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Concentrated Joy: LACC Christmas and Graduations 2001
By Rod and Sherry Boyd

Every year it hits all at once. A concentration of joy starts at Thanksgiving and ends a few days before Christmas. Bible school graduations and Latin America ChildCare Christmas parties begin around Thanksgiving. The end of the Christmas parties marks the beginning of the LACC school graduations. In all, we had twenty “celebrations” that we attended. The concentration of joy always overwhelms the weariness!

Christmas… Sherry made the local merchants happy as usual. She purchased more than 500 gifts… personally! She works hard to find something for each child and teen within the budget we have to work with. This is the greatest challenge. But none is gift more than Sherry in finding the bargain. The children are never disappointed. It is always such a joy to see the reactions of the children. 

Some of the parties are very small. These schools are new and just getting started in the LACC program. The party is more personal for them. Other parties are much larger. The Las Mananitas party is always the largest, requiring more logistics to make it successful. This year we had more than 250 attend this party! Although less personal, we still try to tell the Christmas story, pray with the children and help them write a thank you letter to their sponsor. When we pray with the children we not only pray for them but together we pray for the sponsors. If you’re a sponsor, know that your child is praying for you!

We’ve spoken before of the two children we sponsor—Janeth and Henry. We saw Henry a few months ago at his school in Doleguita. We were there for the dedication of a new classroom. We weren’t able to be at this school for their Christmas party.  

But we were with Janeth. We see her quite often. She is growing up to be quite a young lady. She has four brothers and sisters in the same school. They are all sponsored. It’s a times like the Christmas party when we feel closest to this family. This family of seven live in a too small home just two blocks from the school. We’re glad we can be part of impacting a whole family for the gospel. 

We wish everyone were able to see what we see. We have so many faithful sponsors who give without seeing the fruit of their investment, except for the occasional letter. Please take our word… you are making a difference! Your prayer, sponsorship and gifts touch these children in so many ways. 

Graduations… If the Christmas party is the snapshot then the graduation is the whole photo album! This is truer this year than any. There were some memorable graduations this year. The most memorable was the 6th grade graduation at the Canaan El Buen Pastor School. This is the school that has experienced phenomenal growth. The school began in 1997 with 54 students and this year had 347. At one point in the graduation the students each presented a rose to someone special in their lives—nearly always mom and/or dad. It was such an emotional time. The Holy Spirit came in such a beautiful way. The pastor interrupted the normal program to have a special prayer time for parents with their children. The gospel was clearly presented and we are convinced that some families met the Savior!

Concentrated joyRod was able to attend the graduations in the David school for the first time. We have five schools in the Chiriqui province, where the city of David is located. Rod shared with graduates, parents and teachers from Psalm 1 about how our children are trees to be nurtured. We lead them to the “streams of water” (the Lord) to find God’s blessing. This is an ongoing process that takes time. It’s best if we begin when the plants are young to help them sink their roots deep.

The Las Mananitas 12th graduation was a perfect illustration of this truth. This was Las Mananitas first 12th grade graduation class. Thirteen years ago the school opened with kindergarten and first grade. You may recall the story we have told about how we decided not to go on with the 9th grade a few years ago. We learned many lessons from that experience. One lesson was brought home at the graduation. The 12th grade graduates were the kindergartners from that first year. The first graders from that first year were the ones who were not able to go on to 9th grade a few years ago.

Concentrated joy 

We were able to leave the painfulness of disappointing so many and arrive to the crowning achievement of seeing 20 young people graduate from high school! And 19 of the 20 were helped by a loving Sponsor in the United States. Each sponsored child has a number. The number indicates the country, the school and the child. Anthony Daley, 090300001, the very first child sponsored at Las Mananitas some 13 years ago, graduated from high school. He will be going on to study nautical engineering. He had the same sponsor for all 13 years!

Concentrated Joy!… As we write these words we are overwhelmed… with tears… tears of thanksgiving to God for the privilege of being involved in such a strategic, life-changing ministry.

LACC sponsor, thank you! If you’re not an LACC sponsor, we need you to be. We have 240 children on our waiting list—most have been waiting since last March—who desperately need a sponsor. Some may not be able to return to school next year if they don’t get help immediately. Just $24 a month can make a difference in the lives of children or youth like Anthony. If you’d like to become a sponsor or sponsor an additional children, please visit the Panama page of Latin America ChildCare or call 1-800-289-7071. Thank you.