¡¿Week 8?!!

Well folks! This is the official end of week 8. What?!? Some days it feels so normal and other days I cannot believe its all real. That I have really been here speaking Spanish, reading books like its my job, spending my days holding babies of kids my age and younger and spending my Friday nights hanging out on the streets of what some would consider to be one of the more "dangerous" districts in Lima. Being here for 4 months has been really neat in that aspect. It is not so much a "trip", I feel like I am living my life here. I like it, although I anticipate this making it harder to leave in the end...but its not the end so we will not start thinking about that :).

This week has been one full of ups and downs. During tutoring we had quite the "aha" moment as some of the concepts are finally beginning to stick. Hands down I can read and write in Spanish like a pro--- its the pressure of speaking in the moment that always gets me. So while I am learning a lot in Spanish class I think I still only use the four words I knew before coming when trying to communicate outside the class room. sigh. BUT progress is being made.

It was a very good week with the kids of Generacion, the children´s home I have mentioned in the past, after the zoo outting on Sunday we went again to visit them on Tuesday morning and then on Friday we got to take them to the beach to look for seashells. I was probably just as excited as they were seeing as how the beach is probably my favorite place on earth and this is the first time we have been able to go. The ocean air was invigorating and it was just so nice to be with the kids outside of the home. The seemed so wild and free (almost too free in a couple moments:). All in all it was a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon. We sorted intently through millions of shells and I had the honor of carrying all of their treasures in my pockets. The simple things about this time really struck me. I got to translate for one of the girls as she told Aaron, one of my teammates, that she feels comfortable around him because he reminds her of her uncle that passed away and that maybe in another life she would be able to visit Aaron in his country. I was honored to be her voice in that moment. In the cab I shared the front seat with another of the boys who sat and held up each shell to his ear and then to mine to see if the ocean sound was there or not. I had to fight to keep from laughing with joy at the way he dedicated his energy to this task. All the while four of the girls had turned their new shells into instruments and were singing the whole way home at the top of their lungs. I was so happy in that moment.

To be quite honest I used to dread going to Generacion. The kids are younger (3-13) and seemed needy in a way I couldn´t do anything about. I felt helpless and useless when we went there and the kids did not seem to really care whether we came or went. The funny thing is, the more we go, the more I see why its important that we go and, in turn, the more I look forward to it. The more we go, the more I see why its important that we are consistent, that every Tuesday morning they can count on us being there whether they want to see us or not. Their lives are full of inconsistency and unknowns. They know how to guard against the pain but at the same time the way they latch on seems to scream that they are still young and they have not yet given up hope. And I guess most importantly, I see more why its not about me and how and I feel when I am there. Its about them, the precious kids and their need to be loved and to be able to give love in the ways that they know how.

It was also a great week of relationships among the staff community. It has been a blast getting to know Mark better in our post Taylor days and its just nice to have someone around who has a semi-context for where you´ve been and who you are. And sharing a dorm size accomodation with the two other girls, Jane and Jill, has been such a blessing in disguise. This week was marked with thoughtful night time conversations, the end of our night time readings of the little prince, and a major jam session complete with jumping on the bed and makeshift water bottle microphones. We have truly become friends and I am so enjoying the unique contribution of each girl to the group. Of course we can´t forget Aaron, he´s the crazy one with the uncanny ability to make me smile. He also likes to hear books read out loud which is great when you´re a person, like me, who likes to read out loud :). The permanent staff has also been such a blessing. Jennifer takes wonderful care of her servant team, Mia is always willing to chat or loan a good book, Craig is the most gracious of hosts as we often end up spending our evenings at his house, and Brian and Rachel lead the field with admirable grace and thoughtfulness. It has been challenging and wonderful to slowly become a part of this community.

Lets see what else, Friday night was my night to go to the streets this week and it was another weird night. Well, now that I think about it I am beginning to think that what I would like to believe is a wierd night is actually quite normal and that the nights that have seemed calm and almost comfortable were in fact the nights that are few and far between. Most of the kids that we know well were not there and the ones that were all seemed very sad and distracted. Its hard to see them and sit with them and not know what to do or say. And I wish I could understand all they tell me but at the same time I wonder how much it really matters because I know I still wouldn´t have the answer. So instead I just listen and pray. I really am still in awe at what a gift they do give us as they trust us. One boy shares his struggles & fears while another presses all the money he has to his name into my hand and asks me to guard it as he runs to play soccer with the other boys. Both are saying, "I trust you". For a girl (yep thats me) who struggles with understanding trust and what it means to truly trust God and to truly allow herself to trust others and herself, they have given a gift that is beyond words.

Saturday and Sunday were nice days of rest and relaxation. We visited an older part of Lima called Barranco overlooking the ocean (yep, thats twice in one week, so good for the soul) and Saturday night I got to meet up with an old friend from highschool who happens to be here for language school (Jake Florer, for all you Iowans). We had a fantastic time chatting and catching up over milanesa, rice and papas fritas which is probably one of my favorites of the Peruvian delights. Sundays are always sunny here for some reason so we enjoyed the sun on the to and from a great church service. A couple of the kids met up with us to go to church and one of them somehow acquired two rabbits over the course of the time we were at church because we definitely did not have them on the way there. They are now named Ramses and Nefertiti and, if all goes according to plan, they will soon be having pharonic babies. Why you ask? I don´t know. My Spanish just isn´t that good. Oh and a quick recommendation about transporting rabbits, a cardboard box is not ideal, especially in the instance that you may almost drop it causing the rabbits to pee everywhere including through the box onto your pants. Luis would tell you this from experience. I couldn´t stop laughing.

So its late and I should go but just a few things you should know before we say our goodbyes...

1. I have moved into a secure second place in our fantasty football bracket after having decidedly winning the last two weeks in a row. It makes being unable to play flag football or watch football on television seem not so bad after all....

2. Psalm 142 is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible and the favorite one of the kids I have grown to care for very much. It really is his song. Check it out.

3. Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller, From Brokenness to Community by Jean Vanier. Amazing books. Do it if you can. I also just started Rich Christians in and Age of Hunger by Ron Sider, I´ll give you the update post reading and book discussion.

4. Please pray for the Casa Job. There are some intense financial needs that must be met if we want to keep the doors open and to keep the center running for the kids. If you want to know more about this you can post a comment or email me monica_ghali@yahoo.com .

5. And of course, thank you for your continued support and prayers. I hope that my thoughts and ramblings give you a picture of what is going on here and how amazing is the Lord that we serve and how deep and beautiful is redemption in Christ.

peace and love to all of you dear friends and family...