“Y’all came with such a positive mindset and amazing vibe and words just can’t describe how thankful I am for the time you spent with us”. Those were the words in Michael’s letter addressed to the team which he read to us publicly at our final event together. With lots of tears, hugs and expression of gratitude, just as quickly as it began, our week came to an end. This was the first time for La Mano of Hope to partner with Crossroads HOPE Academy in Punta Gorda, under the leadership of John Davidson. 18 team members from Maryland and Pennsylvania, sponsored through Grace Academy in Hagerstown, MD spend 7 days travelling, sleeping on a church floor, packing lunches, cooking meals, painting, weedwacking, scrubbing, cleaning, power washing and doing whatever service project was needed. Although we were confident of our theme for the week, “I AM SECOND,” neither of our organizations really knew what to expect.
We were certain about the service work. What we were uncertain about became our greatest testimony – building relationships with the young men at the academy. Not only did we end up playing sports together and working alongside one another with projects, but we also were able to share in devotional time that continues weekly, even after our departure, share stories and make connections which we will continue to build upon. Nicole Fuller, a long time participant and leader with La Mano of Hope, lives in the community and was our missionary liaison for this outreach. Through this outreach and the relationships built, Nicole continues to go to the academy weekly for ongoing relationship building and bible study with the young men who are interested and growing. La Mano of Hope is happy to announce we are already coordinating a team to return in the next few months to continue with a construction and agricultural project at the Academy’s newly acquired second campus.