We had a slow start today. Last night we were surprised by a late night party downstairs. It was Christian's tio's birthday, and they were celebrating with dancing, music, a live band. It was fun to listen to as I tried to sleep, but they didn't get started until 11:00. It was after 1:30 when I finally fell asleep.
I woke up around 8:00 this morning and took a quick shower and headed upstairs. Christen and I had planned to leave for El Refugio where Doris also runs another ministry called Casa de Misercodia, House of Hope. But, Christen had also been serenaded by tio's celebrations, and didn't wake up until after 10:00.
After we ate breakfast, Christen got an email that was marked "urgent" from a friend in the child welfare department. She gave her friend a call and found out that she was working with a 19 year old girl who's 3 year old daughter was in the hospital with uncontrollable seizures. The baby was the result of incest, the child of the young woman's father. Maritsa, the young woman, has realized that she needs help with the child, but does not want to give up her baby. Christen let her friend know that she would talk with Doris and find out if there is room in one of her houses, possibly in Pachacutec. Please be praying for Maritsa and her child as they go through this process.
Eventually, Christen and I made it to El Refugio. We were greeted with warm hugs and smiles from the young men and women at Casa de Misercordia, where Doris, Julisa, and their staff welcome disabled people from around the Lima area once a week, and offer them a bath, a warm meal, occupational therapy, and the love of Jesus. I enjoyed sitting with Davico as he colored a picture of a spaceship, and taking pictures with Miriam, who I later found out was the mother of my little friend, Samuel, whom I met on my first visit to El Refugio.
But the most beautiful person in the room was a young woman, 12 years of age, who had a much older Spirit. I watched as she sat with Tonio, a large man in his thirties. Tonio is both deaf and blind. This young woman had met Tonio at Casa de Misercordia where she sometimes helps her older sister, Dina, who volunteers there, and had learned that she could interpret for him. She spoke sign language to him by placing her tiny hand in his and signing while he felt her movements. Tonio had learned sign language before he went blind, and could communicate perfectly. He asked us if he could go and buy ice cream for everyone, so I accompanied him and his young friend across the street where we purchased a liter of helado, and returned to the house to share with our friends.
As we were getting ready to leave, I was asked to help take another one of our friends home. I walked to the corner with Dina to catch a cab. We stopped more than ten taxis, and every time Dina told them where we needed to go, they sped away. Finally we found someone who would take us to Magaly's part of town.
Magaly is 37 years old and weighs about 40 pounds. She was raped by her brothers and has two children by them. Growing up, she lived in a one room house without a single window. Having been confined to a bed in that windowless room for years, Magaly loves to sit and look out the window, wearing a smile on her face as she watches the world go by. When Dina and I pulled up in the cab, I went inside and carried Magaly out to the taxi. We also took with us Dina's sister and Tonio. We dropped Tonio off along the way, and then arrived at Magaly's house.
Magaly lives on the second floor of what looked like an auto shop. It smelled like oil and gasoline. There was hardly room for me to carry her up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, I walked through her family's kitchen to their bedroom, and set Magaly down on the bed, making sure that she was facing the window. Her mother thanked us profusely, and sent us on our way.
From there I headed back to San Martin to meet Carlos. We took off right away for Santa Rosa, the apartment complex where we've been doing contact work for the last few weeks. Tonight, those kids got their first taste of Young Life club.
We arrived at the house where we were having club and helped Don Coco and his wife move furniture and decorate. They are a very generous couple who met the Lord through their son, Chiki, who first heard the gospel at Young Life and now works with a club in Chorrillos. Soon, everything was set. We practiced skits, and set out to find our kids.
Luckily, they're easy to find. They were all at the soccer field. We let them finish their game, then corralled them up three flights of stairs to their very first club. We started the night with a surprise guest appearance by Jason Mraz, who led the club in singing his very own hit, "I'm Yours." Then we performed a classic Young Life sketch known as "The Contagious Ward." After several more songs and a few other skits, Diana shared the first club talk in Santa Rosa. She shared from Galatians 4:20, letting kids know that even when everything in their lives falls apart, Jesus wants to make them into a new creation, giving them a second chance.
I have no idea how many kids showed up tonight. All I know is that we barely fit in that living room, and that the kids had a blast. After we chased them out of the apartment, they stuck around with us downstairs for a long time after club, taking pictures with friends and playing more games. They are all looking forward to the All-Area beach trip in two weeks, and can't wait until the next club.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for this club. It has truly been an honor to be a part of the beginning of something new. We are excited to be Christ's hands and feet in this neighborhood, going where he would go, doing what he would do. Carrying the hurting, listening to the lonely. Playing soccer. Fearlessly proclaiming his name. But if we are to be Christ's hands and feet, we must remember that our task is not easy, but can be incredibly painful. Christ's hands were pierced. A nail was driven through his feet. Please continue to pray for these leaders, that they would be given strength and wisdom as they follow Jesus and love kids the way that he would love them--unconditionally and sacrificially.