Fall, Volume 1 2010-2011
Sharing news and light with friends of GEMS
GEMS Girls’ Clubs Executive Board Shirley Batts—Portage, MI Cori Dykhouse—Port Lambton, ON
Susan Kepley—Grand Rapids, MI Glennys Kuperus—Hudsonville, MI
Lia Leenstra—Byron Center, MI Henrietta Reinders—Rockwood, ON
Amy Schaaf—Grand Rapids, MI Lyn VanTol—Spring Lake, MI Mary Jo Vis—Riverside, CA
GEMS Girls’ Clubs Staff Executive Director—Jan Boone Training Manager— Lenae Bulthuis Customer Relations Specialist— Michele DeHaan Managing Editor—Kelli Ponstein Conference Coordinator— Alecia VanHulzen Publications & Web Coordinator— Amy White Executive Secretary—Gert Wolfert Graphic & Web Designer— Nicole Zaagman
Natasha Moes, (middle)Assistant Camp Director for Get Connected! Camp
She was a confident leader – focused, relational, and thoughtful. You very quickly wanted to “follow” her. Her words and talks were inspiring – they hit the mark every time. Her encouragement was for all – campers, counselors, and volunteers alike. And she had time for and genuinely cared about everyone. Her smile told you so. Meet Natasha Moes, our Assistant Camp Director for Get Connected! Camp last summer. She was admirable in every way. We could not have hoped for more from anyone. How did Natasha acquire all those marvelous skills necessary for such a BIG, important job? I wondered about that. So after camp was over, our prayers of thanksgiving offered, and the celebration of what we had seen God do in the lives of so many girls had come to an end, I asked Natasha that very question. Natasha looked at me with eyes twinkling with joy and said, “GEMS taught me how to do it. I learned it all here at camp and at club. You taught me well and I really want to thank you for that.”
I was so moved by her answer. Instantly the tears came to my eyes as I thought about the thousands of young lives that have been impacted by GEMS over the years. I think of it as the passing of the baton – the baton of faith and leadership. Women giving their best to God by teaching and mentoring girls in their clubs. Then those girls maturing and seeking leadership roles themselves at camp and club – finding ways to apply what they’ve learned and teach those that come behind them. It’s a beautiful picture of exactly what God had in mind in Titus 2 – women teaching girls what is good. We’re grateful for the opportunities we have to build into the lives of girls the skills they need to become beautiful, confident, and highly capable women of faith. Thank you for your on-going confidence in and support of the ministry of GEMS Girls’ Clubs.
Jan Boone, Executive Director
(See page 2 for more information about camp.)
Hearts on Fire
come to colorado Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11 Apathetic. Indifferent. Unmoved. Tired. Too often, these terms describe our faith.
Women coming together to learn about GEMS
Counselors building friendships while they learn and grow at Conference
But, as a ministry, GEMS seeks to equip women to boldly serve God as they mentor girls. We know that Satan is not afraid of complacent bystanders; rather, he fears women who are courageously moving – women who are passionately equipped for the work God is calling them to do. We want to see women and girls on fire for Christ, fearlessly serving the King of kings.
So, in July, as nearly 600 women from across North America gathered at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota for GEMS Annual Counselors’ Leadership Conference, they were challenged to Feed the Fire in their hearts and lives – challenged to live out a radical, authentic, and real faith that demonstrates a wholehearted devotion to God. Throughout the weekend women worshipped and learned together as they received special training for their role as GEMS counselors. In addition to mass meeting speakers that encouraged women to embrace a zealous faith, attendees benefited from a range of workshops including how to use music in club and hints for teaching specific curriculum, to how to navigate social media, personal image, self-esteem, and bully issues with girls. As always, one of the main highlights of Conference was the Annual Theme presentation. Women journeyed to the fire station and joined a fire training program as they learned about the Feed the Fire theme and how best to present the information to girls. Visit the GEMS website (www.gemsgc.org) to learn more about the new theme and to see pictures from Conference. Members of the Local Conference Committee pause for a photo
The 2011 Annual Counselors’ Leadership Conference will be here before you know it! Next year’s Conference will be held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins July 7 through 10. Pastors and church leaders can find out more about Conference on the GEMS website (www. gemsgc.org). Take some time to learn what this “Don’t miss the event has to offer, and then discounted, encourage members of early-bird your GEMS team to attend. registration Without a doubt, women will fee in be refreshed and equipped January!” in countless ways as they return home with new ideas to inspire and equip the girls in your church. The discounted, early-bird registration fee will be available starting in January.
