Dancing, Baking, and String Games

There are so many stories from Peru I’m not really sure where to start, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning. It was such a special treat to be able to travel this time with others from my church.

Thursday, October 21st, we started our trip by heading to south Lima to Baking Classspend the day at a Compassion project. When we arrived, we were greeted by the children who were attending the center in the morning. In Peru, kids attend school either in the morning from 8am to 1pm or in the afternoon from 1pm to 6pm. So then they attend the center three days a week either in the morning or afternoon. They performed several dances for us, including the Marinara, a traditional Peruvian dance showing the courtship between a guy and girl. After this, we split up and visited different classrooms to see what the students are learning. Some team members visited classes teaching bracelet making, key chain making, and t-shirt embellishment. My group visited a baking class and a reading class. That day, the baking class was making strawberry rolls and a cake. It was fun to see some of the things the tutors teach the kids to give them life-skills.

We also went to visit thAlacelie's Homee home of Alacelie, a six year old Compassion-sponsored child. While some team members learned that visiting homes in the squatter communities on the hills of Lima is a lot like hiking the Incline (a mile’s worth of steep stairs in the Springs), we had it easier and didn’t have to climb any stairs. We walked for a while and entered a carpentry shop. We continued to walk through the shop till we arrived at the “house” in the back. Alacelie lives in a two room house with her parents, Cecil and Jenny, and two siblings. Joseph, the three year old was there with us. Cecil works in the carpentry shop in the front of the house and mom stays home with the kids. Unlike most of the Compassion homes I’ve visited, the main room of this house was very light. During the visit, we learned that a storm had blown part of the corrugated tin roof off the home. They proudly showed us the jacket and blanket that Compassion had bought for Alacelie. In the midst of this poverty, there was hope. We finally let Alacelie and Joseph open the gift of food we brought as a thank you for them welcoming us into their home. Joseph had been playing with it the entire time we had been there.Playing String Games

We returned for lunch and then spent the afternoon playing volleyball, soccer, and a variety of other games. During this time, I pulled out my strings and soon became very popular. Thanks to Cecila, one of our translators, she helped the kids learn the cup and saucer. It’s fun to watch as one person gets the steps and helps teach the others. It was a great day to start our time in Peru.

Up next – the LDP graduation and Tamara, a CSP child (You’ll have to check back later to find out what those acronyms mean.)

National Blog Action Day

I found out today that it’s National Blog Action Day and while technically everyone is suppose to blog about water and the need for clean water around the world, I thought I’d share a story that my mom shared with me on their way home from the airport last night.

My parents have spent the last 10 days in Ecuador visiting our sponsored children, learning more about Compassion Ecuador, and proving that apparently my mom can be a shopper. Last Thursday, October 7, they spent the day with our almost 6 year old shared child Danna (said Donna) and her mom. Danna was diagnosed with leukemia when was 3 1/2. During that time, she was on life support for two weeks. When she finally came home, she couldn’t walk and had to be potty-trained again. The picture I received last week was not of this child. The picture I received was of a little girl having the time of her life, a little girl God had miraculously saved, a little girl for whom God has big plans.Danna on Carousel

Before Danna became sick, her family owned land in the south of Quito and farmed the land. To pay for Danna’s treatment, they had to sell their land and move north to a small two bedroom house, lit by one Christmas light, not one strand of Christmas lights, one Christmas light. My parents had the opportunity to see this clean, but tiny home. As they left, Mom asked Cecila, Danna’s mom, if there was anything we could do for them in light of all their medical bills. Cecila responded, “No, we are fine, but there are kids in our neighborhood who don’t eat.”

So my challenge to you today is what are you doing with what God has given you? Click here to sponsor a child, save a child from malaria, teach a mother how to care for her baby, and so much more. Or click here to help a child development center serve their children better. What are you going to do today to change the world through the life of one?

Praise the Lord!

Since I posted last, God has brought the entire amount of my fund raising in. It’s a blessing not to have to worry about it this last week before I head out next Wednesday. The fund raising for this trip was so much different than what I’ve raised for other trips. It came in much slower than I had anticipated based on other trips, but I knew God would provide somehow. From encouragement I’d received, I went out of my comfort zone and gave fund raising letters to several families whose kids I’d taught in Sunday school or Cubbies. And while I truly appreciate everyone who has supported me through prayer or financial support, these families blessed me in unique ways. One family asked me each week how my fund raising was going and for specific prayer requests. In another family, the kids gave money as well. Another family gave over and above what I ever expected. Only God know the lives you will impact because of your prayer and financial support. Thank you! Muchas Gracias!

Peru Schedule

I really had good intentions to intentions of updating this blog with information about Peru and Tanzania, but between no new information on Peru, being sick the month of September, and the only Internet I have at home is via my iPhone. It just didn’t happen. I just don’t have any desire to blog via iPhone.This week after our Peru meeting, I finally had some information I could post.

