When Immigration Has a Name

 Andy and Valente during English class

Andy and Valente during English class

By Andy Marso, Latino ESL Volunteer Conversation Partner

The word “immigration” is enmeshed in a national debate that has become so politicized it feels overwhelming. But being at Mission Adelante every week is a reminder that when all the politics are stripped away, immigration is fundamentally about individual people ­– people created in the image of God.

My Mission Adelante ESL student’s name is Valente. He’s from Mexico. When I was his age I was still trying to figure out how to be an adult, but Valente already has a career in construction, a wife, two kids and a third arriving any day now. His positive energy makes him a joy to work with. He’s learning fast, and I’m learning from him as well.

Organizations like Mission Adelante are vital to their cities because they knit together people from different backgrounds into a more cohesive community. They remind us that no matter where we come from, we are companions on a journey and we need each other to reach the potential God has given us.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • Have you ever wondered what goes on at a typical night of programming at Mission Adelante? Adelante Arts Community, Refugee Kids Club, Latino ESL, and Kids Adelante have Observation Nights coming up: Mondays, November 5 and 12, 6:30 - 8:30 pm; Tuesdays, November 6 and 13, 6:30 - 8:30 pm; and Thursdays, November 8 and 15, 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Visit  www.missionadelante.org/observe to sign up!


Adelante Thrift Partner Spotlight: Kansas State School for the Blind

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Written by Elena Chan, Community Development Director

One of Adelante Thrift’s values is generosity. We strongly believe that generosity has the power to transform individual lives as well as the entire community. For the past three years, the store has been blessed by the outpouring of the generosity by people and organizations who have served alongside us in our community. One of them is Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB), located right here in Kansas City, Kansas, less than two miles from Adelante Thrift.  Each week during the academic year for almost three years, the store has hosted a group of teachers and students that come to serve. They are very familiar with our staff; they know exactly what needs to be done; they learn new things about the store’s operations; they get to meet other groups of volunteers.

As stated in their mission statement, KSSB has a very clear aim: “We build local capacity throughout the state via strategic partnerships to ensure learners with visual impairments are able to assume responsible roles in society and lead fulfilling lives.” The school teachers seek project sites that are able and willing to accommodate their students with visual impairments and allow them to learn and improve their social and physical skills at a pace and manner suitable for them. Another consideration is the site location, which, because of the store’s proximity to the school, allowed it to be considered as a potential site. After visiting the store with the students for the first time, the decision was made to approve the store for the group’s regular service.

Besides serving on a weekly basis, the school has also become a donor of goods. Earlier this month when the school underwent a major facility renovation, they donated 30 beds and dressers to Adelante Thrift that all sold within two weeks!

It’s truly a blessing to have partners within the community that are generous and with whom Adelante Thrift can enjoy a reciprocal relationship.  Thank you, Kansas State School for the Blind, for your hard work making your vision a reality in our community, and for fostering your students’ ability to assume responsible roles in society and lead fulfilling lives.

Visit www.adelantethrift.com/volunteer to learn more about serving at Adelante Thrift!

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Crossing the Bridge

 Members of Paul’s house church on a recent trip to the Kansas City Zoo.

Members of Paul’s house church on a recent trip to the Kansas City Zoo.

By Paul Kienzle, Director of Latino ESL

On any given Thursday night at Mission Adelante, there is a whole lot of relationship going on! That’s the night we hold our five-level ESL classes for Latinos, as well as Kids Adelante. Our facility and several neighborhood homes are packed with a crowd of lively participants, volunteers and staff.  We believe that effective ministry is relational at its core. Sometimes, the interaction between the students and volunteers in our ESL program is so focused that it’s hard to get their attention for English instruction!  Our intent in fostering all this interaction is for it to inspire mutual learning, a reciprocity to serve one another, and friendship that is life-giving. And beyond our ESL program, there is a bridge some of our ESL students cross that leads to another context to cultivate life-giving friendship: house church.

The members of our faith community gather weekly on Sunday in three house churches.  We routinely extend an invitation to our ESL students to gather with us. Crossing over from ESL into a house church setting has been a great way our ESL students, past and present have gotten further involved and experienced even greater community.  They cross over from studying English to examining the life of Jesus, from sitting in a classroom to gathering in the more intimate setting of a living room, and from reciting responses to English material to sharing a meal and good conversation around a table.  Our house churches are a place where everyone is on level ground, in a safe environment for sharing life’s burdens in prayer and growing together in Jesus.

A couple of young Honduran men, Jairo and Carlos, enrolled in our ESL classes several years ago.  I was quickly drawn to them because of their friendly, outgoing, animated personalities. Both men are painters and work long days.  However, they committed themselves to not missing class, and oftentimes, they would come to class directly from work. Over time, our natural affinity for one another and my respect for their dedication to class led to the start of a friendship.  It was natural to invite them to come to the house church that meets in my home. They accepted, and they’ve continued to come with their families, occasionally bringing along a neighbor or cousin to take part in studying God’s Word and growing together in Christ.  Jairo and Carlos are just two of a number of students who have crossed over to become part of our house church community.

