Youth Group?

We have probably mentioned bits and pieces about a group of teenage girls meeting and a group of teenage guys meeting, choreography, community outreach, movie night, etc.  So we thought we’d write up a blog to explain a little clearer what God is doing in the youth of Las Lomitas.

Like Sunday School, nothing like “Youth Group” existed in Las Lomitas.  It is something that we did not intend to do this year, but it has unfolded in a way only God can.  We started with a small group of teenage girls meeting on Wednesday afternoons back in June, later Pastor Erick and Kaleb thought it was a good idea for the males as well.  Females meet at 3pm and males meet at 6pm.  The groups started to grow in numbers but more importantly spiritually.  We now have been meeting almost 6 months and have seen many enter church for the first time, accept Christ, and begin to walk in His steps.  The ones who were believers before have started to take an interest in personal Bible study, prayer, and reaching out to their community with Christ’s love.
We have now combined the groups a few times over the past month and even without trying we sat back a few weeks ago and said to each other, “there is a youth group in Las Lomitas” and “we’re youth leaders.”  It’s been so natural and we’re very thankful for that.

In addition to the gender specific group meetings that we’ve explained in previous blogs, we are now starting to help teach these youth to reach out to their community.  The guys visit local widows, pray for them, and give basic food/home necessities.  They also offer to help with any household chores.  The girls have a ministry to any local family who has recently welcomed a new baby or lost a loved one.  The have learned to make banana bread so when we receive the news, they made a loaf and make a house visit to these families to show love and pray.

We are starting to come up with ways to raise money for the group to have outings or use on other ideas that come up.  Their first activity was having a movie night at the church.  The guys sold drinks and popcorn and the girls sold “pastelitos” (or otherwise known in other places as Empanadas).  We showed “Up” using a borrowed projector on the front wall of the church.  The solar panel battery held up and we had a great night.  Even Pastor Fredy brought his wife, Alexandra up for a “date night.”  It was a great time for the community to have the luxury of watching a movie!  The teens raised about $40, which we saw as a great success.

The guys selling the drinks and popcorn.

The girls cooking all afternoon.

Las Lomitas calls them "Pastelitos" other places they are Empanadas (a corn shell filled with rice and topped with ground beef and veggies).

Their shirts say "Daughter of God."

Watching the Movie "Up"
Pastor Fredy and his wife Alexandra ready for the movie.
Another thing that came up from them was the desire to do Choreography.  The guys and girls created (with a little help) Choreography to some Christian worship songs and presented at our local church, Pastor Fredy’s church (about 15 min. away) and at a large church about 2 ½ hrs. away.  This proved to be a great self-esteem builder.  In many of these small, oppressed communities the people don’t think they have the resources or talents to do anything or go anywhere.  These teens proved to be really interested and did a great job considering it was their first time attempting choreography.  We'll try to get some pictures or video up at some point.


Theological (Philosophical?) 3 of 3..."The Greyscale"