Thursday, October 21—We’ll be visiting a child development center in Lima. There will be kids, and I will hug them. It should be fun.

Friday, October 22—We’ll visit a Child Survival Program. The Child Survival Program is for pregnant moms and their babies until the child is three years. In the evening, we will be celebrating the graduation of this year’s Leadership Development Program. Denaly, Woodmen’s LDP student will be graduating.

Saturday, October 23—Half of our team will be doing a worship workshop for Compassion churches in the Lima area. (I’m not part of that team in case you were wondering.) The rest of us will be playing with the kids that gather. The parachutes, beanbags, and beach balls arriving on my doorstep should be put to good use this day.

Sunday, October 24—We’ll be worshiping with a Compassion church in the morning and then going sightseeing and to the market in the afternoon. The goal on Sunday is to have more than 20 minutes in the market like we had in Tanzania. Too bad I’m the only one who knows of this goal.

Monday, October 25—Wednesday, October 27—These three days we will be doing service projects for three different centers in the morning and the hosting kids activities in the afternoon.

Thursday, October 27—The day we’ve all been waiting for! (Okay, well, you might not have been waiting for it, but I have!) This day, I get to spend all day at a place that’s “kind of like a zoo with paddle boats” with my precious Peruvian princess, Carla. I’m going to have a hard time not packing her in my suitcase, but I think her parents and her center might miss her. Friday, October 29—Post pictures to Facebook and update blog. Okay, well, I’m not going to promise that, but I’ll update it sometime.

Prayer Requests

  • That the rest of my funding would come in. I have $465 to reach my goal.
  • That our team would continue to bond and we would serve with one heart and mind.
  • That I would continue to get healthy and have plenty of energy for loving Peruvian kids.
  • That my day with Carla would be special and memorable for her.

Peru!

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to participate several short-term mission trips. Most recently, my mom and I joined a team of Compassion International advocates to witness how Compassion works with local churches to change the lives of children and families in Tanzania. After seeing the work of Compassion first-hand and meeting my Tanzanian-sponsored child, I am more committed than ever to the mission of Compassion International.

Later this year, I have the opportunity to join a team on October 20-29, 2010, from my church, Woodmen Valley Chapel, to partner with Compassion International in Lima, Peru. While we don’t have a final itinerary, among the things we are planning are service projects for the child development centers and families, worship arts and pastors’ workshops, activities for kids, visiting our sponsored children, and celebrating the graduation of Woodmen’s Leadership Development student, Denaly.

As part of this trip, each member is asked to raise $2000 by October 10, 2010 (half by September 1, 2010) to pay for the expenses of this trip. Would you prayerfully consider joining my support team through prayer or a financial gift? You can donate by check or credit card (write only “Peru” on the memo line) using this contribution form. (I’m having problems posting a PDF. If you need a contribution form, let me know and I’ll email it to you.) Also, if you live in Colorado Springs, I will bake you a dozen cookies as thanks for your contribution. Choices are: peanut butter, cranberry oatmeal, molasses, and chocolate chip.

Please pray with our team for the following:

  • Team bonding as we prepare for our trip
  • The future of the graduating Leadership Development students
  • The work of the pastors, project directors, and other center staff and volunteers as they work with the children and families in their care
  • God would work in and through our team as we make ourselves available to Him

For information during and after the trip, you can also visit the Woodmen Valley Chapel Global Impact blog.

The Day I Won’t Forget

I’ve been avoiding blogging about this as it’s hard to put this experience into words. Even the night after, the team talked about how difficult it would be to share this experience with others. It felt like a once in a lifetime experience, but that’s not how it’s suppose to be. A cold snowy October afternoon seems to be the perfect day to tackle this blog.

God of this CityOn Wednesday, after a morning of relaxing, sightseeing, and shopping in the market, we headed out to Manchen. Manchen is a home for girls ages 10-18. Most of these girls have come from abuse and many are pregnant or have young children. We had planned an afternoon of talking about how these precious girls were treasures to each other, and most importantly to God. We were sharing testimonies and lots of Scripture, making bracelets, painting nails, and more. As the gates were opened for us, the girls were surrounding the gate and were cheering as we entered. They hurriedly reached out for hugs, desperate for someone to show them love. As we got ready, cameras came out and the girls quickly all wanted their pictures taken again and again. We waited for awhile for our third translator who was coming in from Guatemala City to arrive. Soon we started our opening assembly with the ever popular “Mi Dios es Tan Grande” and then the girls sang us a song. We had them separate into three groups and soon wondered how we were going to manage three groups with two translators.

