Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm proud of Chelo & Laura!

Marcelo Santana came to IWU from Puerto Rico but I didn’t get to really know him until Paul Kind invited Marcelo along for a month of hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

What a wonderful guy he turned out to be. How I came to love and admire Marcelo! He was an intrepid hiker who never seemed to have a bad day--even though he often fell into rivers and streams while attempting too-long jumps across the rocks. He sang lustily on the trail so that I could hear him a half mile away, he remembered stories and jokes from his teen years and from campus and told (and retold) these stories until our sides split with laughter. (Picture of Marcelo and me below)

On the IWU campus he was a whirlwind of energy, riding his skateboard into right into the classroom or publishing a book of ideas for “Cheap Dates in Marion” which he sold to other students who had less creativity. His papers were always different from everyone else’s since he could dream up a dozen different way to do the assignment that the professor had never even never thought of.

I watched Marcelo flip for Laura Warner (who happened to be one of my favorite Christian Education students). Laura graduated in 2002 and Marcelo (AKA "Chelo") graduated in youth ministry a year later. When these two got married they moved to Ohio, Laura’s home state, where Laura taught at Head Start and Marcelo worked on a farm then later at a factory making electrical parts. But hat was not thei goal--they were praying together that God would lead them to a church.

In October 2003, a year after Chelo’s graduation they were called to work at Grant Wesleyan Church in Michigan. Ever since they have been at that same church—a great church with a great senior pastor. Laura substitute taught until their daughter Elena was born and they have recently added a scond child, Antonio, who is now about 6 months old. I think they bought a house there too.

Laura mentors youth and young adults in the Grant church and is a youth leader working with Marcelo who is the youth pastor/assistant pastor. Chelo is the consummate “connecter” with people—he is virtually "omnipresent" in the community. He coaches soccer, plays indoor soccer after school, hangs out at the skate parks, and even runs dodge ball tournaments in the high school gym to provide a safe place for kids on Friday nights.

Lately Chelo is really into training interns for service and ministry—mostly high school seniors. His high school interns speak at children’s rallies, help the elderly, do home repair projects, learn to play instruments, and help out with local church ministries. It is an incredible thing--he runs a program for high schoolers that rivals some post-college internship prgrams. In fact Chelo sends some students to IWU who have more ministerial experience when they get here than most other students have when they leave!

To connect with the Mexican community the Grant church runs a summer soccer league--getting the idea that Chelo likes soccer? Chelo is also a translator in the court system along with helping the volunteers learn Spanish. Can a Puerto Rican kid who married an Ohio girl be happy in northern Michigan? You betcha! They love their work and the people at Grant Wesleyan and their Senior Pastor loves them right back. I’m proud of you Chelo & Laura!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)


pastordwhansen said...

Chelo is a great Pastor and leader in the District Youth as well! It is great having him on the North Michigan Team.

-Dave Hansen, DYP North Michigan

kerry said...

I love these profiles! Keep it up!

Nolan Moblo said...

I know that he has been an integral part of my life, I am a freshman at IWU now and I was able to intern under Chelo last year. Just being able to learn from him and laugh with him was a blessing for me. He is who I aspire to be like when I enter into youth ministry.