Tag Archives: Kids

Take a Long View

I spent a view days this past week up at a summer camp with 21 kids from our Westside Kids Club. For many of them it was their FIRST camp experience of any kind and it was such a joy to watch them soak up each and every part of camp. I wish you could have seen their faces as they hauled their duffel bags down the dirt road and literally ran to their cabins where they found six individual bunk beds. One little boy was astonished—“You mean no one is going to sleep next to me? (Most of these kids share beds with their siblings in their apartments so this was a luxury.) And it’s funny, most kids complain about the dull, kinda blah camp food that often gets a bad wrap, but not these kids. They ate with enthusiasm at every meal and piled their plates with 8 pieces of garlic bread because they’re used to meals that are limited by whatever the cafeteria size tray can old.

For those of you have been to some kind of summer camp you know that there is just something unique that happens when kids (and adults) enter the world of camp. Our sense of time literally changes. Daily routines are organized around shared meals and games and free time. There is open space and few distractions and endless opportunities to soak up nature. Camp takes kids out of their ordinary lives and hopefully gives them a chance to experience something extraordinary.

I have known many of these kids for the past two years. I have spent time learning about their lives and meeting their families. It doesn’t seem fair that many of these kids have known more pain and abuse and brokenness than most adults will experience in their lifetime. They carry their pasts with them—all of their hurts, fears and memories are stored somewhere deep within. And sometimes its both heartbreaking and frustrating because it’s hard to see change and growth when these kids’ lives have been shaped and influenced by circumstances out of their control.

I am learning that when you chose to care and love and build relationships with people (especially kids) its no about seeing immediate change. I long and pray for transformation. I want to see these kids grow up to be compassionate, caring and competent adults who know deep down that they are valued and cherished. I want them to come to know a Heavenly Father who loves them so much, even when many live with no earthly fathers. I love these kids and pray for them and learn from them, but sometimes I also feel stuck because I am short-sighted. I don’t see the big picture.

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me this prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero and I just found it buried under a pile of papers. Archbishop was an incredibly wise and courageous man who served the people of El Salvador. He was assassinated in 1980 while he was saying mass in San Salvador. He offers these words to us:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view…

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders.


I realize that if I take a long view it means that I may never see the end result, and maybe that’s the point. We are sometimes called to love people and be present with them in this moment. And perhaps admitting that it’s only by some element of grace and humility that the master builder uses people like me and you.

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Why do boys spit?

It’s a fundamental question, really. Why do boys spit? And I don’t mean the kind of spitting that happens when you brush your teeth or when you bite into a mushy, rotten apple and quickly spit it out. No, I mean what possess little boys to stand on a bridge and spit into a murky, stagnant pool of water?

On Saturday morning the kids at The Village Apartments had a pumpkin carving day. Now confession, I don’t really like carving pumpkins (ask my college roommates) but I do love pumpkins for 2 reasons: 1) in Santa Barbara pumpkins outside the grocery store are the closest we get to experiencing fall and 2) I like eating all things pumpkin- pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and my roommate just made pumpkin cookies! I spent the better part of my afternoon scooping out seeds and making sure that eager little hands didn’t get chopped off by bright orange carving knives. Here’s Hector with his finished product.

I had promised 2 of the other kids that I would take them out for ice cream because they haven’t been able to come to our weekly kids club after school. I should have known better than to mention ice cream on a hot Saturday afternoon. What I had planned to be a quick drive with 2 kids for an ice cream cone, turned into a family affair with 6 little ones! (the 2 brothers, 2 cousins, 1 step brother and one, who I’m still unclear exactly how he’s related)

So, off we went…Me, Luis, Raymond, Ruben, Franky, Hector and Luis “Angel.”

We opted to walk because my 2-door Honda is not exactly big enough for two carseats and four additional seatbelts. I felt a little bit like a mama duck, waddling after these 6 boys, trying to keep them safely on the side walk and holding someone’s hand when they crossed the street. On our way down to Los Bambinos Market, we walked across an old pedestrian bridge that crossed over this murky, stagnant creek (and creek may be a generous term, it was really more of a cement germ-festering watering hole). Without any encouragement from me they simultaneously hoisted themselves up on this white wall, some of their heads barely able to see over and low and behold, they began spitting! All six of them!

Here’s where my question comes in…Why do boys spit?

I seriously watched them for a good 5 minutes just spit, with all their little-body-spiting-power, into this dirty water. They competed for whose spit went the furthest and whose spit hit the objects floating down below. They oohh-ed and ahhh-ed over spitting. And they kept spitting. I don’t get it. Who teaches boys these things?

We continued down the street in pursuit of ice cream.

Destination: the corner store. Most direct route: Walk straight 4 blocks.

I was quickly reminded that six boys under the age of 10 have no concept for “walk straight.” They jumped off curbs, picked up rocks (and threw a few-oops), climbed up tree trunks and counted cracks in the sidewalk. These boys didn’t really “walk” at all. They would occasionally sprint ahead, running as fast they could, until I yelled in my best teacher-motherly voice, “Hey. Hey! Wait at the stop sign.” This running, stopping, jumping, throwing, climbing extravaganza continued for well over 20 minutes until we reached Los Bambinos. Ice cream at last.

However, somewhere in the process of “walking” (read: running, throwing, playing, laughing, climbing) the kids lost their excitement to get ice cream. I mean don’t get me wrong, I still bought them ice cream and they happily ate it. But as we sat on the sidewalk licking ice cream cones I wondered what my life might be like if I lived a little more like Luis, Raymond, Ruben, Franky, Hector and Angel.

I tend to “walk straight” through most of life. I have a goal or destination in mind and I just go, and normally I go quickly. I wish I was the type of person who allowed more time in life to wander or aimlessly meander down the street, but I just don’t. Granted I don’t think I’m the climbing trees-rock throwing-type of girl, but I like the idea of learning to enjoy the process as much as the final destination. And who knows, maybe I’ll start spitting when I walk across bridges?

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Snapshots Part II

I love these Girls.

Gerber, Me, Annie, Alyssa and JordanOur team at Proximos Pasos!
Gotta Love Guatemalan Buses

Una Buena Vista de Santa Maria de Jesus

Gringos v. Guatemaltecos…Clearly THEY won.

The girls hard at work in one of the classrooms


I know you are not supposed to have favoritesBUT this girl is adorable.

Guatemala 08- The whole group

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