"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Yesterday was a rough day. It was busy from sun up, to sun down.
At Casa Verde (where I live), we (me, Jonathan, Kathryn, and Devon) had morning devotions and coffee together. I shared how Jesus commands us not to just love the people who love us, that is what the pagans do. Love everyone with a love that is only from Christ. I then shared 1 Corinthians 13, and how its not just for weddings. If we don't have love, everything is worthless.
I then went to women's Bible study, where I led. (Mike and Bonnie had their last judge audience for Gracie's adoption. After 8 years, Grace is officially their daughter!) So, I led the study. We are going through the book of James with Beth Moore. The resounding theme is "faith without works is dead". I have loved the past few weeks learning about the ministries, journeys, struggles, and passions of these women. We have been as a group doing practical things to live out our faith. We brough basic things (toothpaste, shampoo, shoes, etc) to give to those who need it. We wrote cards of gratitude and encouragement to people who have made a difference in our spiritual walks. We have prayed together. I love these women. Young, old, Bolivian, American, we all love Jesus and want to be His hands and feet. Tuesday mornings is such a treasured time in my week.
After Bible study, a group of seven of us went to the nutrition center up the mountain. The nutrition center is not an orphanage. Some of the babies there are orphans. They have babies and toddlers that need to be nursed back to health. Some are babies that have been abandoned. Some are babies that mom needs help caring for. Their main goal is to get these babies healthy. Moms can come in, and they teach them how to care for their babies. There are babies with birth defects and other reasons for abandonment. Once a baby is at its ideal weight, he leaves the center. If he is an orphan, the center will find an orphanage to take him. If he has parents, they will take him home.
I don't think I was prepared for my visit there. We got there, and were quickly given babies to feed for their lunch. The first little girl I fed was maybe 18 months old. All of her teeth were rotten. She hated sitting in her chair, she wanted me to hold her while I fed her.
The next baby I fed was only skin and bones. He looked like a newborn. He weighed less than some newborns. He is nine months old. He cant raise his head up. His wrist is about the same size as my thumb. His ribs stick out so much, you can see them through his clothes. His name is Brian. As soon as I held him, he grabbed a fistful of my hair and smiled as he tried putting it into his mouth. He struggled with the concept of swallowing his food, just like a newborn. After a few bites of feeding him, his mom showed up. My heart rejoiced. Little Brian has a mommy that loves him so very much. She told me that he has been in the center for 5 months. They can't figure out what is wrong. He eats, but won't gain any weight. I watched as his mom held him, singing over him, and telling him how much she loves him. It was such a tender moment.
Another baby caught my attention. His name is Nestor. He is 15 months old, and so thin. He isn't much bigger than Brian. His mom was there too. She shared with us that little Nestor has a hole in his heart. The surgery to fix it costs $1,000. She has $500. Until she can get the rest of the money, he stays at the center, and she prays.
There was another baby. I don't know his name. From what I understood, he is an orphan. He might have downs syndrome. He was in his crib when I found him. I played peek a boo with him, and he laughed and laughed. I picked him up, and my heart melted. He had a bald, flat spot on the back of his head from being in his crib all the time. I couldn't wait to hold him, pray for him, sing over him, and just love on him. He loved my hair. He buried himself in it. he ate it. He pulled it all over my face. He held onto it in his little fist as if his life depended on it. He was my baby, if only for a few moments. He was mine. I was in love. It was time to leave and I placed him back in his crib. He looked at me with his huge, dark, sad eyes, and I was undone. I needed to get out of there. I got into the car, and big, silent tears began to fall. Tears of frustration, anger, a broken heart, longing, wishing, etc.
We then got lunch, and went to an orphanage, Casa de Amor. This is not an orphanage that is apart of IOU (International Orphan Union) that I am working with down here. The orphanages we have are different than most. They are home style. A set of parents, and no more than 12 kids in a home. They are not up for adoption, but will live there until they become adults. Their lives are constant. It is modeled after foster care in the states. Casa de Amor is a normal orphanage. Their goal is to get kids adopted. We visitied House One. House One has the youngest kids. There are currently 13 babies and toddlers.
A few of the kiddos: -Josie. A 3 year old little girl who loves feet, and is completely blind. -Mattais. A sweet baby boy who was given up by his mother because he has cleft pallet. -Gilmer. A toddler boy who lost his mom in a gas explosion accident at home, and has a scar on his face from it.
There was a little girl who was two years old. She carried a tattered baby doll everywhere. She referred to me as "momma" numerous times. Oh how I wish I could be her momma. Her big brown eyes and beautiful black hair was gorgeous. We fed the kids after they woke up from their naps, and then played for a little bit. She continued to call me momma and loved to sit on my lap. She was not happy when I left. She tried following me out the door. Big, dark eyes questioning, "Why are you leaving me momma?"
That night a larger group met at the plaza where we do baby washings on Saturdays. We split up into two groups and walked the streets, dark alleys, and other plazas, looking for the homeless. We gave them a banana, sandwich, and a piece of bread. When we knew them, we gathered around them, and laid hands on them, and prayed for them.
I met Maria Elena. A blind women who plays the tambourine on the street for money. She asked us to pray for her son, Marco.
We went up to glue sniffers, old, young, men, women, kids, babies, giving out food in the name of Jesus.
What a long day. Many tears were shed. Looking through the eyes of Jesus is hard. Seeing brokenness in its finest is heart wrenching. But it was an amazing day. Poverty, orphans, sickness, lost and broken people who Jesus loves.
Heading out now to visit a home with 31 teenage girls. Pretty excited. Love, M