Mommy & Me ESL classes teach pre-reading skills

by Lauren Timberlake, Bhutanese ESL Director

I get excited when kids read. Board books, picture books, chapter books, audio books-- they are doors to all kinds of possibilities in life. Refugee kids have some large obstacles to overcome when reading. English is not their first language, so learning to read is a challenge. Also, refugee parents have endured years of turmoil, had little access to education, and now work hard to provide for their families. This leaves little time or attention for recreational reading. Many times, there are very few books in a refugee home. Although they receive lots of love at home, refugee kids don’t spend a lot of time reading with their families. Often, these kids are behind when they start school and can feel frustrated.

This summer, we offered a Mommy & Me workshop to our Bhutanese ESL students. Several mothers and grandmothers of young children participated. Rachel Pierce, a preschool teacher and close friend to several refugee families, led the group in a typical preschool storytime. There was circle time, read alouds, finger-plays, and several stations with early literacy activities. Moms helped their children to sort by color, “fish” for picture cards, put together puzzles, and look at books together.

We rarely get to offer programming to  the smallest children in the Bhutanese community, and everyone really enjoyed it. A local organization donated board books to send home with each family, so they can begin reading or looking at books together at home.

Please pray for the educational needs of the Bhutanese community and other refugee groups in Kansas City. Pray that children have access to books, mentors who challenge them to read, and teachers who equip them with the skills they need to pursue further education or job training after high school.

In other news

  • Two members of the Raices team along with two other Cubans led a seminar on Christianity in Cuba last Saturday. It was the first time to share publicly in English for two of them, and they did great! Around 40 people attended the event.
  • God used friends, volunteers and partner churches to provide backpacks for all of the children and teens of Mission Adelante.  They will go back to school with the supplies to start this year right!

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for our four interns and two Cuban guests who finish their summer with us this week and transition back to Cuba or to school and family.  Pray for their confidence as they return to normal life.
  • Pray we finish our trimesters strong and that the Lord would give us guidance as we seek Him for direction for our fall trimesters

Important Dates

Summer Parties

at Wyandotte County Lake Park, 91st and Leavenworth Road, Kansas City, KS 66109.  After entering the park, you'll come to a fork in the road;

go left


  • The Latino party begins at 5:00 with a potluck meal, awards and a cultural program.  It will be in the "Beach Shelter." Turn right after passing shelter #6.
  • The Bhutanese party begins around 4:00 and will have a potluck meal, awards and a cultural program in shelter #6.

Sabbatical Reflections from Costa Rica

by Jarrett Meek, Founder, Executive Director/Pastor

A sabbatical is a strange and wonderful thing; a phenomenon that defies the laws of productivity and normal 

adult experience.  The last time I can remember being free from responsibility for four solid months was before I entered kindergarten, which I naturally don't remember.  Even as a kid, the long summers of swimming, romping in the woods behind our house, and playing baseball always came to an abrupt end after just three months, and were replaced by the rigors of school and the constant pressure of much-dreaded homework.  And then, as an adult, there never really had been a break from responsibility.  Even during a rare two-week vacation there was always the knowledge that my work was waiting at home to punish me for leaving it unattended for so long.  And then suddenly (or not so suddenly if I think about all the preparation that was required), I was extracted from the battlefield of urban ministry in Kansas City on a snowy New Year's Eve morning.  When we landed that evening, I found myself surrounded by the sights, smells and sounds of Costa Rica with fireworks lighting up every corner of the warm night sky in what seemed like an extravagant city-wide, "welcome to sabbatical" party; a celebratory beginning of four months free of responsibility and separated from ministry by 2500 miles.  The lessons learned and the experiences lived during this time are in some ways very profound and in others quite mundane.  If you had four months to read, I would share it all with you.  But, for now you'll have to settle for a few highlights!

Routines, Rhythms, and Habits

I learned that a sabbatical is not a vacation.  On vacation, every routine is thrown out the window along with a whole lot of money.  Well, a family can't live like that for four months!  Besides realizing that the high prices of most products in Costa Rica would mean we would be watching every Colón (1/5 of a penny),  we also discovered fairly quickly that if we were going to thrive here during this time we would need to establish some rhythms and routines.  The opportunity to do this without factoring in work meant that daily exercise with the kids, homeschooling (yes, I was in charge of homeschooling during sabbatical), family devotional times, regular time playing basketball and baseball with Charlie, and frequent dates with Kristen would be easily established.  What a rich family time!

