Today was a difficult day...
Yes, it's a long way to the top (of both sets of steps), but what awaits us up there is well worth the climb. In the last few months, the ministry at San Marcos has grown from from an average of 30 kids to an average of 50! And if every one of them came every week, there would be over 70 children involved with us!
Today was a special day. It was my last Saturday with the kids in San Marcos. So rather than split up into groups to tell a Bible story, we all gathered together in the new room we're renting and all the kids worked on a special project. Each of the kids traced their hand on a piece of paper and then they all drew pictures and wrote notes on the hands they had traced. And at the end of the day I got to keep all the drawings!! Well, Tracie kept them anyway, I haven't gotten to see them yet. She says she's doing something special with them. I can't wait to see what all my precious friends drew and wrote for me! It was a really fun time. I got to go around the room and help all the little ones who are normally in my group. They couldn't trace their own hands, so I went around with markers and traced their hands for them and put their names on their papers. It's amazing how many names I have learned! I remember being worried I wouldn't remember any because there are so many kids! Some of the kids said goodbye to me and gave me notes or little gifts. Angelica said goodbye and gave me a note that said it was from her younger brother and sister, but I'm certain she wrote it for them.
After everybody finished their drawings, we all went back over to the park where we played more games and had more fun. We stayed in San Marcos a while longer today than we usually do. I was really grateful for the extra time with those kids. Especially with Wilber. I have grown to love him so much in the last few months. Not just Wilber, but his whole family. It is easy to see that Wilber comes from a home where there is no shortage of love. He and his brothers and sister are some of the most well-behaved kids. They are always smiling and laughing and they don't fight with each other. We have had the priviledge of getting to know their mom, Rosa Maria, as well. She is a great lady with a good heart. She seems to want to get involved with the children's ministry in San Marcos. She came by the room we are renting up there a couple weeks ago to check on the progress we were making with all the improvements (finished roof, cement floor, painted walls, ect.) and we got to spend some time just talking with her that day.
We also were blessed with a bag full of clothes and shoes that had been donated to the church here, and were able to take them up to Rosa's house yesterday morning to give to her and the kids. I had never been inside their front gate before. I had walked the kids home once before on a Saturday, but had said goodbye at the gate. When we were invited in yesterday my heart sank. I knew that many of the people who live in San Marcos are poor, but Wilber and his brothers and sister are always dressed nicely with washed and combed hair...and Rosa has such perfect teeth, and she and her husband take such good care of their children...I assumed they weren't quite as poor as the others in their community.
But they are poor. Niccolas, the oldest of the kids answered the door and invited us in. They don't have much of a house; just a tiny, weather-beaten shack with adobe walls, a bad roof, and a curtain for a door. The floor is just dirt, and where there are boards to walk on, they are rotting away. Wilber and Lupe were both home that day too, wearing dirty clothes way too small for them. Little lupe was wearing tights for pants, and her big toes were sticking through the holes in the feet of her tights. And no wonder Rosa has perfect teeth...she puts them in every day!! I didn't recognize her at first when she came outside to greet us. Almost all her real teeth are missing. She looked like a different person. Lupe and Wilber are sick. They've got sores on their faces and their parents can't afford to buy the cream to put on the sores. Rosa says Wilber's nose bleeds every night. Yes, they are poorer than poor, and my heart breaks for them.
And yet my heart rejoices that their home and family are built on love. They lack money and posessions, but they do not lack the things that matter for eternity. They share enough love in their home to cover over all the poverty.
I got to spend a few wonderful moments this afternoon with all the kids in the family. Niccolas, Christian Walter, Erik, Wilber Rodrigo, and little Guadalupe. I will never forget these kids. I will never forget how special they are, and how precious and perfect they are in the sight of God. And I will never forget how much they have come to mean to me in this short time that I have spent here. What an amazing gift God has given me in these kids. I am always impressed with how much more I see the blessings in my own life when I am doing what I can to bless others. I feel so sad to leave. But I am certain I will see these children again one day. God bless them so much!