Will Adelante Thrift Be Profitable in 2017?

Customers lined up outside on March 14, 2015, waiting for the doors to open on our first day at Adelante Thrift.

Customers lined up outside on March 14, 2015, waiting for the doors to open on our first day at Adelante Thrift.

Written by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

Last year at this time I was worried. The dream of Adelante Thrift was on the ropes after two years of preparation and a year and a half in business. How much longer could we make it? There were amazing things happening at the store, but we were still losing a lot of money. As I made phone calls to raise more cash for the endeavor, I had to answer the brutal question: "How long do we support a business-as-mission endeavor that is losing money?" I remember processing that question out loud on the phone, "I won't be coming back to ask for more money again. If we haven't seen significant improvement by this time next year, we'll be making some hard decisions." That was 2016.  

What is perseverance? What does faith look like when the results you're longing for can't yet be seen? I have a favorite line from the movie Pearl Harbor, spoken by Alec Baldwin as Lt. Col Doolittle. "Victory belongs to those who believe in it the longest." This quote eloquently expresses the interaction between faith and perseverance. The journey of Adelante Thrift has developed both faith and perseverance in me in ways that I couldn't have predicted and wouldn't have signed up for if I had known they were part of the deal. And yet, looking back, I wouldn't trade those lessons for anything. I'm a different person, a more mature leader, a more faithful follow of Jesus. And, here we are, entering the fourth quarter of 2017, with a real shot at a profitable year. God is so faithful!

As we press into the final quarter of the year, I'm so thankful for the many volunteers who've served, the individuals, businesses, and churches who've given merchandise and money, the customers who've shopped, and the staff from all places who've created a unique environment at the store that exudes the love of Christ. Will Adelante Thrift be profitable in 2017? Will the store start to realize it's potential in terms of financial impact on the community in 2018? I invite you to be part of answering these questions! Is it time to donate more stuff? Does your small group, your family, or your business want to come down and serve? Your treasures can transform a community. I invite you to help Adelante Thrift finish 2017 strong and celebrate our first profitable year!

 

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Help us finish 2017 strong! Volunteer with your family, small group, or business at Adelante Thrift. For more information or to sign up, go to www.adelantethrift.com/volunteer/ .
  • Do you have a gently-used keyboard or acoustic guitar that you're not using? Adelante Arts Community needs it! We are in need of two keyboards and three acoustic guitars for our new program. Please email Gissell Vazquez at gissellv@missionadelante.org if you would like to donate an instrument.
  • Are you interested in combining your love of the arts and disciple-making? Mission Adelante is launching Adelante Arts Community in January 2018 and is looking for volunteers to help! Visit www.missionadelante.org/arts for more information.

OTHER NEWS:

  • You’re invited to the Mission Adelante Thanksgiving Open House November 11th from 2:30-6:30pm. Stop by and enjoy a relaxed afternoon at the Meeks’ home meeting members of the Mission Adelante staff and community, celebrating culture, and giving thanks for God’s faithfulness.  

Reflections from CCDA: The Importance of Unity

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Written by Laxmi Gurung, Ministry Apprentice 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

I went to the CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) conference in Los Angeles last year, and it was a great experience for me. Last week, I had the opportunity to go to the conference again, this time in Detroit. I saw people from all types of backgrounds come together and worship the Lord. I felt very blessed to be there! During our downtime, we had the opportunity to gather with the Hope Center community and share each other's observations from the conference. I appreciate that we shared our thoughts and supported each other, and I have learned a lot from those times.

How I felt during the conference this year was very strong and hard for me explain to anyone. As I mentioned, people from diverse backgrounds were there, but when I think about it, this is not a common thing for many communities that we live in today. I have experienced many churches separate from each other and refuse to talk with one another over a small disagreement or misunderstanding. I don’t think this sets a good example for non-Christian people.

My family members are not Christians, and for them it is hard to believe. If they see Christians separating and not having good relationships between each other, how can they believe in Jesus? We are making it harder for them to believe. Being the only believer in my family has been very difficult for me. It always scares me to think of my family not accepting the Lord. I can't even tell them about Jesus because they have been seeing bad examples of Christianity.

I believe that following Jesus is about coming together, helping each other, being there for one another, and having Jesus in the center of everything. It is not about separating from one another. If we believe in Jesus, we should be helping non-believers know Him and teaching them what the Bible is about. It is very important for them to know God.

Please pray for unity in the Christian community and for non-believers to come to know Jesus.

Mission Adelante Staff at the CCDA conference

Mission Adelante Staff at the CCDA conference

 

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Are you interested in combining your love of the arts and disciple-making? Mission Adelante is launching Adelante Arts Community in January 2018 and is looking for volunteers to help! Visit www.missionadelante.org/arts for more information.

OTHER NEWS:

  • You’re invited to the Mission Adelante Thanksgiving Open House November 11th from 2:30-6:30pm. Stop by and enjoy a relaxed afternoon at the Meeks’ home meeting members of the Mission Adelante staff and community, celebrating culture, and giving thanks for God’s faithfulness.  