As chaos ensued, we decided to put the two smaller groups together for the Bible study and testimony time. As we started our program, Ronne (our group leader) looked at me and said, “I know God is here. I just Playing with a Toddlerwish we could see Him.” Little did we know how much we would see Him. The afternoon continued as we rotated through the centers and we ran our poor translators ragged as they ran back and forth between groups. God miraculously gave Courtney enough Spanish to communicate with the girls without a translator, which quickly disappeared as a translator became available. I soon had a beautiful little girl in my arms, playing with her, so that her mom could participate.

As Ronne share her story with our group, tears started to flow as the Holy Spirit spoke and showed these girls that no matter the abuse, the wrong decisions, or regrets, we are still His creation, treasured and priceless. We finished our afternoon and prepared to leave, but God had other plans. Our team was called into a room where Courtney and Berta were talking with a young girl. Courtney shared this girl’s story of abuse, life in a brothel, cutting, and her choice to become one of God’s treasured girls. We gathered around and prayed for her healing, her new life, and strength when life is hard. Soon, the girls outside the closed doors realized what was happening and they lined up outside the door, wanting to be prayed for. For the next few hours, we prayed for the girls of this home for their drug addictions they wanted free of, for them wanting to return home, and more.

When we had finished praying for the girls, Berta shared her heart with us for the eleven girls who werTeam Hugse locked in a room together because they had tried or been accused of trying to kill someone. As we walked over to their room, the girls started reaching out their hands, desperate for touch. As the sun set, we stood and prayed for these girls, holding hands stretched out through the bars on the windows.

More than two hours after we were supposed to leave, we said goodbye to girls with new life and new hope, learning about the treasures they are. We arrived at our extremely nice dinner location straight from Manchen. We were dirty, probably smelly, tired, and completely in awe. As Ronne said, we were covered in “Jesus dirt.” As our team was seated next to a couple that I’m sure was looking forward to a quiet, romantic dinner, we began to share the various stories of the afternoon. We sat and marveled at being part of God’s miraculous work.

From the picture from Ceracaif that there was nothing that we could do to really change these, it was all the more impactful to watch the One who can and delights to do it everyday, do it for these girls at Manchen, and to participate in the miraculous when you are pouring out Him and not yourself.

Guatemala 314 This doesn’t do the afternoon justice, but I hope it gives you a peek into the incredible opportunity to be a part of the eternal, and whets your appetite to see the miraculous, to expect big things from God, and to watch in wonder as the least of these realize that the God of the universe treasures them, treasure them enough to die for them. It’s these experiences that keep me wanting to participate in God’s work around the world.

 Pray for these girls, for the many girls with a new life in Christ, and for strength through the difficulties. Pray for these girls as they move in November to “The City of Orphans,” where the Guatemala government is moving many of the orphanages in Antigua and Guatemala City. This “city” will home to over 1,000 orphans, young and old, boys and girls.

Ceracaif

The number one rule of blogging is that you are supposed to blog at least once a week if you want anyone to read it. I have not… Well, I’ve written many blog posts in my head, but never really sat down to write them out and post them. This lovely icy winter day seems like a great time to put a warm laptop on my lap and write about Guatemala. It’s been almost a month since we left for Guatemala. So much has happened then. In fact, it was summer when I came back and is now winter.

 The team flew to Guatemala from our various homes on Saturday, September 12. I was the last to arrive at 9 pm. Some of the team came on the hotel shuttle to pick me up. I later found out that the married couple on the trip had a bet that I would be wearing Chaco shoes and have a Camelbak. (Sorry you lost Ryan, but you should not have bet against the CO native.) Sunday morning, I had a special opportunity to meet a little girl some friends are adopting (which I’ll blog about later, maybe) while the rest of the team went to church and Sunday afternoon we headed out to Xela (pronounced Shayla) about 5 hours west of Guatemala City through mountainous roads. The scenery was beautiful, but I can’t compare it to anything I’ve seen before. What amazed me most was that crops were grown on the side of the mountain. I’m sure it won’t surprise any of you to know I wondered how many Compassion-sponsored kids and Compassion centers we passed on the way.

 Yard of CeracaifMonday morning, we headed to a store a lot like our Walmart to buy lunch supplies as well as painting supplies. After purchasing our items, we headed to Ceracaif orphanage which is about 25 minutes outside of Xela. We were the first team from Buckner to be doing service projects and VBS with these kids. Ceracaif is a private orphanage for about 72 kids. It’s run by two sisters who took it over from their parents who started the orphanage after emigrating from Mexico. We arrived and the boys were all too eager to help us carry in our supplies.Guatemala 102

  First, we toured the home. The sisters are skilled in taking other people’s discarded items and turning them into decorations from the orphanage. Cardboard boxes covered with fabric scraps were made into dressers for the kids. The sheets and blankets were made from matching fabric. The floor was constructed using a variety of tiles leftover from other projects that stores and business had given to them. They had a lot of stuffed animals and dolls, but I couldn’t help but notice that the entire time we were there, not one of them was touched.

