Amigos Center

Posts By: Seth DeBartolo

May 7, 2018

It is hard to believe that we are more than halfway done with our time here learning Spanish and about the culture.I cannot thank our instructor enough for taking the time to really teach us and show us how the our Spanish can be used in every day life. This past weekend was filled with preparation for our mid-course written exam. Tomorrow we have our oral proficiency exams. In conversation this week, Karl said, “It’s one thing to learn the grammar and it’s another thing to apply it. It’s a process of taking what we learned in the class room and applying it to everyday life.” This has been a great learning experience and we cannot wait to apply what we have learned.

 

This past week went by so fast.We had a great time at worship
on Sunday. We met up with several missionaries too. Pastor Ted Krey (center), his wife Rebecca (right) and their kids made plans with us to meet with them for dinner this past Tuesday. It was a great insightful time where Karl and I learned the ins and outs of missionary work as well as church planting in the Latino culture. We have some great gems to share with the community at large when we get back as we continue to connect people to Christ.

 

On Monday, it was the observance of the Dominican Republic Labor Day.There were no classes at the Institute. Leonardo surprised us by taking us to Puerto Plata to see the beach and spend some time with his family. It was a quick trip, but really enjoyable. The “Smaller
Christ,” similar to the one in Rio, can be seen all the way from the beach. As well as Poseidon on one of the rock formations off the coast. It was a nice time getting to know his family and what they do here in the Dominican Republic too. We ended our trip with a lovely meal of fish and pasta from the local restaurant on the way back from Porta Plata.

This past Saturday, Karl and I decided to walk all the way from where we are staying to the Institute (about a 5 mile hike). Along the way, we took our time to take in our surroundings and check out the baseball stadium and basketball stadium along the way. We also noticed several little huts by the water for those who are homeless to live. Like in many places, they are not given the time of day and are often overlooked. Karl and I also experienced a bit of rudeness from a waiter at one of the local establishments as he refused to serve us. We simple got a different waiter, but the experience was interesting to say the least.

On Sunday, Karl and I attended the teacher appreciation celebration at one of the local piscinas (pools). There was great food, music, games, swimming and of course great fellowship. I even learned the basic steps to a few types of Dominican Republican dances.

On a separate note, my ordination date has been set as May 27, 2018. It will be at 4pm at Grace Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida with a light meal to follow. Please let me know if you plan on attending.

 

Have A Great Day!

Seth DeBartolo

Amigos en Cristo, Inc. d/b/a Amigos Center – April 29, 2018

 
This past week has been an exciting and adventurous one. At the beginning of the week one of the kids of our host family took us to different pueblos (small towns) throughout the country side. This gave Karl and I a chance to learn a bit more about the raw culture and the challenges that face the people of the DR. We met Adalgisa Gomez a cosmetologist and hair styler. It is her hope that one day she would have an institute for hair and nails.She wants to help teach others in the community a skill so that they can live better lives to provide for themselves and their families. In a letter, she asked if we knew of anyone willing to help with supplies, from as small as a comb to as big as a blow dryers. Contact me if you have questions. Seth@amigoscenter.org

 

After we met Adalgisa, we proceeded to go up and down the hilly country side where we saw tobacco plants growing
and storage huts for drying. We were then brought to a high point and saw a piscina (pool area) with a fantastic view. Check out the website for more amazing pictures. Once we finished our tour it was time to head back for dinner. We had an opportunity to join the rest of the family for a fish dinner at one of the local establishments. Fried or oven cooked we could have it our way.

 

During our class education this week, we were learning about conversational Spanish and talking about directions.We found ourselves at a memorial park dedicated to Christopher Columbus. Like many areas around Santiago, there was iron work. At this park there were the three ships most commonly associated with Columbus’ journey, as well as a few painted murals depicting his arrival.

 

Karl and I have been in contact with several of the missionaries and their families throughout our stay. Just this past week, the Office of International  Missions – LCMS (Latin American/ Caribbean Region) had their summit meeting in Palmar Arriba, about 30 minutes outside of town. On Monday, we were able to make contact with Ruth and Arthuro Maita  and spend some time with them. After that we met up with the president of the Venezuelan Lutheran Church and he once again thanked us for our support through Arepas Para Venezuela fundraiser. Please keep them in  your continued prayers.