Get Connected! Camp Nearly 160 girls gathered at Miracle Camp in Lawton, Michigan to experience Get Connected! Camp this past August. During the weeklong camp, middle school-aged GEMS from across North America exited the confines of their everyday lives to make new friends, experience new adventures, and explore God’s Word as they learned the value of a real, authentic relationship with Him.
Campers enjoying the hoedown
With the help of 24 college-aged TLCs (counselors), three CITs (counselors-in-training), and countless volunteers, girls connected with God’s truth and learned His desire for their lives in everything from friendship to purity. Discovering new ways to deepen and apply their faith isn’t the only thing girls got to do during the week, though. Each camper had a chance to take advantage of the high ropes course, zip line, water blob, and other fun activities in addition to participating in drama, crafts, and praise and worship. Over and over again girls report how camp inspires and encourages them – not to mention how much fun they have! Visit the GEMS website (www.gemsgc. org) to see pictures and watch a short video from camp.
Squares of Support To end their season, counselors from Strathroy East Christian Reformed Church in Strathroy, Ontario host a retreat for all of their GEMS. “[It’s a] weekend away,” explained Club Coordinator, Wilma Zondag. “We have time to run around outdoors and participate in organized activities – devotions, singing, games, crafts, and The Grade 7 class from Strathroy East poses such.” with one of the quilts they helped create
Each year, counselors come up with new things for the girls to do during the weekend. Last season, each of the 52 girls was asked to decorate a square foot of fabric. “All we said was that it was to be about GEMS,” Wilma said. “We thought the fabric squares would be fun and could be made into one big square to show our congregation. Then someone thought a quilt would be more useful.” As counselors continued to think about the quilt, a new idea emerged. “As a way of teaching and showing the girls to do things for others, and to not always keep everything they make for themselves or expect something in return… the thought came to give the quilt to someone or someplace where it could be used. Since the girls have heard about the clubs in Africa, that seemed like the perfect idea!” Once all of the girls completed their squares, counselor Sharon Kroesbergen sowed them into two quilts. Both quilts were then donated to The Call to Africa where they will be used to bless someone in need.
Annual Training in Africa This past April, seven women again traveled to Zambia to conduct training and start more GEMS Clubs. They trained over 200 new counselors and started 26 additional clubs (bringing the total number of Zambian clubs to 75) through two-day workshops in three different regions. In addition to this training, the team: • Trained and encouraged 100 seasoned counselors for their work with the girls in their churches. • Walked the land where construction on The Esther School continues to go well. One of the teachers’ dormitories is complete and the preschool and kindergarten are now underway (to see picture of the progress on the school visit www.gemsgc.org). • Hosted a tea for pastors of churches that currently have GEMS Clubs in Lusaka. Pastors noted that in everything from girls’ behavior and respect for others to the way they dress – the change GEMS has stirred is evident!
You can read more about this trip, and learn the history of The Call to Africa on the GEMS website (www.gemsgc.org).
Thank You, Mother
GEMS girls in Zambia!
