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CHILE | Tuesday, 6 May 2014 | Views [313]

May 6, 2014 

Day 1 – We probably went to bed around 1:30, and I work up at 7:15 this morning. We're 3 hours ahead of California. Our team went to El Faro this morning, a church/school building on which we are doing renovations. It is the building they use to do the program they call Casa de Esperanza, “House of Hope.” Kids anywhere from 5 to their teens go there as a hang out. They have various ways they minister to the youth of Maipu, the town in Santiago in which El Faro is located. One of these ministries is a skate park, there's also an afterschool program that we've helped with the smaller kids doing crafts and whatnot, and there's even a computer lab that was donated for kids to use.

We were warned that the kids were very aggressive. David runs El Faro, a very gentle, quiet man, who has a noticeable joy in the work he does. As he gave us the tour of El Faro, he told the story of one boy who would come to El Faro and talk back to him, act out. One day, this boy even threw a skateboard at him. David told this boy he couldn't come back until the boy apologized, and when the boy finally did, David let him back into Casa de Esperanza. Later, David took the boy aside and asked about his home life, did he have a mom? No, the boy said, she is dead. Your father? No, he's in jail. Only his 15-year-old brother took care of him and his siblings. David comes across these stories all the time, and his heart is full for the children of Maipu for it.

For children whose parents are both gone, the government pays for their housing, as long as there is some extended older relative (sometimes just an older sibling not much older) can care for them, usually an aunt, uncle, or grandparent. El Faro, appropriately named, as it is translated “The Lighthouse”, is sorely needed in neighborhoods like Maipu where gangs have the run of the town, and cocaine is dealt throughout. My takeaway from today was seeing the importance of just showing up, and being present. David kept saying today that when God puts something on your heart, He will provide to see it through. David has this community on his heart, and Casa de Esperanza is important, and it impacts the people who see the love that comes from it. The women that help run it are amazing – such a picture of such hard, and dedicated work that comes from a place of absolute love. There are a lot of hardened youth that come through those doors, and no surprise given the broken homes they come from; but hope is not too far away when there are those that can show them a little love.

I know I am blessed to be here. But sometimes I feel that what I'm doing here is so small, how can we really make a difference? But I was reminded in two and separate ways today that we are just here to plant seeds, and God makes those seeds grow. Today's card from my stack of going-away notes was from my friend Taylor, and she recounted her story of her experience serving on skid row in downtown LA, washing the feet of the homeless, for hours. By the end she said it felt like what she was doing wasn't really helping, but was then reminded that only Jesus can fix the broken of this world. We are here to plant seeds, not grow them. And tonight, when Greg gave a talk to a room full of local church leaders, he described our life as seasons – Summer for abundance, Fall for change, Winter for loss, and Spring for new beginnings. He said that we often think of Spring as new beginnings in sprite of the loss we have felt in Winter, but really Spring happens because of Winter—our losses make new beginnings happen. Only in our broken can we be lead to restored wholeness. And so many times I make that all about me, and because we are all precious to God, I do know he cares for me as an individual. However, there is so much more than this life, my life, and it is amazing to know that God is taking care of all of us, and this world, in ways that are higher than my thoughts and far exceeding my imaginations. Greg says that brokenness is part of the journey, and God uses that dark time for us to long for something new, and in Him, and to hear things from Him in new ways. So whether in Maipu, or in my own feelings of brokenness, or in wanting to “fix” someone – in the end, it is all about God, not about me—He does the growing and the fixing. Sometimes our stories and experiences are not even for us in the end, but for someone else to hear and to know they are not alone.

Tags: chile, el faro, maipu, santiago

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