Girl's Group

As many of you know Stacey started working with the teenage girls in Las Lomitas in July of 2012.  With anything we do we are most passionate about it being:
-Holistic (spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically)
-Sustainable (making it so that if we leave tomorrow it will continue)
-Appropriate (not imposing our ideas/desires/priorities, but listening to theirs)
So this is how it’s been.   We have been going through the book, “A young women after God’s Heart” as well as chatting about topics they decide.  The main rule about our Bible study time is to always see what the Bible has to say about them, no cultural or personal preferences but exactly the Word of God.  The girls tell me from time to time, “you have showed us so many things we had never heard, we never knew.”  They are always surprised as to ALL the things the Bible talks about!
We focus more than anything on purity, prayer, service, and preparing ourselves.  So as part of this I continually ask them what their ideas are and we together decide how to make it happen.   

Over a year later we have skills and services that didn’t exist before:
-Praying (this took a while for the girls to learn how to talk to the Lord)
-“Quitar pena” (not be so shy), have self-confidence and value in Christ and each other
-Baking (cakes, cupcakes, breads)
-Cooking and selling food for soccer games (enchiladas, empanadas, tajadas with ground beef, etc.)
-Go shopping at a supermarket in a town 20 min. away
-Ability to keep receipts,  manage finances of the group through a basic balance sheet, and always have 3 witnesses.
-Prayer partners within the group
-Scripture memory, Books of the Bible memorized
-English Conversational skills (we started studying English 30 min. a week in March 2013)
-Create lesson plans for Sunday School classes
-One-on-one chats with Stacey over coffee at our house
-Learning that they have ideas that are worth sharing and discussing (they were silent for months! It was like pulling teeth and now Stacey can’t keep them quiet.)
-Much more!

So what do they do with these skills and services?
-Home visits to families that have recently had a birth or death:    They introduce themselves and ask permission to come in, they pray with the family, and give them a loaf of banana bread they made themselves.  These 3 things they do during this visit each took an extreme amount development.  It may seem simple, but it’s a great development exercise. 
- Raise funds by selling food for the group fund
- Save these funds to go to camp and also have purchased some things for the needy
- Visit to a local children’s health services home to help care for the children, visit 2 kids and one teenage girl that are there from our village read Bible stories, and sing songs.  With their funds they were able to purchase 4 pairs of shoes for growing kids who did not have shoes.
- Learned and presented a choreography in 3 different sized communities
-Able to have short greetings/conversations with English speakers that visit (which gives them a lot of self-worth!)
-Lead Sunday School
- And more!

As you can read they settled into a group, learned skills, and now share them with others.  We continue to learn and use those gifts God gives us. 

There are many struggles that these girls face daily that has caused our group to shrink or keep girls from regularly attending.  Parents are not always in favor of these activities/discussions, they prefer to have the hands at home helping.  With an average of 10 people living in a house teenage girls are in high demand to cook, clean, wash clothing, etc.  The parents/family/neighbors would rather them not learn about purity and marriage because they are ready for them to move in with a guy so there is one less mouth to feed in the house.  In our entire village of 400+ adults only 4 couples are actually married.  Free and local public education is over after 6th grade, so this is the age (12) these girls are looked after to move in with a guy. There is no source of work for women in the village so if they hear of the opportunity to work somewhere else they leave to take the job, which is usually in an unhealthy environment with no chance to get involved in a church or any sort of youth group.  The group has lost many girls to all of the above reasons, so we could really use your prayers. 
Another struggle is education, 3 girls are studying in the closest high school so sometimes because of the traveling (walking and on bus) and lots of homework they are kept from coming to activities.  One of the girls is striving to finish 6th grade, so she has more time competition as well. 
The assumption that these girls having nothing else/better to do, is completely false.  Three of them live with electricity and 5 have phones so they have struggles of time management with TV and texting.  5 of them walk 25 min. one way to come to our meetings and activities and it rains A LOT here.  1 girl is the local full time Kindergarden teacher during the week and goes to high school Sat. and Sun. 

The most faithful girls right now are: Dunia Carolina, Dunia Jackaline, Yolanda, Maritza, Kenia, Lidia, Amanda, and Elva.  If you feel led to pray for them by name, we would appreciate it.  We recently lost Maria because she moved in with a guy in another community, keep her and all the others we have lost in your prayers too.

Here are a few pictures from the past year.

The girls "baking" banana bread on the stove top in our house. (This was before we got our oven in April.)

These are "Pastelitos" in Honduras or Empanadas in other countries that the girls sell

Reading Bible stories to the kids at the Children's Health Service Home.

The whole group at the Children's health service home.

One of the boys who received the gift of shoes from the girls.

Selling food outside the church.

In the kitchen cooking to sell.

Cooking in Las Lomitas