Monday, August 13, 2012

ECA's Partnership with local missionaries

This past weekend we had a wonderful outing with many other teachers from ECA. We went just outside city limits and hiked to a peak. It was a gorgeous day for a small hike and we had such a sweet time of fellowship with others.
Another really exciting aspect of the day was to have the opportunity to hear from a missionary whom is closely affiliated with the school. Without ECA, his children would not have the education the parents desire for their children; nor would the parents be able to invest in their ministry as they are currently able to do.  Let me share about this ministry and how ECA is interwoven into this ministry (besides currently teaching a couple of their children).
The family is the Bartel family.  The goal of this ministry is to reach the street children with the love of Christ and provide a way out of the cycle of darkness that is passed on from one generation to the next… spiritually, emotionally and physically. The Bartels and their team go into some of the most dangerous parts of the city, where gangs are very prevalent, drugs and prostitutes are common, and violence is the norm.  They build relationships with the kids and the parents and share Christ’s love to them. One way they share His love is by running a safe center for the kids to come play. This place is called the ‘Jungle,’ which we wrote about in our October 30, 2011 blog post (click here to read that post about the Jungle). Last year, 180 kids came to the Jungle the night of Halloween. We praise God that so many children were in a safe place hearing about God’s love for them on such a dark night.  
After relationships are built, some of these children are able to go to an at-risk, alternative school  that primarily serves these high risk kids.  Because so many of the kids come from troubled homes, drugs, abuse, prostitution, etc., the kids struggle with school, learning, and interacting with each other. ECA has partnered with this school, providing outreaches with ECA students meeting during the school day with students to have Bible lessons, games, snacks, and sharing God’s love with these children of different backgrounds.
Some of the street children are also taken in to be ‘re- parented’ in a safe living situation. Though the child is off the street, it is hard to get the street out of the child. This can take a couple years before the child is at a point where they can handle being moved into a more stable and loving family home. Sometimes, governmental paperwork is completed for the child to be adopted, but other times, adoption is not an option. 
The last phase of the program is preparing the child for independent living. Though governmental care stops at age 18, like foster care in the States, this program continues with the child to make sure that they have at least a high school degree. Sometimes a child will be 22 before they are able to get a high school degree due to being so far behind in their schooling.
This program has had many success stories, for God’s glory, where children have moved on from the program, doing well on their own and are living out God’s love. Some of those children have become missionaries to other countries, many are giving back to help kids here in Colombia. Not all the children that go through the program are able to break from the curses and grips of sin. But even then, we know and trust that God has His hand in everything and He will be glorified in the end.
It is wonderful to hear how God is using the Bartel family to bring light to some of the darkest places of this city. To God be the glory.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

We're getting back in the groove!

Well, summer break has come to an end and we are getting back into the grind of school and Colombian life. The morning following our arrival we attended teacher orientation for the next three days, had a school picnic where we met students and parents, and then came the first days of school!

Previously, we had written that Marlayna would be teaching Biology to 10th graders, but as we have come to learn at this school, things are not always as they seem. Upon returning, Marlayna was asked to teach health to the 9th graders rather than teach Biology. The reason for the switch was for a more conducive schedule for Marlayna to be with Elleazah and a lighter work load. We agreed and willingly accepted the switch. We have learned to be flexible at this school.

Our first available Saturday, we went large park here in the city. Though we have been to this park before,  we decided to take a different bus system to get there, one that was supposed to be easier… and it was! We are always encouraged when we successfully navigate the public bus system without any problems, especially when it is a new route to us. We had a wonderful day at the park, lots of sun and lots of fun! Elleazah loved the different parks to play on!  There were so many stairs for her to climb, many slides to go down, and a bunch of different swings to choose to ride!  

We praise God for a successful first week and a half back and a fairly easy transition back to life in Bogota!