 

It was at this time we had a tour of the LCMS mission office in Santiago. Here is a picture of all of the mission locations in LatinAmerica. The next picture is of all  thirty-two missionary families. Later on in the week after our Thursday class we took leave from assisting the instructors teaching and went to see the other  missionaries at the seminary. They had just finished their renovation and construction of the building.

The first floor is social services, the second floor is a chapel and next to that are professional education rooms and the third floor is the seminary for theological education. It was great to hear about all the mission opportunities in other countries as well as gain insight as to how to do outreach to the hispanic population in Southwest Florida.

 

Last, but not least, on April 25th, I received the call officially to serve as   pastor at Amigos en Cristo. This day was shared with my wife and family over Skype. I will be notifying everyone as to when the ordination service will be in upcoming blogs or through a special announcement.

 

Leonardo Garcia, one of the Amigos Center board members, is coming to visit us this week at the institute so I am sure we will have more to talk about next week. Please check the web page for new updated photos of our trip.

www.amigoscenter.org/dr-trip. Please keep us and our families in your continued prayers.

God’s Richest Blessings,

Seth DeBartolo

 

1) Luncheon Fundraiser Update
2) Servant Event In Immokalee 
3) Pastoral Staff Gears Up For Their  D.R. Edu. Trip

The results are in! I want to give you an update from our Amigos Center fundraiser luncheon, “A Friend in Need.” There were 146 Amigos who attended the Luncheon on March 21. The goal was set at $120,000 and was joyfully met. Now, as continued donations come in, we have surpassed our expectation and are just over $123,000. Thank you for your continued support! It is because of your dedication to our mission and vision that we will be able to further our services and ministry in Southwest Florida as we help people to an abundant life in Southwest Florida in the kingdom of God.

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On April 8th, a group of youth and adults from Faith Lutheran Church, Naples helped to distribute food to Immokalee residence at our Amigos Center on South 2nd Street in Immokalee, Florida. It was a great time for the youth and adults to be Christ’s hands, feet, and mouth all the while helping to fill the stomachs of those in need. Food distributions are a regular part of the continued service and assistance for the community give at our Amigos Center. In Ave Maria, donations were also collected by volunteers on Saturday for Harry Chapin Food Bank.  Nine carts full of groceries were donated to be redistributed in the local area through the Amigos Center later this week. Overall, the youth and adults helped to feed more than 350 people as they assisted in distributing more than five pallets worth of food. 

If you are interested in helping out at the Amigos Center in Immokalee, please contact Pastor Karl Glander at (239)-657-3822. Your prayers and support are always welcome as we continue to serve the people in Southwest, Florida.

               

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(Left: Seth DeBartolo, Pastor-Elect, Center: Pastor Karl Glander, Right: Board Member Leonardo Garcia – Program Coordinator)

You may have heard that we are expanding our pastor ministry team by extending a call to Seth DeBartolo a recent graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. The official “Call Service” for Seth will be on April 25 at 7pm. He and Pastor Karl Glander will be continuing their education by heading down to the Dominican Republic on April 16th. They will be immersed in the language and culture for 5 week in order to do more effective outreach for the kingdom of God, when they return. Each week they will be updating you by email as to their formal and informal education progresses. Please keep Pastor Glander, Seth and their families in your prayers during this educational training opportunity.

What a good and gracious God we have, even in the midst of the recent storms! This is the God of whom the Psalmist sang, “made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” Ps. 107:25. Hurricane Irma is history, but her effects will be long felt.

Here is just a little insight as to the effects Irma has had on the Amigos Center and Southwest Florida.

Bonita Springs Amigos Center office damage

Sad to say, we did not fair too well at the Amigos Center in Bonita Springs. It is now wet, moldy and in need of rehab before it can open again.  We put two tarps over it to mitigate any further rain damage and packed most things up in preparation for a move to another facility.   We still need to remove the wet carpets and ceiling tiles. Thankfully, all of the electronics at this facility are still in good working order.  The building now has electricity, but no telephone/internet.

