Worker Profile: Anna Renfro
Posted on May 4, 2021 by VMMissions Staff
Service program: tranSend
Serving since: 2019
My assignment here in Mannheim, Germany, is to support the ministries of Dave and Rebekka Stutzman as well as to serve at a local refugee center called Friedenshaus. Most of my time is spent in the afterschool youth program Kinderreich in nearby Heidelberg. We typically serve about a dozen children between the ages of seven and 16. Our goal is to provide a safe and structured place for youth who don’t have that at home. My duties include preparing food, engaging the kids in activities (sports, crafts, games), and helping them practice English.
I also support the Emmaus Gemeinschaft church plant, where I have led lessons for the children and devotionals for the adults. I’m also helping the Stutzmans build a new ministry in Mannheim. Once the lockdown is over, we will open up a family/board game café which will serve as a gathering space for folks seeking community.
Excluding the pandemic, I think the biggest challenge has been working with middle schoolers who are tenaciously working on their individuality. The fact that many come from difficult family situations does not make this stage of life easier. With their instinct to distrust authority, it’s hard to give them the structure they need. Ultimately, I’ve learned how to work better within this context and allow time for the kids to start trusting me.
My biggest joy is seeing how the youth have been resilient during the pandemic. Online school has been a challenge for them academically and socially. However, even though there have been difficult moments, they find new ways to stay motivated and to connect with us. Though children are often the most vulnerable in society, they’re also the most resilient. Reflecting on this inspires me and gives me peace in our current situation.
A typical day:
Most days, I work with Kinderreich, so I will outline what these days look like. I wake up and eat breakfast around 9 a.m. and then take the train from Mannheim to Heidelberg. Around 11 a.m. we start preparing lunch for the youth program. Around 1 p.m., most of the kids are already there so we begin our lunch as the other kids trickle in after class. After lunch, we go outside for at least 10 minutes of fresh air. We typically play hide and seek or volleyball. Then the kids do their homework. When they’re finished, we all play games together or start a craft. Then we clean-up to finish the day around 5 p.m. and I head back to Mannheim. My evening is spent meeting with friends, reading, or watching Netflix.