Developing People and Sharing Life at Adelante Thrift

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Co-Written by Elena Chan, Director of Community Development and Shannon Schafer, Operations Director

One of our core values at Adelante Thrift is developing people. We believe that developing individuals to reach their potential in the workplace is a critical part of community transformation. We also believe that sharing life with people on a personal level is a major part of that development. I would like to introduce you to two of the strong women leading Adelante Thrift: Elsa and Marleny. Both women have stepped up to the challenge of becoming assistant managers at Adelante Thrift and have propelled the store forward.

Elsa has worked for Adelante Thrift for almost two years. She came to us with previous retail sales and thrift experience, and we hired her as a Lead Sales Associate. It quickly became evident that Elsa is a natural leader and has a talent for merchandising, and she was promoted to Processing Supervisor. Elsa continued to shine in her leadership skills and in her ability to envision and execute improved ways to process and display our products. This past July, we promoted her to Assistant Manager, and in this new role, Elsa has made a huge impact at Adelante Thrift, and she works diligently to further develop her leadership and professional abilities.

Besides being intentional about her professional development, we deeply care about Elsa’s personal aspirations. Earlier this year, we discovered her desire to become an American citizen. With support from Mission Adelante, she was able to take the necessary steps to apply for naturalization and prepare for the civics test. On September 15th, after about a six-month process, we celebrated with Elsa as she became a U.S. citizen!

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Marleny has worked for Adelante Thrift for about a year and a half. Prior to working with us, she had diverse work experience, including a recent supervisory position in the foodservice industry. We hired Marleny as a Lead Sales Associate to supervise our cashiers and oversee the clothing departments. She flourished in this position and was promoted to Sales Supervisor.  She gradually took on and excelled in greater responsibilities, including staff scheduling, payroll preparation, and the coordination of pickups and deliveries. This past July, Marleny was promoted to Assistant Manager, where she continues to grow in her leadership abilities, accepting new challenges and working closely with the management team. Marleny is a great asset to Adelante Thrift with her ability to gracefully handle customer concerns and provide mature guidance to the cashiers.  

We recently had the opportunity to share life with Marleny on a more personal level. She is expecting a baby girl this month, and some staff decided to throw a baby shower for her. On September 16th, together with her friends and family, we surprised Marleny with a baby shower! We had a great time of delicious food and fun activities as we showered Marleny’s family with love and support.

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We are so thankful to be a part of the lives of these strong leaders in both their personal and professional lives. And we are grateful for their passion and commitment to the store’s mission and for their leadership.

 

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Are you interested in combining your love of the arts and disciple-making? Mission Adelante is launching Adelante Arts Community in January 2018 and is looking for volunteers to help! Visit www.missionadelante.org/arts for more information.

OTHER NEWS:

  • You’re invited to the Mission Adelante Thanksgiving Open House November 11th from 2:30-6:30pm. Stop by and enjoy a relaxed afternoon at the Meeks’ home meeting members of the Mission Adelante staff and community, celebrating culture, and giving thanks for God’s faithfulness.  

Serving In Community With A Common Passion

Art Camp Summer 2017

Art Camp Summer 2017

Written by Gissell Vazquez, Latino Discipleship and Music Coordinator

As we grow in life, we begin discovering our passions. Passions, in the right way, help us enjoy life and bring our spirit a sense of wellness that gives us strength to live. If I asked you what your passion is, how would you answer? Maybe sports or dancing? Reading? Fishing? My passion is music. Since I was little, when I heard music playing I just couldn’t stop singing, and it has always had a deep impact on me. I thank God for my hometown church in Cuba and many good friends who taught me and helped me to develop my musical skills. As random as things are in life, I ended up studying accounting in college. But, while it’s something that I value, I gotta say, I like the numbers in music more than in a balance sheet!

During my last five years in Cuba, my academic formation allowed me to run the finances for our Raices ministry. But my heart was in our music program “Musicians Changing Lives”. My passion was being poured out into what brings meaning and light to my world: making disciples of Jesus and helping people to develop their artistic gifts.

Now it's been a year since I moved to the United States. In this new stage of association with Mission Adelante, I am thankful for their continued support of Raices in Cuba. I also thank God, that in my role of Discipleship and Worship Coordinator, I have the opportunity to dream and create a program here where anyone interested in learning arts can participate.

Our newest project at Mission Adelante is Adelante Arts Community, and it will be launched in January 2018. Adelante Arts Community is a project for kids, teens, and adults that will provide creative and interactive opportunities for people from different parts of the world to come together to develop skills in music, dance, and other arts. If you are interested in volunteering, we invite you to serve and share life with people from all over the world. You can learn more about Adelante Arts Community at www.missionadelante.org/arts. Thank you to those who already participate! We value your work!

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The Beauty of Differences

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Written by Yanelis Lopez, Ministry Community Director

Last week we restarted programs at Mission Adelante. As always, I find a mixture of feelings inside me. On one hand, as a staff member, I have the possibility to serve others through everything we have to offer. But on the other hand, in my interaction with everyone in the Latino and refugee community, I can understand and experience the same feelings of living in a foreign country and what it means to face the challenges of everyday life, which has proven to be just as difficult, regardless of the culture from which we came.

