by Amy Friend
As a child, did you ever skip a flat stone across a pond, and be fascinated by the ripples? Out they go, spreading far and wide, bouncing off whatever they encounter to make new ripples.
Kindnesses are like that, a helping hand encourages someone in need to keep on trying, eventually succeeding! The kindnesses ripple on to whoever may be part of the family circle, encouragement and hope are wonderfully contagious. Lakeside Presbyterian Church has a similar approach, spreading ripples of help and hope wherever they can thrive.
In its brief 10-year history, LPC has sponsored a broad range of outreach projects: clothing and food packages for those who cannot provide for themselves; medical care; and weekly classes for those who wish to improve their situation, Computer, Sewing and English.
An LPC Migrant Program in Guadalajara has distributed shoes, warm clothing and blankets to young people from Central America who are homeless and living on the city streets.
Twice monthly, more than 150 people attend addiction centers in Chapala and Mezcala. LPC supports this initiative, sharing the gospel, and assisting in rehabilitation. Each attendee is given a nourishing meal.
La Zapotera now has a Community Center, which was created from an abandoned jail. More than 100 students receive a healthy breakfast there every school day, resulting in greatly improved school performance.
In Mezcala Village, LPC works with Pastor Leonel from the Iglesia Evangelica de Mezcala, providing funds for the food bank, which are used by the mothers to supply breakfast to the Children in Mezcala on their way to school in his church.
A few months ago, LPC outreach discovered Lakeside families with children who had never attended school. These kids don’t know how to read or write—and would never have the opportunity to learn without outside help.
LPC hired a teacher to help, and purchased the necessary materials. Teresa Medina has a Master’s Degree in education, and more than 25 years of teaching experience. Teresa’s literacy program is now benefiting ten children between the ages of 7 and 13. These youngsters don’t attend any other school because of their families’ lack of financial resources. In addition to their classes, the children are given a healthy breakfast.
It is LPC’s hope that by giving these kids a chance to learn, they’ll have the opportunity one day to have better employment and change their families’ circumstances.
In Mexico, the dropout rate in public schools is high, as many children must work in order for their families to survive. While public schools are free of charge, uniforms and other expenses are required. These costs can prevent the poorest children from attending. More than 90% of children in Mexico attend primary school, but only 62% attend secondary school (secundaria), and just 45% finish high school (preparatoria).
A group of LPC members started a pilot program at the beginning of the school year to provide school uniforms to 25 children in San Antonio whose families lacked resources to buy them. This group is working on establishing a uniform exchange program to provide for growing children and more students needing this assistance.
LPC’s weekly “Tuesday Drop-In” was established to allow Lakesiders to meet new friends, and enjoy games and snacks together. Beginning June 4, the weekly Tuesday event will be expanded. The church invited Freedom Chorale to lead “60’s Singalongs,” lyrics provided, with live guitar music by director Cindy Paul. The Singalong begins at 1:00pm, goes until 2:15, games and snacks follow. 60’s music is sure to resonate with Lakesiders, who are warmly invited to show up, raise their voices and their spirits!
Always, more will remain to be done, but there is no limit to what can be accomplished as long as the Lakeside community cares about its neighbors.
Lakeside Presbyterian Church continues its commitment to take the gospel– the Word of God–to addiction centers in Chapala and Mezcala twice a month. More than 150 people attend in both locations.
We spend one hour in praise and one hour in gospel presentation during each visit. And each person is given a nourishing meal, delivered with love.
If you’d like to volunteer, please contact Martin Thorner at [email protected]
A few months ago, members of Lakeside Presbyterian Church’s outreach ministry discovered some families in our neighborhood with children who had never attended school. These kids don’t know how to read or write—and would never have the opportunity to learn without outside help.
In Mexico, the dropout rate in public schools is high, as many children need to work in order for their families to survive. While public schools are free of charge, uniforms are required. Even that cost can prevent the poorest children from attending. More than 90% of children in Mexico attend primary school, but only 62% attend secondary school (“secundaria”). And just 45% finish high school (“preparatoria”).
Seeing this need in our own community, we hired a teacher to help. Teresa Medina has a master’s degree in education and more than 25 years of experience in teaching. We bought materials, including books, notebooks, pencils, and other materials to help the children succeed.
Teresa’s literacy program is now benefiting ten children between ages of 7 and 13. These children don’t attend any other school because of their families’ lack of financial resources.
In addition to their classes, the children are given a healthy breakfast during the break.
It’s our hope that by giving these kids a chance to learn, they’ll have the opportunity to one day get better employment and change their families’ circumstances!
If you’re interested in supporting programs like this, you can designate a gift through a PayPal donation here.
On April 4, about 25 of us took a road trip to the community center and water filtration project Lakeside Presbyterian Church supports at La Zapotera.
It was a joyful trip, full of information, lots of children, and a delicious lunch. Our church provides the food to make breakfast for 100-120 schoolchildren every weekday. The women of the community do the cooking. The cost is only about $3 pesos per meal!
Dian added to the festivities by creating balloon animals for the kids. They were fascinated — and thrilled with their gifts.
We think you’ll like this video about the first ten years of Lakeside Presbyterian church.
