First, I went on this trip with a misguided sense of what Compassion does. I've read blogs and followed Compassion-sponsored trips for a few years, yet I envisioned a school with a giant billboard, arrow pointing down at some sort of pale colored building, reading "Compassion School!" Of course, this makes little sense, as much mission work is frowned upon in Peru (as in many other countries, as well). So, it took some time to process the realities of what we were going to see and then what we did see.
Compassion is not a school ~ in the sense that children attend public and private schools for their readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, if you catch my drift. No, Compassion partners with the local church, and focuses on four needs: spiritual, economic, social and physical. At the project we visited, these areas are addressed in before or after school programs.
*screeeeeeeeeeech!* (brakes, friends. Puttin' 'em on for a lil demo-demo...)
This is my Nicole:
Oh my goodness isn't she adorable? Look at that smile!!! *I miss you sweet baby!*
Monday, Nicole and I sat for two hours doing this:
For two hours! We sat and played with these little blocks - I can't think what they're called --- but they are very similar to blocks that we use in the US during intelligence testing. For two hours I asked her about animals and colors and numbers, and home. I discovered my spanish is just good enough to communicate with a 6 year-old ;)! Three times adults came by and told me in perfectly fluent spanish (!!!) about Nicole's life. I found a translator, and this is what I heard about this sweet angel baby:
Today Nicole is six. When she was three, she was a very hyperactive child. She was so uncontrollable her mother locked her in her room all day because she was not able to control her. Nicole would scream and cry and bang on the windows in her efforts to escape the room. The neighbors called the church and asked them to intervene. She began attending Compassion classes. But she would escape her classrooms and climb the walls of the church. The pastor was afraid for her safety. He asked the psychologist who works weekly with some of the Compassion kids to work with her. Meanwhile, the Compassion folks helped her father find a steady job. Now three years later, she sits, plays, and is super, super intelligent. Pastor Jose described her as, “intelligentissimo!” VERY smart!Seriously ~ wow, right? What would have come of this amazing human being if not for God's grace through Compassion?? Here's more. Nicole clung to this petite tangerine. Here's a pic of another little girl holding tight to a similar piece of fruit way past lunchtime:
Nicole hid her tangerine in her lap, behind her back, one time it sort of rolled away and she crawled across the floor to retrieve it.
"Why don't you eat your fruit?" I asked her.
"I save it for home," she answered.
Like a stab to the heart. Here's what Compassion feeds these kids while they are at the project:
That is a huge plate of food. Made from scratch, friends. Compassion has strict nutrition guidelines the cooks have to follow ~ no pre-fab chicken nuggets or any ketchup considered to be a fruit in those kitchens! The children receive a meal like this three times per week through Compassion ~ every day they attend.
Here's another - oh man my mouth is watering!
Look at these adorable ladies who cook for the kids every day ~ aren't they super?!
With our two crazy gringa friends ~ they sure had a good time together that day in the kitchen! I loved watching them interact ...
But back to my story. Why did Nicole save her fruit for home? Because this may well have been her kitchen:
It was 10 year-old Melanie's. And I can tell you there may be days when a tangerine from Compassion is all there is to eat in that place where Momma struggles to work for a few coins each day and five mouths to feed.
But there's MORE! MORE FOOD! MORE that Compassion does for these kids!
So I've told you how they feed these sweet children and teach them about Jesus and provide counselors and psychologists and even developmental screenings and medicines. But also? Also? They help kids learn skills that will help them get jobs that will help them break the cycle of poverty.
This is a cooking class at Compassion:
And that food tasted sooooooooo amazingly good!
I had to fight them off like wolves I tell you...
Oooooh yeah. You gotta know I loved that heavenly morsel to post that awful picture! Aaaack.
Classes. To teach the children job skills. Classes in cooking, sewing, other trades. A future. A future that breaks the cycle of poverty.
That's what Compassion is doing in Peru. That's what Compassion is doing around the world. That's what God is doing through Compassion around the world.
And you wanna know how much it costs? Seven icee mochas a month. Yeah ~ I went there. Pretty convicting. $38 per month.
Here's where you need to go now.