Monday, August 5, 2013

Meet the (Summer) Staff Monday--Jess, Joel & Mike

A vital part of our Casa de Fe staff that is often overlooked is our summer staff. These guys are usually college students that give anywhere from 2-8 weeks of their summer to run a day camp type program for the CdF kids.

This year, we had a total of nine summer staffers from all over the United States. This week I'll introduce you to three of them. You'll meet the other six over the next two weeks.

First up, Jess--
How old are you and where are you from? 20 years old from Centerville, OH
How and when did you first come to Ecuador? I came the first time in the summer of 2009 and I've come every summer since anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks.
Why did you give up your summer to serve here at Casa de Fe? I started serving for CdF when I was 16 years old. The kids here showed me what real love and real support was, and what it really meant to serve the Lord. I came as an agnostic raised in a Jewish home and left that summer as a Christian. These kids one-by-one changed my entire life, and I couldn't imagine not coming back every summer to see them, serve them, work with them, and love them. All I wanted was what everyone wants - to make a difference. The kids at CdF showed me that I could.
What is your favorite thing about being summer staff? I honestly think my favorite part is just every minute that I get with the kids. I couldn't ask for a better way to spend my summer, every summer, for the last 5 years.
What are your plans after Summer 2013 at Casa de Fe? Once back in the States I start the school year up as a pre-med student majoring in Microbiology and Anthropological Sciences. I also work as a Resident Advisor for Ohio State University and work in the Traumatic Brain Injury Network at OSU Medical Center.
Followed by Jess's brother, Joel--
How old are you and where are you from? I'm 25 as of today (Aug 5th). This is my first birthday in the last 3 years that wasn't in Shell. I'm originally from Dayton, OH.
How and when did you first come to Ecuador?  I first came in the summer of 2010 with my younger sister Jessica and my cousin Eva. I still have a hard time figuring out exactly how we ended up in Shell. Jessica mentioned it to me first as a joke, and then it somehow became reality. I had no clue where I was going, what I would be doing, or what I was getting myself into.
Why did you give up your summer to serve here at CdF? I came to Shell for the fourth time in the summer of 2013, for a short 3-4 week trip. I had earlier accepted an offer to serve for 27-months with the Peace Corps in Kenya and immediately made plans to visit CdF one more time before heading off. I couldn't imagine leaving for so long without visiting the Tias, Maestros, children, and community.
What is your favorite thing about being summer staff? OR What has been the favorite thing about this summer? Too many things to list, the entire community is friendly, welcoming, and peaceful. I love spending my days laughing and playing with the children, or taking the older boys fishing. I am always surprised at the new connections and relationships built each time I come to visit, it's a completely different experience (yet the same) each time.
What are your plans when you leave CdF this summer? I am currently living in a small village in Kenya and will be here for next 2 years working with the community as a US Peace Corps Volunteer. I would never have ended up where I am now without the influence of CdF.  (P.S. - Tandy writes excellent recommendation letters!)
And finally, Mike--
How old are you and where are you from? I am 21 years old, from a small town just outside of Fargo, North Dakota. I currently live in Moorhead, Minnesota (which is just across the river from Fargo) where I am going to be a senior at Concordia College.
How and when did you first come to Ecuador? I first came to Ecuador on a short term team a year ago over spring break through my college led by Dr. Bob Brunsvold.
Why did you give up your summer to serve here at Casa de Fe? I had a very impactful first visit to Casa de Fe, so I felt a strong calling to return for a longer period of time to build stronger relationships in Shell, to help a cause that was near to my heart, and to further strengthen my faith.
What is you favorite thing about being summer staff? OR What has been your favorite thing about this summer? I had so many great experiences this summer, but if I had to pick one it would be all the time I spent with Martin. We started a bond during the school year when we’d walk up the hill every morning together, and our friendship was solidified during gym class when I’d hold him in my arms so we could jump rope together like all the other kids. Since the first time we jumped rope we became very close and were blessed to be paired together for a number of other activities throughout the rest of the summer.
What are your plans when you leave CdF this summer? I was at Casa for seven weeks, which sadly finished up two weeks ago. I am now volunteering at Clinica San Lorenzo which is a clinic in a different part of Ecuador. I will be here until I have to return to the States to finish school.
Thanks for reading about our Summer Staff. Please pray for these three as they have already finished their time at Casa de Fe this summer and are pursuing God's will for them in other locations around the globe. Feel free to leave some encouraging words for them in the comments section below.

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