Good News for Britani!

Good news!  I’ve been telling you the story of the 2 little girls with the missing birth certificates.  In Mexico, children need birth certificates to go to school. Unfortunately, getting one is not free, so often the poorest moms just don’t get it done.  Which means the children who need education the most, may not be able to access it.  It is frustrating and Veronica, the director at Manos de Amor has spent too many hours to count over the years chasing moms for papers.  If mom won’t cooperate, her children can’t go to school.  That has been the story for 7-year-old Britany for the past 18 months.  She has been shuffled back and forth between Mom, Grandma, and Manos de Amor and has never been able to attend a school.  She has watched her friends go to school each morning while she is left behind.   Although Manos de Amor has offered to pay for the birth certificate and do all the legwork, Mom has simply refused to cooperate, and she is the only one who can make the application with a photo and signature.

On Monday, Mom came to Manos de Amor to tell us where her new home is, and Veronica insisted she go with her to get her photo taken.  At first, she refused…. again…. but after borrowing some makeup from one of the staff members she agreed to go.  By Tuesday Veronica had the papers filled out and signed and many copies made.  It will still be a while before she gets the actual birth certificate – papers must be filed at 4 different offices around the state.  But having the papers filled out was enough for the school to agree to allow Britani to attend – under 2 conditions:

  • It is only approved for two months. If no papers are produced within 2 months, no more school for Britani.
  • She had to bring her own chair. What?  Nope, the school did not have an extra chair for Britani, she would have to bring her own.  So Veronica took a little wooden chair from the Manos de Amor dining room, outfitted it with a desktop and voila…. she had a desk.

From the dining room to a classroom

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By Wednesday, Britani was in school in her spiffy new uniform and polished black shoes, and when we picked her and her sister up in the golf cart after school she was happy beyond measure.  She is a year behind others her age, 2 months behind those in her class – but she is in school and she is excited.

More than anything, we hope that this will be a turning point for this family.  That Mom will step up and recognize how amazing her children are.   Will be there Friday afternoon to take her daughters home from school like all the other mothers who crowd around the school doors.    And if that doesn’t happen, our guest rooms are ready.  But for this week we celebrate that finally Britani is in school!

 

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A Weekend of sad FUN

Last weekend was fun, scary, hilarious, perplexing, humbling, exhausting and deeply satisfying.    Instead of doing our regular weekly vegetable shopping and house cleaning, we spent the weekend playing Monopoly, making bracelets and trying to braid the hair of the three little girls who stayed with us from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening.

We are so fortunate to spend most days working at Manos de Amor, a children’s home here in Bucerias.  Most of the children have some type of family or extended family – but every one of them has a painful story of poverty, abuse and neglect.  Even those parents who care, struggle to provide what their children need.  I have written before about the three little girls whose mom pops in and out of their lives, depending on the desperation in her own circumstances.  2 of the girls have never received birth certificates so they cannot attend school.   Usually we drive them to their grandmother’s home on Friday nights but since their mom and their grandmother recently had a falling out, that is no longer an option.  Mom has recently moved to Bucerias and we were hoping that living closer would make the situation a bit safer for these young girls.  Unfortunately, for the past 2 weeks Mom did not show up on Friday to get her children, nor did she call to explain.   The first weekend they went home with the orphanage director and then came to our house for Saturday afternoon.  On Sunday we all ran/walked/biked/skipped in a 5k together.

Our first weekend together away from the orphanage – some beach time and a 5k together

Last week they begged to spend the entire weekend with us.  No one, not even these sweet children, expected their mother to show up.  Of course, we agreed.   We knew it would be fun and maybe a bit terrifying.

On Friday after our English class we loaded them into the golf cart along with the other 3 that we drive home to a neighboring village a few miles away.  About a block from the home, we saw a couple sitting on the curb and one of the little girls quietly said to me “That’s my mama.”  We slammed on the brakes, pulled a U Turn and signaled for the woman to follow us back to the orphanage.  I could immediately tell she was in no shape to look after 3 children, and my own motherly instinct kicked in.  I was not about to part with these children who deserved to be safe this weekend.  I needn’t have worried.  Mom was coming to tell us that she did not have a home to take the girls to, she had been evicted and would like them to stay at the orphanage for the weekend.   I tried to see the positive in this – she had at least come to tell us.  Unfortunately, she did not talk to her girls, did not hug her girls, did not acknowledge them.  She walked away, and we drove down the dirt road out of town.  I turned around and watched the middle girl – the 7-year-old – put her dirty little face in her hands and start to quietly sob for the mom she still loved and wanted to be with.  The mom who hadn’t even said hello after not showing up for a number of weeks.   I saw she had a paper in her hand and when I took it I saw a heart she had drawn and the word “mama” written on it.  Even though she didn’t expect her mom to show up, she had drawn her a picture just in case.

