Cochabamba is a great big city. Because its so big there are named sections of the city. For instance, I live in an area called Cala-Cala. The Cristo is situatated on a small mountian on the far east side of the city. However, there is still more of Cochabamba even behind the Cristo, this area is known as Sacaba. And it is also known to be amoung the poorest areas of the city.
2 weeks ago a Bolivian friend had invited me to what is called Hora Feliz or in english, Happy Hour. Its a ministry that several of my friends from my church have every Sunday. I was unable to go the first week but decided this last Sunday would be a good time to check out this happy hour thing. All I was really told was that it was a childrens ministry and it would be a good opportunity for me to practice my spanish. I show up at the meeting place and start asking questions like ¨where are we going¨ ¨what are we going to do¨ ect. And the answer was Sacaba and we sing songs, teach Bible stories, and give out milk and bread.
I was not prepared for what I saw and experienced that day. I live in the north part of town, which is really not the poverty part of town. What I saw in Sacaba was children covered in dirt and wearing ill fitting clothes. Houses that can´t even be called houses. More like shacks with bricks holding the tin roof down. Our meeting place was a covered patio without walls or chairs. In the beginning, all of the children were together and we sang some songs that I didn´t know. But these children knew these songs well and I was impressed that so many of them actually sang. Then they were split up by age groups for the Bible lesson. I stayed with my friends that had the 2-5 year olds. Always a challenge since they have about a 2 min attention span. I spent some time chasing after run away kids and trying to get them to listen to the teacher. While the other groups were still going we played some games with the little ones to keep them from interfering with the other groups. After a little while, it was finally time to give out the food and head home. I was relieved only because it was freezing cold (probably 40-50 degrees with no wind protection and only a light jacket). We had to hunt down some christians they knew in the area and gave them the left over food and we left for home.
There were two little girls, not more then 3 or 4 years, with shawls on their backs carrying baby dolls in immitation of how the grown women carry their children and things. They were too cute for words. I also left there with a terrible terrible headcold which I still have 3 days later!
As I was talking to my friend about the experience later I was reminded that however little impact we think we are having, we may be the only Jesus these kids ever meet. We will never know the lasting impact we are having on these little lives. Its something we would all do well to remember. I would like to be a part of this ministry on Sundays (outside of my orphanage work and spanish studies) but I will be more of an observer and helper until my language improves to the point of being able to teach. In the next few weeks, if I am able to go out with them, I would like to see the older childrens classes and I think there is also a class for teenagers/women as well. If I can I will take some pictures for this blog but if its a sensative thing there then you will just have to make do with my descriptions.
Prayer request. Ever since last week when I carried Viviana uphill I have been having some problems with my right knee. Its kind of been an on going problem but this last week I´ve had more pain then usual. Its not so bad that I need to see a doctor or need medication but please pray for healing and that it might not get worse. Roads around here are rocky and uneven at best and I believe my knee is on the verge of dislocating or something similar to that. Thank you!