Bringing Hope and Encouragement to Uvalde
UVALDE, TEX. – The month of May was a tragic one for the community of Uvalde, Tex. Several organizations were looking for ways to help them during that terrible time. Vicente Osorio, Eagle Pass Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor, and Sarai Sanchez, Fort Worth First Church member, contacted me with a fantastic plan: a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for the kids! We decided that it was very important to minister to the parents too. We planned to have a missionary group of about 30 participants, but we were short on time and needed supplies, decorations, a cook, transportation, a place to stay and the actual missionaries!
God provided all of it! We were able to rent the civic center from Sunday to Friday. The Austin First Seventh-day Adventist Church donated the stage decorations while the Southwestern Union Adventist Community Services and ministerial departments provided funds for lodging and the evangelism department donated 150 bibles! We also received donations from individuals that provided for snacks for the kids and their parents.
On July 29, Omar Sanchez drove a U-Haul truck with the decorations and supplies from Burleson to Uvalde, Tex. On Sunday, Eusebio Lima and his daughter Eliza Lima from Henderson, Tex., along with Michelle and Ema Quiej made a one-day trip to help with decorations. Osorio, his wife Isela, Herberth Quintero, Ron Carlson, Raquel Sosa, Arlene Ryan, and the Porras family did a fantastic job setting up registration booths and decorated all the VBS stations. Soledad Prieto and I did the grocery shopping in San Antonio on our way to Uvalde. I want to recognize Eliza Lima, Insly Osoria and Jair Osorio. These teens volunteered along with their pastoral parents and helped sing with the kids, serving as group leaders and bathroom runners. They also helped decorate posters to promote the VBS in the community.
The VBS program was presented every day from Monday to Friday at 5 p.m. Our registration and welcome team was the best! Christopher Bradford and Sophia Llewellyn Bradford from San Antonio and Krystal Berrios from Fort Worth welcomed each child. After the opening program each day, Sarai Prieto instructed the groups to visit the different stations. Hugo Cisneros, from San Marcos, played with the kids at the games station and Maricela Enright, from Keene, served delicious snacks! Akin and Lola Kilanko from Uvalde shared the Bible stories in a very creative way, while Marlene Montalvo from Richardson and Nadine Kottonya from Oakwood University were busy doing crafts with kids of all ages. I had the privilege to pray and share praying activities at the prayer station with Javier Aguilera from New York. David Asillo and Felicia Asillo, also from New York, assisted in different areas with a great disposition.
One of my favorite moments was watching children ministering to other children. Kayla and Karen Kilanko, Kian and Elian Berrios, Hanah and Abigail Barrios were part of the children that made up the praise team, teaching the songs to all the participants. We have very talented kids in our territory!!
Tony Anobile, Southwestern Union vice president for ministries and pastors, Vicente Osorio and Eusebio Lima shared messages of faith and hope in Christ with the parents during the VBS meetings. Liz Barrios, counselor from Laredo, also presented important and practical seminars to parents.
We had 81 kids and 40 adults visit our VBS! On Friday, we had a special celebration where each child received a VBS t-shirt and a “My Place with Jesus” Bible. We had games, food and a visit from “Canines 4 Christ.”
We want to thank the Texas Conference and Southwestern Union leaders, as well as other volunteers who came out for one-day visits and helped serve food and assist as needed. I praise God for the wonderful Adventist Church family—the church members, pastors, administrators and leaders that worked together to share the love of Jesus to a suffering community. I praise God for the work of the Holy Spirit, touching little hearts, guiding parents and bringing hope to the Uvalde community.
By Sonia Cano
Children’s Ministries and Sabbath School Director