My own personal study time was also factored into the daily rhythm; about 2 hours/day of reading, writing, prayer, and Bible study.  This time was not pressured in any way, but at first was simply my time, doing whatever I felt like. It later became a little more focused as I found my rhythm.  One of the things I read in the first month was a classic Latin American novel called "Cién Años de Soledad."  As I reached back to try to remember all of the things I've enjoyed doing in the past, but haven't had time to do, I was struck by the importance of having habits that keep me from having to spend the mental energy making every decision each day about what to focus on.  I discovered that where there are habits and routines established around some of the most important things in our lives we are able to execute them much more consistently because we're not starting from scratch each day trying to make a new plan.  I reflected a lot on the inconsistency of my own spiritual disciplines over the last several years, and a personal goal for this sabbatical became to gently re-establish habits and rhythms around some of the things that are hard to maintain or restart during the busyness of life and ministry on the battlefield.

Primacy of Relationships

In the abundance of family time, devotional time, reading, and the relaxed schedule, the Lord brought me back many times to one important word: relationships.  Where have I put ministry productivity above loving others?  Where have I put ministry function above loving my teammates?  Where have I put results over relationships?  I don't want to be that kind of leader.  I don't want to be that kind of person.  I've seen it before; strong and gifted leaders whose competence replaces character and whose talent becomes a substitute for healthy relationships.  Surely results in ministry are enhanced by rich and thriving relationships over the long-haul.  Surely relationships are the essence of real godly ministry.  I pray the Lord will allow me to grow in this area and give me the eyes to see how I need to change and where I need to pursue reconciliation with people I've hurt along the way.

Being vs. Doing

The tension between "doing and being" is often talked about in ministry circles.  I don't know how this happened, but I think I've always misunderstood what was meant by the "being" side of this equation.  I guess I thought it meant inactivity, rest, just existing, the OPPOSITE of doing; kind of like the difference between work and rest.  Somehow during this sabbatical God changed my understanding of what the "being" side of this balance looks like and gave me a new excitement for it.  First, I discovered that it really isn't a balance at all.  Second, although the work vs. rest rhythm is very important, "BEING" in this sense should not be equated with rest as though it were the opposite of doing.  I spent a lot of time plumbing the depths of my own heart and character and reflecting on who I AM and who I want to BE.  I tried to put some of those thoughts in writing in the form of personal values and found that many of them ended up identifying character qualities that I long to see God form in me.  BEING, I discovered, has to do with what kind of person I AM.  And instead of creating tension with doing, the who I am, is the fountain out of which the doing flows.  "Every good tree produces good fruit..." (Mt. 7:17).  So on sabbatical I had time to reflect on who I am and who I want to be... my own growth and what God is doing in me.  Here is one example:

Lover of Mercy:  I want to always see the potential in the people around me, even those who fail many times.  I want to be quick to show mercy even when I have been personally wronged.  I want to avoid taking harsh and critical views of others, opting instead to be a person who defends the dignity of those whom others judge harshly.

Run While You Can!

Running has been an important part of my life since I was young.  I'll spare you the details of my glory days, but the point is that during this sabbatical I have renewed my love for running.  When we arrived here I have to confess that I was in the worst physical condition of my life.  My joints hurt, I had been dealing with a tight hamstring for nearly a year, I had a mild case of sciatica and a growing belly, and I really hadn't run much since a case of IT band syndrome had foiled my first attempt at training for a marathon back in the summer of 2011.  I felt like I was on a downward spiral in terms of exercise capacity and I was kind of depressed about it.  Well, here I've had ample time to rebuild little by little.  Somewhere along the way it dawned on me that there would come a day when I would not be ABLE to run anymore.  I would not be able to sprint.  I would not be able to run 2 miles.  "I need to enjoy this while I can", I thought.   And so I have!  And as we near the end of this four month half-time break, I am in better running condition that I have been in the last ten years.  I'm 32 years old again!  Just for fun, I've been running a slower version of the dreaded "quarter" workout we used to do in high school track and cross country; 16 x 400m sprints.   And now that I'm back in the exercise groove, my motivation to continue when we return is very strong.