Indeed, there is a bridge that links our Latino ESL program to our house church community. That bridge is built upon the sturdy trusses of interdependent relationship; life-giving friendship, mutual learning and reciprocated service   It leads to a place where the student and his family can grow in Christ together with others. It may even mean sharing the joy of a birthday, ice skating, a cook-out, a meal shared at a restaurant, or a day spent together at the zoo.  The possibilities for sharing life are endless!


A Fun Summer of Refugee Kids Club

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Written by Laxmi Gurung, Ministry Apprentice (Refugee Kids Ministries)

The summer trimester of Refugee Kids Club was full of fun activities and a great turnout of kids. Before the trimester began I worked on how I could invite kids. I went to different churches, stores, and some kids’ houses to give them invitations. I also posted on Facebook and shared with many people from the community.

After that, I worked on what I could do to make kids want to come and enjoy their time being here. I thought of fun activities and trying new things because I wanted the kids to have fun while they were out of school and also to learn a lesson from the Bible. In the beginning, I was kind of nervous trying new things because I was worried that they might not work. But having an amazing leader like Megan McDermott makes everything easier for me because she is always there to help. Megan supported my ideas and she helped me to improve them. So each week I planned to do a different activity like playing games outside and another week, learning from the Bible.

The activities we did included tie-dye, water balloons, outdoor games and movie night. I could see the kids having fun and enjoying everything we were doing. Some of the kids even invited their friends. It was cool to see kids inviting their friends and bringing them along. Every week we had a kid there for the first time. The average attendance was 18 kids: the highest we’ve had in the history of Refugee Kids Club. It was amazing for me because we used to have only a few kids and the big group of volunteers. In the summer I had seven volunteers, the perfect number for me. Each of them helped to me lead the activities and teach the lesson. It was very helpful and everyone was committed to come. Three of them returned to volunteering with us this fall, and a lot of kids that came during the summertime also came back. We started our fall trimester about two weeks ago and it is going great.

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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11


A Story Worth Telling

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By Gissell Vazquez, Assistant Ministry Director

When she began attending Arts Community, you could tell that she was one of those charming and shy girls that would not answer a question if not asked directly. Not only did she never miss a class, she was the first to arrive. The improvement of her skill was evidence that she practiced with her guitar at home. It wasn’t until our second trimester of the program that I got the chance to interact more with her because Pastor Bizu, our volunteer guitar instructor from the spring, couldn’t help during the summer.

I had many good experiences during the trimester, but one that stood out to me was the Monday when I had to teach without the usual help of my friend José Tellez. That night, as I was helping the students one by one to remember the names of the guitar strings and naming the new chords we were practicing, this girl stepped in and said to me, “Do want me to help you? I can work with my partner while you are doing it with the rest.” It was a surprise and a joy for me having her offer to help. Immediately I said, “Yes of course, go for it!” That night and for the rest of the trimester she became not only a student but a helper. She is becoming an artist with a potential to be developed beyond our program and she is turning into a young leader with the most important leadership skill: a servant heart.

You may think I forgot to mention her name, but that’s not the case. I just wanted you to feel, as you read this article, the same awe that I felt. The excitement of discovering simple but important things that have always been in front of our eyes, but that we might not have seen yet. I’m glad Arts Community is not only a place where the opportunity to enjoy the arts is given, but the opportunity for young leaders from our community to be developed as well.  

The young woman’s name is Prishmila and she is one among many kids that are thriving in the community. I’m blessed to have such an amazing group of students that come every Monday night to enjoy the arts, to share life together, and to learn about Jesus.

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Beginning Again

 New volunteers receiving training last Saturday on our Latino ESL program.

New volunteers receiving training last Saturday on our Latino ESL program.

By Yanelis Lopez, Ministry Director

We’re excited to be beginning a new trimester at Mission Adelante. During the breaks we have between trimesters, the moment always comes that we miss the activity of program nights and the ability to interact with everyone from the community. Of course, nothing we do at Mission Adelante would be possible without the contribution of so many volunteers that get involved and become part of our family for a few months, and some that stay around for many years.

This trimester we’re adding 22 new volunteers, all full of energy and with the desire to be a part of the lives of the kids, youth, and adults that participate in Mission Adelante. One thing that stands out about this group is that it includes two of our former Latino ESL students. Olga is preparing to be part of the ESL level 2 volunteer team and Yamilka, who passed her citizenship exam a few weeks ago, will support others from the community to study for their exams as they navigate the citizenship process.

