We were so excited to have Jenna Scherdell visit with us in May. She was able to fly in with Melissa, meet new members of our family, and spend time reconnecting with the kids that she helped care for and raise when she was serving with us as a full-time missionary.
It was so good to hear her perspective on the changes she has seen in the kids. I asked her to share her recent experience with our young men that are moving towards independence . . .
What Happens When They Grow Up?
One of the questions I have heard most often in regards to the children of Three Trees has been about what happens when they “age out” of the program – basically, what happens when they grow up? I wondered this myself, especially about our teen boys. I prayed from the time I met them and then moved down to the DR that these boys would grow into strong and gentle and godly young men who would then carry the life skills and power to change their families, communities, and culture for the better.
I have been back in the States for over three years but finally had the opportunity to visit my Three Trees family at the end of May. Oh what a blessing it was to be with the pieces of my heart that live there! As with all passage of time, things change, and the biggest change I witnessed was the transition of four boys dear to my heart into young adulthood. Gabriel, Caleb, Enel, and Herby, all close to early 20s if not already there, have been living in their own little house down the street from the big Three Trees home (which still houses 16 people). They are all still in school (except for Gabriel who graduates this year!) and so receive a stipend but are wholly responsible for their own shopping, cooking, cleaning, and considering other expenses like internet and TV. Every month, they sit down with John to go over their budget for the month and savings goals. And you know what? They are rocking it. They are flourishing in their new found freedoms and responsibilities.
Visiting Their Home
I went down the street several times to visit the “big boys,” but two particular visits stick in my mind. One afternoon I came in while two of them were home and tackling their chores (which they decide among themselves who does what and when). Herby swept the common living space, even pulling out the couch to sweep behind and shifting things around to get to the corners. We chatted and listened to music and laughed together until Enel came in with a bucket of clean water and jokingly asked if I wanted to help do the dishes. I did. ☺ He set everything up and said, “I’ll wash, you rinse.” I soaked in these moments, delighting in their maturity and the growth I saw so clearly, the responsibility of adulthood and their thriving in it. Another time, I didn’t actually make it in the door. Apparently there was a big soccer game on (I tell them all, “No se NADA de futbol…”) and these four opened their home for probably 20 or more young guys to be able to watch the game since they have a television and have chosen to pay for cable. The door wouldn’t even open all the way because of so many bodies but I poked my head in to say hello and appreciate their hospitality and willingness to share what they have.
I feel such pride for Gabriel, Caleb, Enel, and Herby. They each have different dreams and goals and are pursuing them in their own ways. They all know how to walk with kindness. They all have a relationship with the Lord. They all come visit the big house and interact so beautifully with the younger children. They give me such hope for the future. These young men are world changers.
One of the things that I love most about the process of Three Trees is that each child truly is an individual. There is no boxy formula which all the children are forced to fit into, or a system that says “when you turn 18, you’re out.” Each circumstance is different. Some have chosen to leave and go out on their own, but still come around to help out the family. Others may transition later than others. And that is okay, too. Ultimately, the goal is to train up these children into thriving adults who love God, live well, and engage in their community, and so far I see it happening.
<3 Jenna Christine