It was the first week in March that the youth from Fuente de Salvacion Covenant Church were last together. We actually met at our house for an afternoon of integration with a team that had come to serve and learn from Wisconsin. And then the next week we were all placed in quarantine, which lasted until the beginning of September. And to be honest, it was hard for the leaders to find ways to connect with this newly formed youth group during the quarantine. Leaders were caring for families and trying to adjust to a new way of work. The youth, many of them, didn’t have a way to connect virtually to zoom meetings or didn’t have a phone to participate in a group chat. They were six months where we really worried about the youth, many of them who were living in really difficult situations. And we knew that we had to find a way to reach out to them.
Finally in October, the youth leaders got together to plan for an in-person gathering in a local park. They made a video invitation and we decided to make paper invitations and send them along with a homemade chocolate chip cookie to each youth in the church (40 in total), which is what I contributed as I made the invitations and cookies. Then Shyrley, Victor, and Jose drove to each of the teenagers houses to hand deliver the invites. We were supposed to meet Oct. 30th, but the children and youth were put in a total quarantine that weekend throughout the city. So, we extended the invitation for November 6th.
So, Sam (who is now part of youth group) and I headed out to the park on that night, not sure who all would show up. Friends, I was blown away. Completely blown away. Over 25 teenagers came to the gathering. What a joy to see them in person after so many months. There were smiles seen through masks, fist-bumps and elbow greetings. The leaders led in a few activities so we could interact and get to know each other. We had pizza delivered and Juan Felipe led in a devotional. There were even kids who were at the park and were curious so they asked if they could join. So we shared pizza with them and incorporated them into the activities. Many of the teenagers came with their siblings or cousins so they socially distanced, but in their little groups. Again, it was amazing to me, that after 8 months and so little contact, so many youth really seized the opportunity to reconnect.
May God give us wisdom as we move forward and as in-person meetings are still challenging given the pandemic and the restrictions. I have been in contact with some of the girls and at least am able to check in and ask how they are doing and how I can pray for them. I want them to know they are not alone.