Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Week off of School

A couple weeks ago (I'm behind in blogging), some of the kids had a week off from school. From my understanding, all grades took unit tests in all areas and had a week to recover. We planned a week of activities for the kids. The theme? Manners! We used the verse in Colossians 3:23-24 about doing all things as unto the Lord and not for man (my paraphrase.) We sang songs (including "ROCK", which my youth group taught the kids in June) and we played team building games each day. Then we divided into two groups for class. We learned when and how to say, 'por favor' 'gracias' 'puedo' and 'salud'. We learned how to greet people properly in Peru. A formal greeting consists of saying one of the following (Buenos Dias, Buenas Tardes or Buenas Noches) and shaking the person's hand. However, women get an addition... a kiss on the cheek. We learned how to eat properly at the table, as well. Then, on Thursday, we acted out all that we had learned and practiced our table manners with some yummy food!
After class, each day, we had an hour of sports including soccer, basketball, volleyball and jumping rope. Then, we either worked in craft centers. One group practiced their painting, another group made cards out of construction paper and my group made bracelets and necklaces.
On Friday, we took a fun field trip to Huanchaco, the cute little beach town. We bought the kids ice cream, walked up to the church on the hill and played in the sand. It was a little too chilly for getting in the ocean, but we all had a great time!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Soccer Goals

We're in Peru and soccer (the real futbol) is the thing. Joel had the pleasure of being on the crew that made soccer goals for the kids. Before, the kids would put a few rocks at each end of the grassy area in the albergue to represent the goal area. Now... GAME ON!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Primavera esta aqui...

... or at least Trujillo had a parade where we proclaimed spring was here. However, we were bundled in our sweaters and hats to watch the 57th Annual Spring Parade. The parade was full of princesses and queens from Trujillo, Thailand, Scotland, Plaza Vea (the store that reminds me of Wal-mart), the movie theatre, and the cell phone company. The famous 'gringas' with batons were there, too. Apparently they are a hot tradition. A bright red fire truck from Washington started the parade, which reminded us of Gypsum and Vail. We also were able to see a beautiful variety of typical Peruvian dances. And, as always, vendors were walking the parade selling chicken feet, drinks, candies, cookies, ice cream and toilet paper.

Nobody owns folding chairs, so benches, chairs and trucks were brought from homes and businesses. These chairs were stretched out alongside the streets. You could sit in one to watch the parade for only 2-3 soles. We were the white people trying to be Peruvians, so we didn't pay to sit. However, we did notice all the people who were sitting were Peruvians... hmmmm... but we are cheap, too. We thought 2-3 soles (less than $1) was outrageous and standing was not a big deal. After 2.5 hours of standing in a tight crowd (drunk guy sleeping on my shoulder, an older guy shouting "Te Amo" at every princess, and Joel guarding the backpack) we thought 2-3 soles was a bargain! Next time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Climbing Sand

The huge hill of sand behind the albergue makes for a great playground. This is one of the activities we all enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

We Got Mail!

Even though people don't trust the mail, we did get two letters. What a surprise!! We received a letter from our dear friend, Laurie Palm, and a card from Joel's parents. I suppose packages have a harder time making their way to us (they're a bit enticing,) but we have seen proof of DSL motorbikes around. If you want to try to send something, here is the address:

Hogar de Esperanza
c/o Joel and Robyn Hanson
Autopista Moche / Salaverry Km 3.5
Friente al Camal de San Fransisco
Trujillo, Peru, South America

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Robyn's Job

Before I arrived, I wasn't exactly sure what I'd be doing at the albergue. Interstingly enough, Joel knew he'd be working on various labor projects and he even knew who he'd be working with. I forsaw myself working in the school on campus and knew that I would be coordinating volunteers at the albergue.
Hayley, Sam (visiting dog,) and Erin
These girls are volunteering for 9 months

A few days after we arrived, the founder's wife, Vicki Miller, was diagnosed with kidney cancer and soon thereafter underwent brain surgery back in the U.S. Already, I had taken over all of the volunteer coordination, which includes communicating via email with prospective volunteers, interested groups and monitoring the activities and schedules of the other volunteers, here. However, I also took on a new task of helping with the administration of the albergue. Vickie usually was the sounding board for the albergue manager, Liz Bernuy. Now, I have been her sounding board and responsible for communicating back to the Millers. This responsibility includes a TON of meetings... long meetings... and more meetings. Already, I have learned so much about how the albergue runs and a little of what it takes to keep a ministry like this going. I have learned a little about the adoption process, the children's schooling, the new judges in Trujillo, and that Peruvians love meetings. The exciting part is that I get to be a part of the process in developing a new schedule at the albergue, implementing new programs for the children and helping to design a program for the older children at the albergue. This is all a challenge, but a wonderful way to help at the albergue.

