Sunday, December 30, 2007

Goodbye FLY & Elizabeth

Maria, Joel, TANIA, Josue, JILLIAN, SCOTT, Yamelit
Rocio and Jesus
Elizabeth and Brigit

We said goodbye to some of our volunteers last Saturday morning. Three youth from our church in Gypsum, Colorado left after spending 3 weeks of their Christmas vacation serving the kids of Hogar de Esperanza. Then, our new friend, Elizabeth, left after spending a month and Christmas with us.

Tears poured out of my eyes as I said goodbye to my youth on Saturday morning. I wasn't expecting to be so emotional, but I was overwhelmed with love for all of them and a sadness realizing how much we have missed them. When Joel checked their rooms, he found the Christmas stockings we all made together and tears filled his eyes. We are so blessed to have been a part of their lives and, in turn, have them come and share in the ministry, here. We will miss all the excitement, hugs, familiarity, jokes and joy that we had while they were here.

Saying goodbye to Elizabeth was hard, as well. She spent a little over a month here and had such a beautiful spirit. It was her first time serving in this way and she was always willing to help out however we needed. She also became a good friend and I enjoyed so many of our conversations talking about where her next step may be.

Volunteers are such a huge part of the work, here, at Hogar de Esperanza. Not only do they help start and implement programs, finish work projects and play endless games of soccer, but they show love and attention to kids who need it so desperately. Many times, they also refresh the staff who work long hours day in and day out. I am so thankful for the volunteers who made sacrifices to come and serve and I encourage YOU to think about the possiblity of doing the same!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Polar Express Night

A few days after Christmas, Joel and I projected the movie Polar Express in the comedor (cafeteria) for all the kids. They came with their PJ's, pillows and blankets. We even had an intermission for freshly made popcorn (which they gathered in the bottoms of their shirts) and Inka Cola.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Since we've been in Peru, Joel and I have been adopted by Alicia Garcia and her family. I met them last year, when I came to Peru for a month. Her daughter Lurdes is like a little sister to me and her son, Juan, and his wife, Miriam, are the pastors of the church Joel and I attend most Sundays.
Miriam, Robyn, Alicia, Joel
Elmer, Juan and Lurdes
We were blessed to be invited into her home for the 'passing of Christmas.' Afterall, it isn't really Christmas in Peru until midnight. So, after a long day of celebrating at the albergue, Joel, myself and our 3 FLY went to the Garcia house around 8pm, again in La Campina de Moche.

Alicia had bought the turkey and Elmer butchered it the morning of Christmas Eve. Alicia filled it with raisins, spanish olives, onions and meat. The turkey was so large, it barely fit into the stove, so we had to leave the door partly open while it cooked. I helped cut and fry papa fritas and we brought more paneton (did I mention they love fruitcake, here?) Alicia handmade pockets to hold the silverware and we set the table with decorations made by the children at the orphanage. The exciting part is that we started our evening with dessert! Alicia made a strawberry gelatin pie and her neighbor brought over special cookies. It was nice to have dessert while we waited for dinner.
It's tradition to have the main meal at midnight and we were definately hungry by then. We enjoyed a dinner of turkey, french fries, bread, cookies and paneton... (what is it with the fruitcake?) It is similar to New Year's Eve in the U.S., as we all jumped up from the table at midnight and began saying "Feliz Navidad" and hugging each other. We even celebrated with sparklers and other small fireworks. We finished dinner around 1:30am and helped clean up a little while watching an old Selena concert. (Joel was so delighted) However, the party didn't stop there. After dinner, we all walked down to Lurdes' uncles' house and danced outside until 5:30 in the morning!!! Apparently this is normal. (I love it, I love it, I love it!)
Along with the rest of Peru, we spent most of Christmas Day sleeping. We finished Christmas by hanging out in our room with FLY, the other volunteers and all the kids at the orphanage. What a wonderful Christmas!!

Gift Giving in La Campina

Joel and I left the albergue after the afternoon program and went to my favorite part of Trujillo... La Campina de Moche. Some of our good friends coordinated a small fiesta where they hand out bread, hot chocolate, paneton (again, the fruitcake) and small gifts to all the poor children in La Campina. We were invited to participate. As it goes in Peru, the party was supposed to start at 3. When we arrived, the milk for the hot chocolate hadn't arrived and you can't have a Chocolatada without the hot chocolate. They told us to come back at 4:30, so we went to our good friend, Lurdes' house. We went back to the party at 4:30 and helped set up. However, the fiesta didn't start until 6pm. (This happens a lot in Peru, it seems.) I was able to help hand out bread and hot chocolate and then the games began and the gift giving followed. We were so privileged to be invited to participate in giving to the people in La Campina.
They warmed the milk, chocolate, cinnamon and sugar here at the side of the house.

