I was able to make a surprise visit to Torre Fuerte on Tuesday, walking in with Paul Eklund of Lightshine Ministries, another big supporter of the home. Since leaving this place last June, I have imagined what it would be like to come back. I made many very special friendships here, and couldn’t wait to see them again. I wondered, though, was our time at Torre Fuerte as significant to those girls as it was to us? Were we just another work team to come through and then be forgotten over time?
I walked in on Tuesday morning, and as soon as I stepped into the yard, I was swarmed by shouting and screaming kids, very much surprised by my visit. Little Tatiana, who had been in the wading pool on the roof of the cafeteria, ran straight up to me and gave me a hug. So I was a little wet; it was a great reception.
I can freely acknowledge that there is some personal satisfaction in being liked by the kids. But there’s more to it than that. This is the place I feel God is calling me and my family to serve. The greeting these kids gave me just reaffirmed that we had developed something very special back in June. There was no time needed waiting for the girls to “warm up to me” or remember me. It was as if, in their minds, I had come home.
At this point, I have spent half a day with Pastor Dario and a translator, working out some of the details of my ministry here. He wanted to hear the story of my call here, as well as discuss expectations between us, possible housing locations, and the absolute necessity of our support coming from the US.
The rest of my time has been spent visiting with the girls: answering their questions, explaining why I’m here, explaining why my son Micah is not, updating the kids of the people in our June work team, and getting lots of instruction and correction in my Spanish.
There have been a few very special moments. As I have explained our plans to several of the girls – plans I thought they were aware of – their eyes have gotten big as they’ve thrown their arms around my neck. Little Tatiana took me aside yesterday to let me know that I am a “very special person” to her. When you understand the backgrounds of abuse and abandonment these kids have, a statement like that gives you a lump in your throat.
Part of my goal for my time here is to establish a relationship with the rest of the girls – those I had not really gotten to know in June. These are mostly the very youngest and very oldest of the girls. I was taken by the hand yesterday, eventually by four or five of the little ones, and given a two hour Spanish lesson. Very cute, but also very helpful. The relationship with those kids is underway. I have also made significant headway with some of the older girls, although some of them are painfully shy and very shattered by their past.
All in all, I’m having a blast, doing exactly what I feel God has called me to do. Still, your prayers are very much appreciated.