Grant and I did all we knew to reduce some of the pain – we went into extreme grandparenting mode.  Over the next 3 days we took the girls swimming, played all kinds of games, did crafts, cooked the foods they requested, went out for pancakes, watched movies with popcorn, went to church, and even got up in the middle of the night to get rid of a bug in their room.  They chose which bedrooms they wanted, unpacked their few clothes into drawers, and claimed a stuffed animal each.   We had a blast and they behaved really well.  Each of them had a ‘moment’ but we were prepared, and they passed quickly.  It was a great weekend and I was even called ‘Mama’ once by the littlest 5-year-old.

 

At the end of the weekend the oldest 9-year-old asked for my Spanish translator and typed in ‘divertido’ – FUN –“this weekend was divertido.  Can we come again next week?”  How do you answer that when everything about her life is so uncertain and unstable?  I don’t know what next week holds for you little one.

Today during English class Mom showed up at Manos de Amor.  She has found a new home, close to the orphanage.  The director immediately took her by the arm and drove her to get a passport photo taken.  That is the first of many steps to get birth certificates for her daughters.   At first she argued because she wasn’t’ wearing makeup.  Seriously?  That’s what you’re concerned about?  Obviously, I have mixed feelings.  I am invested now.  I have wiped away tears and combed away lice and cut up pancakes.  But she is their mom and they love her and in her own brokenness, she must love them too.   But she needs help and perhaps that is the best we can do – be there when she doesn’t show up to pick up the pieces.   Suspend judgement and be a friend.  Love her daughters when she can’t.  Today I shook her hand and said, “It’s good to see you”.   And then I came home and tidied two bedrooms, put stuffed dogs in the center of beds and prepared for visitors.   Maybe these three will be back.  Maybe it will be others.   Whatever our assignment, we’re ready!

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Our First Mexican Wedding

I admit my last few posts have been a bit cranky as I have shared frustrations with getting things done here in Mexico.  Last week we had another experience getting plates for our second remolque (trailer).  There was ‘a guy’, some payments, some copying and stapling and shuffling.  Waiting.  But enough of all that.  It’s time to remind ourselves once again of all the things we love about Mexico.  There are a lot.

This week we were excited to attend our first Mexican wedding and to celebrate with our friends Carmelo and Paolo.  Carmelo is a young pastor at the church we attend in Bucerias.  He leads a mission in the tiny village of Higuera Blanca every Tuesday and Saturday.  Although it is mainly children who attend his programs he is committed to helping these children and to reaching out to their families.  He is relentless and passionate and Paolo is his faithful partner in this hard work.

19894623_1398041686957384_3432535226601340814_nCarmelo has been dating Paolo for a year or two.  When he first approached her dad to ask for his blessing to marry Paolo, Dad said “It is too soon – she is too young.  Let’s wait a bit”.  Carmelo respected this advice and waited until Dad gave him the green light.  Immediately the engagement was on and now, just 4 months later, it is the wedding day of these two amazing young people, the boda.

My dates for the wedding – no surprise, it was 2 hours late getting started so I was glad I had good company to enjoy the beautiful day in the country

I love how Mexico embraces symbolic rituals within its fiestas and celebrations.  Everything has beautiful meaning and even though this wedding looked very similar to a Canadian ceremony, there were a few things that I found very touching.  In all life stages, Mexicans choose Padrinas to stand by them – at baptisms, graduations, quinceaneras (when girls turn 15) and at weddings.  (See our post about when Grant and I were Grade 6 Padrinas).   They’re like godparents.  Carmelo and Paola had 5 different couples who performed a piece of the ceremony with them – a way of telling them “we’re with you – we’ve got your back.”

The first set of padrinas presented them with coins – symbolizing the hope that they would always be prosperous.  The second couple wrapped a beautiful white lasso around them – signifying that they were now tied together with an unbreakable bond.  The third padrinas presented them with their wedding rings – grownup ringbearers I guess.  The fourth couple presented them with a new Bible – exhorting them to follow the path of God’s words.  After Carmelo and Paola read their vows and were pronounced husband and wife, the fifth couple served them communion – Cena Santa.   It was all beautiful and I have so much hope for these 2.  I predict that they will be a life-changing team here in Mexico.