Greyscales seem to not be born, but made. The natural tendency of humanity is to emerge into this world deeply founded in the world of absolutes or postmodernism. This new human then spends his life doing one of four things. 
 1.       Ignoring the idea of morality and refusing to engage in the problems of his race. 
 2.       Growing deeper and deeper in the conviction of their ideology. 
 3.       Growing deeper in his ideology until a critical moment passes that causes them to suddenly reverse their perception of morality. 
4.       Growing deeper in his ideology until the recognition that neither his ideology nor the opposite can fully explain the breadth of Good and Evil and that a suitable compromise is needed.
Those that come to realization number four find themselves living the life of the Greyscale.
The Greyscale is an interesting creature that tends to confuse both the Black/Whites and the Greys. Without being hypocritical, the Greyscale has the capacity to simultaneously agree with and refute both sides simultaneously. Although this seems like the defining trait of any so-so politician, in reality, it is a trait that appears to be fairly rare.
The Greyscale looks at morality in terms of both the absolute and the unknowable. To the Greyscale, Good and Evil are facts of life and absolute truth is undeniable, but at the same time he recognizes that most of life exists on a morality continuum that allows for morally neutral to exist. In addition, the Greyscale allows himself to make decisions based on concepts of common good or utilitarianism without ignoring critical tenants of faith. The ability of the Greyscale to combine absolutes with situational morality provides a very wide base with which to support this ideology.
Black/Whites cry foul at this ideology, distraught at the idea of a world where absolute truth doesn’t answer every question.  Greys find themselves equally offended at the proposed existence of absolutes, fearful that their existence lends to the possibility that they could be imposed on others. However, these groups fail to recognize that they are the ones that birthed the Greyscale. Due to their inability to address the issue of the innate moral law felt by most people breathing or the problem of the contradictions easily perceived in the world of absolutes, the Black/White and Greys find themselves pushing their own into the middle ground of the Greyscale.
Within this ideology, the Greyscale is able to reconcile his faith with the problem that is Evil. Belief in God is possible in a fallen world. I’ve found myself believing more and more strongly in the Greyscale perspective. Growing up, I was painfully familiar with the Black/Whites of the world, and as a result of this experience, very nearly snapped myself over to a solid Grey. The Black/Whites have a powerful tendency to scar those that approach too closely, but the Greys have the nagging capacity for apathy that fails to answer many of existence’s crucial questions.
In this middle ground, a Jesus who scathes the hypocritical religious types with burning sarcasm yet turns to the crying prostitute with immense compassion makes sense. A Jesus who destroys the Old Covenant system of “do nots” and precise ritual in favor of building a faith based on self-sacrificial love and the command to care for our neighbors becomes a Savior worth following. It is in this worldview that love, hope, and truth are set as absolute good and suffering, oppression, and pain are true evil. It is also this worldview that allows life more morally confusing topics to find their place in the in-betweens. Our challenge as humanity is to recognize our position on this continuum and find the place where Truth exists as well as our response to its presence.



Escuelita is what our village calls Escuela Dominical or Sunday School.   

We have an average of 25 kids aged 2-10 each week; we don’t have limits on the ages so we get all over the map depending on the week.  When we moved here, Stacey said she was more than willing to start a Sunday School, but there would need to be a local leader in training to eventually take it over as the main teacher.  This local leader turned out to be a very mature 13 year old named Iris Marlenis.  This picture is great and explains itself, but that's Iris Marlenis at the front with Stacey.

She spent several weeks just observing and helping and then each week started to take on one activity.  She has gradually taken on more activities, worked herself up over the year, and is now running Sunday School on her own.  We still are present but have tried to let her spread her wings and fly.  We recently have brought on another 15 yr old girl who will be an assistant to Iris, her name is Maritza.  It is very encouraging to know that while we are visiting back in the States this holiday season, the children in Las Lomitas will continue to be taught the Word and have a safe and healthy place to be Sunday morning. 

We thought we’d let you have a glimpse into an average Sunday morning at 10am.  

Each child passes to the front of the church as they arrive to “check in” and say their Bible memory verse.  They get a piece of candy as a reward if they recite their verse.  Then we enter into a “song” time where they have learned about 10 Bible kids songs this year.  It’s been wonderful to open these children’s minds to songs made for them that are fun, have motions, and carry a message instead of only “adult” worship songs they knew from church before.

After the songs they all sit down and start the time where they must remain, “Calladito y Tranquilito” (Quiet and Calm) otherwise known as Bible Story time.  We brought down a children’s Bible which is illustrated in cartoon style and the kids enjoy hearing and watching the Bible story. 
That's Maritza and Iris to the left of Stacey, the two who are taking over while we're gone.

If Stacey feels a little reinforcement is needed to understand the story or the lesson for that day it is followed up by further explanation which usually involves using volunteers. At the end of this time we recite what is their “homework,” a Bible memory verse taken from the story.

We then play a game.  We’ve introduced a lot of our typical games as well as used some of the local ones to get the kids moving and have some fun.

