Today was not the best day for our driver, Israel. To start off, he didn’t know the way to Hogar Solidario. Unfortunately, we did. But we couldn’t communicate this all that well, and Israel didn’t seem to believe our instructions. Consequently, a 30-minute drive turned into a 2-hour drive. Later in the day, he backed into a curb and lost a mud flap. Shortly thereafter, he led us into our first Guatemalan car wreck. Okay, I exaggerate. It wasn’t a wreck. It was barely a bumper bump. No dents. No damage. And it was with a Tuk Tuk, which is basically a glorified golf cart. Nevertheless, I imagine Israel went home feeling like today was a horrible, no good, very bad day.
Since we were running so late this morning, we only got to spend a few minutes touring Hogar Solidario with Christy and Chris. We continue to be cautiously impressed with the work the government is doing on this campus. Along with some fancy gold signs, a few walls and buildings have been added since we were here in April. The home for the babies, Casa Alegria, has been sectioned off completely. A very important separating wall has been added to accommodate the arrival of the 100+ girls from Manchen. Berta tells us that there are now 500 kids living here.
After our whirlwind tour, we headed to Casa Bernabe to pick up Daniel for lunch. Daniel cracks me up. As we were walking up the stairs to get back to our car, we had to pause a few times and wait for me to catch my breath. Daniel looks at me and says, “It’s because you have a lot of fat.” I laugh and then, to soothe my ego, I ask if he knows why I have a lot of fat. He gives me an incredulous look and says, “Because of the baby!” As if I should even need to ask.
Later, with Berta around to translate, I asked if he had any other questions for us. “Si,” he said. “What do you do in the United States?” Good question. He knows Nate’s a pilot, so this one was obviously for me. But how do I explain what I do? I told him we do a lot with our church and work on our plans for our next trip back to visit him.
“Why do you speak English?” he asked next.
Man! Where were the easy questions?! “Well….because my parents speak English. Because everyone in Indiana speaks English.”
“Oh, well I can understand you when you ask me questions in Spanish,” he replied.
What a relief! Our Spanish is still rough. Very rough. But we’ve gotten a lot better at communicating with Daniel. It helps that he’s extremely patient and willing to try other words and repeat himself. A lot.
Just like last time, our visit with Daniel was very comfortable and fun. He’s easy-going and likes to laugh. He stays by our side and holds our hands as we walk through the mall. He snuggles up next to us when we’re riding in the van. He gave us hugs when we left and told us he’d see us on Saturday. Lucky for him and for us, we get to take his whole home (Casa Samuel) out for a field trip on Saturday!
Back at Hogar Solidario, we rounded up the boys and gave them a quick recap of what we’re doing with them and why. We showed them the poster from the families at church and passed out the sunglasses. The “cool kids” put them on and pretended like they were rappers and gangsters. The special needs kids put them on upside down.
Like last time, the official rule was that we weren’t allowed to take pictures. Also like last time, the director told us we could take a few pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:
At one point, I enlisted Eunice to help me talk with one of the homosexual boys, Sergio. I knew he knew Adolfo, so I asked him to tell me if he knew how Adolfo was doing since he turned 18 and had to leave the home. Sadly, Sergio told me that, initially, Adolfo moved in with the lady from the laundry but ran away soon after.
I asked Sergio what he would do when he turned 18 and had to leave the orphanage. He said he wanted to work in a salon where he could do makeup, nails, and hair. He also told us that he used to live on the streets and dress as a woman. He had hair down to his waist, but they cut it off when he went to jail. I asked Eunice to gently ask why he went to jail. He then told us that he was a thief and then he killed a woman. He’s only 16. 16 and a murderer. That blows my mind. What’s even more shocking is that he’s probably not the only boy there with this kind of record.