Let me just start out by saying BOY AM I JEALOUS OF ALL THE SNOW YOU ARE GETTING! Of course Mother Nature waited until after I left to dump a foot of snow onto the ground. I've seen the pictures but it just isn't the same as that feeling I get when I wake up and look out the window to see the beauty that was unveiled while I slept. I've watched videos and heard stories of you all sledding, sitting inside watching it snow with a cup of tea in hand, etc. So when you want to complain about the weather please remember that I SOO badly wish I were there playing in it.
On the flip side ....let me take a few moments to make YOU all jealous! :)
Since being back I've gotten to spend time with the 5 brothers, Carlos, Eduardo, and Saul. I spent time with Sam (before she left) David, and Jen. Thursday we went out to Nuevo Oriental (my favorite village) We spent time in the feeding center making tortillas, dishing out food, praying with the kiddos, washing hands, etc. The feeding center feeds 200 kids a day. Though it is only one meal...it is one meal more than most of those kids would have had otherwise. More importantly it is a balanced meal and they get a vitamin and much needed love/attention.
We also got to spend time with families that we have taken special interest in...families that have stolen our hearts. For me I had no choice in my special family. Months ago I was standing up near the feeding center when I noticed a filthy, bone thin, darker skinned boy. Unlike the other children, he was wearing normal clothes instead of the typical white shirt/blue pant school uniform. His skinny frame did little to fill out the, 2 size too big, clothes he was wearing. Yet none of that is what initially grabbed my attention. What I noticed first was that he was cornered and being picked on by a group of other boys. They were calling him dumb, black (just as offensive here as it is in the states...maybe even more so) and other such names. The boy was yelling back and trying to act like he didn't care what they thought. Yet as I watched I could see longing in his eyes. Longing to be one of them...longing to be wearing a school uniform and going to school....longing to simply fit in.
I made my way towards the boy and as nonchalantly as I could I wrapped an arm around his shoulders and asked if there was a problem. The boys weren't as brave once I had made my presence known and they quickly left. Underneath my arm I could feel that the boy was even more frail than I had once thought. Upon closer evaluation I could see that his feet were bloody from walking the mountains barefoot. Every time he moved he had to reach down to tug his pants back on his hips and his shirt was worn through in spots. As I started talking to him and prodding him for information I found out that his name was Jorge and at 12 years old he had never been to school. He lived close by with his parents and 5 siblings. Although his father worked (hard) he barely made enough to keep them from starving so school was completely out of the questions.
I spent the remainder of the day with him by my side. Since then I barely get to the village before his smiling face finds mine. He has manifested himself into the deepest places of my heart. I can't explain why I feel so connected to him...maybe it is that I can relate. Not that I know what is like to be poor and starving....or to be picked on for being dumb. Yet I do know what it feels like to be backed into a corner by the expectations and accusations of the world. I know all too well the feeling of being different or inadequate. I remember well the day I felt God's arm circle my shoulders. I remember hearing His silent promise that He wasn't going to let go and that no matter how out of place I felt in this world He LOVED me...ME. He saw through my grime, my anger, my awkwardness...and He saw my longing.
I know I don't walk it out perfectly...I fail miserably most days...but if I can be God's arm around that boy than I will do so joyously. I will love him the best I know how. I will remind him as often as I can that someone thinks he is special.
So it is that boy that had me begging David to go Nuevo Oriental (not that I had to beg much he loves the village as much as I do!) for the day. While I was home I was able to go shopping with Vicky for a few hours. On our shopping adventure we found flip flops on sale at Old Navy. They were discounted enough that we just couldn't pass them up. We grabbed as many pairs of shoes as we could carry and headed to check out. Most of the pairs were brown or black but I had found one bright blue pair in Jorge's size. Seeing as how blue is his favorite color I couldn't think of anything better!
While in Nuevo Oriental I was able to not only give Jorge his shoes but also managed to dig out flip flops to fit each of his brothers and sisters. I got to sit on the floor of their one room house as they tried on flip flops and oohhhed and ahhhed over each pair. Santos (Jorge's brother) debated over whether he wanted brown of black and Heti (Jorge's sister) promptly jumped up and walked around admiring how they felt on her feet.
Jorge's job is to take the tortillas his mom makes each morning and sell them around the village. They sell 2 tortillas for 1 Lemp ...which means for 20 Lemps (one dollar) you could buy 40 tortillas. When we arrived at 8:45 Lily (their mom) was just finishing up the days tortillas. She had made close to 300 tortillas! As I asked if the kids could run off and play with me for a bit I could see the battle going on within her. Though she wanted to let Jorge play she knew that he needed to sell the tortillas so they would have a little money. I was afraid to offend her but I selfishly wanted to drag Jorge off to be with me for a few hours. So as gently as I could I asked if I could purchase the tortillas. I found out what the going rate was for tortillas and offered her twice as much....explaining that we needed tortillas at the house. I told her that one day she was going to have to teach me to make tortillas but until then I was going to have to just buy them. So at the end of the day I walked away with close to 100 tortillas. I paid 200 Lemps ($10) total... 2 Lemps for one tortilla...but it was more than worth it for the few hours I was able to spend with Jorge.
In the past months I've searched out the name and number for the director of the school in the village. I called him and in my broken spanish I sought (begged) for permission for Jorge and possibly Heti (10 year old) to be able to attend school this coming year. He graciously agreed even though they normally wouldn't let kids of their age start this late. I'm not sure how it is all going to work out but I'm willing to help them try. I have to purchase uniforms, school supplies, etc. I also have to pay school fees and bills. I wish I could send all of them to school but there is no way I can afford that. So for now at least I'll settle for getting Jorge started in school. If anyone would like to donate to help me with Jorge's schooling or the schooling of his siblings please feel free to donate. You can make checks out to Belpre Church of Christ and write my name in the memo line. Mail the check and a note explaining what the money is for to Teresa Lauer at 3515 St Rt 266 Stockport OH 43787. School starts in a week so I'll be frantically trying to get his uniform and such bought and ready for him to begin on time.