Impact on Mission Adelante

It was never really in doubt, but that doesn't mean it was not significant.  The Lord has blessed Mission Adelante with some really gifted leaders who have been able to guide the ship and take new ground during my absence. And it is now clear that He has built a ministry that is not dependent on the personality of its founder.  All of the responsibilities of running the ministry were passed on to capable staff who led through highlights and challenges, without ever having to hit the emergency button and call me back in.  Not only did Mission Adelante survive, but its impact increased, and its leaders were challenged to grow in ways that would never have happened if I had been there.  And we will now have the opportunity to press into the lessons learned from this "disappearing leader" experiment as we look forward to how God will use this time in our future as a ministry.

With a couple of weeks left in this out-of-responsibility experience, my mind and heart are shifting back home, and I'm excited to reengage with the community and mission that God has given us.  There are exciting things on the horizon for Mission Adelante; things I am eager to share with you soon.  So, I invite you to pray for me in this transition, and for my family, and for the Mission Adelante community as we continue to live our God's calling to serve, share life and share Jesus with people from other places .  Thank you for your friendship and partnership!

The Road to Life-On-Life Discipleship

Written by Drew Hammond, Bhutanese Logistics Coordinator

At Mission Adelante we believe that ministry is primarily a relational endeavor, that genuine compassion and reconciliation requires relationship, and that disciple-making must be life-on-life.

Nearly eight months ago I received a phone call that required an immediate response. A Bhutanese family, who had been in the USA for less than three months, was being forced to move out of their home into a motel at 78th Street and I-70. The house next door to theirs had burned down, the fire severely damaging their home, and they found themselves relocating to the motel located some distance from the majority of the Bhutanese community in Kansas City, KS. As a representative of Mission Adelante, I responded by taking the family food to last them a few weeks until they could relocate to a permanent residence.

When we arrived at the motel, we met the family and delivered the food. The family began to eat and invited me to join them, per the cultural norm.  I tried to refuse, saying, "we brought your family this food since you won't be able to prepare all the food you like while living here.  Keep it for yourselves." A young man about my age responded to my refusal by placing a full plate of food onto my lap.

At that moment, I didn't realize that not only was I beginning a relationship with this family, but that that family would later become my family, and the man that served me the plate of food would become my brother.  You see, now I have the honor of living with this family and sharing my life, and more importantly, the truth of the love of Jesus with them everyday.

In other news:

  • We're so thankful for the Lord’s continued provision!  He has provided so many wonderful new volunteers with the Spring trimester launch!
  • Martin, Iris, Jai and Janga were highlights at our recent volunteer training as they shared parts of their immigrant story with our new volunteers.
  • The Bhutanese outreach programs launched for this trimester on Tuesday night! We are super excited to watch and see what the Lord will do this trimester in everyone’s hearts as we serve and learn together.
  • We were so excited to see our LIT (Leaders in Training) kids back and in action this week!

Prayer needs:

  • Pray for one of our Latino leaders to have wisdom in his decision as he considers moving out of Kansas City.
  • Praise God for growing our immigrant leadership teams! Please pray that they continue to develop leadership skills and increase ownership of our outreach activities.

Current needs:
  • Two women who would be excited about forming discipling/mentoring relationships with Bhutanese teenagers through Bhutanese Teens Club on Tuesday evenings. Please contact Hannah Hume at
  • Volunteers for Mission Adelante’s Bhutanese Transportation Team! Our transportation needs are great for our Tuesday night outreach, and we are looking for more volunteers to join the team as drivers. Must be 25 years of age or older, NO CDL REQUIRED. For more information, please contact Drew Hammond at
  • A dining table and chairs for a recently-arrived family from Nepal. If you have one available please contact Drew Hammond at
  • Small toys and trinkets (valued at about $1 each--ie Target dollar bins, or dollar store) to be added to our Kids Club prize box, which contains reward for excellent behavior during our Tuesday night program for kids ages 5-12.  If you can help us out contact Kristen Maxwell at
  • Bhutanese and Latino kids' programs are in search of a gently used lamination machine to keep our frequently used materials usable for longer. Please contact Megan at
  • Expo dry-erase markers for use in the Bhutanese Kids Programs.  Please contact Kristen at