Courageous Challenges

Dec 11, 2012

Mentor Sarah Pimentel’s story about her mentee

“Hi, Ms. Sarah, I moved.” The call came a few days before I was scheduled to meet Sergio, a student who I’d mentored for about 2 years at the time. Moved? Where? I wasn’t sure and was in the midst of transitions myself: preparing to get married, quitting work and starting grad school. As I went to pick Sergio up at his new address, I realized that a much bigger Hand was at work than any of ours; Sergio’s new home was only 7 blocks from where my soon-to-be husband, Emmanuel, and I would be living!

When Sergio moved from Chirilagua, we were all sad that he would miss being part of Kids Club but made efforts to keep him as connected as possible. And then this past spring a new call – “Ms. Sarah, what school should I go to?” Sergio had a choice of schools as he entered 6th grade and one of his choices was George Washington Middle School , which meant that he could be a part of Teens Club. This would reconnect him with friends from Chirilagua and put him in a supportive place with lots of caring adults speaking into his life.  And indeed, this has been a gracious gift to see – Sergio growing into middle school, his mom fully supporting his involvement in Teens Club and in school, and God providing a place for Sergio to be safe, accepted and in touch with His old community on a daily basis.

Sergio’s friendship and the mentoring relationship that he and I have, and which Emmanuel is now a major part of, have been a sweet gift to me these years as well. Sergio’s cheerful face and thoughtful heart have brightened my heart and life and he’s helped me see the challenges that he and other students navigate – and the strength that they pull from themselves, their families and their community, in which Casa Chirilagua plays a large part.

After attending camp with Kids Club this past summer, Sergio came back with a Bible verse about courage that he’d memorized, and a message of courage in his heart for himself. God knew that’s what he would need to face the challenge of a new (and big!) middle school, and it’s been sweet to see through Sergio how our Father knows our needs and provides for them, one step at a time. I’ve been humbled to see how God continues, through the specific prayers of His people and the Casa Chiri prayer warriors, to protect Sergio emotionally and spiritually in many ways as he enters middle school.

And it’s been a blessing to be part of the ministry of Casa Chirilagua as God gives me courage through this mentoring relationship as well – courage to step into challenges and conversations with Sergio as he navigates growing up and continues walking out and learning his own path, and living his life which is graciously covered and protected by a courageous and courage-giving God.

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.