The stone arch at The Community Center of Tres Reyes was a welcome sight to the children and families as they entered for the first time after almost a year of being apart. Over the course of ten months, children and families received food and hygiene packs from staff, but remained separate from their peers in order to stay healthy. Earlier this year, community centers reopened, welcoming Strong Families back for programming. After months of regaining rhythms at the community centers, the staff, children, and families welcomed their first guests in over a year!
Visiting mission teams are an integral part of how Back2Back staff serve children and families around the world. We are grateful after a season of missing familiar faces and new friends, the first team of 2021 brought fresh life. Here are the ways we appreciate what you, visiting mission guests and faithful advocates, bring to sites all over the world.
- You remind us of the importance of play. Play was the key focus staff had when children and families returned to the community centers. “They’d forgotten how to be kids and play with each other,” a staff psychologist shared. After months of inside time, little interaction with peers, and a lot of screen time for school, they forgot the importance in simply playing. The visiting team brought pre-planned activities and all the supplies needed. “Paper bag plays” encouraged the families to break into teams and create a skit with only what was provided in the paper bags. It was a unique opportunity for families to work together and create something entertaining for the others to enjoy. You provide the freedom for families to be creative and put on display their special giftings.
- You provide camaraderie with your presence. The team arrived with activities prepared for the families and also had gifts for the staff, along with a week-long devotional plan they shared each morning. “We carried a lot of heaviness over the last year as we fought to provide for the families, and missed connection with them and time to grow deeper relationships,” shared Amy Kelly, Back2Back staff. “The team was so prepared, it allowed staff to engage and have fun with the families- it was such a gift.” Laughter and intentional conversation were poured into the Cancun site, and was a welcome sound as everyone remembered the importance of togetherness.
- You consider others’ needs above your own. Traveling internationally isn’t easy, or inexpensive, but time and again, you show up, spend time in new environments, with different weather patterns, in brand new cultures, and do it with the focus of being others-minded. Trips require planning, saving, preparation, and selflessness. Back2Back staff and children do not overlook the sacrifices made by you who come and honor vulnerable populations.
You are our greatest resource and whether you show up physically or write letters from afar, or hold lemonade stands, everyone showing up throughout 2020 was how ministry sustained. Now as travel returns, staff and children look forward to thanking in person you who come for play, camaraderie, and consideration.