The weather shifts, birds start singing a lot again, and the rain comes to wash away the remaining messes of winter, as Spring announces her arrival. All celebrate the shift even as they await new life that is expected to spring forth very soon, patiently waiting, and watching the past season melt away. This April I watch in active anticipation of the new life that is about to spring forth and celebrated the early flowers.
This month I had the amazing new opportunity to work with refugees. I have always wanted to work with refugees but never had the chance to. For 9 months a group I've been a part of has been praying for a door to open to serve refugees here in T.J. Tijuana is very close to the border and we see a lot of people leave their homes in hope and pursuit of crossing the border, resulting in several refugee camps here. Yet we have been unable to be allowed into these camps, but when a Ukrainian Refugee camp showed up we were allowed to help out and because of our commitment there we have a foot in the door to finally be able to step into those camps, we hadn't been able to get into before.
The Ukrainian Refugee camp was set up here in Tijuana and was only 20 minutes from where I live. The camp is now officially closed and has been moved to Mexico City but I will always remember and cherish the times there. Each week of the 6 weeks the camp was here I had the opportunity to serve there on the weekends. Each week, several times a week Sandy Simpson led teams into the camp. Our main job was in the Kids' ministry. Each visit we started with repairing, organizing, and completely sanitizing the children's play area. Doing this at times seemed pointless as we would clean up everything just to turn around to see it torn apart all over again in seconds by children excited to play in a clean space, but I didn't mind. In a space where it is chaotic, it was a gift to provide parents and children with the peace of mind that there was a clean, safe place for them to rest and just be kids. There I had the opportunity to meet several children and parents, and even though we didn't speak the same language we seemed to understand one another. A smile, the words thank you in any language are so clearly communicated as you can visibly see them on their faces, and their trust in us to watch their kids while they simply used the washroom or grab something was so honoring.
While we cleaned the children's area, I also got to sanitize and make bunk beds and make and serve food. But my favorite part was playing with the kids when the job was done or just dropping what we were doing to see them smile. Who knew that monkey in the middle for an hour could bring so much laughter, or a game of basketball and soccer could transform a concrete messy space into a fun, interactive space for all ages.
Many heartbreaking stories and situations were shared. Many without places to go, severe trauma, but in the midst of all this darkness, I saw humanity at its best. People shared, they listened, they understood one another, supported one another, and collectively refused to let the unimaginable that has and is happening to define every moment, but they stole back smiles, laughter, and hope. They actively fought the darkness of the winter in anticipation of newness right around the corner. Many were not able to cross, many are stranded, and many have no place to go, please keep them in your prayers because they are still awaiting newness and need every prayer of life anyone can offer them.
Packing up- Last Day of the Camp:
This month was also a very fun month at Hope Academy! We have officially switched over from visual arts to music in our art class! Each class is learning to read, sing and play a piece of music. Our grade 1-5 classes are learning recorder songs. So far we are still very pitchy and loud but getting better, for now, Advil is definitely a lifesaver. Grade 1/2 is learning "Hot Cross buns", and grade 3/5 is learning "Amazing Grace". Our high school class has a guest teacher Jerod Ische for the next 5 weeks who is teaching them and me to play guitar! The class will be learning to play "How Great is our GOD" by Chris Tomlin.
We also had an amazing fun Spirit week! Each day of the week was themed with special activities and students and teachers came dressed up ready to learn and have fun!
Monday: Crazy Hair Day - Music fun
Tuesday: Twin Day - Science fun
Wednesday: Hawaiian Day - Hawaiian songs and phrases
Thursday: Sports day - Self defense lessons
Friday: Rockstar day (The best day) - half-day and Karaoke party!
This coming month I can't wait to watch the flowers bloom even more as our students get ready for the end of the year. Continue to learn and prepare their music pieces to share. I ask for your prayers that everything is carried out in the best way and that I can help give the gift of music to our students accurately as I am currently writing our music curriculum as you may know pioneering is constantly building and shifting to rebuild. I also ask you to keep our students and staff in your prayers so that we may have peace, joy, perseverance, and protection from the enemy as we all get ready to meet deadlines for the end of the school year.
I want to express my sincere appreciation for those partnering with me financially or spiritually, for your faithful commitment to my ministry this year. Your support is vital for the work of the ministry and for the gospel of Jesus Christ to continue to be preached in this country. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.