Pastor Ross Arnold went home to be with Jesus on Monday, January 14. “Home” has always been a word full of meaning for Ross. He would often say that, if he ever wrote a book, it would be on the theology of home. It was also the word he repeated most during his last day. He was ready.
On Saturday, January 26, at 1 p.m., we are planning a Celebration of Life service for Ross here at Lakeside Presbyterian Church. Afterward, we will have a time of fellowship and refreshments in the courtyard, when we can share our memories of Ross.
After graduating with a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, Ross worked for several years with World Vision, Joni and Friends and other Christian ministries before settling in Seattle, Washington, in 1989. Over the next 20 years, Ross had a teaching role at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, where he was an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA. During this time he pursued further graduate studies in theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was ordained through Church Ministry Associates. In November 2009 Ross and his wife, Carolyn Hansen, moved to Lakeside and immediately became involved with Lakeside Presbyterian Church. After several months of teaching a Bible study for the church, Ross was invited to become the pastor in April 2010.
Harvey Bernier, the onsite project manager for building the community center and water project in La Zapotera reports:
La Zapotera Centro Comunitario opened its doors and the first meal was served to 83 elementary school children—thanks to Lakeside Presbyterian Church, Tepehua Centro Comunitario, Todd Stong, Gerardo Padilla Puga, and several other key volunteers. Breakfast will be served three times a week to start, with the eventual aim to provide a nutritious breakfast every school day.
In addition, a bazaar has been set up with generous donations from Tepehua and the surrounding community.
Jai Cartwright, Karen Bernier and other volunteers will be holding classes for the La Zapoterians in such things as cheesemaking, bread making, and more. Their goal is to provide education in better nutrition and life skills in order to alleviate diseases caused by poor nutrition, poor water and lack of education.
This is great news! Lakeside Presbyterian initiated and underwrote much of the funding for this project and will continue to provide food supplies for breakfast for school children, while the local community will do the cooking. We hope this will be a model for other community projects near the lake. Thank you all for making this happen!
Rebecca Roth is passionate about helping Mexican people–especially women and kids–learn new skills. She’s not only active in teaching English, she’s started a sewing class that meets on Saturday mornings in Lakeside Presbyterian Church. About eight to ten women attend. And their enthusiasm for learning is contagious.
If you don’t know Rebecca, you might be surprised to learn that the first project she teaches is how to make dolls. These dolls aren’t playthings. Each one is a unique work of art that can be sold at a profit. This is a great way for women to begin supplementing their income and providing more opportunities for their families.
We’ll update you with other projects created by these talented women in future posts.
Sara Jones and her husband, Rick, have been Bettye Donohoo’s neighbors and friends for several years. Bettye helped Sara several years ago when Sara was a part of an ESL program.
One day—about two years ago—out of the blue, Sara called Bettye. She told Bettye about a young Mexican man doing some work at her house who had approached her about starting an English language training program at Lakeside Presbyterian Church. He asked Sara if he could arrange a meeting with the pastors of the Spanish speaking congregation.
“Bettye,” Sara said, “I don’t know anyone at that church except you. I want to do this but unless you tell me you will come with me, and help me if they agree, I won’t even go for a meeting.”
The meeting happened and Sara’s ESL program at Lakeside Presbyterian Church is the result.
The ESL classes now teach between 40 and 60 students in three classes: intermediate and senior. Classes run for an hour and a half every Saturday morning. A child care center has been added to allow parents to attend classes knowing that the children are taken care of. Saturday morning at the church had been originally for teaching basic computer skills to high school students. Now with an ESL class running 10:30 to 12 noon and a sewing class from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the church decided to provide a 10 a.m. brunch based on the principal that hungry bodies do not learn quickly.
The teachers are all competent in English and Spanish, but as enrollment has tripled in the past two years, helpers are needed. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact the church office/administrator 376-106-0853.
You’ll see a lot going on at Lakeside Presbyterian Church–even if it isn’t Sunday morning. Each Saturday morning, for example, Mexican families from villages near Ajijic and Chapala gather outside the building even before the doors open at 9 a.m. They are anticipating a morning of life-skills training on computer basics, English, and sewing—all with childcare provided.
Once inside, family members go to separate rooms based on whether they’re a high school student who wants to be tutored in computer literacy, a parent who wants to improve their English, or a toddler going to childcare. Bilingual assistance is on hand to help newcomers find their way and understand the plan for the morning. This isn’t a church service, but a learning opportunity for those wishing to take advantage of it.
A hot brunch, served at 10 a.m., lets everyone socialize with friends. Then at 10:30 a.m., it’s back to class. The English language classes are taught at three different capability levels. Most leave for home at noon—but several women who want to learn the skill and art of sewing stay for another hour.
This Saturday morning opportunity is a blessing, both to the ones who learn and the team of Lakeside Presbyterian Church volunteers who provide this valuable free education.
Our volunteers also help feed the poor, provide clean drinking water where there was none, and clothe those who need it here in the Mexican villages that surround us.
If you’d like more information about our church—or to volunteer for one of the many available positions that support our community, please contact the church office/administrator 376-106-0853, or review our website.