Monday was quite an eventful day. That morning, we split up in to three groups. The men went to work on a small building just down the street from the mission. This is going to be a bakery, which will provide jobs for women living in the Jessica House, and a few small apartments to house those overseeing the bakery. I’ll let Lance talk about everything they did at the bakery!
One group of women went to visit a home that currently houses 3 families, totaling 16 people. The house is small, so only two of the families fit inside of it, and the third family is living under a little lean-to outside. There are no walls, and no floor to this family’s little home, so when it rains, they have a muddy ground to sleep on, and their stuff gets soaked. From the stories I’ve heard, the families were so grateful for the visit, and for the items that the group brought. They ranged from toys, to toiletries, to comfort items like blankets and pillows.
The other group of women, the group I was in, went to visit a family in Belen. There were 5 of us, plus Nedy (one of the missionaries), and 5 Safehouse men were sent with us as “bodyguards”. Did I mention that Belen is a dangerous place?! Anyways, when we got down there, we went in to the house of the family we were there to see. The mom’s name is Helga, and she has 5 children, plus [I’m assuming her mother] Grandma. The father of the children [from what I’ve gathered, marriage isn’t a big deal to Peruvians] also lives there, however he wasn’t there when we showed up. We were told that he is an alcoholic, and abusive. We also brought some goodies for Helga and the children: toys, shampoo, soap, lotions, a blanket, and a sweater. Helga was so excited about the sweater-she immediately put it on and her face just lit up! You could tell she was completely overwhelmed by everything we brought to her, and so thankful for it all.
Nedy told her that they wanted to take her up to the market to buy food for her, anything she wanted. Katlyn and I didn’t want to make that trip [honestly, Belen still REALLY scared me at this point, however, by the third trip we made, I was a lot more relaxed when visiting] so we stayed back with two of the Safehouse guys, Jefferson and Alex. It was kind of awkward at first, because neither of them knew English, and Katlyn and I don’t know Spanish, but after a few minutes, we decided to go walking down the street. As we walked, we would motion out things and say the English word, and they would tell us the Spanish word, and vice versa. This moment is in my TOP 5 favorite moments from Peru. They taught us Spanish, and we taught them English. We learned that Alex is in his 30s and has two daughters, and was actually from Belen. He said that for 18 years, he did drugs and would be the one passed out under the houses on tables. He was so excited to share that God had changed him though! It was awesome to me that he would go back to the area he was from and try to minister to those people he once did drugs with. Jefferson had an interesting story as well (which I found out a couple of days later). He is 25 years old and was also a drug addict. He was attacked by 5 guys one night when he was high; they stabbed him multiple times and broke his arm, then just left him. He said people watched it happen and didn’t do anything, and then person after person walked by him, literally dying in the street, and they did nothing. Finally, a man stopped, gathered him up, and got him the medical help he needed. He said he eventually found out about the Safehouse and ended up there, but he wasn’t clear about how he found it. I also found out later that earlier in his life, he had murdered some men and spent time in jail for it. And yes, he’s only 25 years old. You want to talk about a joyful, energetic, happy man though?! He was so excited about the change in his life and you could just see the love and joy of the Lord all over him! Katlyn and I will always remember and cherish the time we had getting to know these two guys![This is Jefferson – if I can find a clear picture of Alex, I’ll post one of him, too]
The rest of our group returned with a TON of food. When they went to go in the house, the door was locked so Gustavo jumped the railings to the next floor and came down to open the door. When we went in, the dad was passed out in a chair in front of the TV. Helga immediately started crying and just collapsed on Nedy’s shoulder. They talked for a minute, we prayed for Helga and the family, and then we had to quickly leave. It would have been awful if he would have woken up and seen all of us standing there. Helga had to hurry to hide the food once we left because if he found it, he would sell it to buy drugs or alcohol.
*We were able to visit Helga on Wednesday when we went back down there. The food was all still hidden and he hadn’t taken any of it. She was so excited to see us again, and we were able to get a picture with her and the children that were home (some were at school).
Monday afternoon, everyone went to do a Kids Camp that the Safehouse guys head up. Lance and I didn’t go to this because we were going to be clowning that evening and we needed to practice some things. From what I’ve heard, the kids camp was a TON of fun!
That night, we went to an orphanage. This was the first time that Abundant Life Ministries [the group we were down there helping] had ever been able to go inside the orphanage. Truly something that God had worked out! They brought a lot of the children out to this outdoor stage area and we played games with them for a LONG time! Lance and I were clowns along with two of the guys from the ministry’s group. It was a LOT of fun seeing those children laugh and smile. It was also so heartbreaking to know that they didn’t have a mom or a dad. Some of them would look at you as if to say, “Please take me home with you.” It was definitely an eye-opener. The sad reality is that a lot of those children aren’t even adoptable. If there is ONE family member that stops by just once a year, the child is deemed unadoptable because they have known family. A lot of those children will live their whole life in that orphanage, and then when they’re too old to live there, they’ll be kicked out to the streets with no where to go, no life skills, nothing. Just thrown out there to fend for themselves. In hunger, a lot will turn to drugs and prostitution. It’s a sad, sad reality. Please pray for people to pursue these children in adoption, and that the Peruvian government will not be so difficult to deal with when a child is being pursued.
Our pastors adopted a little girl from this orphanage a few years ago. Her name is Camila. When we got to the orphanage, they learned that she has an older brother and sister in the orphanage. This is Calley [our pastor’s wife] with Camila’s sister.When we left, I don’t know that there was a single dry eye. Everyone was wrecked by the orphanage and that’s why I say it was an emotional one. When we got back to the mission, it was already late. Courtney had mentioned to me earlier in the day that they were going to get Maria out of the wako and she wanted me to go with them. She told me as soon as we got back that they were leaving and I needed to quickly change so I could go. Lance was able to go to. It was the perfect, teary-eyed ending to an already overwhelming day! I’ll share a little more about this particular experience in another post since this one is already long!
*A HUGE thank you to everyone who took pictures! All of these pictures were taken by other people who were on the trip with us!