I still try to get into Escuela de Miller, the on campus school. At night, I make the daily activities for one of the children in the school, Abel, who struggles with speech and learning. I also will help the teacher plan her curriculum for the next year. Hopefully helping her with more ideas on differentiation and individual learning goals for the children.

Escuela de Miller
Miss Aly and her class of great kids

I am amazed at the timing in all of this. God's hand guiding and leading us to this point... where we can be used beyond what we originally thought and help the Millers feel somewhat at ease as they struggle with their own health back in the states. It is a great feeling to know we are exactly where we should be. When times get tough or we start missing home, we are reassured of our purpose.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Visit to Another Orphanage

A few weeks ago, we were able to visit another albergue, Aldea Infantil Victor Raul, just outside of Trujillo. Surprisingly, the weather was sunny and warm... and only 20 minutes away.

The albergue has been in operation for about 17 years. They have a wonderful library, individual casitas with kitchens, and professionals working in each area. The directors also began a program for the older kids who will not be adopted and will eventually need to leave the orphanage and go out on their own. Some of the children study to try to enter the University, but many of the others start learning a trade (baking bread, carpentry or agriculture.) They also have a wonderful field of strawberries they are growing to sell and a program for taking care of animals. We learned quite a bit from them and gained many new ideas for our orphanage (in it's 5 year.)

One of their casitas and a few sheep

Joel in the albergue's pandaria where they learn to make bread (still a work in progress)

Joel, Robyn, and Liz (director of Hogar de Esperanza)

with the directors and managers of Aldea Infantil.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Our Anniversary

We celebrated 5 years of marraige October 5. In the states, we usually celebrate by going out of town for a night or two and hiking/shopping. This year, was a bit different... I suppose we already are out of town. The two managers at the albergue gave us a wonderful suprise. They made reservations at a very 'fancy' restaurant, chauffered us there and paid for the dinner. What an amazing treat. What kind of restaurant did they pick for us? Because they love Joel so much, they picked a great Pizza/Italian restaurant. We started with two small rolls with garlic butter. Then we split an unusual salad... two pieces of lettuce, green beans, peas, beets, carrots, a few unknown Peruvian veggies, onions, thinly sliced cucumbers, and a mayonaise dressing. Joel had pepperoni pizza and I had ravioli filled with... something... but it was yummy! Then we spent the evening walking around Trujillo and visiting their beautiful Plaza de Armas.

We truly felt loved by this gift. A meal like this was an expensive treat and a truly generous expression of friendship and love. Joel was happy to have a taste of something 'normal'. It's been amazing to celebrate our marraige at the beginning of this new adventure!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What is a casita?

Thought we should explain a little about how things are arranged here at the albergue (orphanage.) Then, when you're reading this blog, you'll have a better idea about what the heck we're talking about.

There are two buildings where the children stay. Each building is divided into two levels, creating 4 'casitas' or little houses. The boys are divided into the two lower levels and the girls are in the upper floor casitas. Each casita has a living room, 3 dormitory style bedrooms, a dormitory style bathroom, a table and chairs for meals and homework, and a room for the 'madre tutora' or live in mother. There are no kitchens in the casitas because the albergue has 2 'cocineras' or cooks who make all the meals for the staff and children. The cocineras ROCK and the meals are delicious... well, except for pig ear soup.

Each casita has it's own name and definately it's own personality. The boys' casitas are Tesoros (Treasures) and Amigos (Friends.) The girls' casitas are Chispas (Sparks) and Luces (Lights.) Right now, there are about 10-12 children in each casita, although the albergue can hold up to 65, I believe. I hope to write a blog about each of the casitas as we spend more time with them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Concrete Forms Peruvian Style

No, we're not making a swimming pool for the kids. Here I (Joel) am with Elias and the visiting dog, Sam. We're actually making a concrete cover for a well. Originally, it was just covered with wood, but not heavy enough to make it child safe. Thus the concrete cover underneath would be a bit safer. We actually made a form in the sand. Then we made the concrete out of concrete mix, sand, gravel, and rocks. It was a little more complex than in the U.S. Then we put the concrete into the form. Two days later we moved it in place. It took four of us to pick it up and roll it... that was the hardest part.

I've also learned how to make window screens, the Peruvian way. I made one all by myself for a storage closet Robyn is in charge of. Yes, my first carpentry project. Last week, we demolished a concrete, brick, and tile wall. It took three whole days and it totally wore me out, especially because I was fighting bronchitas. I'm getting better each day and after taking some meds, I'm almost over it. Next we're making that room into another storage closet. That will involve some painting, building shelves, organizing, etc. I've also been working in several rooms trying to remove some mold in spots, a constant fight with all the humidity, and I could actually paint year round.