Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scholarship Joy!

I told you that I’d be busy Thursday and Friday with scholarship students coming for their first payouts. Well … I wasn’t kidding!! Thursday especially was a non stop, run from here to there, meet with one bunch in the chapel, the next bunch in the front room and individually talk with all of them …

And there are 74 students that we are supporting from a variety of funds. 3 communities have a partner relationship with an Iowa church. There are 27 students from El Recreo, 11 from San Francisco, and 10 from El Tablón that are being supported by their partner church. A brand new partnership is starting out with 2 scholarships for Las Delicias. We are assured by the community that there will be more students next year for this community! Start saving your quarters! ;o)

In addition to those, we have 24 students from a variety of communities that are being supported by a variety of donors. We have a man in Osceola who supports this effort all year long and sometimes visiting delegations leave a little for the ‘general education’ fund. When I first got here 2 years ago, the Pastoral House had 7 high school students we were supporting. Now we have 24. VERY cool indeed!

So as each high school student received their $50 payout (first of two or three payouts of $50 each depending upon the donating entity) we also spent a few moments talking and trying to motivate them to study hard, think about their studies and not their ‘novios’ (boyfriend/girlfriend). Each student signed a receipt as well as a parent, me and another member of the Pastoral Team. We try to be very transparent about the funds that go out. We keep a record of everything.

In addition, we verify with the school director to make sure they are truly enrolled. We expect the students to bring us a copy of their grade reports each trimester and we ask them to write a letter of thanks to be put in the education folder so I can share them with their kind benefactors. It’s a good process.

So those are the high school students!! They begin school this coming Monday the 24th.

Now to even more joy:

Remember our leap of faith last year for the two post high school “Technical School” scholarship recipients? Well – I have an update on them, too. And for THIS fund – we are in major need of support again this year. But thanks to the many people last year who gave a little (and in some cases a lot) to the “Tito and Ale Fund” we were able to meet their expenses during 2010.

Here we are in 2011 and our faith is still strong that these two will end up with enough funds to cover their tuition and transportation needs!!

They also begin school THIS Monday. And each of them has already received their first tuition and transportation payouts and they are ready to go!! And anxious to be back at their studies again after a long Christmas (their summer) break.

Like last year – if you want to support this effort, you can send a check to the Presbytery of Des Moines office (2400 86th Street, Suite 20 in Urbandale 50322) and indicate “Tito and Ale Fund” somewhere on the check or in your message to Betty D. the office manager.

I’ve seen the end of the year grade reports for both Tito (who is studying “English for Teacher”) and Alejandro (who is studying Auto Mechanics) and they are incredibly good.

The scale is from 1 to 10 rather than alphabetical grades with 10 being the best. BOTH boys ended the year with most of their grades 9.2 and higher. Most folks have a hard time just getting to 8.5. These young men are devoting lots of effort to their studies as well as helping their families in the corn and bean fields or other small work (in Tito’s case, he worked his Christmas vacation in construction) to help support their moms and siblings.

And in the meantime, Alejandro also studied for and obtained his driver’s license! You would be surprised how few people here in El Salvador actually can drive. Not many. Since I taught him to drive last year, Alejandro has also helped the Pastoral Team on many occasions with delegations – driving in the communities as we all walked door to door so I could be free to do the translating! How cool is that? (The truck had to follow us door to door with the heavy packets the families were getting in these communities).

Good timing … Tito just stopped by to return a book he had borrowed from me (in English of course) and to bring me a copy of his registration receipt.

I love it when folks are responsible!!

Thank you all for your support – whether in thoughts and prayers or actual financial assistance to the support we hope to provide …

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Way too long

Sorry all – it’s been a long time since I’ve written. The excuses are: my trip home to visit my family for 2 weeks from the last week of December to the first week of January. Then I only had a couple of days to catch up before the first delegation of 13 arrived – then the very day after they left, a delegation of 12 arrived. I brought them to the airport at 4 a.m. on Tuesday and I pretty much haven’t stopped since (except a much needed hour and a half nap on Tuesday afternoon).

Today started with an hour and a half 6 a.m. drive to Corozal to deliver construction materials for a new church being built there. Their partner church of Ankeny Pres is helping with funds for that. We got back from there about 10:30 and I’ve been at the computer ever since. There are 3 delegations coming in February and I’m working on finalizing agendas and budgets for them … I have been asked to make a 3-5 minute video for their churches fund-raising for their partner community so I’ve had to write that script … I’ll actually video tape it tonight. We have about 60 high school students coming for their first scholarship payout tomorrow so I had to get all the receipts and cash ready to hand out. I’ve done some random translating … answered a bunch of small to middle sized emails (with many more yet to go) and typed up another community census.

Those are my excuses … I think I’ll stick with them.

I’m tired but I feel good about being so productive. Believe it or not, I do have some random moments of boredom. Not many … but I prefer to be busy. Maybe not THIS busy.

Yet to do: get fertilizer information out to the partner churches who want to purchase again this year. I need to write up the report for the construction of the church in Corozal from our visit this morning. I love to do those reports though. It is more like a blog with pictures with a progress report. Not a stressful task. I need to make the video and check out all the random papers piled on the desk from the last two weeks which will inevitably provide more opportunities for tasks.

Tomorrow will be busy with students and their parents coming and going all day. I look forward to that though. Education is an incredibly important piece in the hope of ending a cycle of poverty.

I think that will do for now.

I might give you a little mini update on the church construction when I’m done with it because it was such a wonderful visit this morning. But I’ll give you that tomorrow so you will have something to look forward to.