WINTER ASSIGNMENT | CADETS RICAURTE VELASQUEZ AND VILMA RAMOS
Cadets Ricaurte Velasquez and Vilma Ramos (Proclaimers of the Resurrection session) were assigned to Toronto – Harbour Light, for their Winter Assignment. They have been participating in the daily life at Harbour Light for a week now. Ricaurte tells us what they have experienced so far.
I can remember one week ago, when most of the Cadets, were rushing to finish their last papers and exams before going to our winter assignments. Also, still fresh in my mind is last Sunday’s marvelous service at the CFOT Chapel, with all the children doing a great presentation; and we, as a body of believers at the College, had a meaningful service.
Now it is been a week since Vilma and I came to Toronto for our winter assignment at Toronto Harbour Light Ministries. We cannot express in words how thrilled we feel. This is one of the programs that we love most at the Salvation Army, feeling that we can serve those who have had so many problems in their lives, and who have not been able to overcome them; individuals whose conditions have been forgotten and left abandoned, or marginalized, treated as the lowest in society, without friends, therefore sick, poor and psychologically affected – the people that Jesus loved. Since we arrived, we have been involved in a wide variety of programs. Each morning at 8:30 am I do a devotional for people who are in the program for drug and alcohol recovery. Vilma does a devotional, at the same time, in Homestead Addiction Services, which is a place strictly for women. During each day, we are exposed to the various activities and programs, including the acceptance of new patients, whether they are referred by other government organizations or other sections within the Salvation Army. The centre also has a section where people who have been rehabilitated may be transitioned for eleven months. Here they are re-educated to live in society, where they are taught how to behave again, to work and support themselves. Additionally, the Centre has programs for refugees where they are taught English as a second language, and also important and necessary activities and skills to engage in their new life in Canada; and the legal assistance to complete their immigration process.
We have had the opportunity to be in different workshops, for people with addictions, where they express how they feel and are taught how to behave and are given help to continue their recovery. We’ve been in meetings where those who have been in the program for a longer time are coached and assisted so that they can return to daily activity. We have also been a part of counseling meetings and transitional check out meetings. Last Thursday we had a special meal for the community, where we served a special dinner and had different activities. There was time for a devotional, and a visit from Santa. Over 150 people attended, and I would say that was a success. As part of the program we visited Meighen Retirement Residence and Meighen Nursing Home, which are two facilities where retirees and those in need of additional care are living. On Friday we were in Canada Holding Facilities for Refugees, which is a place designed for families who have entered Canada illegally or are in the process of deportation. It is important to say that these people are not criminals, but unfortunately have been deprived of their liberty . The group that developed this campaign visit was sponsored by the Temple of Etobicoke, and we gave gifts, choirs sang and we tried to give some hope to these families, who come from many parts of the world and feel imprisoned and desperate in their countries of origin.
We thank God for this opportunity. I came to the Salvation Army, through a program called Celebrate Recovery. There, with the help of some people used by God, I was able to leave behind my alcoholism, and receive Jesus Christ in my heart. It was when we felt the call of God to be part of those intended to proclaim the kingdom of God. Jesus has made us his servants, and for us it is an honour to serve, but even for those who unfortunately do not see the light, a divine light shines only when we have the Holy Spirit within. The Word of God says in Galatians 6:1-2; “Brothers if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”