A month long volunteer trip to Trujillo, Peru in 2006 changed our lives forever. After living in Peru and working with an orphanage, we returned to the mountains of Colorado with our 5 adopted children. The story continues...
Every weekday after school all the children participate in tutoring groups. Basically it is a set and organized time for them to do their homework, receive help with it and get reinforcement in weaker areas. The groups are mostly arranged by grade level. I was assigned to a difficult group of boys who struggle with many behavior and learning problems. The madre tutora that was in their casista moved from the albergue and there have been replacements filling in without much consistency. When I observed this group, before I took it over, they would run around, jump on their chairs, throw things, lie about having homework, refuse to finish it and were, basically, a bit wild. Just my style.
My first week with them was a challenge. The first day, we set up rules and consequences. I explained to them that they needed to sit at the table, work on their homework, respect eachother and clean up after themselves. I also wanted to show them I loved them and I would follow through with what I said. There was a lot of crying the first few days when the boys told me 'no', cried, or hit eachother and in turn were not allowed to play that evening. Some of the fits have been a bit intense... especially with the echo of the concrete walls. However, for the most part, the boys are beginning to adjust really well. Homework is getting finished! They've even started the tutoring session before I arrive and their smiles are wide when they known they've done well! We've even had time for some futbol, hugs, a few games of Uno and time to draw pictures. Sometimes I leave tutoring with a collection of fabulous art - churches, crosses, and pictures of Joel and I... made by the boys in my tutoring group. So many of the children have come from abusive or neglective homes. They have lacked discipline and structure and more importantly... love. I pray I can be consistant with them, have patience and help them to feel loved and cared for. Because the boys have been doing so well, they asked me to take a picture of them working!
The albergue (orphanage) is a comfortable and wonderful place to stay. We live on the 'Visitor's Floor' of the main building. Our floor is above the kitchen, cafeteria, laundry room, chapel, offices, school and classrooms. This is where we are when we type these blogs. *smile* We have a nice bedroom, living room and even our own bathroom with hot water! (notice we have an individual hot water tank in our shower) We, also, have a cute little balcony overlooking the albergue lawn... but it's been a little chilly for sitting outside and gazing. The sun has only been out a few days since we've been here. Outside of our apartment, there is a fridge, microwave, sink and shelves for food and dishes that all the visitors share. The Millers and Peruvian staff work really hard to make us feel comfortable. It's quaint and perfect for us! We're blessed!
Our first two weeks have been full of adjustments. We are both settling in, but we have had a few trials in this short period of time. We've been adjusting to different foods, a new language and how our time is spent. Joel was sick a good part of last week and I gained a bladder infection. It's a good thing we brought cold medicine and antibiotics with us! Who knew we'd be using them so early.
But, those are only small things. The real trials are much more intense and weigh on our hearts and minds heavily. Friday, September 14, we recieved an email telling us that a good friend of ours, Justin Bobson, was killed in a car accident. The situation is very sad. Justin worked for Joel for 9 years and actually took over Joel's job when we came to Peru. He also was our housesitter, he helped us move 3 times and he was Joel's golfing partner and our friend. This news hit us hard and we are both struggling with disbelief, anger, confusion and sadness. It is difficult to deal with this when we are away from the community we shared with Justin. Please pray for his family, friends and for Joel and I as we all grieve. Below is a picture of Joel and Justin a week before we left for Peru.
Also, the founders of the orphanage (David and Vickie Miller) shared their own painful news this week. Vickie found she has kidney cancer that has already metastatized in her brain and other areas of her body. It is possible she will undergo surgery this week, although we do not have all the details. Her request is that we pray and that her family and friends would feel God's joy, peace and hope in the midst of the sorrow and suffering. The workers at the albergue are full of grief at this news. Our eyes are filled with tears and our hearts are heavy. Please pray for the Miller family and all of the workers at the orphanage.
God is our hope, our strength and our comfort in times of trials.
We arrived! After two long days of travel, we arrived safely to the orphanage (albergue) with all of our stuff still in tact. After dragging 4 large bags, 2 instruments and 2 small bags, we don't feel we're living simply, yet... but we have to start somewhere. Our first couple of days here were pretty laid back and filled with unpacking, organizing, talking and greeting the workers and children, planning projects for us and adjusting. We both realize how much we have to learn in all aspects... especially language. Monday we officially started work. Joel is involved in several construction and water projects. His first project is putting a light post in near the area where the mothers hang the children's clothes to dry. I am assisting with children in the Escuela de Miller (Miller School on campus) and tutor in the afternoons. I may be teaching English to a few workers. Already, I spent a day and evening as a mother in one of the houses.
Many things changed in Peru since my last adventure here. The hostal I stayed at moved to a different place. The bus station went under construction and has changed. New buildings have popped up in odd locations and there are some new faces at the orphanage. However, one thing is the same... the Peruvians (Peruanas) are generous, kind, open and friendly... just as I remembered.
FYI - the internet has been having some problems. This blog took several days and finally I was able to publish it. So, be patient with us! More to come!