I don’t know yet where we will be able to reopen, however, Lyndsay and Evelyn have returned to work this past Monday. They expect to begin seeing clients sometime next week.  This is important as the DACA renewals must be done by October 5, so it is urgent that we reopen in some temporary place ASAP.

Our Amigos Center in Fort Myers was infested with mold, due to the recent weather. Property Restoration was working to address these problems and now we are functioning normally at this facility.

Our Amigos Center in Immokalee weathered the storm well.  Pastor Selle and his family stayed there during the hurricane.  Electricity has finally been restored and there are some new leaks in the roof.  No other damage to building itself.

Pastor Selle and his family waiting out the storm in Immokalee

However, one tree fell and broke one of our outdoor light poles and smashed the fence.  Karl and volunteers opened this past Wednesday morning to allow Harry Chapin to distribute water, ice and MREs for those in and around Immokalee who were in need.  They have opened several times in order to assist further.

We have lots of people calling and wanting to donate items and are offering to help.  We are asking them to call Karl. Starting next week we will put Tulisha, one of our key volunteers, at 20 hours a week to handle food distributions. That will allow Karl to focus on lining up work projects for Immokalee families who suffered damage to their homes.

Damage to one of our church member’s house in Bonita Springs

We will hold our regular worship services this Sunday.

Our personnel weathered the storm, but like many here in Southwest Florida, have damage in one form or another. One of our legal assistance, Evelyn, lost a portion of her trailer home in Rosemary Park. Also, our attorneys Lyndsay and Christina, experienced some water damage at their respective homes. Karl is still dealing with clearing his house from storm damage and Seth is dealing with downed trees and recently had power restored. Pastor Andre and Pastor Saint Luc suffered some damage to their homes as well, but are continuing to serve their roles at the Amigos Center.

LCMS Disaster Relief dropped off at Zion Lutheran Church Fort Myers

By the grace of God, we are receiving some significant help from LCMS Disaster Relief.  We are working on a $25K grant for relief work, as they already gave us $3,500 in VISA gift cards, which we have already begun distributing to those in need.  More financial help is available upon request.  This past Thursday, the LCMS Disaster Relief dropped off a semi-truck load of supplies at Zion Lutheran (diapers, tools, generators, tarps, etc.)  We used some of it for the Bonita Springs Amigos Center. They are stationing two point people at Zion Lutheran in Fort Myers to help coordinate needed relief supplies.

Volunteer work crews are already here with more to arrive next week.

Thanks be to God for his mercy endures forever.

Now is a great time to gather and rejoice in how our gracious God held us safely through the storm. Even if you, like so many others, had some damages from the wind and water, all of the material things can be replaced, but God alone preserves life! You may have been without electricity, but you have had power all along with Jesus by your side!

If you feel you want to give of your time, talents, or treasures for recovery efforts, please contact Karl Glander at (239) 293-1489 or follow the prompt below to donate.




Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a ministry outreach churches provide to educate children about God and all He has done for us. On a rainy June 7th the Amigos Center in Immokalee had a delightful and eager crowd of kids ready to have fun and learn more about their Lord and Savior. The theme this year was “A Mighty Fortress” in commemoration of the Lutheran Reformation – 500 years ago. Each day totaled 22+ kids and over 14 adult volunteers from Immokalee Lutheran Church and the Amigos Center who assisted to make this VBS possible. The ages of the kids ranged from pre-school to sixth grade. VBS has been held at this location for the past 2 years and continues to grow each year. This Vacation Bible School was a wonder opportunity for kids to socialize and learn more about religion in a relaxed and fun setting. V.B.S. has something for everyone, despite each person’s religious views. While activities are centered around teaching kids about God, V.B.S. combines fun and learning without the formality of a Sunday service. This event was provided free to the public because of the gracious donations given by members of Immokalee Lutheran Church and donations received by the Amigos Center.