 After our tour, we painted some of the boys’ rooms. When the rooms were done, and we cleaned up to get ready for our VBS. We went outside and played with the kids while we waited for them to be called to lunch. The guys became instant friends with the boys as they played soccer with them. The girls just sat with the girls from the home and held kids in our laps.

 VBS time came and I quickly called the youngest age group for Team Verde (I know how much that surprises you). Typical fall Colorado weather had rolled in, changing the warm sunny day to cold and rainy, so we improvised our activities to be done inside. The theme of VBS was “No Fear.” We taught the story of David and Goliath and they memorized Isaiah 41:10. For a craft, we made shirts that said miedo (fear) on the back and then Dios es mi amigo (God is my friend) on the front. I was amazed how many of our little ones could write on their shirts. We moved to memory verse time, where I was again amazed how many of them so quickly memorized the verse. Here, we also made bracelets with 5 beads to symbolize the 5 stones David used. Our story time went quickly and the kids asked for another story from the storybook Bible we brought down. Guatemala 169Courtney was happy to oblige. They asked for a story about Moses and so Courtney shared the story of God parting the Red Sea. All too quickly our time was over and we were handing out candy and stickers.

 As we got ready to leave for the day, we found out that the home didn’t have any breakfast food. As we drove back to the hotel, we figured out we could use extra money from previous meals to provide this home with food. The next morning, most of the team headed back to play with the kids and finish painting, while several team members went shopping. As only God could do, the extra money we had was enough to buy rice, oatmeal, powdered milk, nutrition drinks, and toilet paper. Again, the boys were all ready to help. The team that went early had been asked to paint one of the girls’ rooms. I’d love to say I had a great attitude about being asked to paint more, but I really just wanted to spend time with the kids. I know it was a blessing to the home to have freshly painted walls, but I choose to go to on this trip because we weren’t spending the entire time working on projects, but interacting with kids. The girls sat and watched us as we painted, laughed at Patrick’s mispronunciation, and eventually begged to help paint. We finished painting the room about two minutes before we needed to leave. We said goodbye to the kids and two amazing translators and knew those kids would forever be the face of Guatemala to us.

 Many of our team talked about how happy and nice this home was, but for me it was different. Maybe it was because it was so different from the home I’d been at on Sunday, but for me, it wasn’t happy and nice, it was dark. Many of the rooms didn’t have a lot of light. The workers weren’t interacting with the kids; they were just sitting there. I’ll remember Ceracaif as where I realized there was nothing I could do for these kids. All too soon, the food we brought would be gone, and the kids would be hungry again. The VBS memories would fade, bracelets would be lost, and t-shirts would be outgrown. We hadn’t done anything to change the plight of these kids. Their lives were the same as before we came. I know that God could (and still may) use the visit in these kids’ lives, but it wasn’t something I sawand wasn’t really something I believed would happen. It was against this picture that made Wednesday so amazing, because only when you truly realize that you can do nothing can God work miracles.

 I expected to leave with the faces of many kids in my mind, and while I did, the face I saw most while I was in Guatemala was the face of a little fatherless girl in the US, a little fatherless girl in my Cubbies class. One I’d held as she’d cried the week before. The one who’d left me speechless when she told me why she was crying. The one who I know is the reason I’m in Cubbies this year and the reason I’ve been called to live whole-heartedly in Colorado and not half here and somewhere else. 

Up next, Manchen – where God worked miracle upon miracle through no help from us

Hugs from Orphans

I’ve had a hard time deciding what to post about the trip – do I post it all at once or each day at a time. I still haven’t decided. It’s been hard to verbalize exactly what happened in Guatemala. As we talked as a team, we talked about how it would be hard to really tell people about the trip, that you just kind of had to be there, but Ronne did a great job. If you haven’t already, read her blog. As I read it after

returning, I was in tears just remembering it.

What do I miss most about Guatemala? Besides my team, I miss hugs from orphans. If you haven’t been hugged by an orphan, you should. Get on a plane to anywhere and show up at an orphanage and I guarantee you’ll get at least 5 or 10. I imagine that it would be a similar hug when meeting your sponsored child. It’s a tight hug that doesn’t let go. They’re desperate for love. They’re desperate for loving touch. I miss their kisses. I miss hearing “Otra vez” (again) over and over from a three-year-old who wants to be flipped or “trust fall” from a window sill. I miss their smiles. I miss their enthusiasm about whatever we were doing. I miss being every orphans best friend just because I have a digital camera. I just plain miss them.

So, find yourself some friends (or people you don’t know) and board a plane to go love on some orphans. You’ll love them and be frustrated you can’t do more. You’ll cry over them even though you can’t pronounce their names. And you’ll come back changed.

Over the next few days, I’ll try to post about the various aspects of my trip, but words will never do justice. Until then, you can view some of the pictures from out trip.