More than just sewing classes

11:22 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

The staff at Friends Club “Bridge” program (for moms who need to learn job skills) has been praying for months to be more than just a job skills program. “We need God to open up doors and show us how to integrate discipleship more into this program. We’re not here just to teach them to sew, but how do we do that?” they prayed.
When we faithfully pray, in accordance to Father’s will (for all to come to experiential knowledge of saving grace), He works!
One day, in a casual conversation, four of the women decided to accept Christ into their lives! It was a powerful reminder that God is at work, no matter what we do or don’t feel or see… and that we can do nothing in our own strength!
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Devotional with the sewing and discipleship class

Sweeter than honey

10:01 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

“The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold… they are sweeter than honey…” Psalm 19:9-10

 

How valuable is God’s word to us? At Camp Gozo, the children got to take home a big bag of candy each!  They were obviously excited about their sweets.  They also had the opportunity to exchange their bag of candy for a Bible, something many of them don’t have in their homes.

One boy came forward, handing over his goodies and receiving a new Bible.  “The candy is going to run out,” he said, “But the Bible won’t!”

Praise God for this young man’s wisdom!  May the Holy Spirit bring fruit in his life as he cherishes God’s word.  Pray for all the children and teens who participated in Camp Gozo in June, 2016, and for those who will participate later this year, that their spirits will be open and hungry for the Living Word.

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Madera en Demolición

11:54 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

We bought some new bunk beds. After walking all over the “furniture neighborhood,” we settled on a style that is very sturdy, with thick columns that feel like they will never be wobbly (like the previous beds)! They are made from “Madera en demolición”: wood from demolished buildings, heavy-duty beams and columns in long-lasting wood. The beds come with a lifetime guarantee.

“How can we tell if it’s really demolition wood or not?” we asked… Because there are businesses that imitate this style, calling it “demolition wood” but really using soft pine wood and staining it to look like the real deal. (They, of course, can’t offer a lifetime guarantee. The wood cracks as it dries and is much lighter-weight and easily damaged.) The shopkeeper explained this to us, and let us see and feel the difference between chairs in the two different kinds of wood.

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The carpenter told us, “This wood is really great, but it comes out of old buildings, so it takes a lot of work to prepare it. It’s full of screws and nails when it comes to us, which would damage all the machines we use. First, we have to take out all of that junk in order to be able to reuse it and make it into something beautiful again.”

In Formando Vidas, we do the same thing, but with children. And this work, of letting Holy Spirit use us to remove nails and sand out scars, is slow but rewarding. Lifetime guaranteed.

Fathers’ Day

01:12 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads out there (biological, adoptive/foster, and spiritual fathers)! Alex Peña received a special Fathers’ Day gift this year – a visit from “daughter” Jenny, who now lives in Chile! She came with her husband and their two children to see her family in Formando Vidas. It’s so great to see the fruit of years of love and labor in her life, just like in the lives of many other young adults who have passed through the ministry. God never quits! He’s a forever-loving Father!

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New Accountant

01:00 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

EFFECTIVE IMMEDATELY:

After many years with Robyn Patzig’s service as our U.S. accountant, the time has come for someone else to fill that role.
Our new accountant is Kevin Canaday, of Visalia, California.
Please note this change of address for all mailed donations, bank drafts or auto-pays, and tax statements:

Formando Vidas
c/o Kevin Canaday
4025 S. Creekside Court
Visalia, CA 93277

Telephone: 661-375-0365

Thank you for your support!

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Paper Cell phones

12:35 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

“This is my cell phone,” she bragged to her second-grade classmates, holding the paper rectangle where she had drawn numbers and a screen.  “It has a password and everything!” She sure was enjoying this game and her friends seemed impressed.  All but one boy, that is.

He reached over and moved his finger across the “screen” in a pattern.  “I blocked it!” he taunted. The note from school said that she had hit her classmate, and the little girl sobbed as she told us the story behind the note!  She had been so proud of her phone; surely it made her feel important during recess, until the boy ruined her credibility!

A paper cell phone may seem silly to us (after all, we are such “mature adults,” right?) but this little one’s frustration and pain was real for her.  Her classmate had just moved her down a few rungs.  Maybe you don’t punch your classmate; maybe no one sends a note home about your bad behavior… but those moments where we feel devalued help show us areas in which we aren’t depending on God as our only source of value. What do you feel you need in order to “be somebody”?  What happens when your “identity-givers” get taken from you?  Invite Jesus into those areas of your life, let Him show you your paper cell phones, give them up and be amazed as He restores your true identity.

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Water Hookup

07:41 PM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

It’s a long story, but this is a blog, so we’ll sum it up.

