The men are already sweaty and grubby from digging the trenches and building the forms for the concrete pour that will happen tomorrow.
Colette and I along with one of the Tia's will be sorting bags of donated clothing and putting them away in the children's neatly organized rooms. Along the way we are all trying to incorporate 'help' from the children, teaching them responsibility along with assuring them of the love and security they so desperately need.
I want to further address some of the questions that I know are on some peoples minds.
As previously mentioned we cannot post pictures of the faces of the children on the world wide web. The reasons are simply privacy and protection issues. Awhile back a mother showed up at one of the orphan homes. She wanted her daughter back. She knew the location because of a picture that had been posted on the web.
She had abandoned her baby girl to the orphanage when she could not care for her but now her daughter was of 'street age"... old enough at 11 to sell to the sex trade. TO THE SEX TRADE!!You can see why a child's location needs to be kept private!! There was man who came to one of the homes stalking the child he had seen on a friend's facebook page.
For these reasons we cannot post pictures of the the children's faces. I must also be careful to not post too many pictures that might give away the location of Cherie's home. Sure, plenty of people know that a gringa lives on such and such a hill in such and such a town and takes care of several orphans but we still do whatever we can to take security precautions to protect these precious children.
So many of these kids have been sexually abused, including most of the young ones in Cherie's care. The behavioral problems the kids display from time to time keep this new mom busy from sun-up to sun-down. The children are not eager to interact with strangers such as Bruce and myself so yesterdays outing with the kids to the swimming pool at out hotel was fun to witness. Today we have had more opportunities to interact with the children and they are giving me smiles and chatting to me in rapid fire Spanish to which I can only smile in return! But they want to learn English and like little sponges soak up the words we share with them.
Someone commented on my pictures on Facebook suggesting we were staying in a resort and questioning the validity of this being a mission trip. I wish to address this more fully....
Yes.We are staying in a very nice hotel. The owners (Gringo's) have developed a relationship with Jeremy and Colette during their previous visits to Costa Rica before they launched ABINA.. Wanting to support the ministry of ABINA, they have given us a very special price for our stay. Yes, it is a lovely hotel, with a swimming pool and a restaurant. It is a 30-35 minute drive from the hotel to Cheries. Our location is in a safe part of town. We cannot stay with Cherie-- there is no room. I have been on mission trips where we have stayed in dorm style rooms and I have also stayed in motels. The trip Bruce went on to Japan last year, while the 'tents' they stayed in were rudimentary in structure, they were also warm, cozy and safe. Each time we have gone out our team leader has made sure we were safe and well provided for. A safe, rested and well fed team is important for productivity and moral, ensuring our ability to focus on the mission we are there for.
We are rising each morning at 6 am, eating breakfast in the hotel dining room (included with our room fee) then out the door and on our way to Cherie's by 8. Our first couple of days were about acclimating to the heat, time change, and recovery from travel. It was also important to see the scope of work needed to be done and develop a more realistic plan and material list. Bruce had a plan penciled out before we left home, based on numerous discussions with Jeremy and Cherie but you just don't really know till you see the job site, how much work will be involved. Already just since the work began many tweaks have needed to be made as complications and surprises have popped up! We are being tested and stretched. A trip to the local lumberyard can eat up half a day. We put in a full days work, stopping for a hearty lunch made by one of the Tia's and a coffee break usually around 3. We will go home dirty, sweaty and tired stopping at either a grocery store or a fast food place for our supper. The fancy meals we have enjoyed at the hotel were in honor of my birthday on Saturday night. We really can't afford to treat ourselves like that every night!!
is not Haiti. It's not Honduras either. It's not considered a 3rd World Country but it certainly has its share of poverty and is in great need. The sex trade is just as prevalent here as in other countries. Beautiful expensive homes share the same hillside as shacks and shanties. There is no welfare system for families to rely on and while you see plenty of little churches there is still a desperate need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be shared. Costa Rica is beautiful, there is no denying this. My heart soars as I gaze out across the verdant hills and I close my eyes with pleasure as I listen to the coo of the Morning Dove. I hang on for dear life as we traverse the treacherous curves of the highway and cringe when a car honks and passes us on a blind curve. And my heart hurts when I see a child who won't meet your eyes because someone has betrayed them this early in life.
I think sometimes we develop an idea that mission trips must mean living in huts with the locals and not bathing and exposing ourselves to unsafe drinking water. Occasionally I have come up against a mindset that says 'why are you going out of the country to do work when so many people in our own backyards need it." I have no argument with the need in our own backyards. And Bruce and I have often done local mission outreach and will continue to do so as the Spirit leads. Because in God's economy there are no boundaries dividing me from my brothers and sisters in Costa Rica or Macedonia or anywhere else. In God's plan we ARE ALL HIS CHILDREN. As the song from childhood plays in my head, Red and Yellow, Black and White, ALL are precious in His sight..... Jesus loves His children.
A friend of mine tells me how she tried to do outreach work in her local area (USA) and was shut down at every turn... you need a permit.... there's already a group doing that..... you're just contributing to their dependence on the system.....
Red Tape can certainly make you lose your momentum... It has become much easier to do outreach work in other countries! Those people are hungry for the good news while in America God has practically become banned.
So.....Where God calls we will go.