Feb 1, 2005

Distributing school supplies

We were greatly aided in our outreach to the community by donations from Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, Brighton, Michigan. A team sponsored by Michigan-based MOST Ministries came to work on Tierra de Gracia Lutheran Farm last month and brought with them a huge load of school supplies for Venezuelan children.

The supplies - pencils, crayons, notebooks, construction paper and other items - were divided for distribution at various locations across the country. Luz Maria and I left some supplies at Corpus Christi Lutheran Church in Barinas and took some with us to our home in La Caramuca. This past weekend we visited some of the poorest families in La Caramuca and presented them with the supplies along with copies of the Gospel according to St. Luke, which Shepherd of the Lake also sent.

The rural area in which we live is relatively less isolated and poverty-stricken than some other parts of Venezuela. There is electricity and running water at least most of the time. Municipal water is usually shut off at night and either electricity or water may be shut off for a couple of hours during the day without warning. Our kitchen stove fortunately runs on liquid propane gas, although once we ran out of LP gas and the deliveryman did not show up for over a week. So we built a cooking fire out back (no open burning laws here).

Nevertheless, our lifestyle and that of a few others in the neighborhood is fairly luxurious compared to those who have almost nothing. One reason for this poverty is lack of education. Often parents are unable to help their children with schoolwork because they themselves do not know how to read or write, or, more frequently, lack basic math skills.

For this reason, and in response to requests from the community, we have begun hosting a math class for adults on Wednesdays. A friend of Eliezer Montoya (Luz Maria's son-in-law) has agreed to teach the class. This fellow is a mathematics instructor at Ezequiel Zamora University in Barinas.

Speaking of Eliezer, I learned this week just why he frequently prays for the children that he teaches in Barinas. One of them, a second-grader, was shot to death in the street, in broad daylight, just three houses down from his school. It is widely believed that this was an act of revenge against the child's family over a personal dispute.

Please pray for this family and all the others who have lost children to senseless violence around the world.

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