Monday, April 28, 2008

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For everyone who is reading our blog and keeping up with us... MUCHAS GRACIAS. We truly appreciate you checking in with us, praying for us and thinking of us. We'd love for you to leave a comment on any of our blogs... it lets us know someone's out there and it makes our day!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Garden Grows

Our gardening program continues. We had a wonderful harvest of huge radishes and turnips, lettuce and cabbage. Then, the squash took over!! We have about 7 squash... and all of them are bigger than a basketball. Joel has taken over this program and the kids will be planting new seeds this week, so everyone will get to see the process again!

Junior and Josue with their turnips


Aracely and Nanci

Paul with our squash

Alisson can use the squash as a bench

Friday, April 25, 2008

Robyn's Mom Visits

We are so blessed - we had some of our youth visit in December, Joel's family in January and now my mom!! It is very special to be able share this ministry and this part of our lives with our family. We had a great time together talking and kept her very busy for the two weeks she was with us.
My mom's big job was helping us create a database for all of the books in our library. This had been done before, but the data was taken to the US and we needed to have a program that the staff here are able to manage. It was a big task logging in over 1,000 books and my mom spent many, many hours in front of the laptop in the library. The good thing is that my office is in the library - so that just meant more time together.

She added a nice touch to our movie night by buying ice cream for the kids. I love to see them in their PJs with their bowls and spoons in hand!
My mom also helped teach some English to my English students of Escuela de Miller. The kids were most interested in how to say the books of the New Testament in English.
With all the work, we were able to share several dinners with some of our closest friends here in Peru. We shared meals with the albergue director, Liz, and her husband, Miss Aly (teacher) and Lurdes.
The Garcia family gave her a warm welcome, as well. They played music, told stories and introduced her to the Peruvian Hairless dogs.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brazil - Buzios

After 2 days in Rio, we traveled to Buzios. It's a small area with beaches on every side. It was a perfect place for us to relax and refresh. It was the first time in 7 months that Joel and I could spend an entire day together, alone and doing nothing but relaxing. The paths to the beaches were usually a dirt path with jungle on both sides. Praia deTartaruga (Turtle Beach) was the closest beach to our hotel. Tables, chairs and umbrellas lined the beach with free places to sit... and the hopes you'll sip or nibble on something during your visit. We drank a little agua de coco, maracuya juice, coca-cola and had tons of grilled and fried shrimp.
We spent a whole day of beach touring with our new Brazilian friends (including touring beaches were they are currently filming novelas - or soap operas.) Then we enjoyed dinner together the next night. They introduced us to Brazilian lemonade and their own brand of ginger ale. Joel tried them both, but still drank his coke. Ze' Luis and Kris only spoke Portuguese, but with our spanish and a lot of patience - we were able to communicate pretty well. We actually talked so much, the restaurant kicked us out at 2am.This beach was beautiful, small and quaint. We kayacked out into the water with Z' Luis and Kris and picked up a few, small shells.

Joel and I soaked up the scenery and the quiet moments. We left Brazil very refreshed and ready to return to the orphanage to continue our work. We missed the kids and were glad to get all the hugs when we returned.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Brazil - Rio de Janeiro

Joel and I were blessed to receive a gift to travel to Brazil for our 6 month trip to renew our passports. It marked the 1/2 way point for our time in Peru. It was nice to have a good week to be alone together. It can be tough living where you work, adjusting to a different culture and not having much privacy. So we enjoyed traveling, long talks and relaxing.

Our first stop was Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately it rained the two days we were there and we weren't able to go up to see the Christ Redeemer statue up close, due to the rain. However, our last day we were able to get a view of it from the top of our hotel. Rio is a big city and didn't impress us much - but, again, there was rain. We did stay in Copacabana and the beach was pretty with really soft, cream sand.

From the rooftop of the hotel we could see the ocean... sort of.
This is the only view we had of Christ the Redeemer. Fruit market in the middle of the city.
Many gas stations, like this one, were in the middle of divided roads. I like the idea of driving in, someone pumping the gas for me and driving off into the sunset... or traffic.
Copacabana Beach in Rio... in the misty rain.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Coast Guard News Story

Hogar de Esperanza made the news (barely.) The Coast Guard Academy did an article on the group that visited us in March. Click here to read it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