What a great blessing to be part of this multicultural group of friends and brothers and sisters in the faith, who each want to contribute their grain of sand to help pave the road for those of us that have come to this country with a deep desire to keep moving forward.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Volunteer teams meeting together to plan for the trimester at Volunteer Training on Saturday and Volunteer Huddle on Monday evening

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • We’re looking for a volunteer photographer! Adelante Thrift is giving its website a new look and would like a photographer to help take high-quality photos. If you are interested, please contact Elena at elenam@missionadelante.org.


Battle Boutique: More Than Just a Store

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Written by Merah Wright, Adelante Thrift Volunteer Coordinator

At Adelante Thrift, we have many amazing volunteers come through our doors - generously giving of their time, energy, and resources! And every volunteer comes with his or her own story, which, many times, we have the privilege of hearing. The most recent story that came along is about perseverance and passion and trust in God.

Charlene Kimmel and her daughter Jalen have been volunteering at the store since its opening in 2015. Charlene loves shopping at thrift stores, so when three years ago her church started partnering with Adelante Thrift, she was compelled by the mission of the store in the community and immediately signed on.

A few months ago, Charlene shared with us her vision for a very unique thrift store that she was about to open. In January of 2016 at the age of 38, Charlene was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer which came as a total shock for her and her family, and completely changed her life. While in the fight of her life against cancer, Charlene discovered the great need for affordable apparel for those battling cancer. She found herself needing very specific apparel and accessories.  However, availability was limited either to items sold by hospital boutiques that were too expensive to afford, or items that were free of charge but didn’t come with choices for the wearer. As a clinical researcher, Charlene had never before considered starting her own thrift store. But at that stage of her life and desperately wanting others who were newly diagnosed with cancer to have a more uplifting experience, she founded Battle Boutique. She believes God gave her the name for her store, “Battle Boutique”, based on Ephesians 6:16-17: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. What a powerful battle cry!

Battle Boutique is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created for cancer patients, survivors, family, and friends to provide affordable apparel and supplies needed during treatment, recovery and cancer awareness. It’s a place to donate apparel and supplies that are no longer needed. And it’s a community to provide encouragement, reinforcements, and solace.

Battle Boutique opened its doors on July 7, 2018 at 11716 W. 95th Street in Overland Park, Kansas. We had the privilege of visiting Charlene at the new store about a month after its official opening. Upon entering, you immediately sense an atmosphere of peace and comfort. It is more than just your typical store - it is a place to get quality “battle gear,” both used and new, at affordable prices. It is a place to pass along the items that helped carry you or someone you know through the battle, and it’s a place to find support and connection during a difficult season. If you have items that are not being used, please consider donating them!  Some of the things in highest demand are camisoles with a front zipper, bras with pockets to insert forms, button-up pajamas and shirts, and turbans, scarves and headbands made of soft material.

Charlene has many hopes and goals for the future of Battle Boutique. One, in addition to being able to continue providing for women battling all types of cancer, is to help meet the needs of children who have been diagnosed with cancer. The hope is to be a place where children and their parents can find new and used items at affordable prices, and a place to connect and find support. This store and ministry is very necessary and has already blessed numerous people! You can find out more about Charlene’s story and her amazing ministry at Battle Boutique’s website: https://www.battle.boutique/.

CURRENT NEEDS:


Participating in a Miracle: Reflections from Sabbatical

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by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

Last Tuesday, August 22, marked the end of our three-month sabbatical.  For some casual observers, it was hard to believe that three months had already gone by.  For my wife, having me at home jabbering on about my exercise goals and my sore foot for three months must have seemed like an eternity.  For me it was just right!

Among the many beautiful dynamics that happen on a sabbatical break, one of the most encouraging for me is having the opportunity to separate enough from the daily grind of ministry to hear the Lord speak new things.  Many heart lessons came through these months; I thought I'd share three with you that I shared with our staff this week.

