Sometimes simple experiences - like sharing a meal - contain and point to deeper truths. Our recent Tamales Lunch Fundraiser served as an example of this and offered us a glimpse of the power and gift of giving back and engaging with others in our community across differences of culture and language.
Volunteers Carlos and Jordan with a member of the youth group helping at the sign-in table

Volunteers Carlos and Jordan with a member of the youth group helping at the sign-in table

On Sunday, March 8, a mix of over 90 adults, children, and youth gathered in a brightly lit basement room at The Journey Church in West County for a shared meal of homemade tamales and Mexican side dishes to support Faith that Works' local and global outreaches. The food was prepared and served by a small group of Hispanic women who participate in the adult ESL classes we host in partnership with Rockwood Schools at the Chesterfield Mobile Home Park (CMHP), a predominantly Hispanic community. Since last fall this group of women and others in the mobile home community have been meeting twice a week with volunteer tutors and a certified ESL instructor to learn and practice their English language skills. Through hard work and practice these adult learners continue to improve their abilities to read, write, and speak English and are learning to navigate cultural differences that can arise in everyday life. Laura, a mother who participates in the ESL program and helped with the lunch, says studying English is important to her because her daughters will soon start school and she wants to be able to help them with their schoolwork. By joining with Faith that Works to host the Tamales Lunch Fundraiser, Laura and the other ESL participants involved also provided support for many other children and families in the CMHP. The money raised through the lunch helps Faith that Works continue and grow our outreach in the CMHP. Along with hosting the ESL program at our tutoring trailer in the CMHP, we work with committed volunteers to promote education through an after-school tutoring program for elementary students, and we engage with youth in the community through Bible studies, group activities, and homework help. A number of these volunteers live in West County and some have connected with Faith that Works through The Journey West County. Community groups and individuals have served as volunteer tutors, completed renovation and construction work, provided babysitting during adult ESL classes, led holiday parties for children in our tutoring program, provided meals for youth group activities, and financially supported this outreach. This work couldn't happen without partners like The Journey West County. We are thankful for the support leaders and members of The Journey WC have shown - and continue to show - for the families and individuals living in the CMHP. Being able to host the Tamales Lunch at the church provided another connection point, bringing together families and youth from the CMHP with adults, children, and youth from The Journey West County. During lunch the room hummed with talking and laughter as people shared the simple experience of eating together and making new connections across cultures in a casual, welcoming environment. The ESL participants who prepared and served the meal were also able to practice their English and public speaking when Faith that Works staff member and ESL tutor, Courtney Taylor, introduced them to the group gathered for lunch. In a fun instance of cross-cultural communication, an Elder at The Journey WC asked the women questions in Spanish and the women answered in English. We are excited to see exchanges and connections like this occurring as Christians engage with others in their communities across ethnic, linguistic, and socioeconomic differences to work toward a common good. Serving others in practical ways displays the love of the gospel and offers the opportunity to build meaningful relationships that can lead to incredible personal and social transformation. You can join with us in this work by volunteering with our Hispanic Outreach in Chesterfield, MO, or partnering with us financially to support our local and global outreaches. Contact Courtney at 314-899-0752 or courtney@faith-that-works.org about our summer volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups or visit our volunteer page to sign up today.
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