“Jenna, watch out, you won’t want to leave this place. These kids get in your blood,” Carrie and Scott said.
Carrie and Scott have been our Guatemalan roomies. And they were right. They’re in our blood. To think about leaving them already hurts.
Every morning for the past two months, Brett and I have awakened to kids laughing, playing, singing, crying. I drink my coffee as I watch Mateo slide down the yellow slide. Sylvia pushes Alejandro on the swing, while Carlito throws another fit. “Es mio!” he screams as Angel steals his toy truck. Carlito has never been one for sharing. But I can’t blame him. When his rights to be held and loved his first few months of life were stolen by abusive parents, whose to say something else won’t be stolen?
You see, behind Carlito’s temper-tantrum, lies something deeper. Behind the smiles on the swing set and laughs on the soccer field, you will find some dark pasts with a lot of pain.
Sandra was raped. Jorge was found on the streets. Juan watched his dad be murdered. And Claudia wears a scar on her face from where her aunt hit her. Yet, in spite of the tragedy, Brett and I have seen God here at Fundaninos, an orphanage outside of Guatemala City.
We’ve seen God’s love in the hearts of Carol and Enrique, the orphanage directors, as Carol holds the babies and Enrique teaches the kids about the Bible every morning before breakfast. He tells the kids about a Perfect Father who will never abandon them. We’ve seen God’s care through Margarita, the 65-year-old woman in charge of the boy house. She is a professional at picking out lice (I should know, since I was a victim of the sneaky critters) and a professional at hugs. We’ve seen God’s provision, as Alicia serves up hot rice and beans every day and steaming Atol, a hot drink made from corn (not a big fan). And we have seen God’s healing, as these children who were so hurt are not afraid to love and be loved.
“Yenna! Brrred!” they yell, as soon as we step out of the cabin we are staying in. No sound is sweeter.
They tackle us with hugs. I, then, may go play with the “peques” (short for pequenos, meaning small). They are six mischievous little boys who make you scream one minute and laugh-till-ya-cry the next. More times than not, I’ll go sit with one of the teen girls. The language barrier has been tough, but somehow I hear about her dreams and hold her hand as she confronts her past.
As I attempt my Spanish chit-chat with the girls, Brett is usually followed by a line of 10 to 12-year-old boys, ready to help in the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen … Here’s Brett, ready with an update.
Love you all,
Being that it is so far out of my pay grade, I hesitate to even try and explain the technical transformation of the kitchen. I guess I picture plumbers, builders, and developers in one room laughing at my misuse of words and phrases. Rebar, c-channel, and venta hood might sound normal to you, but to me they’re more like nicknames from my old high school basketball team.
Just know this; it takes lots of people and moving parts to insert drains into freshly poured concrete, rat-proof the tin roofs, and roach-tight the windows. A whole army has come together from different walks of life to show me yet another picture of the body of Christ.
The process has been slower here than it would have been back home, but it’s a reminder that I’m growing so much in patience and understanding of the fact that it’s “Guatever.”
Being down here has truly been one of the great highlights of our lives, both in our spiritual growth and our marriage. Thank you so much for your prayers and generosity towards all the ministries we’ve been a part of down here. In less than a month we will return with a greater perspective in many areas of our faith.