Note the lasso around Carmelo and Paolo in the bottom picture

While the newlyweds snuck off for photos, the guests dove into a candy bar with sweets and donuts and churros.  And hot sauce on all of it.  The groom’s dad, who operates a tiny restaurant in the dry river in Bucerias, had cooked up his specialty – birria and handmade tortillas.  This is a delicious beef stew like dish with lots of Mexican spices.  The only speeches were from the two fathers – giving their advice to this happy young couple.  There were lots of tears.  The throwing of the bouquet.  Carmelo threw an apron to the guys – not sure what that is about.  And then dancing.  Lots of fun dancing.  Not much different than a northern wedding except no chicken dance, no YMCA.

We snuck away around 10 or 11 and the party was going strong.  Carmelo and Paola are heading to Cancun for their honeymoon and we couldn’t be happier for them.  Every day we see so much need, so much brokenness, so much pain in this neighborhood – but today we celebrate a young couple that loves God, loves people, and really loves each other.  Felicidades Carmelo and Paolo.  We’re cheering you on as you start the journey!

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Norma and My Lost Computer

I still have no idea how I did it, but somehow, I lost my computer in the Mexico City Airport and did not notice it until I opened my briefcase in my home office in Bucerias.  Either I forgot to pick it up from the security bin (unlikely) or I forgot it in the Aeromexico lounge where we spent a few hours relaxing (quite likely).  I chalk it up to getting only 1.5 hours sleep on our overnight flight from Vancouver to Mexico City.  On top of that, after landing, we were trapped in the longest customs lineup of my life – 1 ½ hours of inching through the cattle stalls while women from Peru kept sneaking under the rails to bypass us.  I had a couple of free passes to the private lounge and I decided that since we still had 3 hours to kill, a comfy leather chair and some free snacks were definitely in order.  I remember finding us some soft chairs in a quiet corner with a plugin for my computer and then I don’t really remember if I actually plugged in the computer or not.   All I knew for sure on Monday afternoon was that I was in Bucerias and my computer was not.  PANIC!!!!!!   I had a lot of work to do after a busy week of meetings and losing my computer would be pretty much catastrophic.  The good news is that it is backed up weekly, so I would have most of my files, but I had done a lot of work over the previous few days that would be lost.

I started by googling the Lost and Found department at the Mexico City Airport, Terminal 2 and you won’t believe it.   First call…. they had my computer.  In broken Spanish I explained my problem and the woman who did not speak English understood me after asking a few questions.  Playa?  It has a playa?  YES it has a beach on the screen.   (Of course, it does, right?).  It says DIVA?  What?  DIVA?  What?  Oh yes Dive!  It says Dive Sask.  That’s the one.   In 10 minutes I had found the computer.  How hard could it be to get it home?

The woman suggested I call the next morning when the English speaker Mataya was there to help me get it home.  I was obviously pretty pleased with myself and thought I was freaking awesome for solving this problem.  I was actually pretty darn stupid to think this was going to be so easy.

The next day I called back to this office and Mataya told me to contact the Aeromexico Lost and Found department and they would be able to help me.  I would need a copy of my passport, my boarding passes and a power of attorney authorizing them to send it to the Puerto Vallarta airport.  She gave me their number.   After searching through the garbage can to find my discarded boarding passes (remember those dang boarding passes????) I called the number Mataya had given me.  Of course, that number didn’t work.  After a bit of searching online I did find another number and then my nightmare began.

Screenshot_20171019-140003Over the next 2 days I called that number 35 times.  One call lasted 1 hour, 44 minutes and 58 secs.  Another was 31 minutes and 5 seconds.   Norma would ask the same questions, give me the same instructions (you must email your boarding pass and passport and a letter) and I would give her the same answers (Norma, I emailed that to you this morning – please check your email) and then she  would say “Okay let me check” and put her phone on the desk so I could hear her talking to the guy with the lost IPhone and then 15 minutes later we would have the exact same conversation.  For 1 hour and 44 minutes and 58 seconds.  I was starting to lose it.  I could see that computer slipping away.  She kept asking me which flight I lost it on and I kept saying “Norma, it is sitting at the Terminal 2 Lost and Found – please just check your email and then go get my computer and put it on a flight.  PLEASE NORMA!!!!”  “Okay let me check.”   “Okay I found your email and boarding passes, but I need a copy of your passport.” “Norma, it’s in the same email.” “Okay let me check”.   15 minutes.  “Okay I found your passport but I need a letter asking us to send the computer.”  “NORMA IT’S ALL IN THE SAME EMAIL.  PLEASE CHECK.”  “Okay let me check”.

