Today we actually made it all the way to San Gabriel up in the mountains. There was a major traffic accident that delayed our translator and stopped all the traffic in front of our hotel, but we trust that God worked it out the way he intended. We got to spend the morning helping the staff with some chores and the afternoon interacting with the boys.
In the morning, some people helped in the kitchen, while we tried to teach the boys some computer skills. The lady who prepares all the boys their lunch was late due to the traffic, and she was greatly stressed that she wasn’t going to be able to get all the food prepared in time. She told us through the translators that she thanked God for sending some angels at exactly the right time to help prepare all the food for the boys. Our helpers worked at a crazy pace the whole time and they got all the food prepared for the boys lunch!
Meanwhile, Rachael, Mandy, Erick, Brad and I attempted what we thought would be a boring lesson in typing. We helped the boys with placement of their fingers on the keyboard, when some of them didn’t even know what all the letters looked like. By the end of the typing, they were getting into a little bit of the self-motivated learning, pushing ahead and typing extra lines of asdfasdfasdfasdf and jkl;jkl;jkl;jkl; in anticipation of our next instructions! Then, for those who couldn’t read or write, we got them drawing pictures of faces and houses in paint. Very simple stuff right? But when the programs are all in Spanish and we haven’t used paint for a while, it’s easy to see just how difficult it could be to use a computer if you couldn’t read.
After lunch at the biggest Pizza Hut I’ve seen, we went back to San Gabriel for the first Foreign eXchange interaction of the trip. Our goal was to give gifts to all 21 boys at the home in such a way as to communicate that people back home were thinking about and praying for them. It was amazingly smooth, considering half of the boys we met in October have since moved away. The boxes were hand delivered along with a questionnaire form letter and pencil. We ended up getting all but one questionnaire back from the boys. Brad and Breya, Regina, Amanda, and Rachael and I all got to hand deliver the gifts to our amigos. Our original boy, Freddy, is no longer there, so we switched out the letter for a more generic one to give to our new friend, Henri. I majorly missed out on the opportunity to really spend time with our new amigo when a couple of other boys suggested that it was time to go play soccer. Most people won’t ever get the chance to meet these kids in person and when I do I end up trading some one-on-one time with a young boy for a group game of soccer. I struggle with connecting with one kid that may or may not be there the next time we visit versus connecting with a group of boys, one of whom may remember that I played soccer with them.
Later in the day Rachael got to make bracelets and necklaces and dance with some of the boys. I played soccer on the dusty, pure dirt soccer field and then we got together 9 people to play full court basketball! We had a great time and I saw how playing sports together bridges the language barrier and helps build trust and respect all at the same time. One guy, Martin, in particular remembered me from last year because we played soccer together then.
As a group, we laughed a lot together, and even got the translators telling jokes at dinner. We laughed so hard that one of the translators cried. Who ever said that following Jesus had to be all painful sacrifice and no fun?