“Watch me!”: This Summer with North Littleton Promise

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[et_pb_section fullwidth="off" specialty="off" background_image="http://www.wellspringcolorado.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/goldbackground.jpg" transparent_background="off" allow_player_pause="off" inner_shadow="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="off" padding_mobile="off" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="on" make_equal="off" use_custom_gutter="off"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_cta admin_label="Call To Action" title="“Watch me!”: This Summer with North Littleton Promise" button_url="http://www.wellspringcolorado.com/connect" url_new_window="off" button_text="Back" use_background_color="off" background_color="#2EA3F2" background_layout="dark" text_orientation="left" body_line_height="2em" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_button="off" button_letter_spacing="0" button_use_icon="default" button_icon_placement="right" button_on_hover="on" button_letter_spacing_hover="0" header_font_size="42" /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section transparent_background="off" background_color="#f4f4f4" allow_player_pause="off" inner_shadow="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="off" padding_mobile="off" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="on" make_equal="off" use_custom_gutter="off"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" text_line_height="2em" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] By Mary Feeney

“Watch me! Watch me, Miss Mary!” yelled each excited kid in turn as they jumped off the diving board and plunged into the deep end of the pool. As I observed each of the precious North Littleton Promise (NLP) students soak in the sunshine and splash in the water during our end-of-the-summer celebration, I was so grateful for the opportunity to be the on-site director for Adventure Days, the elementary camp program that NLP runs each summer. Everyday for five weeks, kids and high school interns showed up with good attitudes, ready to learn and have fun. Even at the end of the program, after days when I had been frazzled or tired, after I had been in charge of discipline and keeping us on schedule, the kids still loved me with open hearts in spite of my shortcomings.

North Littleton Promise’s mission states that it “builds life giving relationships with immigrant kids and their families and mobilizes local partners to transform the northeast Littleton neighborhood through Christ.” Focusing on faith, education, and leadership, our elementary program served thirty-one students from the Northeast Littleton neighborhood. An additional fifteen middle school students participated in NLP’s Summer Academy, which met at Bethany Evangelical Free church. Each morning I would teach a bible story, present the gospel, or give a leadership lesson before our high school students led the kids in small groups. After lunch at Field Elementary School, we used the school’s computer lab for math practice. Afternoons were filled with trips to the library, swimming lessons, exercise, reading, math games, and exploring the skills of cooking, drama, music, and art. Fridays we loaded up in the van and, with a few additional chaperones, visited the Children’s museum, Hudson Gardens, the Carson Nature Center, played mini-golf, and went swimming.

Wellspring Littleton’s partnership with NLP began this spring; before the church plant’s launch, those involved in the missional community painted the basement gathering space and bathrooms of Living Word Tabernacle where NLP meets. In May, Tim Soots ran a booth at the Cinco de Mayo fundraiser. This summer, Wellspring Littleton members Candice Craig, Jan Ornée, and a posse of children and grandchildren prepared lunch for more than fifty NLP students and staff the week after the free lunch at Field ended. Wellspring Littleton staff also provided lunch another day that week. Member Julie Hederstedt volunteered, reading with kids and helping with their math games, and member Tom Siekmeier chaperoned a field trip. Wellspring Englewood member Noé Flores came and shared his testimony and presented the gospel to us.

Over the course of the summer, the Adventure Days students read more than 16,000 pages, which is how they earned a pizza party and ice cream at the pool where I watched them plunge into the water. Driving back from the grocery store with their ice cream, I came close to tears thinking about the end of the summer program. How I would miss sweet Ashlee, who wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and was always willing to volunteer to clean up and help with the littlest kids. How I would miss the cousins: Nevin and Saul, Diego and Kimberli, who squabble like siblings, while fiercely loving each other at the same time. I had new names and faces to attach to the title “immigrant” and the issues we discuss in my classes on Justice and Mission at Denver Seminary became more tangible. Making friends with people who experience racism and poverty, brings ideas down from the ivory tower and makes them much more tangible.

By the end of the summer, I felt like I had gained deep friends among the NLP staff and been accepted into community with kids. They were excited to see me at the Back-to-School neighborhood party that NLP helped sponsor in Promise Park. Some of the older kids did the Whip/ Nae Nae dance to Silentó’s song “Watch Me” which made me laugh and smile to see them having so much fun. We ate dinner together, I met more parents, and we teased each other—like families do. This summer, “watching” meant me learning what incarnational love looks like.

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