Friday was National Friends Day. We took the boys from the older boys’ home out for bowling and ice cream. They loved it. It was so cute to see that they dressed up in their best clothing for the outing. The director almost didn’t let them go because they had been behaving so badly. She changed her mind and let them, and they all behaved really well. There were only three boys, the others spent the day with family or relatives that had come to pick them up. That is why Tony wanted to take them out, he knew they would feel really hurt and lonely that no one came to see them on Friends’ Day.
My daughter scolded me at one point for taking pictures saying, “Mom! You can’t do that! You can’t post them on the blog!“. I told her not to worry, that they were stricter at the other children’s home I go to with the youth from church, but that at the older boys’ home they are more relaxed. Either way, I don’t want to put too many pics up out of respect for the boys and their privacy. It doesn’t always feel right. You can pray for them, though – even though you don’t know their names, God does.
There is only one mall here in the city. It contains what I’m guessing is the only bowling alley in all of Argentine Patagonia. And seeing as it takes three days to drive across Patagonia, that would make us pretty blessed to have a bowling alley right here in town. City living does have its privileges, I guess.
Because it was still winter vacation, half the city and its youth were at the mall. Which basically made me want to leave immediately. We could barely walk, and it was a pretty crazy with six kids. But the kids had fun, and it was worth setting my personal feelings of malls aside to be able to invest in these boys.
I got a taste for what big families are like, too. It’s basically chaos, and I guess you just give up trying to keep track of them all after a certain number.
Afterwards when we went for ice cream, the lady behind the counter asked if they were all mine. Since the boys were listening to see what I would say, I said No, they are friends. I didn’t say they live in a boys home and that we were taking them out – that would have been hurtful to point out their secret wounds for all to see.
I am not an ice cream fan, but I have to say: Argentina has THE BEST ice cream. It’s rich and creamy and so flavorful. Just cream and sugar and all natural flavors. It is so creamy that it doesn’t melt very fast; it’s not all water and air like American ice cream. The kids were so happy with their triple waffle cones that we didn’t hear a peep from them for a while. Thanks to our supporters we could afford to do all this with them!
The next day after bowling, Tony went back to the home because the boys had been asking to see more movies. He wasn’t scheduled to go in, but has a very good relationship with the Director, so was able to stop in any way. He took our son to help with the projector (after many a tip from me reminding him that these kids have a lot of problems, and he’s to stay with his father at all times, and no going into rooms by himself, etc., etc., etc.). They watched “Courageous” – one of the movies we actually did not bring with us, but found at a book store dubbed over in Spanish. Everybody loves that movie, one of the messages being that God can change your life if you accept him into it.
After a little Bible reading of John 3 to them, Tony explaining more or less what it means, he asked who would like to accept Christ into their lives and become courageous like the men in the movie.
Four boys raised their hands and prayed to accept Christ.
Tony would like me to add that this has been a six month process to get to this point. In the beginning, a lot of the boys wouldn’t talk to him or pay any attention to what he was saying. They would fight with each other, hit and curse and throw things, and would scoff at the movies and any talk of God. They now search Tony out to talk, and will even hug him. They request more movies.
The movies have had a powerful effect on them, and they have consistently been hearing about God for a while now. Talking directly about the Lord, let alone hoping they will accept Jesus on the first visit is just not the wisest nor most feasible approach. These kids have been the victims of so much abuse – rape, violence, alcoholic parents, neglect, abandonment, put downs – that much wisdom, patience, committment, and love is needed.
When Tony came home Friday night, he had Maria in the car. Maria is the mother of one of the boys we took bowling. She had come to visit her son the next day when Tony took the movie in. Maria’s son was taken away from her when someone called a social worker on her and him. She has to work all day, so would leave her son home alone. He apparently was getting into a lot of trouble in the neighborhood while she was gone.
Maria looks to be about 60, but is only 49, missing half her teeth. I could only understand half of what she said. Her ex is an alcoholic, and one of her four sons was found dead by the river. Who really knows how much of the story, her version anyway, is true – but one thing is for sure, it is evident that the family has all suffered a lot. Her son is very quiet, took a while to return my smile, and as soon as he saw me taking pictures at the bowling alley, he ran and hid, making sure he wasn’t in any of them. A life time of suffering, hurt, and disappointment shows.
Precisely why we go where we go and do what we do. Tony always says that the whole point of him going to the boys’ home is so that, when they eventually age out and leave the home, they will have heard of Christ, and will hopefully have Him in their lives. If they don’t have Christ, what will they have??
God is so good to allow us to sometimes see the fruit of all our labors. It is the fruit of the labors of many others, as well. I often, especially these days, think of those that support us being here. I know they will also receive their reward in heaven. After this life is over, I look forward to the day when we will be standing before the throne of God and not be alone, but be able to look around at those who are there because we did something.
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. — Jeremiah 33:3