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Report for Gardner Hall 11/12/07

A Transformation

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When I tried to talk for the first time to Nichelle, Teana and Jamaris, last Spring I thought, "What little monsters!" Their great aunt, Rosa Martinez, had asked me to teach them some Bible stories. However, when I went to their apartment in Newark, they hardly paid attention to me but rather complained that they didn’t want to stop watching MTV. However, when their grandmother shouted at them to sit down and shut up, they grudgingly took the Bibles I brought and glared at me. What a great start to learning about Jesus!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a little girl with as much anger in her as eleven year-old Jamaris. Once, in the middle of our Bible study, she became so angry with her twelve year-old sister, Nichelle, that she jumped up, ran across the room and slapped her as hard as she could in the face. Her mother, a drug addict, has been in an out of prison. She knows that her father is "Indian" but has little if any contact with him. Courts gave custody of the girls to their grandmother, Ana Martinez, who does her best for them but is often overwhelmed with their antics. They have seldom lived for over a year in one place. Though they are smart, their education has suffered. Teana didn’t know how to read.

Fast forward to November 2007. The girls have changed dramatically! They are sweet, loving and even respectful on most occasions. The big factor in their change has been their association with the Peter Ferenzce family. Emily, who is about twenty invited the girls to visit their house and encouraged them to go to our summer camp where they thrived. Then, Sharon began home schooling Jomaris and Teana in early September. (In the picture above from left to right you have Sharon Ferencze, Jamaris, Melanie Ferenzce and Teana [pink coat])

Last week Sharon invited Beverly and me along with the family from Newark to a little home school presentation. We all laughed and applauded when Teana read us a story from a book and pointed out most of the 50 states on the map. However, what moved me the most was watching a pleasant and quite self-assured Jomaris in her feminine plaid dress tell our little group about how God helped Isaac find a wife. As I heard her tell the Bible story in her own words, I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to the first time I saw her last Spring with her angry scowl. What a contrast with the lovely smile she gave when we applauded her for her Bible story!

Though, the girls will still face many challenges (they still have their moments!) and their ultimate course in life is still to be decided, God’s love is giving them a chance. I admire the Ferencze family for reaching into the inner city to help these girls.

Other news

* A large fire burned several businesses close to the building of the Upper Manhattan church. The fire department entered the building to gain a vantage point to pour water on the fire and then left notices of violations that will require expensive repairs, primarily to the roof, That will require much more money than the brethren currently have ($4000). And, the brethren want to send all of that money to help brethren in the Dominican Republic after the devastating floods there! I’m not sure what they’ll do.

The young people and children had to receive their Bible classes outside on the 4th with the temperature at about 50 degrees (picture to the right ). Yesterday, the temperature was in the 30’s, so they had their class in our two vans, double parked in front of the building.

* A middle-aged woman named Ceres was baptized into Christ last Saturday. She is Teresa Lora’s sister.

* Silvia,( picture below right) was baptized yesterday. I have been studying with Silvia in her home about six months. Her son, Anthony, attended our camp.

* I have four new home studies.
- Gisela is around forty years old and is the daughter of Francisca, who has been a Christian for many years. She has been attending regularly now for several months and is responding well to our new studies in Acts.
- Victor is Rosanna Oviedo’s boyfriend. He and his sister study with me on Saturday afternoons.
- Dolly, about 40 years of age, works as a home attendant for Aida Del Villar. She enjoys our studies in Acts on Saturday.
- Veronica and her husband study with me on Sunday evenings after my rounds at the different congregations. They work with German Ortiz who got the study organized for me.

* I enjoyed good meetings in Gettysburg, PA and New Hope, MN as well as a Saturday lectureship in Bangor, Maine. May God continue to bless all.

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