When I first started working at Mission Adelante, most of my focus was on the Latino community to which I belong and love; however, this past summer, we started new programs, English Club and Refugees Kids Club, for the entire refugee community of KC, where we have been able to make friends from Burma, Thailand, Nepal, the U.S., and other places. Our interaction has been a life lesson for me; I have learned to love and appreciate at a deeper level the diverse cultures that live in our community.

I have understood that God wants us to learn to celebrate what makes us different from each other: thoughts, food, the way we dress, talk, interact, the jokes we make, what impresses us and what doesn’t, our priorities ... It is not just about accepting and respecting others and what makes us different, but about getting to the point where we yearn to celebrate it. Now when I share and live life with my friends from other cultures, I can only focus on the most important thing: we were all created by the same sovereign God, and each one of us has the capacity to reflect His image in a unique and powerful way.

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Collaborating to Develop KC Emerging Leaders

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Written by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

The Hope Center, Freedom Fire, and Mission Adelante have teamed up to develop emerging leaders for urban ministry!  The collaborative project, called "KC Emerging Leaders," creates a cohort learning environment in addition to the ongoing mentoring and practical training that each young leader experiences in their respective ministry contexts.  The program exposes our apprentices to experienced leaders from other ministries while giving them meaningful peer interactions with each other.

Our opening retreat, which took place at Shalom Retreat Center near La Cygne, Kansas, served to introduce the apprentices to one another, build a sense of community, and initiate discussions on leadership.  The executive directors from each ministry and a few staff were present to lead worship, teach seminars, and guide simulation activities for the apprentices.  It was exciting to observe as the apprentices from each ministry interacted with one another and learned from great leaders like Marvin Daniels, Bruce McGregor, Yanelis López, and Gissell Vázquez.  

Over the year, we will participate together in five joint training events for our KC Emerging Leaders.  The next one on the docket is the Christian Community Development Association's national conference.  When vision and values align and relationships of trust exist between organizations and leaders, it's powerful see the Kingdom impact.  The opportunities and challenges that face our urban communities are God-sized, and it takes partnerships that begin with relationships and trust and move toward collaboration to meet them!

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current needs:

  • Our Leaders In Training program is in need of volunteers for the fall trimester beginning September 20th. For more information or if you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website at www.missionadelante.org/kids.

Perspectives on Success

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Written by Elena Chan, Director of Community Development

How is success measured for a social enterprise like Adelante Thrift? Is it the growing dollars of revenue we generate?  Is it the growing number of people we serve?

Adelante Thrift has been on a challenging mission for the past two and a half years to become a catalyst of change by generating revenue in an economically challenged community and, at the same time, by bringing long-term community transformation. Success is often evaluated in light of revenue, minimizing the importance of community impact. But this outlook doesn’t capture the whole mission of Adelante Thrift. It is liberating to understand that the store’s mission is not purely to generate revenue, but also to transform the community. One can hardly be prioritized above the other. After all, without revenue, long-term community transformation is not possible, and without community impact, profits are meaningless.

What makes Adelante Thrift’s mission for the community possible? Apart from sales performance, the store is successful in its mission when it’s nicely organized and clean. When staff, many of whom are just entering the workforce, acquire and develop job skills. When volunteers come and sacrifice their time for others. When customers find a good deal and a comfortable place to shop. When donors give generously. When partnerships with neighboring businesses and government deepen. This perspective of success renews our vision and allows us to recognize the transformation that has already begun in our community.

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Adelante Thrift is a neighborhood thrift store that builds partnerships to provide quality products, promotes employee development and entrepreneurism, and uses its proceeds to support community development through Mission Adelante.  

 

CURRENT NEEDS

  • Our kids ministry programs are looking for people to purchase and deliver new board games for our Tuesday & Thursday programs. If you are interested, please contact Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.

Loving our Neighbor

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Written by Paul Kienzle, Latino ESL Director

Mission Adelante at its core is intentional in obeying the call of God to love our neighbor because we believe it is at the heart of all His commands.  It is a love that expresses itself by extending hospitality, compassion and friendship to people from other places.

My wife and I have the privilege of living in a multicultural neighborhood.  When I walk in the nearby park and see people from other places enjoying their families, playing soccer, or pushing a stroller, I feel a sense of gratitude that we get to experience being part of a multi-ethnic landscape.  Living in this kind of neighborhood heightens our awareness of those around us, deepens our desire to compassionately understand our differences and challenges us to change deeply embedded misconceptions that hinder us in our journey and in God’s call to love people from different places.

Recently, I heard a heart breaking story of a white, American woman, who on occasion, shared kindnesses and pleasantries with her next door neighbor who was of a different ethnicity. It was a pleasant friendship, a friendship built on actions but very few words, as neither knew the other's language! One day, the neighbor stopped by to say hi.  After inviting her neighbor in and exchanging the customary smiles and hugs, the neighbor did something that took this woman totally by surprise.  With her customary warm smile, her neighbor gently touched and pointed admirably to the woman’s white skin and in her broken english said, “good, good.”   Then, she pointed to her own skin color and said with indifferent matter-of-factness, “no good, no good.”  Floored, the white American woman looked at her neighbor with a warm and compassionate smile, admirably touched and pointed to her skin, saying, “you, beautiful, good, good.”  What this woman would have given to have been able to speak into her beautiful neighbor, the words of God’s unconditional love for people from different  places.

