I was introduced to the concept of "a long obedience in the same direction" the first time that I visited 61 as a part of The Gathering in January 2009. It was the title of the series we were going through. It is also the title of a book by Eugene Peterson (that I still need to buy!).
The first time I visited 61, Molly M got up to share about Mission Adelante. I was very interested in finding out more about the ministry. Throughout the rest of that year, as I would tell people about how my passion was working with Latino youth and families, they would ask if I had heard of Mission Adelante. It took me a long time to finally visit. It took me even longer to commit to volunteering. Finally, in January 2010, I committed to volunteering with LIT (Leaders in Training, Mission Adelante's after-school program). Within a couple weeks of volunteering, I knew that I couldn't keep driving to my Johnson County home and leaving the kids behind in KCK. I had to move to KCK. This wasn't just a volunteer commitment. This was my heart and passion, my community.
So five years ago, on May 21st, I moved to Kansas City, KS. God had provided a wonderful roommate for me, Molly D, who is now one of my best friends. I was the one who signed the lease and put my name on all the bills. (I wanted to feel like a "real adult" after moving out of my parents' house). I didn't know what to expect, or how long we'd live here. But I knew that I was obeying the Lord. I didn't (and still don't) realize how long of a journey this would become...
I soon started attending church at Mission Adelante. Jarrett started a series on discipleship and encouraged us to think about who we could be discipling/mentoring. Since I mainly worked with kids, it made sense for me to think about which kids from LIT I would like to disciple. I prayed that the Lord would make it clear. Within a couple weeks, M, a sixth grader was telling me that she didn't know how she would finish all her homework. She didn't have enough time at LIT and she still needed help. So I asked her if she wanted to come over to my house to work on it Friday after school. The next week, G, M's best friend, asked if she could also get help. So I brought them both over to my house that Friday. Before I knew it, this became a weekly tradition. I would help them with homework, and then we would do something fun together. Family gatherings, First Fridays, movies, rollerskating, ice cream, pizza, birthday surprises, etc.
Fast forward two years, and the girls started talking about where they would be attending high school. They expressed interest in Bishop Ward. I knew that Bishop Ward was a great school, but I also knew that it would cost a lot of money. My dad encouraged me by saying that money was never an obstacle for God. So I wholeheartedly supported the girls in applying to Ward and studying for the entrance exam. It took them several tries on the exam before they were accepted to Ward. Then we faced the money concern. I knew that the money was out there and that I could probably find it, so I committed to assisting their families with the tuition costs for the first year at the school. I had no idea how challenging and time-consuming this would be. But I stuck with it and with them. Soon, Mission Adelante was able to start an actual scholarship fund for students who graduated from the LIT program who wanted to attend a private high school!
Please note; I never planned to start a scholarship fund. I just saw a need and volunteered to help some 11 year old students with homework. The rest resulted from building relationships with them and just being available. Conviviendo. Sharing life together.
Our relationships have changed over the years, but I've remained committed to being a part of their lives as long as they want me to be. There have been frustrating moments when I've wanted to give up. But I am finally beginning to see the fruit of all the years of ministry and PRAYER (and all the volunteers who have poured into their lives).
M and G are turning 16 years old this summer, and they have a bright future ahead of them. I can't wait to help them apply to colleges and and watch them graduate from high school in two years!