I'm still getting used to being part of a new community, and so although I've jumped into the ministry that the Refuge is already doing, I haven't yet made any kids clubs on my own. On Sunday Scott & Leslie picked up a van load of kids and brought them to church, as is their Sunday routine, and afterwords we took them to the beach for a picnic and surfing. I spent hours with one little guy pushing him into the waves so he could get up on the surfboard. Today I helped out in Leslie's kids club and was with a lot of the same kids from Sunday. I have decided to ease into things- to help with what already exists and meet kids and their families first, before I take on groups of my own.
But now I have greater direction on what to do, and how it can be done.
Over the weekend I was walking through one of the slums, and a guy from the church invited us into his home. He and his families are immigrants from Nicaragua, as are most of the people from the slums. We sat down and had a glass of water and I talked with his mom for about thirty minutes. She shared with me, that her greatest need is helping her kids get through school. Her oldest son (the one from the church) was unable to finish school, and she is unable to help the younger ones because of the high level of education.
She explained, "My 8 year old son is in 1st grade. I do my best to try to help him, but he does things and brings work home, and I don't even have a clue where to start! I don't even understand the instructions, so how can I help him? There was a girl, a missionary, who lived here for a short time. She helped my daughter and tutored her. It was the most successful period in school that she's ever had."
The church that I attend here in Jaco has bought a property on the slum- a gazebo type thing they've built to be able to tutor children. However, they have no one to go in and actually do the work, so the property stands unused, and the children continue to struggle with the work and to stay in school.
So now, I have a plan. I want to go to the slum, use the church property, and tutor children in that community.
In the training I've had, it was often mentioned to focus on the felt needs of the people instead of the assisted needs. Perhaps I could come in, and think that I have a solution to solve a social problem in a community. And my solution might work for a time, and it might be a blessing to the community. But how much better is it, when the community can say "THIS is what we need," and the local missionary/volunteer/church, can come in and help them fix the problems they see.
And for now, that's what I'll be doing. Working with the Refuge, serving with the local ministry, and helping the community by doing what they've asked for: tutoring their children and helping them stay in school.