Over an 8-week period this summer, Elkhorn Hills UMC member Karissa Heckens helped lead a VBS-type Summer Program called Ninos con Vida through a Hispanic Ministries grant in South Omaha. She did this as part of an internship requirement for school. The Summer Program served 18 boys and girls between the ages of 4-14. The program started at 9 am and went until 2 pm Monday thru Friday. Through Karissa’s leadership, Elkhorn Hills UMC helped to support the Hispanic Ministry of the United Methodist Church, Great Plains Conference.
My internship with the Niños con Vida summer program ended Tuesday night, and I already miss these wonderful kids who captured my heart. My time with them cannot be adequately described with words. As their VBS Director, I was given an amazing learning experience, in which I had the opportunity to write and teach lessons about God, lead music, create daily schedules, recruit volunteers, take the kids on field trips, and guide them throughout their day.
I gained leadership skills, confidence, and spiritual depth from this meaningful work. It wasn’t easy; in fact, it was one of the most challenging things that I have ever done. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I saw God’s provision and redemption in a way that I never have before. At the beginning of the summer, we didn’t even know if the program was going to happen due to a lack of volunteers and funding, but God provided everything abundantly so that we could bring His Kingdom to Earth in South Omaha. After seeing what He did this summer, I am determined to trust Him more. I am also excited to see how He can use me for His purposes going forward.
I want to thank everyone who answered God’s call this summer to help with this program.
Whether you gave your time, money, or prayers, the program couldn’t have happened without you. Now, I ask for each of you to pray for the children that were in the program. They have huge hearts for God, and I truly hope that they will continue to seek Him, that they will continue to give their hearts to Jesus each day. I love each of them as a brother or sister in Christ, and I thank God for the opportunity to show them His light.
More about Ninos con Vida Summer Program
The VBS-type Summer Program involved outdoor games, singing, crafts, bible stories, snacks, sack lunches, and movies, as well as special field trips. Some of the field trips included ice skating, the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and the El Museo Latino, among others.
Karissa worked with Pastor Juan Carlos Veloso at Grace United Methodist Church, Omaha at 24th and E Street. She developed the schedule, organized volunteers, wrote lesson plans, led the activities, and made connections with each student and leader involved in the program. Elkhorn Hills UMC provided many of the volunteers including: Darla Langendorfer, Jim Witte, Angela Heckens, Kaleb Heckens, Karen Roberg, Lindsey Roberg, Kailey Roberg, Gretchen Robinson, Nathaniel Robinson, Brenda Klanderud, and Kadi Carleton.
The Ninos con Vida Summer Program concluded with a ceremony on Tuesday, August 1st from 5-7 pm, in which Missouri River District Superintendent Chad Anglemyer and EHUMC Pastor Rebeccca Hjelle attended. The Summer Program participants sang songs in English and Spanish, prayers and thanks were given, a fun video was shown recapturing the fun and learning, and certificates and bibles were presented to the participants. A wonderful reception with refreshments and treats provided everyone a chance to mingle and say their goodbyes.
“This was the highlight of my summer,” said volunteer Gretchen Robinson.