Our week at Communidad de Ninos Sagrada Familia

We attend church at Westover Church and since we started going two years ago, we have heard so many stories about the relationship members have with a community in Peru. We started financially contributing to efforts to provide food for children who live in the community, and last year we started scheming about whether or not we could join the annual trip. We were blessed in many ways, and had a lot of fun preparing this spring with our group at work nights. I got to contribute in a fun way by drawing trees for an art project that everyone used to capture thumbprints of the children they worked with in each casa and bring home as a memory.

96 people travelled to Lima, Peru with the logistical help of Olive Branch Ministries. We actually flew on Delta and arrived with the Grant's, family friends of the Baur's, and while we weren't with our big Texan group, we arrived just in time to catch the bus with them back to the hotel on Saturday night. We stayed at the Hotel Senorial in the Miraflores district.

It was simple, but clean and pretty and it serves what might be the world's best hot chocolate. It had free wifi, which unfortunately I had to use to finish homework projects. It was within walking distance of the main mall and several neat restaurants in the city. 

It was a late night but we woke up ready to head to the community Sunday to meet the children and hear Miguel, the founder's, story. Waves of excited children came to greet us - they were shocked because Miguel had told them we were coming later and they weren't expecting us to show up!

Miguel was formerly a successful Peruvian business executive. His son was born with a heart defect, and one day while running errands, the boy had a heart attack. Miguel rushed him to the hospital, and because he arrived in a nice car and well-dressed, he was immediately helped and his son was given the best of care. In spite of this care, his son died that day. Miguel witnessed other children, not so fortunate, get passed over and he decided to bury one of those children along with his own son in his casket. That began his journey to changing the paths of children, and he now manages the community that is home to almost 900 children. The day we arrived, a new statistic was released marking that now 23 million children are homeless each night in South America.

Monday morning we started into the planned activities of the week - the day started with chapel filled with Spanglish singing, skits, words of the day, and videos. After chapel, the kids would break into their casa groups, or the groups that they live with. We worked with Casa Cesar Vallejo, which is a home of about 60 six to eight year old boys. They sleep 2-3 to a tiny bunk each night, and have one house mother and an assistant.

We loved our ornery, smelly, silly, and precious boys so much. Each volunteer grabbed 5 or so boys to have in their group for the week and help with projects, crafts, and to get to know better.

We gave them a unique friendship bracelet (ours were made by my coworker's daughter - which made it even more fun).

Are any of us surprised that this kid went straight to Matt to be in his group?! 

Afternoons were either for playing, or for big scavenger hunt and Around the World Events.

Our favorite part of the scavenger hunt was when we blew up 900 beach ball globes and filled a small classroom with them for the kids to play around in. The adults were having almost as much fun as the kids!

After spending full days with the kids, we would take long bus trips home through the terrible Lima traffic - Monday we spent over 3 hours on our non-stopping, bathroom-less bus. We were exhausted when we arrived back, and had missed our dinner reservations. After cleaning up, we dragged ourselves out to search for food in the Miraflores district, and stumbled upon a really charming and delicious Italian restaurant called Danica.

Unfortunately, Thursday brought about a lot of sickness for the group, and I got hit pretty hard with a virus. This was especially difficult considering the less than ideal commuting situation, but thankfully we got transferred to the one bus with a bathroom so we could make it back (barely in one piece). Matt ventured out to a grocery store to bring back Gatorade, which ended up helping speed the recovery process Friday after I had a full day of not keeping even water down and passing out in the bathroom. It broke my heart to miss going to the community on Friday, but I was too weak to make the trip, so Matt went on to take care of our two little groups and deliver my goodbye letters. He took so many incredible pictures for me of the traditional dance and song performances the children put on as a farewell show.

 He also gave a special hug to Eduar, the boy we both developed an attachment to over the week.

Eduar to us kind of sums up how special it was to make attachments with these children that so badly need affection and attention. We fell for Eduar when he sat at the back of the room with his head laying on the desk while all of the other kids clamored loudly calling to be picked for a small group. Matt had him in his group, but asked me to spend some time with him when he noticed that he was an incredibly talented little artist. We spent time one afternoon communicating in pictures and he slowly warmed up to both of us.

Matt was such a hit with all of the kids, who were always yelling "Mot, Mot, Mot", trying to get his attention! This little girl followed him around all week. 

We are praying to fervently for these kids who have so much need. When Westover and others first started supporting Miguel, the children were barely eating anything each day, there was no wall protecting the community, and there wasn't great accommodations for the classroom or houses. Their partnerships have allowed a visionary build an incredible safe place for so many children.

Beyond making relationships with the kids, we forged new friendships with our Peruvian translators and got to better know friends from Austin, Houston, Abilene, Lubbock, etc.

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1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful. And I'm so glad you and Matt were able to experience this together.