In Phoenix, the walk continues with my friends in Guadalupe. I have written about them before; an outpost of the Mexican-based Pasua Yaqui Native American tribe; squeezed on 0.8 square miles right between Phoenix and Tempe. Some see it as an undesirable blemish of poverty in carefully landscaped Phoenix and Tempe. They point to the fact that the average family income is less than half Arizona average, the average family size is twice average and over half the adults do not have a high school education. I see something else in Guadalupe. I see Jesus.
We have been working with our friends in Guadalupe for a number of years. We developed a basketball program then became a tutoring program that has added in a reading program. Family is paramount in Guadalupe and people want their children to do better economically than they have done. They know that means education. Our reading/tutoring is community based meaning the people in the community run it and do most of the teaching.
One problem we had was space. We do not have much money (tell me a non-profit that does….), so we have made do over the last year and half with space we could get for free which is nice when we can get it, however it has been unreliable. Space was often lost when someone else wanted it for something else. We have done more than one of our tutoring nights on picnic tables in the Mercado courtyard under the security lights. And have had to limit out times to Monday and Wednesday nights.
God works in strange ways. My friend Marina really wanted to be able to offer more time tutoring/reading in the community. She talked with people, the town, some business, and her neighbors. We found the town would rent us our own space in the Mercado at a good price. We even found community members and businesses that would contribute to paying the rent! Together, they are paying HALF the rent for the first six months. I was shocked.They wanted this in their town and in their community so much that they would give money. We are not talking major dollars. We have people donating 5$ or 10$/month. These are people that society would tell us have nothing to give but, they know that they are made in the image of God and so are stewards of all He gives and they care about their kids!
So we rented space and started the Guadalupe Learning Lab. Marina and some friends cleaned up the space, painted it, and scoured thrift stores for furniture and supplies. People donated stuff. Within a week (and $150 plus lots of peoples time later) we were ready to go live.
We opened out doors on Monday Jan 21, Martin
Luther King Day. We
participated with the community on their MLK day celebration and cleanup of the park, then we opened our doors. By Wednesday Jan 23rd, we had 24 kids using the lab! Technically the lease did not start until Feb 1st, but the town wanted us there.
We do not know what God will do with this. I hear him telling us the community wants us to be part of it. Jesus told people to “come and see” when they asked what He was doing. I think the God is telling up to “come and see” Him in Guadalupe. Please pray God’s will be done.