“Okay all these documents seem okay, let me see if I can find the computer.”  Sigh.  “I know where the computer is.  It is at Terminal 2 Lost and Found.  They have my computer.  Please just put it on a flight to Puerto Vallarta”.  Okay I will call you right back when I find it.”.  That conversation took 1 hour and 44 minutes and I was no closer to seeing my computer.  A few hours later I hadn’t heard back so I called again.  31 minutes and 5 seconds later we had agreed that my computer was a silver Dell and that it was at Terminal 2 Lost and Found.  And that Norma would email me to tell me which flight it would be on the next day.  Of course, the next day Norma did not email me.  I checked my email every 30 seconds and I called a few more times.  No one had any answers for me.  “Senora, which flight did you leave your computer on?”  Aargh…..no….. I didn’t lose it on a flight.  Is Norma there?  “No Norma is not here”.  Click.  Dial tone.

Having had enough of Norma, I decided to try the Aeromexico office in Puerto Vallarta.  Let’s work this backwards.  I called the office in PV “No one here speaks English.  Try the airport.”  Honestly, my Spanish was exhausted so I called the airport.  I started telling my story and then Victor said to me “Ah yes, Senora Swanson, I have your computer here.”  “WHAT?” It’s in PV?  NOW?”  Yes it is – I will be here until 6:00.”  Obviously, Grant and I flew out of the house and sped to the airport.  Victor met me with a sealed box and then he said, “Well I can’t really give this to you unless you give me a letter authorizing us to give it to you.”  “Victor, I sent a letter to Aeromexico in Mexico City.  Many times.  Please, I really need my computer.”  “Well Senora Swanson, Aeromexico has been very kind to you but we can’t be held responsible if your computer is damaged.  (Looking at the look on my face….) Okay I will give it to you but when you get home please email me a letter for my files.”  And then he handed me scissors and told me to open it myself.  He didn’t want to be responsible.  I was terrified.  What would be in the box?  Would it be my computer or that other dude’s IPhone?  Would it be broken?

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The first thing I saw in the box was the letter I had sent – right on top.  I handed it to Victor who was very happy.  I dug deeper and there was my precious computer.  In perfect shape.  I was very, very happy.  And Norma?   I imagine she is still on the phone listening to tired traveler’swoes and ‘checking’ on solutions.  She is probably happy.

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Mexican Bureaucracy in Canada OR Lots of Lost Things

I can’t quite belive that even in Canada, Mexican bureaucracy followed me and tortured me this week.  We had a great work/vacation/family time in Canada, but after 2 weeks we were eager to get home to our life in Mexico.  We had commented many times over the weeks how very easy things are in Canada and the US.  Stores open when the sign says they will open, things cost the same for everyone no matter what color their skin is and rules can always be found in the fine print.  But still we missed our crazy unconventional life in Bucerias and were ready to head back.)

We boarded the West Jet plane that was the beginning of our long journey from Sasktoon to Vancouver to Mexico City to Puerto Vallarta.   The flights weren’t great but using Air Miles the price was right.  We had printed all our boarding passes and the luggage tag for our one suitcase.  We were assured the bag was checked through to Mexico City where we would pick it up at Customs.   We spent the day with our daughter in Vancouver, searching for maple leaves for little Lucio who had requested them and then headed back to the airport for our overnight flight to Mexico City.  That is when I realized I had lost my boarding passes.  No big deal right?  They’ll print me more right?

First we tried the West Jet desk in the Domestic arrivals area where we had first landed.  No, since the West Jet leg is finished, you need to go to the Aeromexico desk in the International Departures area.   We headed to Aeromexico and explained our dilemna.