For more than ten years, we have been pursuing getting a city water hookup at the farm – the Restored Heritage – and the different government and water company officials keep passing the problem on to someone else. Without city water, we can’t have more people living at the farm; no more children, no more staff.

We have three houses for the purpose of Restoring a godly Heritage to children and their families here, and there is room for more… except we don’t currently have enough water to supply to more!

A mother water pipe passes through our land and we were promised a water connection, but the government has not fulfilled their part of the agreement. God’s vision is clear: the Restored Heritage is to impact many children and their families. We need to see His miracles in providing water urgently, and also in winning the legal battle to get city water! Please join us in praying that the battle will be won quickly and water will be freely accessible so that the houses will be full of children hearing His word and feeling His love.

Blessed, rather…

11:21 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 11:27-28

As they’ve gotten to know each other, through English classes and Bible study and quality time, the two women have formed a relationship of trust.  One of them is tall, fair, English.  The other is short, dark-skinned, Colombian.  One studied in University to become a teacher.  The other learned a trade as a ceramist, but now sells jerseys by the stadium.  They both enjoy learning.

The Englishwoman is a devout follower of Jesus Christ, dedicating her time to help others know Him as well as improve their living circumstances.  The Colombian is a devotee of the Virgin Mary, crediting her with having saved her youngest child’s life, as well as her own.  Time and again in their conversations, the topic of Mary has come up.  This is typical in conversations between Catholics and Evangelicals here.  Mary seems to be the biggest “sticking point,” almost impossible to get beyond.

On this particular day, though, the Englishwoman watched as Holy Spirit moved, opening up the conversation.  She had been studying about the Catholic belief of Mary as the “Queen of Heaven,” and its roots in ancient idolatry.  Her Colombian friend asked, exasperated, “What’s the problem with Mary?  I don’t see what the big deal is!”

“Jesus never instructed his followers to worship his mother.”  And her English friend was able to take her to Scripture, to let her read for herself, and let Holy Spirit do His job: convicting of sin and unbelief.  Later, they read in the book of Revelation about how a woman who caused others to commit idolatry would be cast down, together with those who were her devotees.

“Well, I guess I’m going to have to change the way I think,” expressed the Colombian friend as she considered all that she had read. Virgin_Mary_carries_Jesus

Changes on the Inside

08:44 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

“Before, I didn’t really know God like I do now: in a deeper, personal way.”

This is what one mother expressed to me as she dried her tears after a heart-felt prayer to God. This beautiful lady still struggles with drugs, still lives in terrible conditions, still spends her days looking after people’s parked cars for a few coins an hour. Her years of involvement with Formando Vidas have not drastically changed her exterior.

But she has seen her three children growing up healthy and happy. She arrives to the monthly visit to see her youngest (now a teenager) on a red bicycle that her second son – just graduated from technical college – gave her. And the oldest? She calls frequently, although she is living with her husband, overseas.

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This mom and dad, despite their difficult circumstances, arrive with a smile, a hug or warm handshake, and often a funny anecdote. The reflection time at today’s visit allowed us all to see some good and bad events in our year and offer up a prayer for ourselves and the others at our table. She didn’t mention a single bad thing! And her husband’s good events outnumbered the bad!

It is an honor to know them, and to share our joys and struggles around a simple cafeteria table. We may not have made any major external advances in their lives, but they addressed God as “Daddy” in their straightforward prayers, with a clear faith. The internal changes outweigh the external.

Their lives have been transformed, forever.

Johana with her biological family/Johana con su familia biológica

Bridging from Friendship into Action

10:16 AM   //   by Emily Garrett Peña   //   Blog  //  No Comments

by Becka Ridgway

In Cazuca we’ve been working closely with young mums.  We believe God has spoken about taking them to another level, both in their spiritual and daily lives.  God has given us various opportunities and strategies to do this.  In the week we have our ‘Bridge of Friendship’ group this is primarily a group for teenage mums, who come on Wednesday mornings to socialize, study the Bible and do various craft activities.  The hope is to then introduce these women into a second project called ‘Women in Action’.

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This project has two facets, on Saturdays a Colombian lady from a local church comes and runs a course focused on sales but with a biblical base.  Seven ladies have just successfully completed the first six-week level and in a couple of weeks they shall start the second level.  We have been very encouraged by the changes we have seen in them, they have grown in self-confidence and in their relationship with God.  The second facet of this project is teach practical sewing skills, many of these women have not completed primary school and so finding jobs can be very difficult for them.  The vision we have is to equip them with the skills to use an industrial sewing machine, so they can either find work as machinist or make quality items to sell at one of the artesian fairs.  We are praying for a committed group of women and a legal power source for the house which houses the machines before we start this!

Please join with us in praying for these young mums and their families.

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