The river appears to stand still in the distance, but its roar betrays its ferocity. Distant sounds of life in the pueblo drift up to our plot of land on the side of this foothill. We sit high above town, but even our height is shadowed by nearby mountains towering over us. Birds soar far above us; birds soar far below us as well. Though the sky doesn’t appear very wide here, reigned in by the mountains, there is a depth to the sky that I have never been able to see so clearly. Today clouds cover the skies above. They also blow in from below. Today the clouds are thick, at times completely blinding our view, at times visible right before our eyes, blowing through the Casa de Esperanza pavilion. As I sit watching movies in Spanish at the Casa de Esperanza, I concentrate more on the hands , faces, and lives of the children cuddling up with me on the hard benches. My friend Jasmin again fell asleep on me, but was standing up against me this time, as a precaution, since she peed on me yesterday while she was sleeping. She gradually ended up on the floor, and then was moved to sleep on the table. Fidelia seemed eager for cuddle time. I think she was just tired, as she fell asleep within minutes of snuggling up against me. We had never talked before, but today she wouldn’t let me move my arm away from her. Miguel (Mickey), Rosmery, and other little ones wanted to play, cuddle, and just interact. Though at first I often entered the Casa property with a bit of uncertainty, not quite sure of what I would find as I ascended the driveway/road lined by palm trees designated for each child, I am always welcomed by kids and adults alike with open arms. It is a blessing to be here at the Casa. My spirit is encouraged today. I watch a movie, hold one to three kids, cuddle with two more, talk with three more, practice Spanish, love, learn, exist, and I am blessed.
Later, as I walk home, the two tire swings on our property hang still in the mist. A haunting beauty, a symbol of joy without children to enjoy them. I have seen them used for play and time set apart for prayer and Bible reading. Today they seem lonely as I come home from playing with so many children. Life returns to the new normal as I descend the hill back to our house. I enter my room and see my tasks waiting for me. Books to be graded, clothes to be mended, correspondence to finish, coming deadlines, clutter filling my room and distracting my mind. I am glad I stepped away to experience something more important than my to-do list today.
There is a growing tenderness here. I have been here more than two months now. I am becoming comfortable in the classroom setting, aware of my responsibilities, enjoying the routines I have set up, understanding the abilities of the kids and the characteristics of the curriculum. More than that, I feel much more aware of a higher purpose as I not only teach but am asking God to open the doors for HIS purposes for me here. I came here aware of the calling to teach, but God has many more ideas for how to use me as well as things to teach me. I know he is using me at the Casa de Esperanza as I get more comfortable there and become a recognized presence. Sometimes I go up and end up cuddling, sometimes I babysit, once I swam with the younger school-aged kids. God is working on my character, and sometimes that is a joy, sometimes it is no fun at all, but it is always a blessing.