In Colombia, Friendship Day (their version of Valentine's day), is celebrated on Sept. 21st. Six months ago, I (Don) was there on that day and was surprised in a way I will not soon forget!
It was a warm Saturday morning and I had no idea of what was waiting for me. Alvaro, Diana, and Justo, three national Icthus leaders, ushered me into a taxi on a busy street in Monteria, Colombia . They told me we were going to an Icthus meeting… but, I sensed there was something they weren’t telling me.
Fifteen minutes later we turned down a bumpy dirt road. In the distance I saw a large group. As we got closer I estimated that there were at least 150 kids and adults waiting in front of a humble church. Instead of being just one group there were 11 from five churches! In my honor, they were celebrating Friendship Day all together.
It started with a relay race with balloons. While the kids cheered each other on, I greeted several guides I have known through the years. It was much fun to meet new guides who had been children on my previous trips.
Then everyone got into formation. Several children led the group in repeating the oaths for each program. They were obviously pleased when a youth led the new oath they had created for Icthus Youth about the Fruit of the Spirit.
The well-organized guides then divided everyone into four big groups, one for each Icthus program (pictures on the back). The groups went to different areas. Each did an activity related to Friendship Day - helping others and being a good neighbor.
After 40 minutes all the groups gathered in a room to present the songs and plays. They asked me to talk. I congratulated them and told them how impressed and proud I was of them. I surprised them by giving each church a soccer ball. What a big hit that was! I wish I had brought more balls.
Then we went outside, crowding under the shade of the trees - It was noon and the sun was hot. The program closed with active singing and prayer by the local pastor.
This event was a wonderful surprise. Icthus leaders are constantly finding creative ways like this to teach the children. They are doing wonderful work. I hope you will consider giving a special, unexpected Valentine's Day gift to encourage leaders in Latin America to continue extending ministry to more children.
To “double the love” Frank Tranzow, a board member, wants to encourage everyone to give an Icthus Valentine’s gift. He is offering to match gifts up to $1,000. Your gift will be doubled up to the limit. Twice as many children will receive the Valentine’s blessing of Icthus.
Fun activities about friendship for every age!
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