Here in Guatemala, our team starts each morning with a devotion. This morning, I shared a little bit about our fundraising “saga.” As many of you know, we asked for help raising money for this trip. I hate asking for money. But a good friend reminded me that fundraising isn’t about writing a great letter or about being exceptionally persuasive. It’s about giving others the chance to get involved in the work God is doing in us and in Guate. It’s about trusting that God has all the resources we need, and that He will mobilize them to fulfill His purposes.
Two days before we left, we received the final amount we needed to pay off our bill. Our balance of close to $3,500 is paid in full. For me, this provision affirmed, once again, that what we’re doing is good and right. Although change will happen both here and at home, it is good for us to continue coming and showing these children human and heavenly love.
Our first chance to show love to the kids today actually came in the form of serving their caregivers. We went to Hogar Solidario and folded clothes in the laundry room. If you think your dryer eats your matching socks, you should sort laundry for a home with 200 babies. Nate, Mark, and I tried sorting baskets full of baby socks for about an hour. We maybe found 10 actual pairs. Finally, one of the workers told us they don’t actually match them up. They just throw similar ones together.
At lunchtime, we split from the team, went to Casa Bernabe, and picked up Daniel for lunch. My stomach churned the whole ride there…and for once not because of motion sickness! Not only was I excited to see Danni, but I was also incredibly nervous. The last time we saw him, he was still sad to no longer be at the Buckner Baby Home. He was unsettled and lonely. I didn’t know how he’d be today. But our meeting was better than I could have hoped. His house mom met us at the reception area, and he gave Nate a shy hug and a big smile. He had gel in his hair, and he smelled like he had just had a bath.
We took him back to the mall where he charmed the rest of our team with his smile and good manners. He hugged everyone, but saved the biggest squeezes for the friends he recognized—Jody, Jenni (from the Baby Home), and Berta.
Jenni sat with us at lunch and helped translate, which was a huge blessing. I’m confident in our ability to communicate our thoughts with him, but I can’t guarantee we’ll be able to understand what he’s saying to us. If Jenni hadn’t been with us today, we would have missed most of his prayer. She told us he thanked God that he could be there today with his friends and he asked God to help make him a good boy. His sincerity and sweetness was overwhelming.
Jenni asked him if he was happy at his new home. He said yes. “Were you sad earlier?” she asked him.
“Yes,” he said. “I used to be sad and cry a lot, but not anymore.”
While we were eating, the rest of the team left and headed back to Eliza Martinez. We haven’t had many moments alone with Danni, so, again, I was nervous. But we were all comfortable and content. We did laps around the mall and talked. We asked him if he had friends at his new home. He listed off dozens of names. Thank you, God! One of my biggest fears for Daniel was that he’d be so attached to his friends/brothers from his old home that he wouldn’t attach to any new kids.
We ended up in a toy store where Nate and Danni tried out every musical instrument they could reach. There was a house with a curtain that Danni pretended was a restaurant. He asked for our orders, prepared our food, and rung up our bill at the kiddie computer turned cash register that he found on a nearby shelf. I love watching him be creative. One thing I’ve heard about children with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) is that they have a hard time using their imagination and picturing things that aren’t real. Daniel obviously has a vivid fantasy life and is very capable of pretending and playing make believe.
When we dropped him off at home later, he was nothing but smiles. We told him we’d see him Friday, he gave us hugs, and then he walked away. Like I said, the visit went better than I dared to hope.
On our way out, we ran into Danni’s social worker, Toni Lynne. We talked a bit about the government homes and how the Christian homes in Guatemala have been brainstorming ways they can help, improve, support, and/or serve the government homes. Wow, wouldn’t that be great? We told her we’d be praying. Will you pray with us?
One big problem in both the public and private orphanages relates to the children growing up and leaving. At the government homes, the kids are given a suitcase and a bus pass on their 18th birthday. Then what? Who knows? It’s tragic.
We learned this week that one of our favorite boys, Adolfo, turns 18 next month. Adolfo is a true servant leader. He loves to work in the kitchen, and he’s always there to help us with whatever we need. When we first met him, I thought he was part of the staff. It’s heartbreaking to think that he’ll be thrown out next month!
Fortunately, in the laundry room this morning, one of the housekeepers told us that she is hoping to take in Adolfo when he leaves.
Not all of the boys will be so lucky.
We spent the last few hours of the day back with the boys at Eliza Martinez. They were all wearing the North Patriot jerseys that we gave them yesterday.
By now, the kids have all figured out we’re having a baby. The “homosexuals” (their label-not mine!) were the first strangers to correctly identify my Baby Bump as a Baby Bump. Since then, they’ve given me several homemade gifts for the baby.
Some of the other boys have rubbed my belly. Or squeezed it. Or put their ear to it. Yeah, it’s as weird and uncomfortable as it sounds.
And David, who doesn’t have a lot of words, came over and used his version of sign language to tell me he was praying for our baby.
It’s moments like those that I’m blown away by how lucky we are to get to come down and be with these boys. So very, very lucky and blessed.