Day 2 at our first Compassion Project, at Villa Tunari Church. Pastor Dionocio greeted us with smiles and gratitude and we dove right in to the work for the second day. We quickly set up for centers for the children who were already there, and we also went to work on building the classroom. The prior day our team was able to pour a whole cement roof. Some of the guys were just a little tired from all the mixing and lifting cement via a very unusual pulley system to get the cement up to the roof. Today more of the walls went up in one of the four classrooms. They guys gave it their all – way to go!
The kids had a great time with all of the different stations we had for them. They were very proud of the bracelets they made. We also took them to a nearby park to play with the parachute and soccer balls we had brought for them. It was a really fun sight to see Brian Howell with kids all around him and then about 26 kids in line behind him lead us to the park. While it freaked me out just a little to keep track of so many little ones with trucks and cars whizzing through the neighborhood off and on and dogs slinking around looking like they wanted to bite someone, we did make it safely to the park. The kids had a blast and I think I might be tired from catching so many little bodies that came hurdling down the very big slide! For some reason I thought it would be a fantastic idea for me to play soccer with the little boys. And, it was a fantastic “idea”, just not so easy in the altitude. I maybe played for 7 minutes, which felt like an hour and was huffing and puffing for quite a while afterwards. I even treated myself to a hit of oxygen so as to recover more quickly. Yep, working in over 15K feet of altitude has been interesting.
We had 2 rotations of kids today. The center serves nearly 280 kids, half of them come in the morning and half of them in the afternoon. We were busy, busy, busy with them, that’s for sure. We were able to serve them lunch and sit with both groups while they ate. It was really a treat to get to know them all better. The cooks who made the food were amazing. Wow, they sure work hard and we were so thankful for their efforts. We’re trying to get a recipe for the soup they served, as it has become a favorite of our team. Toward the end of the day we had the afternoon group pile in to the main building and prepared to watch a puppet show, but the puppeteers took a little longer to get started than the kids were prepared to stay quiet, so I ended up singing every possible kids song or familiar song I thought they would know in Spanish that I had learned as a kid. They sang with gusto and finally the puppet show began.
The area where we are working is super dry. Not much growing ANYWHERE. Dust abounds. Unfinished brick buildings are everywhere. The streets are cobblestone and there isn’t much open space of any sort where kids can just be kids. In fact, next to the very tiny playground area is a dump and an open public bathroom. Dogs roam the streets and it seems to be a truly desolate place. But, you just have to poke your head into one of the classrooms at the Compassion site where we were and you are immediately struck by the giggles and sweet faces that are all around. I must say tonight, thanks, Compassion, what a tremendous difference you are making! The Bolivian Compassion staff, Maria Elena and Raquel along with our U.S. representative, Yvonne Brown, you have been such a blessing to us as you help us navigate through our schedule and allow us to experience first hand for a short while what it is like for these beautiful children to live in this part of the world. We are impressed and also so excited to be a part of this tremendous work with you.
The day ended with the second night of the Pastor’s conference. Another great evening! The men and women are so enthusiastic and appreciative of the training. The potential for big impact is huge as they represent many communities all across this region with churches connected to Compassion projects where many, many children can be served and consequently many families’ lives touched as a result of their child being in the program. These men and women need encouragement, courage, hope, and a reminder of how special they are in God’s sight and that they are called for this time for God’s purpose in their communities. What a humbling privilege to be a part encouraging them! The lid is off the bottle – who knows what will happen next! Hold on to your hats, everyone.