We hope that you are well.
Thanks to the help and support of so many amazing people the Cadaniño ministry in Guatemala continues to have a powerful impact in the lives of the almost 200 students and families enrolled in our two community centers.
We can see that the years spent building relationship, developing programs to meet the needs of those we serve, and training our team is paying off as we move forward.
So far this year our team of 12 has:
Thanks in part to additional funding, we were able to expand our team. Every teacher we hire means that the quality of our programs improves, and we are better able to serve the students and their families.
Our team of 14 now consists of:
Santa Fe: Eduardo-coordinator/Math teacher, Reyna-Bible teacher, Luke-Youth Pastor, Merlyn-computer classes, Ada-Tutoring, and Susana-Cook.
San Jose Pinula: Lili-coordinator/Bible teacher, Mayra-computer classes, Claudia-Tutoring, Beverly-teaching assistance, and Jenny-Cook.
We lead weekly meetings at both centers with our staff and also daily devotions and prayer time. The entire Cadanino team from both centers gets together once a month to assess how things are going and work in our administrative, spiritual, and educational committees.
This collaborative time has helped bring about greater cohesion and lays the structure for continuous improvement and expansion of our programs.
We also take time with team members individually and make a special effort to pour into our coordinators, Eduardo and Lili, as they are the people God has raised up to lead the work in these communities.
As the ministry has grown and we have taken on more team members, we have made progress in defining staff responsibilities and job descriptions.
In the early years, everyone had to wear multiple hats and fill many roles. Now that we have taken on additional team members and plugged them into specific roles, it has enabled everyone to excel in areas more in line with their giftings, abilities, and passions, leading to increased effectiveness.
Having an adequate amount of team members means that we can now take time every week for regular home visitation
Seeing where the families live, learning their situations, and being invited into their homes gives us a greater understanding of those we serve and helps us to build deeper relationships with them.
During our visit we do a home life survey, listen to what they have to say about our program, read a Bible passage, pray for them, and encourage them.
Our goal is to visit each family in our program every year.
We did special outreaches for both Mother's Day and Father's Day. It was a high-impact time where we could personally connect with the parents and minister to them with a message of encouragement, prayer, and gifts.
The preparation for the Father's Day event stirred up difficult emotions in many of the children as they do not have fathers present in their lives.
The ability of our staff to notice this shows the depth of their connection with the students. We live in a broken world, and the places we are called to serve are as broken as it gets.
Sometimes there are no easy answers to difficult situations.
Helping our staff understand that while the child/father dynamic is broken for many of our students, teaching what it means to be a father is still essential.
They need to understand what it means to have God as their father. Boys need to know what it means for them to grow up and be a father and what girls need to look for in a man who will be a father to their children.
We continue to celebrate the students' birthdays. It is incredible to see how much this means to them as few receive a present or celebration at home.
Additional funding meant we could implement a lunch feeding program in both centers. The cooks are doing a fantastic job producing delicious, nutritious meals every day. We have seen that having a healthy meal dramatically affects the student's ability to pay attention in class.
At the Santa Fe Center, besides serving lunch to all the students, we also serve breakfast to 20 students in the mornings who study at the center the whole day.
Luke Dove, a seminary grad from the US, moved here in May to work as the Youth Pastor in Cadanino and further develop our youth groups.
This has been a big need and he is the right fit for the job. He speaks Spanish, has worked with youth, and has a heart for discipleship.
Our goal is to move students from being taught about the Bible to engaging in it in a personal way, and applying it to their lives, and building a personal relationship with God through His word.
Both the teenagers and the staff are responding well. He is doing a great job building relationships with our team and helping the youth go deeper into God's word as they study through the Gospel of Mark verse by verse.
Our youth continue to visit needy families they developed relationships with during the height of the pandemic. They bring food, help the kids with their schoolwork, and teach them the Bible.
It is so amazing and beautiful to see 16 of our youth actively involved in serving and ministering to 32 families with 61 children in their neighborhoods.
First Steps Program
During the height of the pandemic last year, when we temporarily switched to distance learning, many of the younger siblings of our students started to participate in the at-home learning programs, and it got them excited about learning.
Though many were eager to enroll in the afterschool programs, limited space and COVID social distancing requirements have prevented this.
What started as a pilot program has now turned into a fully-fledged curriculum where they continue to receive an educational and devotional pack every week to do at home while they come in once a week for classes.
The opportunity to start working with students at a younger age means that the impact we can have in their lives will be so much more significant.
We continue to emphasize improving the quality of our programs and tailoring them to meet the needs of our students.
Thanks to the experience of our teachers, we planned the entire year's curriculum of educational reinforcement class in advance, thereby making the teachers' job more manageable.
We continue to improve our computer learning platform and adjust it to the needs of the student.
For the Bible classes, we are designing a curriculum breaking up the years into different series. The formats will be: systematic teaching through a book, character study, learning about a specific person in the Bible, topical, i.e., "the love of God," Values, core principles that we should demonstrate in our lives, and special events like Christmas, Mother's Day, etc.
Graphics Design students from a local university assisted us with creating a teaching manual for our computer training program. Having this will help us to onramp new teachers to a model of student-driven learning and enable us to share our program with other ministries in the future.
Due to limited in-person educational options, most students are required to study from home. For impoverished families who don't have computers or can't afford internet access, this is incredibly challenging, and we have stepped in to meet the need.
At the Santa Fe Center, we have 20 students who come in every day to take their classes online, get help with homework, and have a teacher assist them as needed.
At the San Jose Pinula Center, where there are fewer online learning requirements for the students in the town, the ability for families to come in and print out the school material and worksheets they receive every week has been a tremendous help to them.
The likelihood of students dropping out and not returning during this time is extremely high. Studies show that once children enter the workforce and start earning money for their families, it's nearly impossible to get them back into school.
Needs and Challenges - Adequate Facilities
COVID 19 social distancing requirements have amplified the challenges presented by a lack of space at our facilities.
We had to move from having students come in three times a week to twice a week. While our teachers do a fantastic job, we can see that the three-day-a-week model is superior, and students can advance much faster.
At the Santa Fe center, we are temporarily renting additional space at the facility to address the issue while actively working towards a long-term solution of acquiring land and building an adequate facility.
At the San Jose Pinula Center, which is much smaller, almost a third of our students remain in a distance learning program, and we can only have them come in to study occasionally. We need a building that would adequately serve the needs of our students.
Though we have come a long way since our first afterschool class of 35 students with one teacher in a small garage in the slums, to the 200 students, ten team members, and two centers we run now, there is still much to be done.
These past years, establishing our ministry, building relationships in the communities, teaching our staff, refining our programs, and improving every aspect of our work have put us in a position where we are ready to take things to the next level.
Once we have secured adequate facilities for our primary centers, we envision each acting as a hub for expanded outreach in the communities. Utilizing the campus model, our main center could provide higher quality services to a greater number of students who attend and afford us a space to have Bible studies with parent and church services.
It could also act as a base from which teachers go out into the community to teach at satellite locations where 20-30 students can attend afterschool programs at remote locations closer to home.
The Cadanino centers will become so much more than just a location for kids to come to learn as they become catalysts for radical change in the communities they serve.
As we look forward to the future and all that God has in store, we see that the foundation has been laid and it is time to start taking steps to expand a ministry that effectively serves vulnerable children and families in their communities in ways that inspire them to make the most of the gifts, talents, abilities, and opportunities that God has given them and live a life that glorifies God.
Join us in work we are doing to serve the orphaned, vulnerable and disabled and have an impact for eternity.