Many of us never get to experience the joys and the challenges of being a part of such a colorful tapestry, and yet, obeying God’s call to love our neighbor, at its core, is not exclusively about color or ethnicity.  It is about loving the people God has placed around us.  For my wife and I, it is the ethnic diversity of urban KCK.  For you, it may be the same or it may be somewhere else.  It may be a neighborhood primarily comprised of one ethnicity or it may be one with many ethnicities.  Jesus said that loving God was the greatest commandment but He also said there was one like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 23:37-39)

Current Needs:

  • Our LIT, Kids Adelante, and Refugee Kids Club programs are in need of volunteers for the fall trimester beginning September 12th. For more information or if you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website at www.missionadelante.org/kids.
  • Our kids ministry programs are looking for people to purchase and deliver new board games for our Tuesday & Thursday programs. If you are interested, please contact Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.

Helping the youth in our community find their identities

Written by Jessi Chastain, Volunteer Leader of Teen's Adelante

Written by Jessi Chastain, Volunteer Leader of Teen's Adelante

Something that draws me back to teenagers time and time again is the way that they honestly seek to know who they are as they engage the questions of life. The intricacies of their personality and talents are in the raw, waiting to be unearthed and refined.

I was reminded of a night last trimester where the discussion led to our identities and how quickly we lose sight of who God has made us to be and too often take shelter in the place of “not enough.” Before we wrapped up the night, several of the teens requested that we take some time to encourage each other individually. We planned to come the following week with affirmations for each person in the group and ways we’ve been encouraged by each other. It struck me as I wrote each of their names on a sheet of paper that God has more thoughts and plans for each of them than I could ever begin to comprehend. His heart is always to speak his joy over us as his children, so why wouldn’t we do that for each other?

Although we often can’t save each other from present circumstances, we can be people that help brush off the dusty places in our hearts and remind each other of who we are and who God is.

One of the teens spoke over the summer and reflected on the story of Jesus in the wilderness. She brought to our attention every time Satan tried to undermine Jesus. He often tried to attack what Jesus was able to do. Jesus was confident in his identity and kept pointing back to who He was and not what he could do. She challenged us to remember that who we are is far more important than anything we set out to accomplish. Strength comes in recognizing that our identities are firmly fixed in a loving, unchanging God.

As we move into the next trimester, that thought stands out in my heart. Maybe what is most significant is not that we are fruitful in all that we set out to do, but that we are faithful and honest in our pursuit. Our call is to be a family that encourages and strengthens the foundations of who we are, spurring us on to a deeper love and service of each other and those around us.

Current Needs:

  • Our kids ministry programs are looking for people to purchase and deliver new board games for our Tuesday & Thursday programs. If you are interested, please contact Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.


Making a fresh start!

Refugee Kids Club students received backpacks before they went back to school.

Refugee Kids Club students received backpacks before they went back to school.

Written by Megan McDermott,  Latino Children's and Youth Director

Thank you so much to all of our amazing church partners that helped to make the backpack drive a success.  Our community was so thankful to receive such an enormous blessing.  Please see the fun pictures below as our thank you to you all!


Embracing a new language and a new culture

English Club students learning how to make pizza.

English Club students learning how to make pizza.

Written by Elena Chan, Community Development Director

On May 30th our first English Club was launched with the goal of providing an opportunity for our refugee and immigrant neighbors to be able to to practice their conversational English. Besides learning English we realized that many of them due to the language and culture barriers were never invited to an American house and hardly have any social connections with Americans. Having those goals in mind, we specifically avoided using the main building classrooms, but instead we hosted the Club at the Mission Adelante house next door, to create a more social and less academic environment. The English Club became a place where people could learn and socialize with Americans, while sharing new experiences.

Due to the pilot nature of the English Club, we were not sure what would happen, or what to expect. With a lot of help from our volunteers; we formed several stations focusing on health, practical English, cooking, and arts/crafts. Each station was run by volunteers, the activities and conversations focused on their respective theme. Participants were able to choose their station and rotate after one hour. In our cooking station (the busiest of all of the stations); the participants were baking cookies, making pizzas, meatballs, and even making ice-cream without an ice cream maker (using a lot of ice and salt). Over the course of the summer, we had people from several different countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Nepal, Burma, and Congo.

We came across many stories that people shared with us in the Club. We got to know one of our participants; Kho, who left Burma 15 years ago, fleeing to Thailand and living for more than 10 years in the Karenni Refugee Camp in Thailand. We found some images of the camp online and he showed us his primary school in one of the photos. Kho and his family moved to the U.S. 4 years ago. his mother is still in Burma and his dream is to visit his mother and other relatives who are still in Burma. Another dream of Kho’s is for his family to become American citizens. He has already applied to attend a citizenship class at Catholic Charities this Fall.This is just one story of many that people shared with us this summer. It’s encouraging to see people becoming more comfortable in sharing with us and allowing to be a part of their lives.

