We have been here just over 6 weeks now. It’s time to share the little victories we’ve experienced here. They range from ridiculous to meaningful, silly to serious and whatever falls in between!
In my first few week or two here, I met a woman named Sigrid. She is about my age and she is a single mom to a 3 year old named Gerson living in the Bajo. When Sigrid first came up to the mission, she mainly expressed that she felt very alone with little purpose to her life with no job and no way to support herself. She shared her story, which was a difficult one to hear. At the end of that first meeting, I asked her if she’d like to have coffee one day and if I could come visit her. Her face lit up and she said of course. We set a date and made a plan. A couple of days later, I made some coffee and gathered some cookies. I packed my little bag of coffee mugs, creamer, sugar, spoons, cookies, and of course the tumblers of coffee. I was quite nervous as I headed out the door that afternoon because I had no idea if this would just be an awkward 10 minute conversation with my limited Spanish or not. As I left the gates, I prayed for safety as I walked down into what remains as one of the worst parts of Bajo and I also prayed that I would be able to communicate in some way. When I got to Sigrid’s house, we made our cups of coffee and began to talk. We talked about all kinds of things, in Spanish of course. We talked about places we’d been to, places we’d like to go, about family, music, and more. She showed me pictures of her sisters and Gerson when he was a baby. I showed her all the pictures that were currently on my iphone, which was kind of a hodge podge of things… but she enjoyed every moment of it. Before I knew it, an hour had passed. Shortly thereafter, I began to pack up my little bag of goodies to head back up to the mission. On my walk back, I thanked God for a wonderful time with amazingly successful communication!
A few weeks ago, I walked outside of Jessica’s office where a group of teenagers were gathered seemingly abuzz about something. I made my way into their huddle where a teenage guy named Oscar was beaming. Someone handed me a letter that he had received and Maiko began to tell me that Oscar was selected to take a test that, depending on how he did, would give him the chance to go to a very prestigious school. I would compare it to a magnet school in the US that you have to test into or qualify for based on your academic record. Everyone around him was so excited for him to get this chance. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t them getting the opportunity, but that it was one of them. The teachers were incredibly proud of him. I was elated to give Oscar a huge hug and congratulate him on this achievement. It’s almost as though, in that moment, Oscar was the ambassador of success for Bajo and everyone was cheering him on. Oscar takes the test in late September I believe, so cheer for him from the US too! Even if he doesn’t test well enough to be admitted to this new school, he can take great pride in being selected to give it a shot.
Andrew has been doing all the driving here and is getting really good at it. I, however, don’t really drive so much. As in after that blog post about driving, I hadn’t driven since which would bring my total stick shift drive count to twice ever. One evening last week, Andrew walked to the gym like always and I fell asleep on the couch watching TV. I woke up and it was pitch black outside and storming. When I looked at the clock, it seemed as though Andrew should have been back by then. He never walks to the gym with any money so he can’t take a taxi back in these situations. I had a little moment of panic and somehow figured that I needed to go find him. I grabbed the keys and got in the truck. Ronald opened the gates for me and I started out the gates. As I mentioned, it was dark and pouring down raining… I am trying to find lights and windshield wipers all while trying to make it up that treacherous hill. But I did it. I made my way to the road facing the Maxi Pali and panicked a little. Now we were talking an intersection in the rain at night. I pulled over and decided to wait a few minutes. Just like that, Andrew came walking up the street I was on. A little victory in me driving by myself at night in the rain and it was only my third time driving stick shift ever!
Andrew and I both have played many, many games of tag on the playground here day in and day out. Tag is an easy game to figure out regardless of what language it’s in, but curiosity had us wondering what exactly “Landa” meant when you are tagged as “It.” I spent easily 95% of my last game of tag being “Landa” – Andrew says it’s because I run slow, I say it’s because I play with a group of 5 year olds who are little schemers and work in collusion with one another. After being “it” so very often, Andrew decided to figure out what the word meant. He tried google translating and looking it up in the dictionary but couldn’t find “Landa” anywhere. Finally, he asked someone what they were saying and they told us the real word is “La Anda” and they are just shortening it. The translation is like “the walker” which to me sounds a bit like some zombie game. Nonetheless, Andrew and I are now in the know.
One day, I was in Jessica’s office and Laura brought in a little boy named Wynn. He was holding a small folded slip of paper. Laura was beaming as Wynn handed the slip of paper to Jessica. It was a note from his teacher at school saying what a wonderful student Wynn is. He has been paying attention, listening, being respectful, and trying very hard. We all told him what a great job he was doing. Laura led him out of the room and outside to play. Jessica then told me that he has been an extremely difficult child to work with but Laura has kept at it. She hasn’t given up on him and I know Laura’s heart for these children well enough to know she never will.
PREDICADOR – “Preacher”
One of the best parts about spending an extended amount of time here is getting to see one of our sponsor children, Keylor, every day. We love this kid like family. Last week, Pastor Maiko asked Keylor to preach to the tween boys in his absence. The day before he was supposed to preach, he came to Andrew to ask for advice on his message. They worked together on it for a while and Keylor was grateful for Andrew’s help. The next day came and Keylor was noticeably nervous. He sat on the stage studying his notes as the boys began to arrive. The tween boys group is actually one of the largest ministries at 30-35 kids that normally attend. I’d probably be nervous too. When it was time to begin, Andrew was downstairs with them since he was supervising, but I stayed upstairs on the driveway with a window open to listen in since girls are not allowed. From that far away, I couldn’t hear clear enough to understand. I could tell he had their attention though, which is tough to do with that many pre-teen boys. At the end of his message, I walked downstairs to see him. Andrew and I were very proud of Keylor and we just so happened to know the words to tell him that in Spanish! Victory!