  1. What we do at Mission Adelante is hard- I didn't exactly enter sabbatical limping across the finish line, but I will say that my hair loss over the last five years is indicative of a challenging ministry season we just completed.  I recently thought back to a memory from the months before we launched Mission Adelante.  An entrepreur friend listened to me try to describe what we were envisioning, and he said, "You guys sure try to do hard things."  His statement was prophetic.  From the normal human relational dynamics, to the harrowing challenges faced by immigrants in our community, the current harsh political climate, and the complications of multicultural relationships, this calling and ministry test heart, mind and soul in ways that I hadn't imagined.  But, what should we expect?  Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith and model for our ministry, was crucified brutally.  Accounts of his disciples in the book of Acts are full of hardships.  If we have a view of ministry that doesn't include the need to depend wholly on God and persevere through big challenges, we might have unrealistic expectations.  In a strange way, it's encouraging to step back and remember that Jesus told his followers to expect difficulty and that James says that we should consider it joy.  What we are trying to do is hard!
  2. Our calling is worth the struggle!  We serve in a beautiful community- beautiful because of the image of God that shines through each language, color, culture, and personality.  The pain, the joy, the potential that exist in each person are ready to burst forth in any given moment.  Some have experienced deep trauma in leaving their home country, persecution because of faith or political reasons, economic desperation. Others were brought here very young and are now coming of age in a time when their immigration status is at risk.  Others are are here alone, still hoping to be reunited with family they left behind.  Leaders, volunteers from our community and across the city, staff members from all places, are standing in the gap for one another and for their neighbors.  The light of the gospel is shined in the middle of difficult situations.  Jobs are provided for some, others are equipped with language skills, kids are loved and taught, the arts express the creativity designed into diverse individuals, leaders emerge and are developed, disciples are made, a community is strengthened and flourishes, like a bright, colorful flower blooming from the crevices of jagged rocks on a treacherous cliff.  What a privilege to be part of it!  The Lord has put us here for such a time as this!   
  3. We have everything we need!  From the beginning of our ministry I have been surprised over and over again by the provision of the Lord!  From finances, to partners, to volunteers, to key staff members at key moments, to buildings, spaces to meet, and vehicles- the list of seemingly miraculous provisions is so tremendously long.  The miracle of God's provision for a ministry like ours is perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the entire endeavor.  There's a story behind each person, each gift, each supporter, each contact, and many times they are clearly God stories.  Believing is easy when God's hand is so active and evident.  And, in the middle of all of the challenges, the Holy Spirit comes and changes a life, the trajectory of someone's journey, brings healing, brings vision, brings growth.  Yes, fundraising takes work.  Transforming lives takes a heavy personal investment.  And the whole endeavor requires a lot of faith.  But, I return from this sabbatical break astonished at the way God has provided everything we need at every step of this ministry, from unexpected places in just the right moments.   

Yes, the work is hard, but it's worth it, and God has provided richly.  What a privilege to participate in a miracle!  

CURRENT NEEDS:


Empowering Emerging Leaders

 Elva Vazquez, ESL program graduate, with level one English student Alba.

Elva Vazquez, ESL program graduate, with level one English student Alba.

Written by Paul Kienzle, Director of Latino ESL

Our Latino ESL program consists of five levels.  Dedicated students can advance through all five levels in less than two years.  It is not uncommon for graduating students to ask me what comes after level five.  One of our core values at Mission Adelante for fruit bearing ministry is equipping and empowering emerging leaders from our community so as to help individuals to reach their potential as disciples and leaders.  One way we do this is by encouraging our ESL graduates to transition from being students to serving as volunteers in English classes.

Elva Vazquez graduated from the ESL program in April of this year. While taking the classes, she demonstrated her determination to learn English through near perfect attendance and test scores.  Her ready smile and gentle spirit made it a joy to have her as one of our students. Cheryl McMorris, one of her volunteers, described her in this way: "She had a motivation to study the vocabulary and practice the grammar concept each week. This prepared her to move up to each new level with confidence knowing that she could learn this crazy language!” To my delight, she accepted the request for her to help out in level one as a volunteer for the summer trimester.  She jumped right in and dedicated herself to helping several women who were coming to observe the class.  She chimed in during our volunteer huddles, and she communicated beautifully to our level one students the blessing of advancing to the upper levels.  Elva was nervous at first about the idea of volunteering but her passion to give back and help others allowed her to overcome her fears.

Elva is one of the first to come out of the ESL program and return in a volunteer role.  Her courage has set the standard and will be the inspiration for others who will come after her. I am excited to see how her impact will help shape the future of our Latino ESL program.

CURRENT NEEDS:


A New Beginning

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Written by Cody Schindel, Refugee ESL Coordinator

If someone asked you, would you be able to tell them the year The Constitution was written? What if they asked you to name one territory of the United States? Would you be able to tell them one war the United States fought in the 1800s or give them the name of the current Speaker of the House of Representatives? Do you know one responsibility that a United States citizen has?

Those are five of the possible 100 questions that could be asked during an interview conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. During the interview, an applicant will have to correctly answer some of these questions, read and write sentences in English, and will have to answer questions about their background and the application they submitted. This is one major part of the long process for an individual to become a naturalized citizen of the United States of America.

Many of our neighbors in the Kansas City, Kansas community desire to become US Citizens. This Fall, we will be pressing further into our purpose to “love people from all places” by experimenting with a citizenship class open to all refugees and immigrants. The class will be open to those who are preparing to apply and those that have already applied to become a US citizen. We are hoping to be able to help our neighbors learn what it means to be a citizen of the US, as well as to share what it is to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God. We believe that this program will further meet the needs of people within our community and continue to connect our immigrant and refugee neighbors together.

The Citizenship Class will be held on Tuesday evenings in addition to our English Club and Refugee Kids Club programming. Our goal will be to assist students in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the content through the use of instruction, group activities, and relational teaching, all presented in simple English. Registration for the class will be held on September 11, 2018 at 6:30pm.

