I was honored when I saw the comment on Facebook. Our team photographer and historian, Carol, captured a photo as the team arrived at the airport in Manzanillo and posted the photo on the team's Facebook page. Gaby, one of the attendees expecting to receive her KidZ Ministry Teacher Certificate commented, "Welcome home!"
It truly did feel like returning home. Mexico will always have a beautiful and special place in my heart. I love it all...the music, the colors, the food, and the people. Oh, the people. I have learned so much from the Mexican people. Victoria was quick to advocate for a friend. Maria ignored her responsibilities in the kitchen just before lunch to personally welcome each of us. Jose was present and engaging even though I knew he was juggling so many demands on his time between family and church. I hope I'm putting into practice what I have learned...to genuinely and naturally focus on relationships (even above the demanding to-do list!).
Dozens of people supported our team of six (Carol, Dave, Marcia, Michelle, Mindi, and myself) with prayers and financial gifts. It was just two weeks before the trip that we received word that our entire team was fully funded. Thank you, God, for your provision. Thank you for this incredible and large team of supporters that joined us in spirit as we traveled. God used each of us in unique and special ways with the collaborative focus of helping children fall deeply in love with Jesus.
This is the third year we (a team formed from LifeSpring Covenant Church and KidZ at Heart) have trained local teachers and leaders to help children fall in love with Jesus. This year, we offered two tracks of learning to the 40 people in attendance and covered various topics:
- Nurturing great children
- How children learn best
- Multiple intelligences
- Spiritual formation for children
- Helping children learn to pray
We also offered a bit more training for those who have attended all three years. These eight incredible women were the very first in Mexico to earn the KidZ Ministry Teacher Certificate. I loved how Tania showed me the goosebumps on her arm as she received her certificate. She was so excited and honored to be recognized as she has put these concepts into practice in her classroom.
An attendee, Consuelo, shared about a 11-year-old boy, Pepe, who comes to church by himself. His parents are often not at home, and his mom comes home late at night. The kids in the class at church enjoy writing prayers to God and placing them in a makeshift mailbox. It took Pepe a while to participate in writing his prayers. As Consuelo engaged Pepe in the class, she found out that Pepe's younger brother had recently died. Consuelo continued to encourage Pepe and the other children that God loves them, hears their prayers, and cares for each of them. Pepe ended up writing prayer asking God to "take care of his mom and let his whole family to be together again." While Pepe still comes to church by himself, he has a new found confidence and trust in God to answer his prayers.
The 40 attendees engaged in the training and are already putting many of the ideas into practice. We challenged them (based on 2 Timothy 2:2) to share what they had learned with at least five others. With each children's ministry leader teaching an average of 50 children, this training can impact more than 10,000 children in Mexico! Here are a few more comments from the trainings:
- "We hope you come back in six months! I want my certificate!" ~Cristina
- "Relationship with God is not just for adults. It gives me the freedom to slow down and encourage kids to be still!" ~Brenda
- "This training has changed the way I see children and the ministry." ~Gaby
- "Listening to God in prayer is the most marvelous thing we can experience." ~Consuelo
- "I am committed to learning more about spiritual growth in kids and how to impact their hearts as a mama for Jesus." ~ Karina
- "I am ready to put all into practice to draw children closer to God." ~Veronica
- "I give thanks to the group for sharing your knowledge and your life to teach us how to help kids know God more and give peace in them and that God is the pillar of our life--without him we are nothing. God bless each one of you and that you will continue sharing your knowledge. I, personally, learned much." ~Rosa
After three full days of training, the team also had the joy to conduct a special training with just the mamas and staff of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos (CHLA). It truly was a beautiful and relaxed time of connection, encouragement, and blessing. We saw Jesus' love in action through these mamas who pour into the lives of each child at CHLA. On our last day, the mamas and children prayed over us (using echo prayers from the training!) and presented us with gifts of colored pages. What treasured gifts!
Interested in what KidZ at Heart does in more than 40 countries around the world just like in Mexico? You know, you too can go and train networks of leaders to help children fall deeply in love with Jesus!