Yes they could print me new boarding passes – no problem.  But Senora, where is your luggage tag that is usually attached to the boarding pass?  Well yes that is lost too but I’m not worried – I’m sure the luggage won’t be lost.  But Senora, you can’t board the plane without the luggage tag – they have to look at it at the gate.  And you won’t be able to get your suitcase in Mexico City without that tag. 
Okay I have traveled a LOT and no one has ever asked to see the bag sticker – except that time in Ottawa when I lost my bag and filled out all the forms and then realized the bag was sitting right beside me all the time  – but that’s another long story.   Certainly no one has ever asked to see my sticker BEFORE letting me board the plane!  So I pushed back a bit.  That doesn’t really sound right.  My bags  were checked in Saskatoon all the way to Mexico City.  Why would the gate agent in Vancouver need to see my bag receipt before letting me board?  Senora, they need to prove it is your bag.  But it’s already been proven – in Saskatoon where it was loaded.  Well they won’t put it on this plane until we see your sticker.  So you mean all of these people in this line are going to show you their bag tag?  Yes Senora.  Can I double check this with your supervisor?  Who said this was certainly the case – no luggage tag, no boarding.

Okay well can’t you just print me another bag tag along with the boarding passes?  No Senora, only West Jet can do that.  I can see the record of your suitcase on my computer so let me write the number down on your new boarding pass and you go to the West Jet desk and tell them you need another tag with this number.  It is not far.

So off we went to find the West Jet desk  – which was definitely far.  We were in the International Terminal – West Jet is at the far end of the Domestic terminal.  Of course when we got there they said what I expected them to say.  What?  That makes no sense.  I can’t print the bag tag since the flight is in progress.  But I’ve never heard of anyone ever checking the tag at the gate.  That’s total crap (quote).  But let me get my supervisor.  Who raised his eyebrows very high and said, Well that makes no sense.  I’ve never heard of that.  Are you sure that’s what they said?  Sigh.  Just like getting our trailer license plates all over.  The kind agent tried to help.  Okay well here is my computer screen which shows your luggage number – why don’t you take a picture on your phone of my computer and show it to them.   Which I did.  But the thing is, it was the same computer screen the Aeromexico lady had already shown me when she was writing down the number to show West Jet.    

We headed back to the Aeromexico line, found the supervisor and showed her the photo on my photo – WHICH WAS ALSO ON HER COMPUTER – and she said that was fine, just show it to the agent at the gate.  We wandered around a bit – decided that it was not worth $34.95 to bring a tiny box of maple chocolates home to the children at the orphanage – and then headed to our gate.  Where the exact same lady we had been arguing with in the ticketing line was now the gate agent.  I walked up to the gate and handed her my boarding pass.  Oh yes Senora Swanson, we were just paging you.  We need to verify your bag tag.  I rolled my eyes and pointed to the spot where she had written our bag tag number.  She punched away on her computer.  Oh yes, I can verify this is the correct number of your bag tag.  WELL NO KIDDING – YOU JUST WROTE IT THERE after looking it up 30 minutes ago.  I never did show anyone the picture on the phone.  And as expected, no one in Mexico City asked to see my bag tag.  They didn’t even ask the standard questions like did I have alcohol or cigarettes or $10,000 or maple leaves from Stanley Park which I may or may not have had.


So I can say that the story of the lost boarding passes and lost luggage tag worked out just fine.  Unfortunately, when I opened my briefcase this afternoon, I realized that we have now moved on to the story of the lost computer in the Mexico City airport.   Stay tuned…

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    Another Grad…. Another Head Table

    What the heck is with me and graduations and head tables?  This weekend I was thrilled to attend the graduation of my dear friend Veronica from the Information Services computer class she has been taken for the last 2 years.  Veronica is the director of Manos de Amor – a fireplug if there ever was one.  She invited her children and her sister and some Manos children and a few friends to the ceremony and dinner, and Grant and I were excited to be included.

    Like every Mexican event we have ever been invited to, it started about an hour late.  We arrived at 2:00 sharp and the only other people in the whole room were our friends Francisco, Anita and Manuela.  Not another graduate.  Not a staff member from the school.  5 of us alone in the room.    At around 2:45 people started to trickle in and things were ready to start at around 3.

    There were 4 chairs at the head table, and 3 people sitting there.  One empty chair. About 5 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, Anita came to me and told me the organizers would like me to sit at the head table to help hand out certificates  and to give a few words on behalf of Manos de Amor.  WHAT???   Déjà vu flooded over me – was this a mistake again?  (Remember this? We’re Padrinas mistaken for Celebrities)  Because I don’t speak Spanish and these people are all Spanish and what on earth should I say and why do they want me to say it?  I slightly panicked.  They told me Anita would translate for me and then that was it.  They were announcing my name and I was sitting at the head table.