We are presently recruiting volunteers to ensure we have enough help for the upcoming trimester and our Tuesday night programming. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit the ESL page on the Mission Adelante website and fill out an interest form, or contact me at CodyS@missionadelante.org.

CURRENT NEEDS:


Party at the Lake 2018

 Recognizing the church community

Recognizing the church community

Written by Yanelis Lopez, Ministry Director

After three months of fun and a lot of effort, last Sunday was time to celebrate what God has been doing at Mission Adelante. We had a great summer party, where we celebrated and honored all those involved in each ministry program, our thrift store, and our church community.

There was a mixture of many elements: different cultures and languages, families, new friendships, music, dance, awards, biblical verses, art, rich food, lots of laughter, and gratitude. And we are extremely grateful for each kid, youth, English student, thrift worker, volunteer, and church community member who participated!

The Mission Adelante community continues to grow, and with it, the impact on each person involved and our city.  We are extremely excited about what the Lord will continue to do next trimester.

Enjoy some of the pictures from Sunday!

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

Grupo Folklorico gave a special presentation during our party! Check out the video above!

 

CURRENT NEEDS:


Bringing Together People from All Places

 Sunny playing with kids at Refugee Kids Club

Sunny playing with kids at Refugee Kids Club

Written by Laxmi Gurung, Ministry Apprentice and Sunny Bounyalath, Refugee Kids Club Volunteer

I’m excited to introduce you to one of our Refugee Kids Club volunteers, Sunny Bounyalath. Sunny has been volunteering with the refugee kids for a year now. She was born in Thailand and came to the United States when she was young. When Sunny moved to Kansas a few years ago, she searched for ways to be more involved with the community and was drawn to Mission Adelante because of the diversity and openness of the ministry. I asked Sunny to share a little about her experience at Refugee Kids Club on Tuesday nights:

“For the past year, I find myself looking forward to Tuesdays. When Tuesday rolls around, it is filled with fun, games, and laughter at the Refugee Kids Club. I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve alongside a great group of volunteers. As one of the volunteers, I have gotten to know the children and grow along with them in their faith in God through Bible stories. This trimester we sang and danced, made tie-dye shirts, ate ice cream, and had a balloon water fight outside.

I enjoy every minute spent at Refugee Kids Club. I am thankful that a diverse ministry such as Mission Adelante exists in the community to bring different people from different walks of life together. My Tuesdays have never been the same.”  

We are so thankful for volunteers like Sunny who come and share life with the kids each week. And we are excited to announce that more and more kids are coming to Refugee Kids Club each week! This means that we need more volunteers for the Fall Trimester! If you love kids, please visit our website at www.missionadelante.org/kids to find out more and to let us know you're interested.

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CURRENT NEEDS:


The Park Drive Neighborhood Project

Written by Elena Chan, Director of Community Development

At Mission Adelante, we envision a growing multicultural community of disciples making disciples, where people from all places are thriving and using our gifts together to transform our neighborhood and the world for the glory of Jesus Christ. However, while we’re located in a part of Wyandotte County that has a multitude of assets and opportunities, there are also many challenges.  We believe that the opportunities and challenges in our community are God-sized, and that meeting them will require partnerships and collaboration.  That’s why, when the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas approached Mission Adelante a year ago to solicit our participation in a brand new initiative focused on transforming our neighborhood through strategic improvements and collaboration, we jumped at the chance.

The initiative is known as The Park Drive Neighborhood Project.  It was funded by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “The Unified Government hopes to “stand up” the neighborhood in five years and, if successful, continue to use this model in communities across Wyandotte County.” (https://www.wycokck.org/SOAR/Park-Drive.aspx) The opportunities identified for the project will require various parties--including local government, businesses, neighborhood stakeholders, and residents--to work together in order to be successful.

Project leaders approached Mission Adelante as well as the other community organizations in our census tract with the aim of learning what unique offerings we were each making available to the residents of our immediate part of the county.  Also, they were hoping to capitalize on our existing relationships with residents in order to gain resident involvement in the initiative. Due to Mission Adelante’s centralized location and proximity to residents, we had the privilege of hosting at our facility several community meetings where resident input was gathered.

Most recently, community organizations came together to assist the UG in going door-to-door to invite residents to a neighborhood picnic at City Park on July 15th.  The picnic included free food, music, slam poetry, games, and informational materials for residents. Twenty-one Unified Government departments participated, staffing informational booths and speaking with residents about their services. Additionally, nine community partners attended with information on their services and projects in the community.

We’re excited about the synergy that has been generated among the collaborators, and we’re very optimistic about the community transformation that could be realized during the next five years.  Praise God for bringing to us this opportunity to work toward the type of community that we envision sharing with people from all places.

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.
  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts.

