Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks in Rio 1

Today I was with a mother-daughter group in Rio 1, where we did a special activity on giving thanks, in honor of us American's celebrating Thanksgiving this week. Antonio and Hope gave a short talk, read some scripture on why we should be thankful, and then each of the kids, their moms, and the Americans on the group got a paper leaf which said "Gracias dios por..." (Thank you God for...) to put up on our tree of thanks. What an amazing experience to see what people in extreme poverty are thankful for, and all of the things I take for granted or overlook. Lots of thankfulness for families, food, the soup kitchen, clothing, school, friends, and for all that God does for them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Visit Home

I was at home in Indiana this past weekend to attend fall conference at Clear River Church. It was an incredible weekend of worship and a great time with my church family. Lots of people asked if I needed anything, if Back2Back needed anything, or how they could be praying for me. Well, what I think myself and Back2Back need most are people committed to praying for us, the ministry, and the kids that we serve. Here are some things you can be praying for right now.

-For the staff: While being on staff is the best job I’ve ever, it’s also the most difficult. We often feel burdened down with the situations that these kids are in, are fighting against getting burned out, and the American staff are constantly dealing with a language/culture barrier that wears you down. It’s hard to take care of yourself here, there’s always something that needs to be done, someone who needs help, and we all live together so there’s not a lot of personal space when you just need a break. So pray for strength, protection, encouragement, and unity among our staff.

-For the ministry: Our directors just finished a week of strategic planning meetings, so some new things are coming down the road. Pray for discernment and wisdom for our leaders, and teachable hearts for those of us who have to start doings or looking at some things differently. Also, pray for shelter sponsors for the kids who don’t have one yet. The kids love getting and giving letters to their shelter sponsor and the money provides things like education, school, and medical care that they wouldn’t otherwise get.

-For the kids: In light of the holiday’s approaching, pray for the kids who don’t have families to pick them up for Christmas. Waking up on Christmas morning in a children’s home is a heart-breaking thing. For the kids who do have families to pick them up for Christmas, pray that their families would show them love and protect them. For the staff who live and work tirelessly in the children’s homes pray for rest, renewed passion, and support so that they aren’t alone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

JJ Heller - What Love Really Means (Official Music Video)

This is one of my new favorite songs right now. One of the things that God has really been changing in me through our staff women Bible study and just living and working with orphans is the concept of loving people for who they are right now and not expecting anything from them in return. It's something that I always knew I should do, but never really had to practice. My job as a social worker in the states required me to keep a certain emotional distance from the kids, and so while I loved most of them deeply I had to expect certain things from them in return or I'd be out of a job and they'd be out of a home. So I'm trying to figure out what it means to love these kids, the caregivers in the casa hogars, and their biological parents for just who they are and not expecting them to reciprocate that love or to change something about themselves. Maybe they, and me in the process, can start to understand God's love for us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Del Norte part 2

I have a confession to make. Ever since I was 16, Del Norte has been my favorite casa hogar that Back2Back works with. Below are some pictures I've taken there over the last 5 years, and eventually I'll scan some pictures from way back when I was 16 and 17. As usual on Thursdays, I headed to Del Norte with a few other staff to help watch the babies for a few hours. For the third week in a row, there was a new baby boy in the playroom. After feeding the babies lunch, we laid them down in their cribs for nap time. This little niƱo wasn't interested in sleeping, and I wasn't interested in listening a baby screaming. I stood by his crib rubbing his back and belly while he calmed down and eventually dozed off. While I was rubbing his back I started praying for him and his mom somewhere who must be missing her baby boy. One of my favorite verses came to mind as I was listening to him cry and almost crying myself. "Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them." Psalm 10:17-18. Sometimes being on staff here can be heavy, there are hundreds of broken and hurting children all around us and sometimes it starts to feel like our responsibility to fix them and heal them. Thankfully God promises to do that! He promises to comfort them, to defend them, and seek justice for them in a way that no person on earth ever could. We get to be a part of that plan, but ultimately we want these kids to experience freedom and healing in Jesus name, not our name.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Del Norte

On Thursdays I've started going with a few other staff to Del Norte to play with the babies while the older kids are in school. It gives the caregivers a break from being with the kids, and babies might be some of my favorite people on the planet so it's always a great day. Today I went with Stacy, her husband David, and Lonnie. It was a fantastic morning and we even remembered a camera!


Yesterday I went with 5 other staff women to Villa de Juarez to help with the morning routine and get the kids off to their afternoon school. They've got around 20 kids with one caregiver and a cook, so they can use some help! We got there right around homework time, so I settled in to help a little boy who needed to write each of his vowels 5 times. After 10 minutes of struggle I passed him off to another staff woman who has better Spanish. He made his rounds through 4 of us before finding Kathy who worked a miracle and had his homework done and him giggling in about 10 minutes. Anyways, after the failed vowel writing I found Ruby who is around 11 yrs and and was working on her multiplication tables. Math homework in Mexico is my favorite because I know my numbers and can actually help! This probably just blew my mom away, I think world war 3 may have been staged in our house when I had to do math homework as a kid. Ruby and I made our way through all her multiplication tables and then worked on memorizing them together since I couldn't remember them all either.

One of the huge needs with the casa hogars we serve is that the kids are falling behind in school. Ruby, for example, didn't know the number 80 when I wrote it down and didn't really understand that as you go through the multiplication tables you count up (if 7x2 is 14, 7x3 can't be 6). At Douglas we've been able to hire a tutor and we have staff going there every afternoon to help the kids with their homework. I would love it if we could get tutors at each casa hogar each day, and until then hopefully we can keep getting staff and groups out to the homes to fill in the gaps.