I would also like to thank all our volunteers for serving this summer with the English Club. Thank you, Travis, Alice, Amy, Katie, Lance, Jan, Julie, Jeannette, Cody, Joanna, Madi, Ruthie, Tyler, Robert.

CURRENT NEEDS:

  • Adelante Thrift is looking for a long-term volunteer who can drive our box truck for pick-up and delivery of large donated items.  A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is not required.  This volunteer must also be able to assist in lifting and loading/unloading heavy appliances and furniture.  This volunteer position has the potential to become a paid position at Adelante Thrift, for the right candidate. If you are interested in this volunteer position please fill out our volunteer form at adelantethrift.com/volunteer
  • Our kids ministry programs are looking for people to purchase and deliver new board games for our Tuesday & Thursday programs. If you are interested, please contact Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.

When we welcome them, we welcome Him

Pictured: A couple of our cute little students coloring at Refuge Kids Club.

Pictured: A couple of our cute little students coloring at Refuge Kids Club.

Written by Megan McDermott, Latino Children's and Youth Director

In Matthew 18, Jesus said:

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

Why is it so important for us to invest in the children of our community?  Why is it so vital for us to welcome all children as our neighbors, showing them love and compassion? Because when we welcome them, we welcome Him.  

In our desire to continue pressing into the Lord’s calling in our ministry to “love people from all places”, this summer yielded the opportunity to begin a pilot outreach to the broader refugee community of KCK.  Laxmi Gurung, a young woman that began serving through the Bhutanese Outreach five years ago,  began her apprenticeship this summer.  She has begun leading the Refugee Kid’s Club and when asked why she feels this endeavor is so important, her response was simply beautiful!

"I have learned a lot this summer.  I have learned how to make plans and how to be flexible with others.  I decided to do the apprenticeship because it helps me to learn about leadership and how to grow more in Jesus.  My favorite part about Refugee Kid’s Club is playing with the kids and watching them learn about Jesus.  I think Refugee Kid’s Club is important for the community because if there is a place that kids can go and learn about Jesus, this will help them to know who God is and what He does for us. Also, it is very important for kids to have friends and a place to play. I am most excited about the future of Refugee Kid’s Club and to see more kids coming from different backgrounds!"

Please continue to pray for us in this pilot season and for all the young leaders of our community.

urrent Needs:

  • Adelante Thrift is looking for a long-term volunteer who can drive our box truck for pick-up and delivery of large donated items.  A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is not required.  This volunteer must also be able to assist in lifting and loading/unloading heavy appliances and furniture.  This volunteer position has the potential to become a paid position at Adelante Thrift, for the right candidate. If you are interested in this volunteer position please fill out our volunteer form at adelantethrift.com/volunteer

  • Our kids ministry programs are looking for people to purchase and deliver new board games for our Tuesday & Thursday programs. If you are interested, please contact Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.


 




 

ESL and the eagerness to improve

The current ESL Curriculum for Latino ESL at Mission Adelante

The current ESL Curriculum for Latino ESL at Mission Adelante

Written by Paul Kienzle, Latino ESL Director

My wife and I are on loan to Mission Adelante from another Mission agency that has been in existence for over one hundred years.  Because of a changing demographic, evolving ministry emphasis and a multitude of other ongoing nuances and innovations, the Mission agency has changed its name three times in its century long existence to reflect its mission and vision.  Mission Adelante has been in exsistence a much shorter time (almost thirteen years) and has not changed its name.  I marvel at its commitment to the core value of innovation, its openness to “fresh ideas and new approaches” in a highly multicultural demographic like Kansas City.  As Director of Latino ESL ministries, and as a relatively new addition to Mission Adelante; it has been amazing to piece together the innovative history of an ongoing ESL program that started at a dining room table in the home of Jarrett Meek, our Founder and Executive Director.

In his aptly written article on Mission Adelante’s website last week, commitment to Mission Adelante's core value of innovation (see “Innovation or Moldy Bread?”), Jarrett Meek writes, “Innovation implies a willingness to try new things, to take risks, to celebrate successes, to fail and try again, and a constant eagerness to improve and grow.”   In our ESL Latino program, it is our desire to improve and grow and not be satisfied with simply letting a program run on autopilot or turning a blind eye to areas in need of innovation and improvement.  In ignoring issues, we run the risk of mediocrity or stagnancy, which in turn, impacts the learning experience of our ESL students. Some of the best eyes and ears for improvement and growth are from our very own volunteers.  Latino Ministry Director, Yanelis Lopez and myself turned to a group of dedicated volunteers recently for input and help with improving and strengthening the present ESL curriculum "English in Action" for the upper ESL levels.  Needless to say, it was a fruitful evening of discussion (and pizza)!  Our volunteers were eagerly engaged and dedicated to the task of discussing the facts of our present curriculum; the positives, the negatives, any emotion based feedback related to our curriculum and ended with a bounty of great, new ideas. It was a phenomenal first meeting and a great start toward strengthening and improving what we already have.

The momentum of innovation does not stop when a meeting over improving our ESL curriculum needs.  The “willingness to try new things” and the “eagerness to improve and grow” are key building blocks to innovation that compel me to take action and follow through.  May God grant each one of us in our own workplace and personal lives, the desire “to try new things,” the courage “to take risks,” the time “to celebrate successes,” and the perseverance “to fail and try again.”  