A Visitor in an Unfamiliar Land

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Written by Cody Schindel, Refugee ESL Coordinator

Earlier this month, I got to visit for the first time my wife’s home: Bangkok, Thailand. I finally had the chance to experience many of the things Joanna grew up loving: Thai food, public transportation, the people, the walking, the big city, the culture, and the walking (there was a lot of walking).  

Joanna’s parents became missionaries in Bangkok before her birth and remain there still. This was where Joanna was born and raised until she moved to the U.S. at age 18 to attend university. Though I thoroughly enjoyed stepping into the setting of her earlier life, I was shocked by how naturally she fit into a culture that was totally foreign to me. I had always known that moving to America had been an enormous challenge for Joanna, but now I’m better able to appreciate the extent of her struggle related to relocating to a whole new culture and life.

I returned to Kansas City better able to appreciate what our immigrant and refugee neighbors have gone through. They’ve left their homes to come to a place that is totally different than what is familiar to them. They feel out of place, and face daily challenges and struggles. It is something that few of us can truly understand. The heart longs for that which is familiar, that which we grew up knowing and experiencing, and it is a great sacrifice to have to leave all of that behind.

All of this had made me reflect on myself as a sojourner on Earth.  Those of us who trust in Jesus as our source of life are simply passing through a world that we were not made for on our way to being reunited in our true home with our Father. And what is most important in the here and now is that we are displaying Christ to our neighbors. I think C.S. Lewis put it nicely when he said, “The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can't supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.”

IN OTHER NEWS:

  •  At this time last week, we had received around 50 backpacks and were looking for an extra hundred. In the last seven days, the Lord has provided that hundred backpacks and we are going to be able to outfit all of our kids, middle-schoolers, and teens a brand new backpack with school supplies so they can start the school year off right! We're so grateful to all of you who helped out!

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.
  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts

Created to Create

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Written by Sara Forsythe, Adelante Arts Community Volunteer.

  “I wonder what we Christians are known for in the world outside our churches. are we known as critics, consumers, copiers, condemners of culture? I’m afraid so… Why aren’t we known as creators – people who dare to think and do something that has never been thought or done before, something that makes the world more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful?”
– Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

During our recent Adelante Arts Camp, I had the privilege of spending time with several young creators as they worked to discover and develop their creative skills! At this week-long camp, volunteers from Christ Community Church, Adelante Arts Community and Mission Adelante staff came together and offered a wide variety of classes in both visual and performing arts. We offered classes like salsa dancing, theater, guitar and creative writing.  There was even a sewing class!

Thirty-nine kids from the Mission Adelante community, ranging in age from 7 to 15 years old, came and joined us for a wonderful time of creativity and exploration in the arts. They were a phenomenal group of campers – they were respectful to one another and to our volunteers, they were collaborative, they were willing to try new things with good attitudes, and more than anything, they were just excited to come together every day to create.

All week long, we talked a lot about creation – how God is our Creator, how we are all created in the image of our Creator with the capacity to create, how he has given each of us unique abilities and talents to use as we create, and how we can use the arts to create beauty in our homes, churches and communities. As a volunteer at Mission Adelante for the past several years, I have known some of these young people since they were in preschool, and I almost had to pinch myself during our program at the end of the week as I watched them confidently perform in front of our audience doing skits, reading poems, talking about their art projects, playing keyboards and guitars, and dancing! They are definitely creators, even now, and they are already making the world more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful. Well done, campers!

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • A great update: we've received all of the backpacks we need for our elementary kids! Now, we need 50 filled backpacks for our middle schoolers.  If you are interested in providing some, fill out the form at www.missionadelante.org/serviceprojects/backpacks/ and bring them to Mission Adelante by July 23. Thank you for your help and prayers!
  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.
  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts

Paving the Way for Youth Employment in Our Community

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Written by Elena Chan, Director of Community Development

One of the Mission Adelante’s values is partnership. We believe that the opportunities and challenges in our community are God-sized, and that meeting them requires partnerships that begin with relationships and trust and move toward collaboration.  Over the past three years, many partnerships have been generated through Adelante Thrift. Since its opening we’ve been able to partner with more than 150 entities in various ways!

Most recently, we’ve teamed up with Workforce Partnership, a local non-profit organization funded by the federal government that serves to provide Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Program services to youth in Wyandotte, Johnson, and Leavenworth counties. Youth services target individuals who are low-income and who meet one or more of the following criteria: basic skills deficient in reading and/or math, foster child, homeless, ex-offender, pregnant or a parent, runaway, and school dropout. The program helps to prepare youth for employment through a combination of educational assistance, skill development, job search assistance, and supportive services.

One of the ways the young adults develop workplace readiness skills is the opportunity to actively participate in the workforce through internships and a chance to explore different industries. For some of the participants, this is their first employment experience, and for others it offers additional, real-world experience in high-demand industries.