4 New Kids

These sad eyes belong to Paul on his first day with us. He, his older brother and sister came to our albergue this past month. His mom brought them in with the help of the authorities. She is struggling with extreme poverty, single motherhood and drug abuse. It was a tough day for the three children. The oldest brother held his emotions in as he tried to take care of Paul crying and screaming out 'Mama.' My heart was wrenched as I watched the mother walk away with no sign of emotion. It didn't take the oldest long to realize he and his siblings would be protected and fed within the walls of the albergue. He found new friendships, comfort and safety. Their mother still has another baby with her, but she came to visit Paul, Fernando and Maria last Saturday. She mentioned that her children looked different - sad eyes replaced with contentment, security and smiles. (see below)

A tragedy and a blessing. A mother brought her baby to the albergue 2 days after he was born. Her intention was to sell the baby to us for 300 soles, which is a little less than $100. She handed the baby over and then demanded money. We don't usually accept infants, but we made an exception. After we had him in our arms, we escorted the mother out and called the authorities. The mother suffers from a severe mental disorder as well as she is homeless. Her intent to sell her baby has taken her rights as a parent away. This isn't just another story - but a real person and child who are suffering right before our eyes... under circumstances that are still hard to grasp even though we deal with these situations daily. However, this baby has become a blessing to us. We had the priviledge of naming him Luis and he has brought joy to the children and workers in the albergue. Everyone wants to hold him, love him and protect him. His tiny hands, face and body bring a smile to our faces and we are blessed to be able to help this child.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Joel Drives the Bus

One of Joel's favorite new jobs - driving 'Bob', the bus. He takes a group of kids to school at 6:45 in the morning and picks up a different group at 6:30 pm. He told me to write that he loves the interaction with the kids and being a part of their daily routine. It's the highlight of his day!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Goodbye Erin and Hayley

These two girls came to the albergue together to serve for 9 months. They both left the Coast Guard Academy to come here. Hayley is now returning to the Coast Guard and Erin is beginning a new adventure, which includes getting married in August.

Erin found her gift teaching English to the madre tutoras, the teacher of our on-campus school and several groups of kids. English is a wonderful way to open the doors of their future, as knowing English increases their chances to study in the University and will help them obtain jobs. Erin also worked with our reading program and helped children advance and fall in love with reading. She spent several tough and rewarding weeks covering a girls' house as a madre tutora and bonded with the kinder class as she stretched their imaginations and creativity.

Hayley is also known here as Rocky Balboa. She inspired the boys and the girls to become stronger and healthier as she instructed P.E. and gave them the Push-Up Challenge. She brought our garden program into reality and had the tough job of explaining hard math and grammar to our four (sometimes unmotivated) high schoolers. She worked in our kinder program early on and the kids learned their numbers and letters, as well as how to walk in a military line. Hayley gave guitar lessons, showed a few kids how to keep rhythm on a drum and sang her heart out.

Erin and Hayley also made the living at the orphanage exciting and entertaining. Morning devotions were full of great discussions, interesting lunch conversations, and nights going into town were unforgettable. Let's just say that we miss them... 'we' includes everyone here at Hogar de Esperanza.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Church Public

In March, we had a college group come and build a playground for us. Four of the students also attend Church Public and decided to stay an extra week with us. Their pastor and another member came to join them, as well. They were amazing to have around. They watched all the kids so that all our workers and volunteers could attend Liz' wedding and nobody missed out! I think it was a little trial by fire, but the kids were safe, had a great time and all ended up in bed (some with their shoes on.) The rest of their week was divided among different tasks - girls'/boys' night, painting our new playground, building a roof for one of our wells, painting walls, helping with kinder (and painting with the kids,) helping in Escueal de Miller and playing soccer. Most of all, they loved on the kids and made us laugh! (good medicine for the soul) The last day they were here was a holiday in Peru and the kids were out of school. It was fun to have our last outing to the beach, as the weather is turning cooler. Joel and I really enjoyed having the group here - they were a blessing and a blast to have around!

I don't have a picture of the whole group as I accidentally deleted all my pictures, but here are a few from our trip to the beach in Salaverry.

Nayeli with crab in hand

Alondra makes a sand angel
Austin and Maria Angelica
Joel and Arnold

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Boys' Night / Girls' Night

In March we had a several volunteers staying with us and it was a great opportunity to have some parties! The boys watched Transformers with Tio Joel and enjoyed popcorn and soda. Unfortunately, he didn't take any pictures, but I'm thinking they had a great time! The girls went crazy with hair-do's, make up, manicures, pedicures and in the background we had a movie going. I was in charge of the hair-dos and they all wanted curls! After I finished their hair, we put on a little blush and lip gloss... WOW!
The other volunteers worked on nails and some of the girls helped our volunteers look more beautiful.
We even had a suprise visit from one of the guys... who didn't know what he was getting into!