Current Needs:

  • Adelante Thrift is looking for a long-term volunteer who can drive our box truck for pick-up and delivery of large donated items.  A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is not required.  This volunteer must also be able to assist in lifting and loading/unloading heavy appliances and furniture.  This volunteer position has the potential to become a paid position at Adelante Thrift, for the right candidate. If you are interested in this volunteer position please fill out our volunteer form at adelantethrift.com/volunteer

Innovation or Moldy Bread?

I was recently talking about the concept of "continuous improvement" with a friend who owns a business.  He often (if not constantly) is processing his business through the lens of scripture, and on this occasion the conversation turned to the importance of ongoing growth in business, ministry and the Christian life.  The Apostle Paul prayed in his letter to the Philippians knowing confidently that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." This good work that the Lord is doing in us is not finished until the day when Jesus returns!  In Exodus 16, God promised to provide daily bread and meat for the Israelites while they were in the desert; this provision came in the form of a bread like substance called manna that fell like dew from the sky, and quail.  While God was providing fresh nourishment each day, there was only one catch; they couldn't save yesterday's portion to eat the next day.  Just as it's easy to fall into "maintain mode" in ministry or business, living on yesterday's manna is a temptation in the Christian life as well.  

The need for fresh and creative approaches in an urban, multicultural context is such a critical factor that we've embraced "innovation" as a core value.   Innovation implies a willingness to try new things, to take risks, to celebrate successes, to fail and try again, and a constant eagerness to improve and grow.  The journey of Mission Adelante has included all of these things.  Sticking to a basic set of vision and values, we've explored and experimented with different strategies, we celebrated successes and improved approaches that have worked well.  We've discontinued ministry programs that had flourished in their season, and we've picked up the pieces and tried again when an idea hasn't worked out.  The shifting nature of our unique ministry context has required a willingness to embrace change and allow the Lord to guide us into new and unfamiliar territory.

This value of innovation on an organizational level has its parallel in our personal lives with Christ.  It is represented by the willingness to trust Him with success and failure, to pursue spiritual growth eagerly, even when it comes through discomfort, to seek fresh nourishment from Christ each day, and to be guided by Him constantly.  Of course, the value of innovation can be misapplied as well.  Dangerous expressions might include always seeking something new, a restlessness that causes us to move too quickly from one thing to another, or an over-ambitious drive to achieve new and bigger things for our own glory.  Nevertheless, the deep spiritual lessons the Lord teaches us when we are willing to be led by Him into unfamiliar territory and nourished by Him with fresh manna daily are an important part of His plan for our continued growth "until the day of Christ Jesus." 

Is your relationship with God current and growing, or are you living on your experience with God from times past?  Have you settled in to what's comfortable and easy in your job, or are you willing to keep improving the way you work?  As I walk through seasons of ministry and life, I pray for the passion and faith to continue pursuing and embracing the growth the Lord wants to produce in me.  I pray that I'll always choose the discomfort and faith that growth requires over the moldy bread of complacency.

Leaders from All Places on the Playing Field

Staff and interns from "all places" getting on the ministry playing field in KCK. 

Staff and interns from "all places" getting on the ministry playing field in KCK. 

by Jarrett Meek, Pastor/Founder/Executive Director

In the midst of life and the ups and downs of ministry, the Lord is quietly carrying Mission Adelante through important milestones.  For some years now we have been focused on mobilizing volunteers and raising up leaders from within the immigrant and refugee community in KCK. In 2011 we began measuring the number of ongoing immigrant volunteers that were serving in ongoing, defined roles in our ministry.  At that point the number represented about 14% of all of our volunteers, a modest, but decent start for a ministry that had initially emphasized recruiting volunteers from suburban churches.  Slowly, each trimester we've made progress.  In 2013 we shifted the focus of our summer internship to equipping youth from our community.  We experimented with different leadership team models that were meant to provide a place at the table for people from other places.  And, with two steps forward and one step back, we began to see fruit.  

Mobilizing "community leaders" for the mission field in our own backyard is not just a strategy, but it is value that comes close to the heart of our mission.  We are convinced that to truly live out our mission in this community, we must do it together!  Not as "us" serving "them", but as a new "we".  Every day I see evidence that we still lack a lot in this regard, but I also see that the Lord is moving us forward.  While we still have a long way to go, this summer trimester marks the first time that more than 25% of our 130 ongoing volunteers are immigrants or refugees.  And, if patterns remain consistent, we might expect to make another significant jump in September.

