Today, Christen and I and one of the Capernaum leaders, Samuel, went to the orphanage. The orphanage houses 105 children with disabilities of various forms. This particular orphanage is the best state run operation in the country. There are two caregivers for every twelve kids, and each works a twelve hour shift. However, on weekends, the directors of the orphanage do not work, and so it is not uncommon for caregivers to show up late or skip work entirely. This means that whichever caregiver is working cannot get home to their family until they are relieved. With 105 mouths to feed, diapers to change, medications to give, and so on, they have a daunting task.
As Capernaum leaders, we have two goals: Love the kids, and love their caregivers. Christen and the other Capernaum leaders in Peru have realized that one of the best ways we can care for the kids at the orphanage is to make sure that they are well taken care of, and we can do that by taking care of their care providers. Often Capernaum leaders will show up to find staff that has been at work for more than twenty four hours, with the worries of home weighing upon them. So, on Saturdays, Capernaum leaders spend the morning at the orphanage, playing and building relationships with the kids, but also stepping in to help the staff, giving them rest, and building relationships with them as well.
Today, after playing and laughing in the boys' house for a while, we moved all the kids to the cafeteria for lunch. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Several of the kids are able to feed themselves, and do so. Others need help. I had the privilege of helping two young women eat their lunch, and watching as Carlos, one of our Capernaum kids, helped one of his friends eat. I watched as they laughed and enjoyed each other's company.
Christen later told me a little something about Carlos's story. When Capernaum first came to the orphanage, they realized that the last thing they needed to do was talk about Jesus. The kids would simply ask, angrily, "Which Jesus are you talking about?" The Catholic priest would come in twice a year and conduct a service, and leave. The Mormon priest would do the same. Volunteers would come from the states for two weeks, and then leave. The staff rarely stays more than two years. These kids only knew a Jesus that would walk out on them after a matter of hours. What these kids needed was consistency. They needed relationships, relationships with people who wouldn't leave. Luckily, that's what Young Life does best.
Anyway, after the first six months, the leaders finally felt they had earned the right to be heard, the right to share the gospel. When they first started talking about Jesus with Carlos, he would get angry. He would throw things. He would hit people. But the leaders hung in there with him, and began talking to the kids about being a family and taking care of each other. They told the kids that rather than hitting the younger ones when they were annoying, love them and teach them. Carlos heard this message, and a few years later, he loves Jesus, claims God as his Father, and is one of the most humble servants at the orphanage.
After we fed the kids, we played and laughed a little more, then left to have lunch with Samuel's fiancee, Janeth. We went to a nearby mall and got sandwiches and salads and fresh watermelon and strawberry juice. Right near where we ate, there was a store called Hong Kong Market. Janeth got very excited and told Christen, "They have gringa things!" So Janeth and Christen went on a short shopping adventure, and came back with pretzels--gringa things. We shared the bag, and when Samuel put the first bite in his mouth, he made a funny face, and told us it was just like wood. Needless to say, lunch was full of jokes about wood and gringa things.
This evening, Christen decided to make a salad for dinner. When I asked if I could help, she asked me to boil some eggs and the chicken breast that was in the freezer. When I looked in the freezer, I didn't see anything that looked like chicken, but there was a black bag with some sort of meat in it.
I asked Christen and she said it was chicken. But, we wanted to be extra sure, so we asked the Peruvians that were over visiting and working on Young Life paperwork what it was. Each of them said it was chicken. So, I put it in the pot with the water and some spices, and let it boil. After a while, Christen asked me if I smelled fish. Something did smell fishy--in every sense of the expression. When we took the lid off the pot, what we saw looked more like a white sausage. About that time, Cristian got home. We asked him to come and look at it to see what it was. It obviously wasn't chicken.
He was speechless. After a moment, once he caught his breath, he told us that we had just boiled caviar. He had bought it to make a special breakfast for Christen before we left for camp. And now it was ruined. Christen and I didn't believe him. Cristian can be very sarcastic. But it was true. I had boiled eggs alright. Fish eggs.
We all had a good laugh afterwards. Cristian didn't laugh so much, but he'll laugh more later. As for now, they're both gone at planning meetings for camp. I'm back at the house getting ready to leave in the morning. The camp team leaves tomorrow, Sunday, to set up camp. On Monday, the kids will arrive, and then the fun begins. I will not be able to post stories during this next week, but I would again ask for prayers for wisdom for the leaders, and for those kids that will meet Jesus this week. Pray that relationships would be formed and deepened. Pray that Christ would be evident in all that we do.