After they have run off some steam, we sit down at our plywood on top of boxes make shift table (thanks Apex team for the idea!) and have craft time.  Many times it’s a coloring sheet or many times we create some sort of craft to go with the Bible story that day.

Yep, Echo attends Sunday School too, he's actually our most faithful student!

We finish the morning by making a circle and ending with a prayer that the kids repeat aloud after the teacher.  We also pass around an offering basket and encourage the kids to learn to give, many of them pull out their one or two Lempiras (5-10 cents in USD) and proudly drop it in the basket.

We thank God for the opportunity to share His word, His story, and His promises with these little ones that don’t receive this teaching anywhere else.


Theological (Philosophical?) Thought 2 of 3

In sharp contrast to the Black/White, the Grey lives a life of beautiful freedom. To the true Grey, nothing is off-limits. Morality exists on a continuum of a little bad to a little good. Free of absolutes, the Grey finds himself in a life determined by situation and circumstance. Using his liberty, he lives from one moment to the next, evaluating the “best” outcome using the information available at the time. 

However, this is not to say that the Grey operates without morals. Although most Greys will strongly state their belief that there is no such thing as absolute good or evil, the way they lead their lives and the way they feel typically indicates otherwise. Greys often possess a strong, personal, inner sense of what right and wrong mean to them. Although typically unwilling to impose it on others, the control that this sense exerts on their personal actions is surprisingly intense and often a substantially stronger drive than what controls the average Black/White. There are exceptions to this, and some of the Strongest Greys possess the ability to abandon the idea of good and evil in favor of a life free of any restriction. The majority of these Strong Greys seem to demonstrate a unique lifestyle of hedonistic humanitarianism. Recognizing the pleasure that accompanies the improvement of other’s lives in addition to pleasure sought in more personal ways, these Strong Greys live a life filled with personal pursuits intermingled with incredible displays of generosity. Engaging, thoughtful, and self-assured, these Strong Greys rule social circles, shirk social convention, and confuse the world’s wealthy and powerful.

However, as in the case of the Strong Black/White, these “Strong Greys” are a very small minority in the larger world of the Greys. The average Grey finds himself much less confident and much more inwardly challenged by the contrast of their words and sense of morality against the feelings of right and wrong that plague their actual decision-making processes. Day to day, they try desperately to become a stronger Grey and abandon these inklings of absolutes that torment their private thoughts. Sometimes in an attempt to leave these feelings behind, they thrust themselves into a sincere hunt for pleasure, hoping that their actions may influence their feelings. However, those Weak Greys that survive this experience typically find themselves more assured of the existence of Truth than when they entered this time of testing. 

Over time, Weak Greys begin to identify with their ideological enemy, the Weak Black/White. Spiting the Black/White for his hypocrisy and imposition of morals, the Grey begins to recognize the dissonance and hypocrisy within his own soul. Desperately trying to ignore right and wrong, but becoming more and more assured of its existence, the Grey falls into a deep moral silence. Unwilling to reconcile his ideals with the great underlying pressure of Truth, the Grey slowly kills his soul, forcing it to lay quiet as he slowly smothers it with intellect, physical pleasure, laughter, and the sweet bliss of perceived freedom. Thinking himself free from his obligation to acknowledge God and morality, and finally assured in his ability to think morality out of existence, the Grey settles into a life of peaceful apathy. However, history has taught us that the Grey is a very poor killer. He fails to recognize that on that fateful day when he murdered his soul, it only slipped into a long coma, waiting for the Grey’s death to approach. Hearing the footsteps of human fate, the soul awakens and creeps back to the Grey, preparing for the final desperate struggle for the heart and mind.

And so it is that the Grey is never truly free. Despite a life free of moral obligation, the Grey lives a life haunted by their own souls. Although there are moments when he seems to have slipped out of its grasp, the awareness of the persistent stalking never allows for true liberty. Until the Grey realizes the need to face the soul and Truth it presents, peace will remain elusive.