I want to give a little update about our work in the ghetto. For me, this is the most exciting thing about being down here right now. I get all fired up when I talk about it and I really just cannot wait to see what God has planned for the ministry and for the kids and families that we are hoping to impact.
We started visiting el precario, or the ghetto, back in September. Three of us, myself, my teammate Susan, and our intern Lindsey, would head out early, pick up some bananas and a few loaves of bread, and drive to the area known as “Los Cuadros” to feed the kids, play some games and do a bible story/craft, and to help our Tico friend, Davíd, to reach out to these severely marginalized children. Many of these kids live in absolute squalor. Their homes are pieced together, sheets of tin or plywood, or sometimes cardboard. The roofs are held down with rocks or loose bricks. The floors are dirt, the kitchens (in the homes that have them) are comprised of a hot plate, a propane camp stove, or a maybe small fireplace. Many live without running water or electricity most of the time. Most of their Dad’s are in jail, or have abandoned them. A lot of them live with elderly grandmothers. “El precario” literally means “the precarious” and that is exactly what these childrens lives are like. They live on the edge of civilization, on the brink of starvation, they walk the precarious line between hope for a different future and the prison of living the rest of their lives in poverty.
The more time we have spent with these kids, the more we have fallen in love with them, and the more our hearts break for them. Naturally, we started to think about ways we could serve them better and how we could open up the opportunity to serve for the Latinos on our team and in the youth group that we work with. Last week, we had lunch with Davíd to talk about creating a more formal partnership in this ministry. He eagerly agreed, and we realized that we share the same ministry philosophy and have the same goals in reaching the community of Los Cuadros. Steve was able to join us, as well, and we discussed ways that we can physically improve the little shack we call “the clubhouse”, and build new benches and tables for the kids. We also are planning to add a tiny bathroom in the corner (which is awesome, cause we get peed on….a lot), and a little kitchenette that will allow us to prepare and provide hot lunches for the kids. But, best of all, we are bringing in more help, which means more laps to sit in, more arms for hugging and hands for holding. And it means that these kids will have more people investing in them, loving them, showing that they have hope in Christ.
I’m pretty amped about all this. I love seeing the kids come running when we arrive, the way they hang on us, and beg us to come back next week. It’s true, they are filthy and snotty and sometimes they stink. They want to touch our faces and hair with their dirty little hands, and they love to tell us hot breathy secrets with their germy lips pressed right up against our ears. They have itchy rashes and rotten teeth, and they are constantly hitting or pushing each other, vying for attention, or begging for food, or crayons, or glue, or whatever treasure they see we’ve brought. But, I love them, my dirty little birds. And I’m so grateful to be a part of their lives.
Please pray for us as we move forward to bring together Davíd and our church here, Vida Abundante, along with IT Latin America and Sonlife ministry to do something significant for our kids in Los Cuadros. I feel like if we can make their lives a little less precarious, then we will have honored God.