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    I am still a bit confused.  I think that Veronica is just really well respected amongst her peers as is her organization and they were genuinely pleased that we were there.    So what did I say?  I congratulated the graduates, told them I recognized how they had sacrificed in order to help their families and their communities and in fact all of Mexico to become stronger.  I told how much Manos de Amor values education and that it was important that children who are watching them see that they value it too.  I told them not to stop learning.  And I promised that even though I am old, I can going to continue learning until I can speak Spanish.

    And the really funny thing?  All of the graduates had agreed to wear pink dresses to the ceremony and guess what color I was wearing?  I fit right in as if it had all been planned.

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    So Felicidades Veronica – Mama Vero – we are proud of you and I was  honored to be the one to hand you your certificate!

    Now let’s have a party!!!

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    Who Cares if it’s a Square?

    Today is Friday -the final day of our Monday, Wednesday, Friday English class schedule.   On each of those days we teach 3 classes to the children of Manos de Amor Casa Hogar.   These children are living at Casa Hogar because their parents or caregivers need a helping hand.  A few have no parents.  Many have 1.  Lots of grandmas have stepped in.   They have all experienced great trauma in their young lives – abuse, prostitution, alcoholism. And poverty.  A lot of poverty.

    So 3 days a week we arrive at the home with our bag full of worksheets and crafts and videos and songs and tablets.  We have divided the groups by age.  The 6-9 year olds have learned about colors and families and counting to 20 and greetings and this week we learned about Day and Night.  We are working on vocabulary but also trying to learn some sentences.    “I have 4 shoes”. “Touch something red with your nose”.  They love songs and sing them REALLY LOUD.  I expect the whole neighborhood now knows the days of the week.  They especially love the English learning apps we have on the tablets that we use once a week or so.

    20170906_163354The oldest children – those 10 and over – use the Duolingo language learning app.  We don’t really have to teach them – we are there to help when they are stuck and to do group review from time to time.  We are also there to stop their little fingers from ‘accidentally’ going to the App store and ‘surprisingly’ downloading games.  “I don’t know how that happened Karen”.  Sure you don’t.  We do reward them with a few minutes of game time to keep them coming back.  I love using this app because each child moves at his or her pace and new students can join at any time.

    20170922_145605The funnest class is the littles, the 4-6 year olds.  They are hilarious and are actually learning quite a few words.  They are the ones who speak to me in English every chance they get.  “Hello, my name is Azbeth, how are you I am fine and you?”  They just run it all together and are so proud.   This week they learned shapes and today we finished the week by making Shape Guy heads.  They practiced shapes and face parts and colors on one little craft and they were pretty excited with the final product once they had added some butterflies and dogs and family members.

     

    We are having fun but I have to admit that some days I look around at the needs and problems in this country and I wonder what possible difference it will make if Jose knows the difference between a square and a rectangle.   Will knowing their colors keep 12-year-old girls from getting pregnant and will greeting gringos in English stop boys from becoming trapped by alcohol?  Today after our final class we drove children from 3 families to their homes for the weekend and as I am every Friday, I was saddened by what I saw.  How can we think our little classes can make a difference?

    But as I held babies and hugged toddlers, and stepped in poopy diapers littered on the ground, I smiled.  Yes, if children here learn English they will have an opportunity to secure a better paying job in the tourism industry.  But these 4-year-olds aren’t out looking for jobs.  What they are looking for is acceptance, confidence, affection, hope, safety and security.  For LOVE.  I watched Jose show his sisters and his niece Lupita his Shape Guy and I realized that for a few minutes today he felt proud of himself.  For at least an hour he experienced confidence and creativity and joy.   I remembered the look on Jorge’s face when he told me he had finished 8 Duolingo lessons.  The cheer Mareli let out when she finished a whole section of today’s learning app.

    Our English class is not going to change Pricila’s life.  But maybe it will bring a tiny bit of healing to her broken heart.  Her mom isn’t there for her – but on Monday and Wednesday and Friday I can be.

    As we left each of these children at their homes today – I really hate doing that – I did what I do each week.  I opened their little hands, tapped my fingers to their palms and then touched their palms to their hearts, “Okay, here is Jesus.  Don’t forget he’s going to be here with you all weekend.  You’re going to be ok”.

    I realized what our class has to offer these little ones. – it offers US.   Our hearts.  Our acceptance.  Our love.  And really, that’s all any of us have to offer.

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