Have you ever felt a wave of restlessness wash over you as you wait for your coffee to reheat in the microwave? In a world of drive-thru windows and 24-hour superstores, we’re accustomed to getting what we want, and getting it now. Taking things for granted is tragically simple. This reality, though, is not comprehensive. In fact, it’s one far from the grasp of most of the world. As GEMS continues to foster relationships and invest in the lives of Zambian women and children, it is increasingly apparent that, for most of the world, taking things for granted is not an option. In April, the team was reminded of this as they hosted a birthday party for the eight children in The House that GEMS Built as well as 24 additional children in the surrounding orphan homes. All 32 kids were blessed with a special birthday celebration complete with games, cake, candles, and ice cream. In response, the children performed skits and sang songs for the women. “These were children who, four years ago, could not speak any English and were frightened beyond belief to move into the orphan homes,” said Jan Boone, GEMS Executive Director, who helps lead the team. “What a difference love and care make. Looking into their faces you see the happiness and contentment.” The lyrics from one of the songs they shared, “Thank You, Mother,” help capture the hope, delight, and contentment these children who, by worldly standards have very little, embrace daily. Thank you, Mother, for giving me a chance to live. You carried me for nine months with all your love. Then you carried me on your back for a long, long time. I know I don’t have much to give to appreciate. Now I’m saying....Thank you, Mother, for giving me a chance to live. When you died, my dreams died. I had no hope. Then another mother said to me, “You are my child.”She brought me in, and gave me hope to appreciate. Now I’m saying...Thank you, Mother, for giving me a chance to live. You picked us from nowhere and gave us hope. So it is our prayer, “God bless you through everything. We don’t know what to give to appreciate. We are saying.... Thank you, Mother, for giving me a chance to live.”
thank you As GEMS continues to challenge young girls to live passionate lives that embody justice, mercy, and humility – we continue to rely on willing contributors to the ministry! GEMS would like to extend a special thanks to the sponsors and golfers who made the 14th Annual Golf Classic possible.
Hand ‘n Hand Because of the huge success of this program, Hand ‘n Hand – a micro-financing program uniting women and girls in Africa with clubs across North America – will be back this year. Zambian clubs have crafted goods that are then paired with gourmet cookie and soup mixes and sold by girls in the US and Canada. The proceeds will be used to help Zambian clubs become self-sustaining in addition to supporting the growth of the local clubs here. If you’re interested in placing an order contact your local Club Coordinator or call the GEMS Service Center today (616.241.5616 ext. 3032).
come golf with us May 21!
Diamond Springs Golf Course
Thank you to these businesses & individuals: Alan & Terri Kaiser Richard & Judy Eppinga De Jong Enterprises, Inc. Leon & Louise Koops R & M Construction Myles & Glennys Kuperus John & Linda Van Singel Custom Design Components, Inc. Dale & Jan Boone Century Floor Space Gerrit & Cori Dykhouse Eenhoorn, LLC Stroo Funeral Home Best Way Disposal Pinnacle Construction Group John & Margaret VanderPloeg Jason & Shelley Kuipers Melinda Costa Precise Machining, Inc. Marlin Feyen Red Arrow Dairy Van Den Berg Pest Control Gerald & Suzanne VanWieren Marion & Marlene Betten Foundation/Courtesy Chrysler Jeep Dodge Kevin DeKam, MA, LLPC/Fountain Hill Counseling Center Deurloo Farms Zuidema Interiors Limited Robert & Linda Westrate Bluewater Orthopaedic & Sports Supply Wallaceburg Bookbinding & MFG. CO Steven D. Lyzenga DDS Chris & Tracy Meengs Don & Barb Bellinger Fred & Linda Hendriksma Timothy & Kristi Berghuis Petra Arends Nelly Dykhouse Tom & Carole DeBoer Duane & Marjorie Westrate Ralph & Irene Drost Wiebe & Ruth Van Zwol Top Distributing Diamond Springs Golf Course Candlestone Golf & Resort Kentwood Office Furniture Wise Photography Maple Hill Golf Course Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club Hidden Valley Golf Course All Star Printing Lewis Paper Field’s Fabrics Russ’
Newsletter to pastors and friends of GEMS