Physical Food and Spiritual Food
Marjorie, Emmanuel, and Julian were all sitting at the table with me, and I swear these were the most focused 4 year olds you’ve ever seen. I’m like trying to interact, speak a little Spanish, get them to talk, maybe color with them….no. These kids were like “why are you bothering me while I’m trying to color?” The photo above is pretty much the only time any of the 3 of them looked up from their super intense work of coloring. If you’re reading this and you know me well, you know that I was that super intense student too once. Most of the other kids were bouncing off the walls and were SO proud to show me their beautiful pictures and sing songs for me. That was fun too, but I enjoyed sitting with the serious students. Those are my people.
After coloring, we went to the gym for the concert. I sat with some 12 year olds, and it’s basically the same as sitting with 12 year olds in America. Boys and girls are flirting and giggling and whispering secrets. Some were even whispered in my ear. I guess they felt confident that I wouldn’t spill their secret since I had no idea what they were saying to me.
My favorite part of the performance was the inclusion of the school’s own choir! As a former choir teacher and a lifelong choir member, it just makes me happy to see music education all around the globe. Bluetree’s most famous song is “God of This City” and the choir had learned it in Spanish! That was definitely the best part of my day. Listening to worshipers sing in multiple languages simultaneously is my favorite thing in the world. Plus, since an audience of children can get a little antsy while listening to music in a foreign language, hearing their classmates sing in Spanish definitely brought a hush over the crowd as they all listened and joined in. Music brings people together no matter their differences!
Afterwards, we drove to another AMG school in zone 3. This school is located right next to the city dump I mentioned in yesterday’s post. In fact, the school is surrounded by the recycling center where most of the families work and even live. The neighborhood itself is actually built out of materials found in the trash. Obviously, the kids in this school do not have favorable living conditions.
While the band was setting up, I hung out with some of the kids from the choir! They were SO EXCITED to be going on a field trip and getting out of class. And you could tell they LOVED performing by the huge grins each one wore on stage. Some of us sat in a circle and sang and braided hair. It honestly made me miss my students so much. Those days when we were gone on a field trip, missing class, performing for others, doing what we love, and spending time together just having fun and laughing…those were the BEST days to be a teacher. As I watched the choir kids interacting with each other and with their [amazing] music teacher, I thought “these are my people too.” It’s crazy how life in separate countries can be so different and so similar at the same time.
We hung out with the kids during their recess time, and I met this young man named Aaron. He seemed to be kind of a loner. I sat with him a while and we struggled to communicate with the language barrier. There was a lot of signing and playing charades just to convey a sentence. Most of the time I never did figure out what he was saying, and vice versa. I kinda felt bad….because our conversations clearly were going nowhere, I had no fun games or toys to play with, there weren’t any kids with him for us to all interact with…and so we ended up just sitting. I kept trying to think of ways to interact and engage more with him. Eventually, I just realized that maybe sitting with him and at least attempting to talk was all he wanted.
In the evening, we went to one of our partner churches where we met the 10 families in our program and the members of the HBC (Home Based Care) Committee. We all ate pizza together and played with the kids. There were balloons and stickers and coloring, and the kids had a grand ol’ time. Then we had a Q&A with the families and committee members. They asked us questions and we asked them some. We asked how this program with World Orphans and AMG has helped them and brought them hope. The answers we got were a-ma-zing. To paraphrase what one father said, “The food supplement has helped my family to survive while I am without work. But we have also enjoyed the spiritual teaching from those we have met in the church. I have learned more about God from these people. They provide physical food and spiritual food.” Wow. We seriously couldn’t write it better on one of our pamphlets. THAT is what World Orphans is about, and I am so honored to be a part of how God is using World Orphans, AMG, and most importantly His Church to care for families in need. Several others shared similar thoughts about the program, and we were just humbled by the positive feedback.