You've seen the photos. And yes, the slip 'n slide was as awesome as it looked. Rick and some of the hombres at the Villa worked on it while the rest of the team went to El Faro church yesterday. It was amazing to worship together with people of a completely different culture and language, but to the same God. The hearts of Pastor Ramon and his wife Miriam are amazing. It's one thing to go serve the people of the dump for a week, knowing you are going home to your soft bed and warm shower, but these amazing servants minister in the dump day in and day out.
Last night we had a blast just hangin' with the girls. They learned a phrase from the last group that they love to repeat over and over... "oh, wow." They are such a blessing to us. From the get go, they accepted us, wanted to play with us, teach us their games and learn about our lives. They are so patient with us and our lack of Spanish skills. Seriously, we may have come to serve them but their smiles and extended hands have probably meant more to us than what we have been able to give to them. It's so awesome that it's only Monday and we still have four days left to spend more time with them.
Garbage everywhere. A stink that makes you want to hold your breath. Mutts and muddy feet walking around. Smoke rising from combusting garbage. Dust, dust and more dust. Homes made of tin and garbage sacks. Honestly, this does not even give and accurate picture of the experience of La Chureca. It is so much more than what could be typed or spoken. You just have to see. The poorest of the poor, it's mind-blowing. And yet the smiles of the children are some of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. Fear was the enemy, at least for me. The lice scared me away at first, but I kept saying to myself... "Jesus would touch them, Jesus would hold them." Once you let go of the fear and dive in like Jesus would, the joy overflows. Instantly, you are their best friend, even their hermano or hermana (brother or sister). We became their horses and their jungle gyms. We would chase them and they would chase us. Some of us simply got to say to them, "Jesus te ama" and watch the hope well up in their eyes. We gave them a meal: rice, a slice of banana and little slice of chicken. Their only meal of the day and they were glad for it. Can't wait to see them again tomorrow.
Later today we did some work projects around El Faro, painting, raking, pulling weeds and sweeping. Some of us got to use a machete, which was pretty cool. Tonight we got to play with the girls again and they were a blast. We played kijabe can can and spoons, both fun games that can easily overcome the language barrier. They made us fall in love all over again. Have a feeling we better get used to that. They really are wonderful.
Friends and family, we cannot tell you of the emotional roller coaster we've found ourselves in. So much heartbreak. And yet, so much joy. We can only imagine the emotions of our Father. We've been here two days. He's always been here.