Robyn in the middle of the crowd, handing out hot chocolate and bread.

Javier, our friend, coordinates the event and hosts it at his family's home.
As I looked at all the faces gathered, I couldn't help thinking about the kids in the orphanage. The faces of the mothers and children standing in line for hot chocolate and piece of bread were dirty, worn and tired. Their best clothes were ripped, faded and stained. Hands weathered from hard work in the fields and bodies thin from the lack of food. Most of them live in small, adobe, one room houses with thatched roofs and no running water. The poverty and lifestyle is intense, but the mothers are grateful for their work and their families.

Many people comment that the orphans at the albergue have it so good... clean clothes, running water, loving people around them and a great education. However, I think of what their life would be like if they hadn't been rescued by the albergue. I substitute their faces in the faces of the people gathered at this small fiesta. The difference is not just the poverty. The children at the albergue wouldn't have been able to gather as family... they would have been standing in line alone.

This Christmas means more to me than any Christmas I've experienced. These beautiful Peruvian people who lack so much materially have blessed my spirit and have compelled me to give more of myself.

Christmas in the Albergue

Friday night, the kids at the orphanage did a wonderful program for all of the people in Peru who have supported and helped the albergue throughout the year. Each casita did a song, recited a bible verse or acted out a Christmas skit. I helped prepare Escuela de Miller sing two songs and the volunteers sang What Child is This in English.

On Christmas Eve all of the kids, workers and volunteers shared breakfast together. We had hot chocolate, (which is made from scratch... milk, melted chocolate, sugar and cinnamon), a small ham sandwhich and paneton (fruit cake bread... it's a big hit here and everyone in Peru loves it.)

We then rested until lunch time. This time all the workers did a program for the kids. We also sang, acted out the Christmas story and sang some more. The volunteers sang and did our 'human cereal bowl' skit, which shocked all the Peruvians. Then, the workers revealed their Amigos Secreto and we shared a lunch of rice, vegetable salad and pork. A church in the US bought stockings and gifts for every child and Amy (newest volunteer) was in charge of handing all the stockings out. The kids were so excited to receive these gifts and spent the rest of the evening playing. It was a wonderful time to be in the albergue.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad

From the children of Hogar de Esperanza, Joel and I.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Decorating with the Volunteers

Tania and Jillian with our homemade Christmas garland.

Joel was a good sport about helping make our decorations.

Hayley hates crafts, but she quickly became the star queen!

Our little forest of Christmas trees given to us by Joel's mom and dad.

Our small, wooden nativity we bought in Equador.

When we finished decorating, we celebrated by going to the beach.
For some reason, it still just doesn't feel like Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

FLY Volunteers

We were given early Christmas presents this year... 3 of our youth came back to the albergue to serve over Christmas break. They brought with them an array of comfort items from the folks back home (Thank you Theresa, Brady, Dixie, Charlie, Daryl, Lydia and Edith... WE LOVE YOU!) And, I'd have to say that seeing our youth has been the biggest present we have received!

All three youth, (Scott, Jillian and Tania), are in their senior year of high school. They are so passionate about serving these kids, they worked hard to save up their money to come serve over Christmas break. They gave up the 'normal' things teens want for Christmas, in exchange for touching the hearts and lives of the orphans of Peru. They've spent their first week painting, organizing our storage closets, playing soccer, running the sand dunes and loving on these great kids!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tutoring Group Beach Day

My tutoring group has come a long way. They actually start their homework before I arrive, recite the rules for our time together and we have a solid hour with no crying... most of the time. Well, I promised my boys a day out at Huanchaco. It was a great time getting to know the fun side of Tia Robyn and Tio Joel... and NO HOMEWORK! After our hour micro bus ride, we decided it was time for lunch. The boys shared two dishes Trujillo is known for - ceviche (raw fish marinated in spicy citrus juice) and chicharrones (pieces of crispy fried fish and seafood.) Oh, let's not forget the Inca Cola... or wait... is that coke? ahhh the influence of Tio Joel.

Before going home, we celebrated Piero's birthday with ice cream! Above: Tio Joel, Piero, Jonatan, Devis and Franklin.