There is another important and related transition taking place at Mission Adelante;  half of our staff Leadership Team are from other countries, and, during the summer, with our summer interns included, almost half of our staff (46%) are first or second generation immigrants.  These statistics may not break any records for urban ministries, but they represent significant fruit from our efforts at becoming "a multicultural community of disciples making disciples where immigrants and others are thriving and using our gifts together to impact our neighborhood and world for the glory of Jesus Christ. "

Important Dates:

  • Mission Adelante will be on break next week, July 4th - 7th.  There will not be any programs that week so that our staff and volunteers can enjoy the holiday with their family and friends.
  • Observation Nights are coming soon!  If you have ever wondered what goes on during a night of programming at Mission Adelante you can join us on Tuesday July 11th & 18th from 6:30 - 8:30 to observe our Refugee Ministry or on Thursday July 13th & 20th from 6:30 - 8:30 to our observe our Latino Ministry.  We are located at 22 S 18th St. Kansas City, Kansas 66102. Visit our website at: www.missionadelante.org/serve/

Fearfully and wonderfully made

A few of the Art  Camp participants showing off the instruments that they made.

A few of the Art  Camp participants showing off the instruments that they made.

Written by Megan McDermott, Latino Kids & Youth Director

When you hear the verse, “...fearfully and wonderfully made,” what images do you see?  In The Message, this verse is translated as, “How you made me is amazing and wonderful.”  Oftentimes, we forget that God’s perfect creation included us, created in His image, created wonderfully!

This summer, in lieu of our typical outdoor VBS camps, we decided to embark on a new adventure to explore, through the Arts, how God might desire to open up opportunities to the children in our community. Our good friend, Sara Forsythe from Christ Community Church, approached us with the idea to offer the kids classes in art, music, dance, storytelling, drumming, guitar, piano, singing, and drawing.  

Over the course of a week, we explored the various modalities of the Arts and weaved in spiritual elements to help the kids connect with the truth that they are created in the image of God.  We saw timid children blossom as they realized a newfound talent in an area previously unknown to them.  We praised God together, thanking Him for making each of us in such special ways.  

Our hope is that, as the kids continue to grow in their faith, they would hold tight to the truth that they are special and that they are each uniquely gifted to add beauty to their community! Enjoy the pictures of some of the activities the kids did during Art Camp at Mission Adelante.


Disciple-Making in Real Life!

Written by Yanelis Lopez, Latino Ministry Director

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”" (Matthew 28: 18-20)

A big debate in churches over the years have been, “How to effectively make disciples”. There are many ideas that are studied and well-analyzed that help us to better understand how we can walk with others in the faith. For me this theme has been my passion. I have dedicated myself to reading, studying, and more than anything; trying to live focused on making disciples of Christ. Once I deeply understood the last words of Jesus in the book of Matthew, I haven’t been able to keep the captivating secret that exists in sharing life with others. Making disciples does not depend on a context, a country, or certain circumstances; it is something that goes with you, wherever you go from the moment you begin to embrace it . This is exactly what has happened in my life in the past few years.

On Sunday we had our house church service. We took advantage of the nice, summer weather and went to Wyandotte County Lake Park. While we were there, we celebrated the birthdays of some of our members. We had rich food, cake, and much laughter. What a beautiful and fresh experience, it reminded us that church happens where two or more are together in His name. Discipleship relationships flourish perfectly and naturally in environments such as these.  Values are transmitted, teaching happens, and the life of Christ is transferred through being together like this. The church feels alive and organic; conversations of practical and real life arise spontaneously.

I love Jesus' strategy of making disciples, I love living my life together with my brothers and sisters of faith and with those who, although they do not know the Lord, find their home in the church as well. May the Lord Jesus continue giving us opportunities to share live together and to know Him.  May we realize the impact of our discipleship relationships as lives continue to be transformed.


Partnership, a key ingredient for God-sized challenges.

Written by Paul Kienzle, Latino ESL Director

During the course of a trimester, the staff at Mission Adelante will receive a number of new volunteer interest forms via email.  They come from people from around the Kansas City area, who visit our Mission Adelante website and fill out a form online expressing their interest to serve as a volunteer or to know more about one of our ministry outreaches.  The opportunities and challenges that present themselves here in the life and mission of Mission Adelante are God-sized. These “budding” partnerships jumping off the pages of those volunteer interest forms are crucial for building a collaborative effort to transform this community in the name of Christ.

Our new volunteer training, which is held at the beginning of each trimester, is an intentional next step for deepening and broadening our volunteers’ understanding of what Mission Adelante feels called to do here in Kansas City, and introducing them to the volunteer opportunities available. This key event also serves as a perfect stepping stone for us as staff, to nurture relationship and build trust with our new volunteer partners.  On an overcast and coolish Saturday in May, twenty-four new volunteers descended upon Mission Adelante to begin their journey of partnering with Mission Adelante.  Out of this group, there were no less than six churches represented!  This half-day of training was packed from start to finish! It was a coordinated mix of relationship building, great worship, vision casting, touring the neighborhood and Adelante Thrift. The training day ending with the volunteers in their respective ministry groups, enjoying great Mexican cuisine, fellowship, and information about their ministry choice!  

The result of this half day training event is seeing new volunteers stepping out, excited, not just about serving in their respective ministry, but also excited about what God is doing in and through Mission Adelante, and wanting to be a part of it!  We need these vital partnerships for the God sized challenges before us at Mission Adelante! It was only fitting, on that overcast Saturday morning, that together we sang as one, “You're the God of this City, You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation, You are...For greater things have yet to come, And greater things are still to be done in this city.” ("God of this City", Chris Tomlin)  


 

 

 

 

       

New Refugee Ministry Pilots at Mission Adelante

Our new English Club for people from all places launched on May 30!

