God’s surprising goodness

Many Building Hope volunteers extend themselves well beyond the work they do with our ministries. So I wasn’t surprised when our ESL site coordinator told me she would soon be leading a mission trip to Thailand. She asked if I would be a back-up contact for our Tuesday night class, in case any questions arose while she was gone. We really didn’t expect any.

Of course, the week turned out to have all sorts of surprises and unexpected issues! Yet God showered his grace upon our conversations.

My favorite part occurred as our team dealt with the fact that our regular driver would be out of town, and none of our four subs were available either. Each teacher went above and beyond…creating a “relay” of cars back and forth between our students’ apartments complexes and our class site at Mt. Calvary, multiple times. And God definitely rewarded us!!! He sent us the largest number of students we’d seen all year!!! It was a blessing for us all.

-Luanne Bole-Becker


Frank turns 90!

The tutors and students of Trinity Tutoring helped Frank Brcak celebrate his 90th birthday at tutoring March 17th.  He has been tutoring with our program 6 years and is certainly a big asset to our program.  He is a wonderful, dependable, considerate tutor.  He and his student, Omar Sumrain, a 7th grader, work hard each week.  We all wish Frank a very happy birthday!

– Jenny & Mary Forsythe, coordinators at Trinity’s tutoring program

Student videographer captures refugee stories

In early 2010, Lutheran West high school student Mack Doherty and his dad, Mike, approached Building Hope in the City with an idea for a refugee ministry project. Mack proposed involving several members of his Boy Scout troop with local refugee youth in a series of soccer lessons and games. As his Eagle Scout project, Mack would coordinate all these activities, including shooting, writing, and editing an accompanying video. The timing was great, as it coincided with the World Cup, including a “mini” World Cup tournament and viewing party at Building Hope in the City last July! We are especially pleased to report that Mack just earned his Eagle Scout badge! Thanks, Mack, for giving so generously of your time and talents, and providing insight into this work from a student point of view.

Click to below to watch Mack’s work, courtesy of YouTube.

-Luanne Bole-Becker

Directionally Challenged

I am the first to admit that I am directionally challenged, and have accepted the fact that a GPS is my ever-present companion. But, I am usually okay inside….except for my recent visit to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, where my daughter was scheduled for a few tests. Some of those medical buildings are extremely confusing, with numerous twists and turns, and hallways off of hallways. I was dutifully following the directions given to me by the physician’s office, when not just 1, but 6 different volunteers and a couple of staff members all stopped me along my journey to the testing room to see if

I needed help finding my way.

As a volunteer coordinator, this had a big impact on me! It is so easy to forget that the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s day! Volunteering is all about an attitude of serving. I am sure that Katherine and I would have found our way to the testing room eventually, but those kind volunteers and staff members, by taking a few seconds out of their busy schedules, made those few minutes of my day so much easier! That kind of leadership spurs me on to look for ways that I can serve someone else in need.

-Amy Mitchell

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Uno, Uno

It’s hard to remember the last time I was so excited about something that I ran around a room, yelling with excitement – jumping up and down and screaming with joy. Oh wait – I don’t think I ever have! But, I experienced just this at our recent Christmas Party for the refugee students at St. Colman.

A craze right from the beginning of tutoring was the card game, Uno. The kids absolutely could not get enough of it! There was always a mad dash to grab the game upon arrival, and the lucky three or four who got there first, would not give it up until tutoring started.

About mid-November one student in particular asked how much it would cost to purchase a game for herself. When I told her, “About $5.00” — well, I might as well have said $500. No way was she going to be able to buy one for herself. Then – a wondrous thing happened.

In December Christmas bags were assembled by some wonderfully generous folks for each child in all of our tutoring programs. (which is a lot!) And – you guessed it: in this particular student’s bag was…… (drum roll) a game of Uno!!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but more than that, there is a very gracious, loving, caring God who knew a child’s deepest wish, and put it in the heart of some wonderful, wonderful folks to (unbeknownst to them) buy this very special treasure for a young girl who never could have gotten it for herself. (hmmm – sounds just like what Christmas is all about. A loving, gracious, caring God who gives each of us a gift that we could never have gotten for ourselves!) Well, when she was given her Christmas bag, she not only ran around the room, yelling with excitement and jumping up and down, she fell on the floor with exhaustion from receiving such a gift!! Now that is true Joy!!!

-Jeanne Evers

Lu’s God Sightings

I have seen God in so many ways over the past month:

– The four refugee girls who were so eager to help us set up for our first New

American café at St. Colman. Two hours before it started, there they were, happy to unload supplies. They saved us so many trips! – All the new volunteers who showed up to help at the cafe. “What else can we do to help?” was the common refrain. Afterward, one commented, “It was an honor for me to be there.”

– Our van drivers, who literally “go the extra mile”–whether that means serving as a substitute tutor, making a special trip in to provide simple fixes (like hammering our bumper back into shape), or coming in early, working late, or helping out at special events.

– Conversations at this year’s Advent Tea, where the tables were filled with women of diverse cultures and backgrounds. They listened spellbound to Yasmen’s personal testimony. They heard about the great gift of Christmas, and asked questions afterward. When one guest inquired about purchasing the Advent wreath because of its beauty, our volunteer gave it to her as a gift. “If that takes her a step closer to knowing our Father, it was worth it!”

– The unbridled joy of a refugee student receiving the gift of an Uno card game. Would that we all were so thankful receiving simple gifts! So today I am thankful for all these simple, God-filled acts of joy, love, and generosity.

-Luanne Bole-Becker

An interesting sort of day…

An interesting sort of day…

Nobody was home.

Checked back. Nobody was home. 

Went to the daycare. Nobody brought the daughter by.

Went to school. No”bodies” had attended.

Burmese girl & several teachers answered my question of: “Where is everybody?”

They were at the hospital….oh my!

Confusion was quickly clarified.

They were getting there examinations/shots/check-ups.

My third try.

Knocked loudly over the noises of 7 warm bodies. 

To the door they came. 

I entered. 

We laughed.

We enjoyed.

We reasoned why.


Is there confusion or clarity? 

You never can quite tell.

And then there’s those significant & familiar sighs.

Is it important to explain this & that or do you let it slide? 

When it’s 10 minutes to describe-you think a bit first before you try. 

I like this family. They’re reminding me of times past and prepping me for times in my future. 

They show me my land. While I seek to know there’s. 

I like this family. They’re beautiful, fun, and eager. 

They love to learn. I think they’re quite humble.

Have you heard of ‘Jesus School’? 

I have. That’s where they go. She told me so.

I chuckled a bit….’Jesus School’. That is how she has translated church.

I think it’s a great reminder. We are learning from Jesus. 

Not the way of ‘man’…but the way of ‘Jesus’. 

In Him,

Kelly Cook, volunteer refugee mentor