We plan to hold a VBS at each of the 3 churches, and are considering doing a couple more weeks of VBS with other churches in other cities. Each VBS program will be one week (5 afternoons) and each day will include a Bible lesson along with crafts, snacks, games, and worship. Our theme is outdoors and adventure. Padres Diego, Jose Romero, and Carlos are all very excited about this plan and are supporting us in our venture. They have given us the autonomy to run the program as we see fit. As such, we don’t have a budget, so all of the expenses will be covered by us and through donations. We want to do a lot with our VBS programs, but we can only do as much as money will allow. We will start with our first VBS in Usme at the end of April with about 50 kids in attendance. In June we will work with the cathedral and Soacha and will have about 50 more kids each. We’re really excited about this project, and are working hard to make sure that it is successful.

All of our costs are in the form of supplies: snacks for everyday with a lunch on the final day, craft supplies, t-shirts for every participant, and game supplies. Any supplies that are left over at the end of our program will be used to sustain our ministry for the rest of our time here. We are asking for financial contributions as well as any words of encouragement, suggestions, and prayers. 100% of financial donations will be used specifically for our ministry first. If we do not use all of the donations on our VBS programs, then we will use the remaining funds for our mission trip with the Diocese of Connecticut to do a VBS in Cartagena in June. We have set up a paypal account to accept donations. Please click HERE to donate.

Thank you again for your continued love and support!
Love, Kate and Brittany

Monday, April 5, 2010

feliz pascua!

Happy Easter from Colombia!
Brittany and I shared time between Usme and the cathedral for Semana Santa (Holy week).
Tuesday: 5 pm service at Usme was a nice, relaxing prayer service with members of the community.
Thursday: 2 pm service at Usme, back at 6 for a service at the cathedral. In Usme, couples were invited to wash each others' feet as a symbol of reconciliation.

Friday: 2 pm procession/service at Usme. We started by walking through the streets of Usme and stopped at 14 stations of the cross. I helped a lady (in the picture below) walk from station to station and had a nice conversation along the way.

Saturday: 6 pm service at the Cathedral with lots of candles and singing.
Sunday: 9am service at Usme, 11am service at the cathedral. Both churches were full and there were lots of happy families.
Needless to say, we went to a LOT of church this week. It was busy, but a fun and exciting experience. I think we both missed our traditions, families, and churches back home, but they always do a great job of making us feel welcomed here in Colombia. Also, it's great to be part of so many special communities because we almost feel like we're home.
After the cathedral's easter service on Sunday, we were ready to head back to the apartment and take a long nap. On our way out, the bishop told us to sit down. Then, he introduced us (one by one) to his 40+ family members who were there celebrating a first communion.
We ended up celebrating with them (music, food, long stories...) and it was a lot of fun. I took a bunch of kids outside and taught them how to play 'futbol americano' (football) with a junior sized ball my dad sent me. They didn't really get the concept of stopping the play after getting 'tackled' (two hand touch), but it was a lot of fun!
We're hoping to get some easter eggs out here to have a hunt with the kids later this month. There wasn't a single easter egg or easter bunny here, so I think it will be a new experience for all of them.

Happy Easter! Love, Kate