Be Ye Transformed--Sixth Grade Graduates on Retreat

On Oct. 30, fifteen sixth graders graduated from New Life School, our ministry partner in Santa Maria de Jesus.  This class was special to me, since it was the first group of students I have watched progress from pre-school through graduation.  As a final gift to them, Reason to Hope sponsored a retreat day for the graduates and many of the staff, so that their final memory of New Life would be that we want them to remember Jesus.

This retreat was completely planned and implemented by the Guatemalan staff at the school, under the capable direction of Seno Sandra, our school psychologist.  They provided our students with a memorable sent-off.

Sandra submitted this report (which I have translated into English) to summarize the events of the day.

We thank God for the opportunity to share the Lord with our sixth grade students, and because New Life is a light in the lives of each one of them and in Santa Maria de Jesus.

The day began with the students being divided into two teams, and each team had to develop a team cheer, and particpate in other team-building activities.

This was followed by a time of praise and worship. Each student received their own copy of the Bible during this time. 

During the teaching time, the students were challenge with the truth that they can have a personal relationship with God and can depend on him to make wise decisions.  He can help them change their way of thinking.  

Seno Nisza, our fifth grade teacher, translated the day
into sign language to enable our two deaf graduates
to fully participate in this activity.

During the second teaching,  the pastor who was leading the retreat invited everyone attending the retreat to have a personal encounter with the Lord.  When asked if anyone wanted to make the decision to follow Jesus in their life, eight of the students indicated their desire to do so. Each of these students were prayed with and counseled by one of the Guatemalan leaders responsible for leading the retreat.

There were many other activities in which the students could participate, including sports, physical challenges, and art activities.

During the art activity, the students were divided into three groups.  They were given large sheets of paper and asked to write on one side what important events had impacted their lives up until now.  On the other side, they were asked to envision what lies ahead for their futures.  Many students opened their hearts during this activity.

One student said that the most important thing in his life had been God, and that in the future he hoped to become a pastor.  Another mentioned that New Life School had been an important part of his life, because here he had been treated differently than anywhere else.  Many mentioned that what had affected their lives most to this point had been difficult family situations, and that they hoped to overcome their past as they look to the future.  Some hope to become professionals, one a chef.  All shared their dreams and desires for the future. It was difficult for many of the students to share their past, but they did.  You could see their faces change as they shifted their focus from their past to their hopes for the future.

The day ended with a time of prayer.  Each student received a key chain, with the school logo on one side.  On the other side were mustard seeds, to help them remember the teaching of Jesus about how a small amount of faith can change their lives.

Best end of school year ever. 

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