Today we woke up early excited to work with the kids. Our hotel had breakfast ready for us on the top floor, and although I couldn't have it (bread), it was a cool view of the city. The honking is constant here, and although it was cold this morning it was sunny and blue skies as usual. The whole team packed up in the bus and took to the streets towards our first orphanage of the day. The morning streets were crowded with cars and taxis, people on motorbikes, dusty men standing on the side of the road waiting for buses, and stray dogs. A garbage truck sat on the side of the road playing classical music... An odd thing to witness. Turns out because of all the stray dogs people can't leave their trash on the street; so when you hear the music you're supposed to bring out your trash.
We made it to the first orphanage and immediately set to work. The medical team made camp in the kitchen area and laid out their supplies. The rest of us on the kids team went into another building into a rec room of sorts to start getting things ready for the kids. This week we are focusing on the story of Joseph so we have several crafts planned including a coat of many colors craft, some coloring pages, a bead bracelet to tell the story of salvation and an interactive story about Joseph. Joseph faced so much adversity (his brothers hated him, he was sold into slavery in Egypt, he was wrongfully thrown into jail, he was forgotten by man) yet he continued to have faith in God. God was always with Joseph, even in the pit his brothers pushed him into, even in the prison he was wrongfully placed in for years...He saw Joseph and promised to raise him up (which He did).
We laid out the craft supplies and Ben set up his felt board to tell his Sunday school story when the kids started buzzing in and out. They greeted us with hugs and smiles and were humming with excitement. About 50 kids excitedly came into the space and we began with teaching them some fun songs and dances. They loved them! The songs required motions and dance moves and they got really into them, it was so cute. After the songs, Ben started telling the story of Joseph with the help of an interpreter. While he animated the whole story, the rest of us got prepped for the rest of the crafts. They definitely loved all the crafts and candy we gave them and were so excited to keep the Crayons as their own. A few hours later of sticky hands and excited faces we ended our time with the kids by giving them some new soccer balls. The boys were stoked and immediately ran outside to their awesome soccer field and we played a quick game before we had to leave. They were such sweet souls!
Our team reloaded on the bus and headed off to Pastor Pablo's pastors conference where they had prepared a traditional Arequpian lunch for us. When we arrived at the facility wouldn't you know it but an alpaca was just hanging outside the door! Turns out he lives around there and comes by. I, of course, was so excited and couldn't resist snapping way too many pictures.
Lunch was a good traditional meal. The first thing we ate was what they called "miracle" because during a war the army didn't have anything but some potatoes, vegetables and chicken and they made this casserole type of meal. It was served cold and was actually really good. The second thing they gave us was a traditional rice and meat dish that was delicious- I could've ate that all day long.
After a quick lunch we headed off to a second orphanage. When we arrived into the property the kids literally ran to greet us and gave each of us a hug. They were so excited and couldn't hug us enough. Every one of us suddenly had a child or two on each hand and they excitedly were telling us they wanted to show us their home. They were so proud of their home and gave us a complete tour: everything from the kitchen, to the showers to their bedrooms and library. It was small and compact but so full of love, you could just feel it. We later found out that these kids actually built this home with their own hands, so their love and excitement of their home was evident.
These particular kids were so joyful and exuberant. I loved every moment with these kids and could have stayed twelve more hours and had a blast with them. They all were so cute singing and dancing with us and they were all over the crafts. While Ben told the story of Joseph they sat at attention and even answered questions about the story afterwards! After several hours with the kids just playing and loving on them they had a surprise for us. The kids sat us down and proceeded to surprise us with performing dances! They were so cute. They performed several dances for us, both traditional and modern, and were just so full of life and joy- it was contagious.
Leaving those kids was super hard but as the sun was setting we loaded back on the bus and waved out the windows at all the kids on the side of the road as we drove off. To think that these kids have so little but are so joyful, it just really changes your perspective.