Friday, July 20, 2007

Coming to the US

Most of you know that it is pretty much almost impossible to get a Visa to come to the US if you are a single, 20-something, non land owning, African male. One of our closest friends from Africa, Fernando Gomes Co, recently got a Visa to study in the US.
Fernando has been through the YFC English program and internship at the Youth for Christ Center in Guinea-Bissau. Since then he has been teaching English at the Youth Center.
Fernando is a very good teacher and is now the director of English at the Youth Center.
Because you can only learn so much English in a classroom, our teammates wanted him to spend a year studying in the States so that when they leave he will be totally prepared to run the program on his own.

A few pics of Fernando at a photo shoot Jason did to get nice pictures of the staff at the center. I know he looks young, but he is my age. (They love to rock the man-prees in Guinea-Bissau)

Fernando will be arriving in the US on Saturday, July 28th. We are picking him up from the airport in Detroit and taking him right to Simpson Park Camp. You heard me right his first experience in the US will be counseling in the youth program with Jason all week, so that will be pretty cool. We are planning on bringing some bread and rice with us, because lets face it, adjusting to food in another country is hard enough… and he has to start out on camp food, which has been known to make the boldest of stomachs quesy…. Hehe
After camp he is headed down to Florida (now that's more like his kind of weather ) because he has been accepted by the University of West Florida to participate in their "Intensive English Program" for two semesters. Over the Christmas break he is planning on going up to Vancouver, WA where he can spend time with the Lighthouse Church (Pastor Mike and Mario, that have been long time friends and frequent visitors and workers in Guinea-Bissau).
Having quality nationals run the ministry in Guinea-Bissau has always been one of the main goals of our teammates who started the work there. If we just go in and help and then leave the help is over, but if we train the people there to lead they are going to be much more effective and they are going to make a continue making a difference for their whole lives. Beautiful buildings and nice equipment are only so good, unless you have godly men and women that can utilize it for God's Kingdom. Fernando has proven to be that type of person over the years and it is exciting that he is getting this opportunity.
As you all know living in the US (especially when attending college) is not cheap. Fernando's expenses are going to be around $16,000 for the year.
1. His plane ticket will be about $1,800 to $2,200.
2. His tuition for two semester at UWF is $6,000
3. We are hoping that he could live with a host family in Pensacola and if you all know a Christian family that might want to do this then that would be great. If not, the room and board was quoted at $8,000 for the whole year.
The reason for this blog is that I would like to ask you to consider donating some money towards Fernando's trip. A lot of you are students or people who are just starting out, and I totally understand that. God gives us different means to help people at different times in our lives. You can always share this with your friends, family, Sunday school class, etc. A lot of people have asked how they can make a difference in Africa, and this is a really good way. Also, if you guys have any creative ideas feel free to use them I honestly don't think that any gift is too small. If a hundred people just give $5 then that makes a big difference.
Fernando is going to record a CD (he is one of my favorite singers) to raise money and our teammates are going to be selling some quilted bags (like my purse) that were made in Africa. YFC gave the Youth Center staff and the people at Fernando's church an opportunity to give as well. Jason and I have purchased a laptop for Fernando to use while he is here and then take back to Guinea-Bissau. The reason I am sharing this is I just want you to know that I am not asking you to consider something that we are not willing to do.
Pastor Mario, Fernando's good friend, has said that money could be sent to their church and they will set up an account there to receive it (so it would be a tax-deductible donation). You'll want to make the check out to "The Lighthouse, A Christian Church" and then mail it to the address below. Make sure you put a note on the check that it is for Fernando Gomes Co.
The Lighthouse, A Christian Church
7808 NE 94th avenue
Vancouver, WA 98662
If you have any questions about this at all please let me know. Thanks for reading this!