Monday, August 29, 2011

Why We Need To Befriend Neighbors

Put yourself in this picture. You are new to the block. Your husband works a great deal. Your son doesn't drive. You are young and healthy but you take a spill. You think you have a sprained ankle. Your husband leaves on a business trip. Your injury gets worse. You now have what looks like a grapefruit on your ankle. And you are in so much pain. You have to hop.

You can't even hop to the house next door but you remember that there was a neighbor who gave you a phone number. You can that number.  "I need help" you say.

Let's share our information. Sometime..the one calling out for help might be you.

Camp Food

Everyone gets hungry at camp. Imagine 160 hungry children...about 30 youth volunteers and 20 or so adults. Our Seventh Touchdown Camp had lots of food and food surprises. The surprises were that some of the new volunteers went out and bought or got donated food for camp. We also got milk from McDonald's and lots of cereal and snacks from Second Harvest, thanks to our president Patty Cardona's efforts and going after these.

We also thank Lou from Gourmet Frank under VP Barbara Siegal who got all we needed for lunches. The men at Verbo stepped up to the plate and barbecued the chicken at the park the last day. Before lunch the children all enjoyed pinatas given also through Verbo. Children had small treasures of candy to take home.

I am smiling because at the brunch we shared the story of the boy who shared his lunch with Jesus (otherwise known as the miracle of feeding the 5,000). Jesus blessed the small lunch and it turned into enough and more than enough.  How do you know if God is in it? There is always overflow. We were able to leave food for the youth camping trip just about to happen.

God promises, even in famine, to keep his loved ones alive. Don't look at your resources. They will never be enough. Look up. There is a very loving God who provides what we need. Our Project Lost Sheep team knows the truth of this. Let's offer our little and see God work!


Sports are an important part of Touchdown Camp. We walk the children over to a local school and park and they get to play games like kick ball, soccer, hula hoop, water balloons.

Along the way they get to talk to the youth volunteers from Verbo and the adult volunteers from Project Lost Sheep. It is always a joy to see children outside and having fun knowing that these children do not get much of this in their day to day life.

Once in a while we discover a real athlete. This year a camper came to me with a skinned knee. She wasn't going to participate. We sat for a bit. I watched her dash to the restrooms and could see her knees were okay. When she came back I told her she was a really good runner.

"Let's see you run all the way to the end of the field and then meet me back at the bench." Before I could say more she was flying across the field to the end in the most beautiful running form. A natural runner. She was panting when she flopped beside me.

"You are really a good runner," I told her. "When you get to high school, I want you to try out for track." "In the meantime, just remember you really are good at this."

She nodded. "I think I'll go and play," she said and left without a backward glance. Sometimes we need to tell a young person what we see that will guide them in the future. Let's encourage one another. Let's tell someone today what we see that they really do well. Especially, let's compliment a child, a neighbor's or our own.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Classroom Size

Today I had a chance encounter with an elementary school teacher who works in east San Jose area. Her third grade class will have 4 more students than last year.

That means that her time will have to stretch and the one to one time will be less than last year. Those who need help the most will not get more, but less, help. Is it any wonder that US is running behind other nations now in many fields?

The elementary school years are the most critical. They are the base on which the rest of learning extends.

Many of the children we work with in Project Lost Sheep simply have no way to keep up because they don't have the help at home they need. The mother may work three jobs and have as many more mouths to feed. The main emphasis of the poor in America, and yes, we have many very poor children even in California, is to survive. When you worry about food, and you didn't have much education yourself, helping with "book things" can be the bottom of your list.

I am happy to tell you all that for the second year in a row, Verbo Church, where we hold camp, has received a partial grant to have an after school program in which 25 children will get help with homework two times a week. The staff is willing to go to 4 days. ALL THAT IS NEEDED WOULD BE SOME PARTNERS TO GIVE.

For 25,000 more per year the after school program could "roller blade" the behind children to get "up to speed" for the very aggressive program ahead.

I mentioned to the school teacher that 40% of the children from at risk backgrounds in Santa Clara County will not graudate from high school. The teacher nodded her head sadly. She knows that she is fighting a huge battle that cannot be won without outside help. The answer has to come from those "outside the system".

Hello, high tech people. Want a challenge? Why not start getting behind some of the non-profits working with children in your own backyard? Give us some computers for after school programs. Give us some funds to pay tutors and directors and buy materials. Give a little back from all that has come to you.

Children who are ignored will be adults who are problems and we will all be the poorer for it. Jesus said, "As you have done it unto one of the least of these my children, you have done it unto me." One day, all of us rich and poor will be held accountable for what we did and for what we didn't do.

Flip Flops

You all know what flip flops are.  And you have seen them on feet. Nice for the beach. Not good for Touchdown Camp.

But, last year, I saw a number of children wearing them. They wore these because their  parent could not afford a simple athletic shoe.  It was sad to see a 10 year old girl, who was pretty good, try to play basketball in her flip flops. Something germinated in my heart over this year and now we are collecting used athletic shoes.  Why not? Most shoes are outgrown before they are worn out on children.

Can you help? 
Please drop off used Athletic Shoes or mail them to:

Verbo Church
2798 Bay Road
Redwood City, CA. 94026