sunday May 13, 2012 The initial culture shock.

It was an early morning. We left our homestay at 6:30. We were told that we would be going to a place called the trash heaps but werent given much information other than that. Naturally my mind was inventing up ideas of what this place waslike but wht i imagined was nothing like what I saw. before we had even arrived I was shocked at the standard of iving in this area of the city. before we even arrived to our desitnation we were greeted by architecturally similarhomes as those in the area we were staying but the actual appearance, upkeep, and general livability of the area was completely different. Honestly speaking, the lower ninth ward of New orleans is a nicer place to live. the small homes were almost competely hidden by the large piles of trash that were built up past the rooves of the houses. some homes had more piles of trash on top of them. I thought we would stop any second at our destination but w continued driving for a few minutes. The further we went into the area the worse it got. We finally stopped outside a tall gate that lead into a dump site where we were going to be ministering and distributing food. We were greeted by a group of people from Manos de Amor and were told that we would be doing a childrens service in the dump. Inside the dump an path wayhas been let to connect and seperate the heaps of trash. since it is the rainy season th path was muddy and speckled with colorful bits of confetti looking trash. The team from Manos de Amor, who were familiar with the area, lead us to w small village built insie of the dump ot of old pieces of trash. The little huts were made mostly of old rusted scraps of tin, tarps, and old advertising banners to help keep out the rain. we stopped towards the front of the village and the group told us to wait while they gatherd the kids. while the Kids first started trickling in there were two little girls who were giggling to themselves staringat us. one pulled a pcket of sweet tarts out of her poket and she and her friends attempted to hide it as they tried to get it open all the while giggling and watching us. Then the taller ran up to me with her clinhed hand trying to give me some, when i accepted and told her “gracias” she giggled with her hand over her mouth and ran back to her friend. They did this a few times. to me, to gabi, and then lastly to josue. It was really cute but at the same time I was touched by their willingness to give out of the very little they had. by this time more kids were trickling in and s we started to play a game with the kids for a few minutes until more came. Once the rest of the kids Josue gave the childrens lesson in spanish and gabi did a few spanish childrens songs with movements that we helped teach them. to wrap up the time we had planned we played a game called parachute. the kids really enjoyed ths game. what kid wouldnt enjoy running under a brightly colored giant cloth parachute before it falls on them? one little boy enjoyed it so much, it didnt matter what color was called he just ran. Part of me, the controlling nursery teacher side, wanted to correct him ont he ruls of the game but the logical side kicked in pretty quickly. Sometimes I feel like I need to be in control of all situations and I dont. It desnt matter ifa 6 year old boy is playing a game in his own way. he isnt hurting anyone by running everytime so it doesnt matter. After our last game we gve them all a few sandwiches and juice and spent time with them. josh was holding a little boy and when he tried to bringhim to get food he refused to take it because he ws afraid josh would put him down. How heart wrenching must it be, to be so deprived of love and affection you would choose to sty hungry than possibly be put down? And then there was a little girl tha, when it was time for us to leave, said ” hate when you all have to leave. I wish you could alljust stay here forever.” but we couldnt and we left. The last shocking moment was when we were standing back outside the gate nea our van, after giving food to a few men who were passing by we were loading into the van whe i realise there was a dead dog wrapped in a tarp. which was sad but did not match the sadness that came when a man stooped down to wash his hands off in the grey water surrounding the dog. My heart breaks for these people.

It is easy to wish these kids didnt have to live in these conditions but feeling horrible for them and wishing doesnt help anyone. I cant adopt all of these children and bring them home with me. However, I can give of my time, I can give of my prayers when I am gone, and I can pray for manos de Amor who are regularly reaching out to these groups, and I can give of the little broke college kid money that i have. Because even at my lowest balance in my student checking bank account I have more than them.

Post office adventures

Today I rode the bus by myself for the first time ever. Usually I’m with someone who knows where they are going and I’m usually just tagging along on a shopping trip or new Orleans adventure. But today i had to go to the post office, mail out suppor letters and apply for passport. There is a post office on campus but they don’t do passports so I had to go all the way to south carrolton to get this done. I was really nervous about getting on the wrong bus or taking the wrong transfer or missing my stop. The driver on the first bus was really sweet and helpful. But I felt like I was bothersome to the driver of my transfer. So I tried not to ask to many questions. After about an hour and 10 minutes on the bus I got to the right stop (praise God!) but then I got lost because the area was a dead zone an I couldn’t use my gps to put in the address. So I wandered around for about 20 minutes and asked several different people before I finally found the post office (praise god again!)
Have you ever applied for a passport before? You have to swear an oath. Like raise your right hand and repeat after me kind of stuff. I found it kind of silly and old school and couldn’t help but giggle a little through it.

I feel like god worked in me through this trip. He is helping me to be even more dependent on him and more independent from people. Cause I’m going to be honest the idea of taking the bus and getting lost in new Orleans has terrified me since I moved here. Which is why I have avoided using the transit alone. But God really got me through it. I don’t know of it’s possible to really explain how big of a deal this is to me.

So yes. I am that much closer to getting to Guatemala! Passport application? Check!
Letters sent? Check!