Yesterday we had a good lesson (the kids listened more actively then they had yet all week) and we had a fiesta with pinatas and face-painting. A few of the kids also decided that WE needed face paint, and that led to some 'interesting' results...
That evening I had a chance to get to know some of the littlest girls better. One decided she was my teacher and had me do 'homework'. Most of the others wanted what every little kid here wants--to play 'bolantine' or 'avioncita'. Bolantine involves grabbing both arms of a little one and spinning them in a circle; avioncita is the same but with one arm and one leg so they can be like a 'little airplane'.
This morning went very well. We had a much more difficult lesson (in terms of its emotional impact). We had the kids each draw what they saw as the worst darkness in their lives (pain, sins, difficult things they have experienced, failures). We also reminded them of all that God gives--from the stars in the sky and cool evening breezes to magnificent thunderstorms to family, love, and friendship. We then asked them to draw that. After reading a few verses about surrender and transformation (Luke 9:23 until end of thought and Romans 12:1-2) we drew a very large tree on a few large sheets of paper we'd taped together. Earlier in the week each kid had made and decorated two crosses--one to keep and one for us to use. We put the pictures they drew of their darkness in with the roots of the tree, we put the crosses along the trunk of the tree, and we put what they saw as the best things of God in the branches as fruit. The final project was a perfect visual for transformation--their dark paid for by Christ on the cross (each had their own cross on the tree as Christ had died for each individual) and grown and transformed into God's best by the Spirit. (We discussed that this transformation happens as we surrender our lives and follow--embodying faith/trust in Christ; an earlier lesson was on trust in Christ within relationship with Him). The staff had us hang up the final project on the wall.
I could see in the eyes of some of the children that it was difficult for them to draw the dark in their lives--many drew weapons and pictures of violence, and a few had some teary eyes. To my surprise, the youngest boys (who can be some of the biggest troublemakers) actually wanted me to re-read the verses on transformation and read more to them! I could feel God's Spirit move at times in the lesson and see in some of the children's eyes that they understood it--at least in part. Thank God for such a morning.
Afterward we took a group photo and prayed over the children. On our way out of the building, one of the staff told me that she really wanted prayer for her and the other workers... so we offered to pray for them and she assembled the staff. During this time I REALLY felt the Spirit move; one of the staff even broke down and cried--praying in Spanish. I couldn't fully understand her words through the sobs, but I could feel in my Spirit that she was dealing with some intense pain. We prayed for them for quite awhile, and I prayed internally that God give me the words as I prayed for them in the Spirit in Spanish. I must simply trust that He answered even though I only felt that I had partway gotten the meaning across that needed prayed. Thank God for that opportunity as we felt Him move.
The rest of the day went well--we organized our things and gave most of our items to the office (the extra craft pieces that they could use and crayons, glue, paper, and other supplies along with a large box of maybe 100 bags of spicy Cheetos we had received from Joe's Addiction Coffee House).
While I was cleaning up this afternoon, I was VERY excited to hear the sounds of a full-out Juarez thunderstorm. When a real one rolls of the mountains, they are VERY fierce and drop more rain than I have ever seen. The wind blows like mad, and the rain rolls down in torrents. It was beautiful.
To finish out the night we played with the children in the cancha. I had quite a bit of fun chatting with several of them and was very pleased when a couple of the younger girls whom I get along with really well came over and sat in my lap. One of them pulled my arms around her and promptly pretended to be a baby while the other pretended to be a concerned adult who was trying to care for her. The whole thing was very fun and very sweet. They are such beautiful little girls--I don't understand on any level how anyone could not treasure them. I realize that they may be treasured and merely have family who can't financially care for them, but that is not the case for all of the children here, and each one is definitely a treasure. Thank God for the time with them all and for this evening. Thank you and please pray for us as we finish our time serving here and prepare to cross back to the U.S. and travel home in a van with a leaky fuel neck. Buenas Noches!