The following was a presentation made at a recent NPH fundraiser. Rafa Llamoga is a 2018-19 leadership student who has been staying with the Andersons since September, 2018 and studying English. He returns to his Peruvian home in San Vicente de Cañete at the beginning of July. NPH is Nuestro Pequeños Hermanos (our little brother's and sisters). St. Andrew has made three trips since 2012 to the NPH home in Honduras which you can read about here.
Good evening! My name is Rafael Llamoga. I am from Peru, and I have been a part of the NPH family for 14 years.
MIRACLES – Do you believe in miracles? I do.
I was 11 when one of my miracles happened, I arrived at NPH.
Because of this miracle I am here today a happy person and I am proud of the many accomplishments that NPH has helped me achieve.
I have a few thoughts on miracles: I believe they can be found not only in the best of situations, but in the worst of situations. The bad things that happen to us in life bring meaning, a greater purpose, and they can even transform and become the good we see in our lives. Watching this happen is nothing short of incredible.
Seed scattered and sown…emphasis on scattered.
I hadn’t caught before the odds in that familiar parable of the Sower—one that each of the synoptic gospels thought important enough to include in their narratives (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8). Here’s a section from Matthew’s version:
A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
Seed sown on (1) the path, on (2) rocky ground, (3) among thorns, and (sigh of relief) on (4) good soil. One of the four produced a return. That’s a twenty-five percent success rate. If you’re big league, a .250 batting average might be good enough, depending on other production metrics at the plate and in the field, to keep you from being sent down to the minors. But we expect a little more when it comes to things of the Spirit, don’t we? I’ll admit I do; the insight and the odds caught me unsuspecting.
I decided to look a little further. Surely this wouldn’t be tolerated when money is at stake. So I searched on google: “what percentage of startups fail.”
The featured result:
A LETTER FROM MAGGIE BREEN
In the past three years the Center of Hope has moved almost one hundred families into more permanent housing. St Andrew has been part of this work in so many different ways. One specific way has been to host families at the church overnight for a few months each year. When COH was getting started our Compassion Justice and Peace team discerned a clear call to help in this way.
In the last few months the team has taken some time to listen again to whether this is still part of St Andrew’s call as we support Center of Hope. It was beautiful to be present as folks from Manantial de la Vida, the Center of Hope, St Andrew Compassion Justice and Peace and Creation Care ministries, and Scouts gathered together recently to listen deeply to how the Center of Hope’s Overnight Shelter enriches and challenges their life at St Andrew. It was a privilege to be present as each of those present took time to explain their experiences, needs and hopes. While all affirmed the good things that come from hosting, we also heard that there were significant strains as folks tried to carry on their essential ministries while accommodating others in the building. Recently, the Compassion Justice and Peace team came back together to reflect on this gathering. We listened for creative solutions and a possible way forward and in the process we discerned that it is time to take a step back from hosting COH.
From a REACH perspective I am thankful for St Andrew's leadership in listening carefully and making a decision that feels prayerful and considered. It feels at REACH that we are in a new phase in our development and in our work. We have been bringing churches and volunteers together for the past three years to make Center of Hope work. We have learned much from a practical point of view and hundreds of folks have been exposed to the stories and experiences of those who are homeless and marginalized. We are hearing more and more groups and individuals now ask us, “Help us make sense of all that we are learning and experiencing.” I am intrigued and excited as we start to think about how to do just that. How do we move deeper into accompanying the community as we reflect together on all that has been learned? And how do we invite others into this work?
I am looking forward to listening carefully with St Andrew for this congregation’s role in our work together as we go forward, but most of all I am thankful. I am thankful for the time and resources so many folks at St Andrew have given to the work of Center of Hope these past three years. I am thankful for the ways you have cared for people who had nowhere else to go and I am thankful for all you have taught me about how to be kind, adaptive, generous and faithful. God bless you.