Our new English Club for people from all places launched on May 30!

by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

The end of one season often signals the beginning of another.  As Mission Adelante celebrated the winding down of seven beautiful years of ministry specifically with the Bhutanese, new doors were beginning to open for a broader ministry with refugees from all places in our neighborhood.  A meeting with Catholic Charities underlined the ongoing need for complementary refugee services that go beyond the initial three-month resettlement window.  Relationships with key people from several refugee communities including Bhutanese, Chin, Karen, Karenni, Iraqi, and Syrian, confirmed once again the deep desire our new neighbors have for friendship and their need for assistance with practical matters related to integrating in their new context.  An ESL class that we taught for adults, in partnership with refugee and immigrant students at Schlagle High School, highlighted the potential and passion that exists in youth from all places.  In so many ways it seems the Lord is leading us to press into our role and identity as a ministry with immigrants and refugees from ALL PLACES!

This summer we will be pressing further into our purpose to "love people from all places" by experimenting with two new initiatives that are open to all refugees and immigrants; an English Club for adults and a Refugee Kids Club.  These two initiatives launched on Tuesday night with several exciting highlights!

Our English Club Pilot, led by Lena Chan, is an informal, activity-based ESL program.  Participants practice their English and build friendships as they enjoy cooking, playing games, talking about health-related issues, and address practical issues that may arise in their everyday lives.  It is a combination of fun, relationships, and English-learning in a social environment, rather than an academic one.  Our initial group of 15 English Club students came from countries including Thailand, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

English Club participants practice English as they enjoy a game of Jenga.

English Club participants practice English as they enjoy a game of Jenga.

Our Refugee Kids Club Pilot is led by Laxmi Gurung, a refugee from Nepal and Mission Adelante's newest Staff Apprentice.  It is so beautiful to see the fruit of many years of different people investing in Laxmi's life being reproduced now in her own desire to invest in the lives of others.  In fact, the volunteer team Laxmi leads includes four other youth from Nepal who once participated in our Bhutanese Kids Club, among others. It is a truly multicultural team in which the fruits of long-term disciple-making are being harvested in the multiplication of leaders who are now sharing Christ with others.  

Laxmi Gurung with her amazing team of volunteers for Refugee Kids Club

Laxmi Gurung with her amazing team of volunteers for Refugee Kids Club

It is an exciting new season at Mission Adelante with exciting challenges and big opportunities!  Please pray with us as we take these next steps in exploring ministry with refugees from all places in our neighborhood!

The Impact of a Multicultural Worship Experience

Written by Gissell Vazquez, Latino Discipleship and Worship Coordinator

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb... crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9,10)

Every time I read this passage from Revelation chapter 7, I get the sensation that Heavens Celebration will be the best party that we could ever imagine. The hosts (The Father, God and Jesus, His Son) have planned every detail very carefully and had paid all the cost to give us a free entry. The guest list is unlimited and varied (...great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages… vs 9) and you know what, the subscription has not expired, there is still a chance to register and be part of this. I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

When I think of all this I get excited. It will be great to have the privilege of thanking Jesus face to face for all He has done for me. And the other amazing thing will be, being part of a large multitude from all places on earth. People that with one voice, will be praising God forever. For once and for all, the differences between cultures and races won’t matter; all races, all economies, will be focused on God’s perfection, not on our differences.          

From all the ideas coming from this text, there is one in particular that draws my attention: The importance of celebrating God in the midst of several cultures, regardless of the differences. My personal opinion is that we don’t have to wait until the end of times to come together as one to worship God. Instead, we as followers of Christ should be rehearsing on a daily basis for that big celebration. I know sometimes it can be difficult, but I also know it can be done. I have the privilege of serving at a place where we enhance the beauty of different cultures and we are centered in Jesus, above all. This place is Mission Adelante.

From my personal experience as the worship coordinator here at Mission Adelante it has been a challenge and a great honor working in this direction. I remember what a great joy Easter Sunday was this year. It was my responsibility to prepare worship for a Multicultural Service that included people from Latin America, Nepal and the US. The arrangement of the songs included parts in Spanish, English, and Nepali. For this I had the pleasure to work with such incredible people as Jeewan, Sunil and Manisha from Nepal and our worship group: Oscar (from Mexico),  and Caroline and Annie (both from the US). It was such an unique experience that took a lot of effort, but it was so worth it. That Sunday morning when we came to worship as one church, not three, it felt that we had an advance entry, an open window that showed us a piece of how worship in heaven will look. You could see on everyone’s face, happiness. You could also sense an atmosphere of community all over the place, even though we all were speaking different languages. I think it was a successful day because we worked for a common goal: to worship God together, no matter the differences, loving and valuing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. From that day on I knew that our communities had built new bridges and new ways of communication that have connected us at deeper levels.

This is definitely the kind of experiences that give us a glimpse of Revelation 7, and make the kingdom of God grow without limits. Experiences like this one are highly valued at Mission Adelante, because it goes to the center of what we envision: loving,  helping, and reaching people from other places.