OANSA and iPraise 046Two years of my life.

For the month of July, I will be running Mi Esperanza’s OANSA program located at another site. After July, well, I will be returning to the States. Last week, my loving army of small hooligans and fellow leaders threw me a surprise farewell party on my final Saturday OANSA in Primero de Marzo, complete with ham and cheese sandwiches, frosting and sprinkles, presents, and adorable overload.

It was a wonderful morning of celebrating two years worth of ministry and two years worth of invaluable lessons learned about myself and life in general. The cherry on top was getting to share such a special day with a team from my home church in San Diego. Writing home about the things the Lord has been doing is one thing; being able to show them and match faces to stories is something else entirely.

But even more than this, it was a morning reflecting on the trust gained, rapport established, and friendships formed with the kids, and for me, that was really what made the celebration. Recognizing the Lord’s goodness in the way these kids have allowed me into the inner rooms of their lives was humbling and, yes, I’ll say it, fulfilling. There have been hard times in Paraguay, but these moments overshadow the valleys of anguish a million fold.

Words of affirmation is already my dominant love language, but I am sure letters of this quality and caliber would make even an ice queen’s heart melt.

Take a look at these precious nuggets (and get the tissues ready):

oansa 012Eight years old and ValeNtina still can’t spell her name correctly. I love her anyway.

oansa 008“ILY. I’m Raquel. Loren, the best mentor I have ever known. Thank you for advising me in OANSA. Thank you for everything.”

oansa 011“Thank you Laurren [sic] for teaching me how to cook and to play the guitar. And for everything you taught me and all the advice you gave me. I love you very much. You are one of my best friends. Never forget me. By: Teresa. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.”

oansa 004“Hello Loren. Thank you for being in OANSA. We love you very much. May God and Jesus bless you always and protect you in every moment and may your trip be an adventure. And we will always remember you. We will all miss you. Signed: Evelin and siblings.”

And then the best letter ever from Tara:oansa 003“Loren, you were the best cooking teacher and I wanted to say I hope you have a good trip. I know you love us all the same and us you, but I want to tell you that I love you more than all the others. You are the best friend, mentor, and cooking teacher. We all love you soooooo much, but I love you the most. I hope you have a wonderful trip. ILY, Loren!”

Bah.

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Singing “My God is So Great!”

A rather habble scrabble performance by the OANSA: Primero de Marzo kids on Celebration Sunday at Mi Esperanza, but a performance nonetheless!

We usually teach a Bible lesson as well as a social lesson every Saturday at OANSA. Once a month, I try to get the kids to put the social stuff in action. Last week, we participated in some trash pick-up outside of Primero de Marzo. It was a little dismal that we filled thirty trash bags full within minutes and meters of our site, but it was great to see the kids involved in caring for their own neighborhood.

Heading out to get our hands dirty.

Pink ladies stick together.

Mining the sewer moat. Blech.

M setting an example.

Fanning out.

Closing in.

A glimpse of Primero de Marzo.

Little chums learning to care about the environment.

OANSA: Family Day.

February 26, 2012

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed about Family Day not panning out as expected, but at the end of the day, we did have three moms show up to check out what we do for the kids on Saturday mornings. And we did play some pretty great games, if I may say so myself.

Three-legged water race:

Banana peeling and eating relay (one-handed madness):

Lesson time:

It’s nice to be back at Primero de Marzo. Bring on OANSA 2012.