Caring Hands Needed at Extended Family Co-op
No! said one determined little boy with his hands on his hips. Anne is her last name. Teacher is her first name. I hadnt realized how difficult my name might be for little ones to master.
Mildred Darrow, the infant supervisor at the Centers cooperative nursery school, has an easier name for children to remember. They simply call her Nana. Mildred, a sprightly 71-year old, exemplifies the purpose of the Extended Family Co-Op: to provide the atmosphere of an extended family for the children of our community who are far away from their own parents and relatives. For up to three mornings a week, each child has the privilege of enjoying the special attention of Aunt Mildred.
The task of the U.S. Center for World Mission is important, but we couldnt do the task without the families who are present here. And so we seek to meet their needs.
One teacher said she had never worked at a place where the children were so happy and well-behaved. Aside from the fact that they come from good homes, I think they are happy because they arent allowed to come to school more than three mornings a week.
Parents bring their children to the Extended Family Co-op for different reasons. Many are students at William Carey International University. Among their courses of study: Community Developmenthow to help Third World communities provide clean water, food, sanitation, basic health care, etc., for themselves, and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). They want to prepare themselves to share the Gospel with people who have never had the opportunity to hear. To do so, it helps having a few hours in the morning for concentrated study or class attendance.
Some parents are missionaries on furlough. They are spending time at the U.S. Center to retool themselves for more effective service on the field. Others work with mission agencies on campus. Wherever they are, these parents are more effective in their work because of the Extended Family Co-op.
Besides the love we provide, the curriculum at the Co-op includes Bible stories, character development, some academic work, and nature stories. These are reinforced throughout the morning by means of music, handwork, and guided conversations.
There are some hazards to my job. One evening as I prepared for bed, I was shocked to find I was still wearing Wing Szes necklace, a haphazard arrangement of purple and lime-green elbow macaroni. My discovery explained all the funny looks Id received while shopping that afternoon!
Although not directly related to the front-line purposes of the larger Center community, our service at the Co-op is vital. I am always deeply impressed when parents who are packing to leave for the mission field write to thank us for the care we gave their children.
One mother wrote, You and the entire Extended Family Co-op have been an important and vital element in our year here in Pasadena. We deeply appreciate the fine, godly input and care you have provided.
Wrote another, We will miss your love and enthusiasm for Alex; . . . The pre-school ends up as a beautiful contribution to our family. And a third, some time after they had left: Karissa still talks about stories and songs she learned. You made the time memorable for her and contributed greatly to her understanding of our Lord. I cant tell you how much this meant to me, knowing that not only was she being well cared-for, but that she was learning and growing as well.
I often put these notes on my dresser to remind me that world evangelization is a job that requires every part of the body of Christ. Who can say that because I am not the visionary eyes or the articulate mouth I cannot serve valuable little people with my caring hands?
The significance of a persons job is not measured by how large it is, but rather, by how it fits with Gods larger purposes. It is enough for me to know that I am helping the children of those who are preparing to finish the task of discipling every nation.
How about you? Might you have caring hands to serve at the Centers Extended Family Co-op? We are having to turn away many children. We have enough classroom space to provide much-needed separate classes for our 2- and 3-year olds.
All we need are some loving teachers and assistants. Could you be one of them? Co-op teachers and assistants work four hours each weekday morning.
For more information about these or other service opportunities at the USCWM, contact the Personnel Department, 1605 Elizabeth Street, Pasadena, CA 91104. (818) 398-2330.