It’s the middle of the summer season so that means we’re spending a lot of time on the road, living out of suitcases, translating lots of games and conversations and spending a lot of time at the boys homes.
Thus far, both Billy and I have been able to travel to Scripture Union’s homes in Ica, the Sacred Valley and Kusi, many of which multiple times. When we travel with groups, a much of our time is spent assisting the volunteers with communication and coordinations, but there is also time where we find moments to grow in relationship with the boys at each home.
Each year there is a moment or two that tend to stand out from the rest. The moments that stand out are usually when you aren’t expecting it and sometimes to somebody else it could seem like not much of anything out of the ordinary.
One year, I was going from the city of Iquitos to our boys home Puerto Alegria on the big boat with all of the boys plus a group. I had spent a considerable amount of time at the Puerto Alegria home the previous few years so I had gotten to know the boys at the home well and started to learn about their pasts. On this particular boat trip, which started off like any other, I happened to be sitting next to one of the older boys at the home. He had been living at the home for a few years with his two younger brothers. I don’t remember how it started but asking a simple question and all of a sudden he was pouring out details of his life before coming to the home – what had been done to him, how he had to step up and take care of his family at a young age, his desires for his two brothers and family. It isn’t easy for many of the boys in our care to share about the past trauma they have experienced since it usually comes with a deep feeling of shame. I ended up spending the most of hour-long boat ride just listening and giving him the opportunity to share what he felt he needed to say. This definitely was a moment that stands out from the rest.
A few weeks ago I was at our boys home Kusi with a group. Usually groups end up having a couple hours of free time after they finish their work project before we sit down for dinner together. On one of the days, I happened to be walking from my room towards where the boys spend time before dinner. As I was walking through the plaza at Kusi, I saw a group of 4 seated on the sidewalk talking and watching a bird that was perched on the electrical line above them. They didn’t see me walk up behind them so I stood there for about 5 minutes just listening to them talk about all sorts of things (the bird on the line, a friend at school, a soccer game they saw a few days ago) before they realized I was there.
Once they realized I was there, I sat down with them and we talked about their day at school, an upcoming activity we were going to do and various other things that boys like to talk about.
In all the time I have been working with the Girasoles boys, I have always been drawn to the 7-12 age group. There is something about that age where they easily engage in conversation and answer all your questions about school and such. They can think of the funniest things and are quick to respond with something clever. They love to play and love it when you join in with them. And they are still are okay with a hug good night at the end of the day. These five fit that bill perfectly and I loved spending that unexpected time sitting on the sidewalk hanging out together.
Andres, Yosmel, Zócimo, Maicol, Fran
Then all of a sudden, as quickly as it started, they were done talking and wanted to take a bunch of photos and even more videos. I’ll spare you the dozens of videos they wanted to record of them rolling in the grass and being boys!
A couple nights ago we said goodbye to the group from my home church in Dearborn, Michigan. Each year for the past 16 years, the church has sent a group of volunteers to assist at 2 of the boys homes. This year, we split the two weeks between Kusi and Ica, homes that the group has developed a relationship with during the last few years.
It is always great to have the group here in Peru – to be able to spend some time with old friends and familiar faces and to be able to serve alongside one of our Michigan church families is definitely something we look forward to each volunteer season.
As we come up on mid-July, we’re in the middle of the volunteer season. Billy is off with a group in the jungle right now and we both have a few more trips to different homes before we finish in about a month. We also have many piles of receipts on our dining room table that we slowly are digging through and sorting between trips.
Would you join us in praying that the rest of the volunteer season goes well? We’re praying for safe travels, good health, time for rest between groups and more of those “stand out moments” with the boys at our Girasoles homes.
PS – This Sunday, July 17th, I will be sharing about what Billy and I have been up to here in Peru with Scripture Union! Join me at 11am (after the service) at the First Presbyterian Church of Dearborn for an update on how God is working through the ministry for abandoned and at-risk children.
Address: 600 North Brady, Dearborn MI
Look for me in Mitchell Hall (fellowship hall)