We cannot thank you and the volunteers enough for your prayers and support.

 





Each month the Department of State sends out a visa bulletin showing the visa processing dates for different family relationships and countries.  Depending on the relationship and country, clients can wait months to decades to get their green cards.  Usually visa processing dates move forward in time or remain the same, but sometimes dates go back in time (retrogressing).  The retrogression can affect when a client can file for the green card or get the green card.

When the January 2011 visa processing dates were released in mid-December 2010, Amigos Center realized that we had a young man in his final year of high school that only had days to submit his green card case or possibly have to wait many more years to file.  Filing his case by December 31 meant him being able to get a work permit, social security number, driver’s license, and go to college.  His family scrambled to get all the necessary documents/fees.  With the help of Amigos Center, the young man was able to get the case properly submitted to immigration by the December 31 deadline.  Happily his case is now progressing and he is currently waiting for his work permit.

Toward the end of January 2011 Amigos Center noticed that processing times for sibling cases were going to retrogress over two years as of February 1, 2011.  We had two siblings that had submitted their green card cases last fall and both were scheduled for interviews with Tampa immigration for early February 2011.  We quickly contacted Tampa to see if their interviews could be scheduled for January when the visa was still available.  Tampa was able to see both clients on January 31 and both clients got their green cards.  If the clients had not been seen until February, they would have been pending for many more months or years.  Both clients called Amigos Center after their interviews to give a big thank you.  After years in the U.S., they can now hop on a plane to visit their family in their native country and they are now in line to be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

–Christina Leddin

On December 29th, Harry Chapin chose Amigos Center to be the point of distribution for their mobile food pantry.

They arrived with three large box trucks and with the help of 45 volunteers we served nearly 4500 people in under 4 hours. We are thankful for the Harry Chapin’s partnership with us and their faith in our work in changing lives in Immokalee.

Thanking Mark Fontana from Thrivent FinancialThrivent Financial for Lutherans Financial Consultant Mark Fontana presents Pastor Bob Selle the matching $10,000 Lutheran Community Economic Outreach Bridge Grant.  This matches dollar for dollar the non-pledged money that Amigos en Cristo raised during the past couple of months up to a maximum of $10,000.  From November 2010 through January 2011 we raised $43,299 in non-pledged money from 79 donations ($548 per donation).  This compares to the same period last year of $23,096 from 88 donations ($262 per donation). Thank you Thrivent for inspiring our donors to give more generously than ever.

47.2% of residents living in Immokalee, live below the poverty level.

Your support of Amigos Center helps thousands of children and families in need throughout Southwest Florida.

Located in SW Florida, Immokalee is one of our nation’s most fertile agricultural communities. According to the 2008 USDA Profile of Hired Farmworkers, farmworkers remain “among the most economically disadvantaged working groups in the U.S.” and “poverty among farmworkers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.”

Farmworker Facts and Figures

  • Like textile workers at the turn of the last century, Florida tomato harvesters are still paid by the piece. The average piece rate today is 50 cents for every 32-lbs of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged since 1980. As a result of that stagnation, a worker today must pick more than 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday — nearly twice the amount a worker had to pick to earn minimum wage thirty years ago, when the rate was 40 cents per bucket. Most farmworkers today earn less than $12,000 a year.
  • In a January 2001 letter to members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Labor described farmworkers as “a labor force in significant economic distress,” citing farmworkers’ “low wages, sub-poverty annual earnings, [and] significant periods of un- and underemployment” to support its conclusions.
  • As a result of intentional exclusion from key New Deal labor reform measures, farmworkers do not have the right to overtime pay, nor the right to organize and collectively bargain with their employers.
  • In the most extreme conditions, farmworkers are held against their will and forced to work for little or no pay, facing conditions that meet the stringent legal standards for prosecution under modern-day slavery statutes. Federal Civil Rights officials have successfully prosecuted seven slavery operations involving over 1,000 workers in Florida’s fields since 1997, prompting one federal prosecutor to call Florida “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” In 2010, federal prosecutors indicted two more forced labor rings operating in Florida.

*facts from The Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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