Friday, December 1, 2017

Be Quiet and Listen

What a picture of God who creates all things so generously. White icicles to decorate real trees outside and a colorful orchid to enjoy during winter.

The first Christmas was cold and dark for shepherds. Then, the night sky was filled with light "and THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME UPON THEM."

The shepherds were interrupted in their job of guarding sheep with the most generous message anyone could get.


Not only was this message for them but the good tidings was FOR ALL THE PEOPLE.

The real gift of God's love in a small baby. God with us like the shepherds we must be quiet enough to listen and humble enough to go find the babe lying in a manger.

Read Luke 9. Holy Bible

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wet Cement

You have probably heard the adage: "Children are like wet cement." This is a picture of wet cement. The worker has to take his tool and move The cement while he can into position. The worker has to be in constant action during this wet stage like the first 10 years of a child's life.

The impressions made for good or for bad will mark that child for life. Character is being formed. Right and wrong can be taught. Truth can be imbedded in the heart that like money in the bank can be withdrawn later.

We know the labor we have put into over the last 13 years in children's lives in Redwood City, Tracy, San Jose and beyond.

As one former camper said, "what I learned in touchdown camp held me during the confusing teen years."

Never forget that being we reap what we sow whether in one child's life of many.

Look for wet cement and see how you can mold the children near you.
Hi Joyce,
For me the big take away this year -- well, for my 2 days at camp -- is encapsulated in the attached picture. The person you see w/ Orlando is Edgar, whose nickname is Bonbon.

Two years ago, when I volunteered last at camp, Bonbon was the #1 trouble maker in the "old kids" group. I remember bc a # of times I had to discipline him -- or try to discipline him. There are some children who clearly enjoy camp and others who just seem to be there bc they have nothing better to do. With this latter group I often wondered if anything sinks in.

Jim, left. Bonbon, middle. Fabi, right.
I received my answer to this question on Tuesday as Bonbon signed in to volunteer. My jaw hit the floor when I saw him; i asked Fabi "Isn't that Bonbon? He was the #1 trouble-maker two years ago. I never thought I'd see him again. HE is volunteering?"

Fabi explained how he promised to behave. It wasn't that I didn't think he'd behave but I was flabbergasted by the fact that Bonbon, someone who just seemed to attend camp bc he had nothing better to do, now is a volunteer. His parents don't belong to Verbo the interest in volunteering is 100% due to the impact that TD camp had on him.

Just as Jesus did "... not come to call the righteous, but sinners” I don't judge a camp by how the "good" kids are impacted but I focus on how camp impacts those "less than good." There may never be a better testament, in my eyes, to how camp impacts children than Bonbon volunteering.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Camp Help Kids Grow

Last week I got a phone call from a teenager I didn't know who wanted to volunteer at our upcoming Touchdown Camp the week of August 7.

"Camp helped me when I was a kid and my brother as well, camp strengthened my faith. I want to volunteer all week at camp and my brother, too." 

Now this was music to my ears!

Patty Cardova, President of Project Lost Sheep and Pastor's wife of Verbo Church
with 2 boys at camp

Seeds planted long ago in these boys became a heart to give back into camp.

When I think of the hundreds and hundreds of teenagers and young adults who have touchdown potential to give back, I am in a state of awe at what God is doing.

Changed lives of children become teenagers who want to give back become young adults with dreams of careers. Their families will be different because of what was given when they were children.

Strong plants are resistant to disease.

Strong young adults have inner strength to give because they have received love at the base and have a firm foundation in truth. Rejoicing that this is just the start of what God wants to happen in cities across America.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Join Amazon Smiles Program to Give Back

The phrase giving back is frequently mentioned. People say they want to Give Back. Sometimes this is for a school that helped them: sometime it is for a city.

In Menlo Park. CA. A local developer gave back a huge new gymnasium and more so the residents could enjoy.

Companies also have giving back plans. I am all for this! Some VC urge their partners to give to the non profit of their choice.

It is because of generous giving from several besides a thousand small gifts that SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK has helped so many including the children at camp and now food for the poor every week at Verbo Church...just to mention a few things they do.

We all know about Amazon. There is a company that has grown like crazy and they also have a give back plan that can involve you if you shop on Amazon. You simply go through the Amazon Smiles program and select the charity of your choice. 5 percent of your purchase price will go to that charity.

I am happy to let you know that you can shop and help the children we serve simply by selecting Project Lost Sheep when you shop via Amazon Smiles

What a neat way to think of others while you are shopping on line. Feel free to tell everyone about this. As some companies get so much bigger, I believe Giving Back will become the norm.

This is bedrock to America.

Let us get in the habit of sharing with others. We will soon have smiles on our faces because we are doing something that makes a difference.

Thanks for GIVING BACK!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jim's Testimonial of Touchdown Camp

Joyce Dueker asked me to write down some thoughts on why I've taken 20 months off work and to what extent, if any, TouchDown played a role in my decision.

