Wednesday, May 10, 2006
This past Saturday, we got a glimpse into the future of the ministry here in Puerto Viejo. A little over a month ago, we began talking about the possibility of hosting some type of “work day” at the property with some of the local kids. We’re looking for ways to get locals involved in what we’re doing here, which can be a little difficult due to the general lack of volunteerism and the stage of our ministry at the moment. Well, we decided to host a work day, starting in the late afternoon and ending in the evening with pizza and a movie. We started talking to some of the local kids that surf, figuring that they would probably have the most interest in the skatepark, and tried to get the word out to a few other people as well. The idea was to get some additional work done and get to know some of the youth better just by spending time with them. We’ve had a few other opportunities to spend time with some of them lately, which I believed really helped in gaining their trust and made this opportunity more possible.
Anyway, we set the start time for 3:00pm on Saturday. One of the things about this place is that you can’t really depend on much of anything, so we were prepared for a complete no-show even though many of the kids had said they would be there. Well, 3:30 rolls around and there’s no one in sight. I was starting to get a little worried but then at 3:32 kids started showing up in groups of 2 or 3. In the end, we had a total of nine kids show up, which was more than I expected. They worked hard, sanding beams in the music café and destroying the remnants of a wall where the first phase of the skate-park is going to be constructed this summer.
Around 6:00, the pizzas arrived and we all stopped to enjoy some food. We watched a portion of a skate movie, just to give the guys a look at the possibilities, and then we watched a really good surf movie called Brokedown Melody. The afternoon and evening were specifically geared to give us an opportunity to build relationships. The kids were told who we are and what we’re all about but they weren’t hit with anything heavy. That will come later… For now, we’re gaining their trust, becoming friends and generating some interest in them about what will happen in the future. Unless there’s surf, most of these guys don’t have anything to do so they wander the streets of Puerto Viejo getting into trouble or, at the very least, exposing themselves to things that they don’t need to see or experience. It was really cool to have several of them ask when we were going to be doing this again because they wanted to make sure to be there.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest for your souls.” That includes kids that have seen and experienced way too much for the number of years they have behind them. We’re trying to accomplish several things through the use of the skate-park, which is really just a tool. We’re trying to build relationships and we’re trying to offer an alternative to wandering the streets at all hours of the night (rest for the soul). In the future, we want to capitalize on both of these things by sharing the love of Christ in tangible ways and by sharing the gospel and offering opportunities for these kids to grow to maturity as Christians with the hope of plugging them into house churches as those grow and develop. Right now, it’s small steps…a little work, pizza and a movie, but God’s opening doors and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future as we are faithful with the small things.