Thanks to our new affiliation with Workforce Partnership, we’re gaining four summer youth interns at Adelante Thrift who will work as a cashier, a sorter, a pick-up assistant, and a floor/sales associate!  The training they receive this summer will include: orientation to the assigned job at the store and to the workplace in general, guidance on how various job tasks are to be performed and reported, help to recognize the importance of routine tasks, training on how to organize and prioritize their work, coaching through adequate one-on-one supervision of work activities, and being provided with appropriate feedback on their performance.

By hosting these four young adults, we hope to make an impact on not only these individuals in the workplace but also in the broader community. We are hopeful that our interns will have a great summer that will help them foster their professional growth and expand their career options.

 

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • We are now collecting filled backpacks to bless kids in the community in August. Are you or your small group interested in helping out? Visit www.missionadelante.org/serviceprojects/backpacks/ for details and to sign up!
  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.
  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts

Life Takes Many Turns

 The Mission Adelante staff during Jarrett's sabatical

The Mission Adelante staff during Jarrett's sabatical

Written by Yanelis Lopez, Ministry Director (pictured front row, second from the left)

"La vida da muchas vueltas" (“Life takes many turns”) is one of the phrases we use frequently in Cuba. It is a way to accentuate the uncertainty of this world in which we live. Sometimes life takes predictable directions, and many times it leads us to destinations and nooks and crannies that we could not even imagine. How cool to be able to acknowledge that life has a name: Jehovah; that there is nothing surprising to Him, that the unpredictable for me has been carefully scrutinized and approved by that person who is above and at the same time so aware of my care.

When I came to the US, I was ready to start again, but it brought an uncertainty that overwhelmed me.  It was one of those turns in life that caught me by surprise and gave me very little capacity to react. I knew and loved Mission Adelante. I did not know if I could connect and love the ministry as deeply as I had loved it before. I have to confess that this was one of my biggest fears. I have been living in Kansas City, Kansas for over 2 years now and each of my fears have been completely dispelled. I have learned that ministry is my way of life; making disciples of Jesus is not something I do, it is an indissoluble part of who I am. Leaving my country and coming to another so rich in cultures has made me a better person, with the ability to unfold myself and get out of my selfishness and customs to continue learning to love as Jesus does.

During the last few weeks, while Jarrett has been on sabbatical, I’ve had the chance to lead Mission Adelante with our staff. Leading a ministry in my own culture is one thing; leading a ministry of so many diverse cultures and in a language and context that is not mine is another very different one. Honestly, it was intimidating when Jarrett proposed it to me, but it has been a huge blessing from which I am learning a lot. What I have most exercised in this stage is the confidence that the way God has created me has perfect synergy with the place where he has placed me today. To have the complete assurance that it is God who places me and then takes me away and who does everything through me has been a daily and very liberating exercise. On the other hand, as time passes, I continue to reach the same conclusion: loving God and others is what life is all about and is the fundamental principle of leadership.

I’m more than grateful for this opportunity and for the work and good relationships among our staff. I continue to learn and enjoy how Jesus is glorified in our community!

“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. ” 1 John 3:23

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts
  • We are beginning to collect filled backpacks to bless kids from the community in August. Are you or your small group interested in helping out? Visit www.missionadelante.org/serviceprojects/backpacks/ for details and to sign up!
  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.

Planted, Tended, and Loved

 Teens Adelante group photo.  Front row: Lorenzo

Teens Adelante group photo.  Front row: Lorenzo

Written by Megan McDermott, Director of Latino Kids Ministries

The first time that Lorenzo came to Mission Adelante, he was only seven years old.  At first, he struggled to fit in, but with the help of some persistent volunteers, he was invited two or three years later to join our leaders in training program (LIT), a commitment that requires a great deal of time spent at the Mission.  Over the next few years, his attitude became increasingly positive, he engaged more and more in activities, and his desire to know God in a personal way began to grow. He asked profound questions, and brought such an element of fun to our LIT family.

In April of 2014, Lorenzo completed the eighth grade, and having continued in LIT to that point, was one of the first children to graduate from the LIT program.  He was quite proud to receive his graduation gift but I have to admit, I was apprehensive about whether he would remain connected to the Mission.

I didn’t need to worry because he soon approached me and asked if he could volunteer in our outreach Bible study, Kids Adelante.  He not only stepped up as a group leader with the five-year-olds, he also assumed a leadership role helping to facilitate big group activities. In addition, he became a faithful participant in our teens’ discipleship program.  His heart for the Lord kept developing and expanding. It seemed natural to invite Lorenzo to participate in our teen internship during the summer of 2017, and those same deep questions emerged from within him once again, setting the tone for a profound summer of growth.

