In the January issue of the SIFAT Journal, we introduced a new column, SIFAT Remembers, written by SIFAT cofounder Ken Corson. Between issues, extra columns will be published on our blog. The first few columns are all written on the topic of the character of SIFAT. We want these columns to focus on accomplishments, struggles and important moments from past years; whether you’ve been a SIFAT supporter from the beginning in 1979 or are just finding out about SIFAT, these columns will help you understand SIFAT better.

The Character of SIFAT
(Originally printed in the SIFAT Journal, January 2008)

SIFAT grew out of personal experiences… some successful, some not… that gave us insights into how to serve God by serving people. As a founder of SIFAT, along with my wife Sarah, I will share in future articles and blog posts, some of those formative experiences that shaped what has become the character of SIFAT.

In 1958, Sarah and I married and went to Cuba to teach school and work with the Methodist Church. While we were there Fidel Castro came to power. We returned to the States at the end of the school year and soon afterward, antagonism between our countries began. Many Cubans fled their homeland, missionaries left their work, and the U.S. began an embargo against Cuba. Movement in and out of Cuba became restricted. Castro took over many church buildings and other institutions. We learned then that buildings and materials can be confiscated, but the things that are built into the minds and hearts of students and parishioners are not as easily taken away.

Simply “helping” people can create dependencies that can make them vulnerable. We learned from our Cuban experience. Thus, SIFAT’s ministries, even our projects, are centered around training, not hand-outs… helping people help themselves. One of the basic aspects of the SIFAT character is illustrated by the well-known proverb: Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.

Tomorrow, we will post the next installment of this series. Keep checking the blog throughout 2008 for SIFAT Remembers.

So after supper Rachel asked me if Jarred and I had any plans. (This is last night) We were planning on maybe playing chess with some of the kids and perhaps watching a movie. ha…she needed us to take two of the girls to the hospital because they needed teeth pulled and could not wait anymore. The moto is once again broken so we would have to walk. I went and got Jarred because I did not want to walk alone, because as Jarred put it any robber that sees him coming will most def think twice. The hospital is very centrally located in the exact opposite corner of the outskirts of town. We started that way with Pamela and Irma, after a brisk evening walk we arrived at the hospital were we found the waiting room very easily by sitting on the benches in the hall….we sat for about five minutes and heard a few screams here and there nothing much or according to the girls out of the ordinary. As i listened to the screams it took me a while but I finally noticed a pattern thinking nothing of it I just kept talking to Jarred about how he just used the wrong bathroom and there were what we thought motos for sale in the waiting room/hospital hallway. Suddenly we heard what sounded like a baby crying. I knew I heard it but was not sure what it was I looked at Jarred and asked if he heard that and he was busy reading the walls and wondering why the sign outfront did not say they treated men here…ha…I looked at Irma who confirmed what I had thought in the first place. By motioning here hands as if to throw me a hot potato I understood that we had just heard the sound of a baby being born about three doors down….it was pretty amazing. That was definately a first for both of us. haha…We then got to check on one of our little girls that lives in the internado who was in the hospital. She had fallen off a log while harvesting rice and cut herself pretty badly but is now ok so it was a good night for us. Pamela still has not gotten to get her tooth pulled because the dentist was busy so hopefully today after school.

I was mistaken. The name of the cereal is chocapic…not chocpita

At our team leader training over the weekend, Dr. Roberto updated the attendees on the progress at Mama Yoli’s House. The two photos show the difference a year of teams makes for the community of Atacucho.

Mama Yoli’s House in January 2007
Mama Yoli’s House in January 2008
Cecilia shared many examples of how the community is improving as the women find hope and dignity in their lives. Each team is an integral part of sharing God’s love in practical ways.
In June, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for Mama Yoli’s House. In September, children will begin using the building full time as their new daycare center. During the summer, construction will continue on the addition we started in 2007. This addition will provide space for a church, offices and storage. Dr. Roberto says a great pastor wants to become a part of this project and lead the congregation here.
What was your favorite part of the team leader training weekend? What helped you the most in being prepared to lead your team?

The school year has started again here in Ixiamas. Most of the kids have come back from next year, and it is so good to see them again. They have grown so much in just two short months, just like the grass has grown incredibly fast with all the rain. We have 30 kids so far, but more have said they want to come to the internado. We will see how many actually show up!

The rice harvest went well this past weekend. We still have probably over half to go, but at least we should have enough rice to last for the whole year. That is a huge blessing because rice prices have sky rocketed since last year.

Please be praying for all the kids, and also those kids that haven’t gotten to the internado yet. It looks like we will have a great year this year!