Monday, March 22, 2010

Working with the "Least of These"

The first half of last week we learned about working with kids with behavioral disorders and how to discipline difficult children. Michelle Grimes, sister to my staff Rachel, is an inner-city elementary school teacher from Kansas. I gained more insight into my own personality and reactions to authority, as well as effective methods of handling kids who cause trouble. I have a much better understanding of why some children act out the way they do, and how to handle them.

The other half of this past week’s learning was tangible and hands-on, out of the classroom and on the field! Wednesday was a workday around base, so I got to wash every dish in YWAM San Jose’s kitchen. Despite my initial aversion to time-consuming and menial tasks, I always find them somewhat humbling and good for my character. Dishes, you can’t defeat me.

Thursday and Friday were spent at a Christian special-needs center that teaches life skills and gives therapy to children with down syndrome, mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy. Leslie’s teaching the previous week about working with special needs children came to life as I interacted with and saw firsthand the delicacy and value of kids with disabilities.

I had the absolute pleasure of eating, playing with and teaching three precious young boys who all had varying degrees of autism. Two of the three were nonverbal, and the third mostly communicated with laughter and a few indistinguishable Spanish words. However, the beauty of these boys is that they explored and discovered the world in ways that I have never experienced. Pablo learned through taste. He put everything in his mouth and learned through what he tasted. Alexis, the boy that I had a special connection with, related to the world through his sense of smell. He would periodically lean over and sniff me, smell all of his food before he ate it, and habitually make sure his hands smelled the way they did 5 minutes ago. I must have smelled alright to him, because we became fast friends; he never left my side. Omar had a wonderful sense of humor and mostly enjoyed laughing at Alexis and Pablo, which kept the mood light and a smile on everyone’s face.

The highlight of my time with these boys was music therapy. We played instruments with them, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. We stomped to the beat of the music and let them feel the vibrations on their seats. Then they each took turns laying on a giant exercise ball and rolling around to the sounds of relaxing music. It was so amazing to see children immersed in music using their other senses as well. Music class wasn’t just their routine; it was a complete mind and body engagement. Their demeanors totally changed after music class, and it was encouraging seeing something that I am so passionate about used to soothe and comfort children who have such a difficult time functioning in this crazy world of ours.

I didn’t speak very much Spanish with the kids. They couldn’t really communicate back. And yet simple activities like washing our hands or going for a walk made these boys smile and laugh, feel loved, and enjoy life. I had much time to pray and think while working with them, and realized what a treasure they were. They laugh unashamedly. They love without conditions. They act exactly how they feel – no mind games or manipulation are present. They are the very essence of purity and innocence. And yet they are the lowest of the low. If children are the most overlooked, forgotten, abused and degraded in this world, how much more are disabled children? Have we, as Christians and as a society, completely missed it? Did Jesus not make it clear that the least of these are actually the greatest in His Kingdom? It was an honor to wash the faces of these children who couldn’t do it themselves. It was my pleasure to hold their hands and help them with nearly every task they completed throughout the day. They are not the least; they are the greatest. And it was humbling to spend those two days with them, seeing God’s fingerprint on their faces and getting to enjoy them in their own unique beauty and brilliance.

Thursday night, I was in charge of running a children’s program for the foster kids at Casa Viva, the organization we’ve been partnering with here. We had around 20 children and played games, had a Bible lesson, enjoyed worship and drew pictures while their foster parents had a meeting. It was great to catch up and play with all the kids we’ve been working with these last three months. I miss them when I don’t see them for too long, and I think they feel the same way. Friday night we returned to Santa Ana for our second-to-last program there. It’s getting harder and harder to picture my Friday nights without these children whom I have grown to love. I am hoping next week won’t be the last time I ever see them.

Every day I’m getting more excited for outreach in Jaco… please be praying for me and my team as we prepare to move there and start ministry! I know God wants to do big things in the hearts and lives of the people there, but we will need to rely entirely on His direction and strength. J

As some of you may know, I am returning home for one week before we start outreach. I couldn’t be more excited. There is no greater gift than to get to see and spend time with loved ones back home. The very comfort of home is calling my name, so I’ll be answering that call over Easter for six precious days of family, friends, food and rest. I’m thanking God daily for that blessing!

Haitian Missionaries' Advisor Arrested for Trafficking Charges

The story of the Idaho missionaries getting arrested in Haiti for illegally transporting orphans to the Dominican Republic takes a really weird turn as their legal advisor, Jorge Torres-Puello, has been arrested for trafficking and is wanted in multiple countries on a variety of ridiculous charges. He was accused of trafficking, as well as being connected to a large drug and sexual exploitation ring in Latin America. He and his wife have also been rumored to have run a brothel out of their house. Basically, he's pretty deep into criminal activity, and it's very interesting that he is connected to the Idaho church group...
Please pray...
-That proper actions are taken to investigate and punish, if necessary, Torres-Puello for his crimes.
-That other traffickers are discovered and stopped.
-That insight and truth is found in the case of the Idaho missionaries and that they can be dealt with in a just way.
-As always, for the victims of trafficking.


Voice for the Voiceless is an organization seeking to advocate for and give voices to the oppressed and ignored of this world. Based out of South Africa, they use relationship building, counseling, photography and awareness to seek justice and restoration of those in the world without a voice for themselves.


PLAN International is a children's development organization that is working in nearly 50 countries to promote children's rights and eradicate poverty in their lives. They enable and advocate for children around the world in order to transform communities and help them to reach their full potential. They work in a variety of areas - education, health care, community development, emergency relief, AIDS education, etc. - really awesome :)