A few weeks ago, we got to celebrate with Lorenzo his greatest accomplishment yet: his high school graduation!  He would be the first to tell you how integral to his success were the support he received and the good habits he learned from his involvement with us.  Despite him hating the spotlight, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to publicly proclaim how proud of him we are! When I asked him about how he is feeling, he responded, “It was very exciting to graduate high school.  In the future, I am looking forward to finishing college!” Here is a young man that God planted, tended, and loved, allowing him to grow into a strong young man with a heart for the Lord. Congratulations, Lorenzo!!

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts
  • We are beginning to collect filled backpacks to bless kids from the community in August. Are you or your small group interested in helping out? Visit www.missionadelante.org/serviceprojects/backpacks/ for details and to sign up!
  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.

Growing in Faith

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Written by Laxmi Gurung, Ministry Apprentice

I have been reading the Bible, and it is helping me to grow in my faith and my leadership. Before I was just a believer who went to church once a week and the rest of the week I was just being me. My faith only mattered one day a week, which now I realize was wrong. After I joined the staff here at Mission Adelante, I challenged myself to be more consistent in my faith and to recognize how important it is.

In Matthew 8:5-13, a centurion came and asked Jesus to heal his servant just by saying the word because he had faith in Jesus. How he believed in him! Jesus told his disciples that he hadn’t found anyone in Israel with such faith. The centurion even acknowledged that he was not worthy and didn’t deserve for Jesus to come to his house. But all he did was ask Jesus because he trusted in him. Jesus saw how much faith he had in him and saved his servant. From this I learned that sometimes we just have to ask and believe even if we think we are not worthy because God loves us the way we are. He knows that we make mistakes and that’s ok. But what we need to know that he is our father and we are his children. When we make mistakes, he forgives us, and all we need to do is ask for forgiveness and receive it.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:5-6

 Laxmi shares her faith with the kids from Refugee Kids Club

Laxmi shares her faith with the kids from Refugee Kids Club

 

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts
  • We are beginning to collect filled backpacks to bless kids from the community in August. Are you or your small group interested in helping out? Visit www.missionadelante.org/serviceprojects/backpacks/ for details and to sign up!
  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information: meganm@missionadelante.org.

Everyone Has a Story

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Written by Paul Kienzle, Latino ESL Director

Everyone has a story and everyone’s story is unique. Listening to the life experiences of those who have passed through the doors of Mission Adelante has opened my eyes and given me insight into the lives of our neighbors from other cultures.  Many of them feel the pain of being separated from loved ones. A part of their very self has been left in their country of origin. Yet, their stories are filled with amazing victories, ingenuity, perseverance, and hope. My wife Laura and I recently had the privilege of hearing first-hand the story of one of our Level 5 ESL students and his wife. Their warm hospitality and gentle spirits filled our hearts with gratefulness as we ate a traditional Guatemalan meal and sipped Guatemalan coffee.

Jose Dimas Posadas is a determined man! I’ve seen his intensity and faithfulness to attend and study ESL. Recently as I have gotten to know his story, I have discovered that his spirit of determination was formed many years ago. Jose grew up in Guatemala in a family that needed him in the workforce at age six, so midway through the first grade he exited school. At the age of 18, he married Marisol and life began! As his coffee business and his family grew, he struggled with debt and eventually left for the U.S. in search of work. His season away from his family was very difficult for Jose, but his relationship with God and a leadership role in his local church helped him keep his focus. After ten years working 12-hour days in a variety of jobs, including eight years in landscaping, Jose was able get out from under the debt. Jose and Marisol have nine children ranging from ages 15 to 33.  For those ten years his only contact with his family was via phone and Skype. A year ago, he was able to send for four of his children, and just last month, after 15 years of being apart, Marisol and two more children arrived, finally face to face! Can you imagine the joyful reunion?

Jose and Marisol’s three remaining children run the coffee business in Guatemala, while Jose now manages his own landscaping business, proudly showing Laura and me the long list of English speaking clients stored on his phone!  How does he communicate with them? In part, by speaking into a translator app that translates his Spanish into an English text message. However, Jose is quick to remark that his ESL class has been foundational for him, and he hopes that as he continues to learn English, he will need his translator app less and less!  

Jose and Marisol’s story is a unique one, and just one of many that form and shape the tapestry of Mission Adelante, Kansas City, and our nation. We drank at least three cups of coffee with them that evening. I knew I wasn’t going to sleep, but it was worth every minute.  

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Adelante Arts Community needs one or two volunteers to teach guitar to kids! No need to be an expert. If you enjoy playing a few chords and would like to share that ability with others, fill out an interest form at http://www.missionadelante.org/arts
  • We are beginning to collect filled backpacks to bless kids from the community in August. Are you or your small group interested in helping out? Visit www.missionadelante.org/serviceprojects/backpacks/ for details and to sign up!
  • Are you passionate about education and kids? Our Leaders in Training program is always looking for new volunteers. Please contact Megan if you would like more information:  meganm@missionadelante.org.