Bless The Lord oh my soul, oooh my soul. Worship His Holy Name. Sing like never before, oooh my soul. I worship Your Holy Name. The sun comes up its a new day dawning....those were the words of a song on my mind/heart when I woke up in the morning. The song is called 10,000 Reasons and is sung by Matt Redman. We often sing it in church and the tears stream down my cheeks every time I sing it. God is amazing and that number seems fairly large but oh my, we have a life time of reasons of why we need to praise God's name and all that He does.
Today was the 3rd project we'd be visiting and our last one. We know it'll be a day filled with more emotion. It's been so wonderful seeing the changed lives because of the work that God is doing through the work of Compassion. It's only Tuesday and it's only been the 4th day of our time here but it's feels longer because of everything that we've experienced.
After breakfast we drove yet another direction from our hotel for about a hour through beautiful country to arrive at our 3rd project. It was called Little Lamb and the Little Lamb Church that we saw from a distance as we drove up was lined up with children from the project. They were all dressed beautifully for us and were so excited for our arrival. Tears immediately filled my eyes when I saw the church and the children. We had been told on the bus that this project really put a lot of focus on the over 150 teenagers it had registered in their program. A few hundred children were registered as well. This was an area that they saw a large amount of human trafficking. The families were extremely poor and they would often sell their children to go work elsewhere, for a year they'd be told, but many did not see their children again after that year. If they were returned, many were thieves and would continue their ways of stealing which they had been taught to do in order to make money for someone. Many of the girls would become victims of the sex trade as a result of it as well. It was hard to take this all in and to know this was a reality here as we stood in the Little Lambs Church filled with children and their families.
After the welcome from the Pastor and the opening prayer, the women of the church sang us a beautiful song. Then the young group of girls gave a song and dance as well which was followed by a dance by the teenage girls. This one pulled my heart strings the most, knowing many of them had been through very difficult situations already. At the end of the one song that they did, each of the girls came and pulled some of us group members to the front and danced around us. It was so beautiful and such an honor to be sung over this way and I couldn't resist to give the sweet young girl in front of me a huge hug once it was completed. A local men's band dressed in decorative ponchos played a few wonderful songs for us as well. I loved their enthusiasm and the passion they had for what they were doing.
Once the program was complete, they showed us their brand new youth room and child development room to keep the children busy and continually learning and interacting. They were so proud of these new additions. The complex was surrounded by various classrooms, eating area, kitchen, washrooms, and a wall around the outside kept it all enclosed with a large grass area in the middle. We were shown the educational programs they used, how the records of each child was kept, the files that were very well organized with charts and pages of each stage of the child's life. Once again we were very impressed with the hard work that went into each child and the commitment that the staff and volunteers each had to be sure that everything was recorded and accounted for.
Then it was time for the home visit and a chance for the family we were visiting to show us what their daily lives looked like. We broke up into small groups and were assigned a particular home we'd be visiting. Some would be helping to cut Quinoa, others would be picking grass for those who raised Guinea Pigs and others would be experiencing preparing a field. The group I was in would be cutting Quinoa. We rode in the back of a truck to arrive at our home visit. This was a very young family, the dad was 24 and the mom was 26 and they had 4 children ranging from the ages of 1-8. They owned nothing and lived in a small brick/cement home. The small shack that had a kitchen next to their one room home was a community kitchen for all the neighbors. The animals in their yard, two dogs, some cats, a couple of ducks and chickens and a rooster, were not theirs either. But all of it gave a great sense of community and taking care of each other. The parents with their 2 small children slept in one bed, the grandfather with the sister and the 2 older children slept in another shack. The 8 year old showed us everything she did...harvesting just enough Quinoa for them to eat, she cooked, she cleaned, she washed and she was great at keeping the fire going. There wasn't very good ventilation in the kitchen part so it was often smoky which gave the kids weaker lungs. We presented them with a food basket and with much emotion, I told the father what a blessing it was to see him actively involved with his family. I told him that I would pray that he remained a strong father, loved and respected his wife and raised his family in The Lord and that he would be able to find a job to support his family. He's a strong capable young man so please God, help him find work. We walked with the family to the field up the hill and the mother and 8 year old daughter taught us how to harvest the Quinoa. We only got a few handfuls cut before the rain came and you can't let it get wet so we gathered it up and walked back down the hill in the rain. As we stood under a tree for a few moments hoping the rain would let up a bit, the pastor of the church who was with us, showed us a lesson on the Quinoa. It was precious to be here with them. We prayed with the family and hopped into the truck and went back to the church. What an eye-opening, enlightening and humbling experience here with them.
Back at the church, we had a lovely lunch which the ladies of the church had prepared for us at the center. As we ate lunch and visited in the new youth room, many children and adults watched us closely through the windows. They had already eaten their noon meal while we were on our home visits. So we all enjoyed a lovely feast of great food, and as my father would say, 'we all got fed up!' :) After the late lunch we broke into our groups again and took part in a classroom activity with the children. It was wonderful to see what they learn at the project and how the tutors teach them. Again, so eye opening! Then we got to play games with the children before having a closing ceremony and group picture inside the church. What a blessing it was to be here! Much more happened for Kyrstin and I today but I will have to share that with you in another blog post. :) We drove away from the church with tears in our eyes watching the children waving to us, so thankful for these visitors from Canada whose hearts were overwhelmed and bursting at the seams.
We enjoyed supper back at our hotel and a debrief to share about the day with one another. It was incredible to hear all the testimonies everyone shared of the experiences they had that day. Some of the words that people used to describe the day were: overwhelming, joyful, eye-opening, awe-inspiring, enlightening, divinely ordained, awesome, incredible, humbling....and I agreed with every single one of those words. Catch you on the next post....I don't think you want to miss it. :) It's such a God story!!! <3