Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
Shortly after the noon hour, the gathering crowd of over 200 children and parents begin to press toward the main entrance of the food serving area. A few minutes later, the crowd moves to another location, the staging area for the distribution of clothes, toys, and shoes. Baseball legend Manny Mota, surrounded by loyal staff members, and a team of Foothill parents and students are poised to help.
The presence of such need on a daily basis is a familiar sight here at the compound. Caring for literally hundreds is the fulfillment of a promise Manny Mota made to God many years ago in this village of El Tamarindo. The large presence of hungry crowds is simply an opportunity to be obedient, to do every thing humanly possible to help. The rest of this huge responsibility belongs to God.
Reality checks can be emotionally challenging. This was especially true when our students realized there was not enough food to feed every hungry mouth. When provisions ran out and some are turned away, tears begin to fall. Mrs. Kitchel said, “This is a very sad time for the students when they’re confronted with reality.” Today, only the most needy children will receive a pair of shoes, appropriately sized-clothes, and a toy for the toddlers. Mr. Mota’s team is very familiar with these children, so distribution is guarded and handled fairly with father-like vigilance. Depending on supply, there may be additional distribution efforts tomorrow; time will tell. According to Mr. Mota, “ After that, any remaining items will be taken to another center for distribution.”
Kassidy Wu, eyes damp with tears, listens intently as Miss. Burris helps encourage her through this moment. Scarcity can be such a cruel thing, especially for this group of eager students who want to help everyone. Miss Burris later commented, “Kassidy was feeling a mixture of sadness and anger. We (in America) have so much, and they (the children of the DR) have so little.”
The day is full and emotions are bursting. By nearly three o’clock in the afternoon, the team was still working diligently. The pace has been nonstop, and no worker has had time for lunch. Despite the sounds of pleading parents, the thick sticky humid air, the inability to help every child, “these kids are real troopers,” remarks Mrs. Kitchel. “They had to work through some tough feelings, but they pressed on and are still going strong. Tonight’s devotions will be very different story as they reflect on moments that will change their lives forever,” she said.
During the devotion later that evening, Miss Burris shared the following reflections, a beautiful effort to keep a proper perspective through the challenges of serving others:
“When serving in this kind of despair, feeling helpless and hopeless can often plague our thoughts, as it did for many of our students. Matthew 13 challenges us to see with a new perspective, to really see and hear when God is moving in around us. Looking at hopelessness is what the disciples did when they saw the crowd of 500 and only 5 loaves of bread and fish. However Jesus challenges them to see even more. That 5 loaves and 2 fish are more than enough because He is always enough. Seeing with his perspective reminds us of the hope and joy of the Lord that are found here in El Tamarindo rather than the poor. Charro, a teacher who is bursting of joy. Manny and Magarit Mota who have devoted their lives to serving and providing for the needs of so many. Although what we are able to do seems like only a little and we may be tempted to feel helpless, that is when we are challenged to see glimpses of His hope, joy, and love that are not just already present, but multiplying. My prayer is my students walk away from this trip with a perspective shift that sees what God is always doing! To see the multiplication of what may seem like just loaves and fishes.”