A Little About Me and Who Connected Me with TouchDown Camp
For those of you who don't know me, 99% of you, my name is Jim Dillard and I lived most of my life in SF Bay Area. To date myself I used to play in the orchards that have long since been Apple's Cupertino headquarters.

Back in 2010 I asked God to help me find the "right" volunteering opportunity. Within 3 weeks I ended up sitting next to Joyce at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and you can guess what happened: Joyce was Joyce :) I can still visualize exactly where I was driving home on Highway 101 thinking "Really, youth? That is who I'm to volunteer for??"

Jump to my first TD camp back in 2011. It is Thursday and all the children were at Fair Oaks Elementary -- I happened to be taking penalty kicks (soccer) with some of the older boys. One child just scored for the third consecutive time and this was, by far, the best shot of the day. The conversation following his goal:

Me: "Whoa! Top corner...nice shot. So, how long have you played competitive soccer."
Child: "Whadda mean?"
Me: "You know...playing soccer on a team. AYSO, CYSA?"
Child: "Never played soccer on a team before. My Mom couldn't afford it."

Although I'd witnessed poverty and lack on my surf trips to Mexico and El Salvador this was the first time I experienced it with a child whom I personally cared for who lived within a 10 minute drive. Little did I realize his nonchalant comment would impact me and my life. And now be the norm of those whom I work with.

May, 2017
Fast forward to May, 2017. Here in Charleston, SC, there is an academic gap: the state's best elementary school, #1 out of 620, and worst elementary school, #620 out of 620, are just 6 miles apart. I'm witnessing firsthand how many at-risk, or underprivileged, youth are inadvertently* being funneled down a path whereby they will transition from at-risk youth to disconnected youth: those aged 16-24 years old who are neither in school nor working.

The Bay Area is no different and the need for people to invest their time and / or money as a means to narrow the academic / opportunity gap is greater than ever. Imagine a child in second grade unable to count by 10s to 100 or pronounce words like 'that' while reading aloud. At what point does dropping out of school become more enticing compared to the frustration of staying in school?
For those up to date on governmental policies coming down the pike it is now apparent that those with the fewest resources will be most negatively impacted. Some businesses and people in the Bay Area are stepping up yet is it enough? Unlikely. Can't do money or time? Then utilize those unproductive moments while waiting in a line, at a stoplight, or where ever, to say a prayer.

Lastly -- and I am biased here especially being a white male -- but the group that needs to step up the most are white males. According to all studies white males will earn more money for doing the same amount work as any other group. If we make more than others then we should give more than others. Yes, I realize males often are the breadwinners and / or seemingly don't have the extra time and funds but just look around and you'll realize we possess more than enough.

And for the single guys out there contemplate this: 60% to 80% of the people you will volunteer with are women.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Hunger in Redwood City?

Hunger is not a joke. There are plenty of hungry children and families in America. I really had no idea how close the pockets of poverty were until we started camp in Redwood City next to two of then most affluent cities in America.

Most of the children came to touchdown camp with no breakfast. We soon learned that lots of food would be part of camp. Thanks to Second Harvest Food, non profit, we were able to provide more fresh food and partnership with them has continued to be a daily blessing to Verbo Church where camp is held. A big truckload of food comes and the church distributes the food to the poor.

It was shocking to see children at lunch stuff food down their shirts to take home to their families. One family we found out had no food at all in the house at Thanksgiving. Food continues to be our largest cost at camp. It is my firm belief that churches of America need to be proactive in helping food banks in their community as well as homeless shelters.

Back to camp...
A call for seconds at lunch is always received with a rush of kids. In the Lord's Prayer we say "give us this day our daily bread". Maybe to the affluent these are pretty words but they are a call to action. Be thankful if you have food in your home and do what you can go share daily bread with those who do not.

Let a time of fasting be a reminder that you have a stomach that can growl with hunger every few minutes. Hunger is a real menace to concentrating or having energy for life. Look around. See hungry children just a few blocks away.

Until we see with our eyes and feel with our heart, children in America will continue to feel the real pain of hunger. And the Lord will be disappointed in us, his followers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snowed In

Winter here in Idaho is quite a different experience from California. We have had the most snow in 30 years and our first experience of being shut inside for days.

Then, a neighbor came and put together an ad hoc collection so a friend of his could come and plow our street. The snow was so deep that US mail could not deliver and garbage truck got stuck. Yesterday, the street got plowed.

Another neighbor called and offered to bring in groceries but I was over joyed to get out in her jeep which could cut the roads despite ice and snow. I had fun grocery shopping with her in a huge warehouse like store. Then we dropped my important letter in the main post office slot. We saw a mail truck on a tow truck. The Main Street of town was very icy but she expertly got through to make another delivery or food to a stranded friend.

All this to say that real love in action involves connecting with those around you and doing your part. Let's not forget that we are called to love one another and that means getting involved with others. Let's pull together and help each other for a America that shines out under God.