Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Animal Adventures & LOVE

So, today I had a couple interesting things happen with animals. We were teaching at Los Bordos, where it was insane. I though school was bad, but this is just crazy. The kids that do have notebooks and should be working are talking to each other and totally not paying attention to Lindsay talking, and they're not doing the work that they're supposed to be.

Lindsay was really frustrated with it today, and didn't know what to do. I suggested telling them to leave if they weren't going to work, but she'd already done that and they claimed to want to be there. And there were quite a few kids that were just there to observe and make trouble. I spotted one boy in particular who was just hitting the other kids. He clearly had no interest in learning.

At some point, Lindsay had to leave, and left me in charge of the kids for "5 minutes." Even one minute alone with these kids seemed like it would be too much. She told me to keep an eye on the notebooks, not the kids. As if to prove her fears were legit, one boy literally took off with a notebook and pencil as soon as she was out of sight. I managed to catch him by the arm before he made it out the door and pulled the notebook and pencil from his hand before releasing him to run off. Oh, children.

A lot of the kids that were just there to watch ran off when Lindsay left, and my first order of business was to clear out the rest of them. I quickly kicked out every kid that wasn't working, beginning with the boy in the black striped shirt that was just torturing people. He was very defiant, and didn't think I was going to follow through, but did leave when I put my foot down. He came back several times, but the fifth time he came back, he wasn't as distracting, and actually wanted to find out when the English class was.

So, that was class today.

At some point near the end, there was a crowd gathering outside, and I saw a teenage boy carrying an armadillo. On one of my trips down, I think I saw one run past late at night, but I'd never seen one for real, and never up close. So, I joined the crowd of fascinated kids to get a look at the little armadillo. It was about the size of a guinea pig, or a dwarf rabbit. I had to touch it, and it was sort of leathery, like you would expect it to be. And it was super cute, but I'm pretty sure it was going to get eaten.

So, yeah. My first encounter with an armadillo. It was really cool.

Then, we walked through the barrio, to do something that involved a stack of lumber that a woman had. Nothing was explained to me, so I'm not sure what was happening with the wood, exactly. On the way there, this beautiful torbie cat walked by, stalking a hot pink chick (they paint the white ones, though I'm not sure why). I think she would have caught it, too, because the chick was not as concerned with the cat as he aught to have been, but one of the girls walking with us chased the cat away.

Once we got to the lady's house who had the wood, there was a horse there, hooked up to its cart still, but munching on something green. It looked like it could be leaves from corn stalks, but I'm not entirely sure. I went and stood near him, but out of range of feet and teeth. He seemed to accept that I was there, and I was informed that he would bite me if I got any closer. He proved that by pinning his ears at me when I did take one step closer to get a better look at the harness, which was basicallly just made of whatever string could be found, I guess. I gave him his space, and assume that he bites because he was beaten. Most horses that were abused lash out at people because they're reacting in fear.

The other times I'd been down, I had seen the thin and beat down horses, but hadn't looked closely enough to see life in their eyes, that spark of character that I love about them. But watching this one eat and seeing him react to me gave me hope.

I tend to see the way the animals are as a reflection of the people. When I think about animals in America, I think about fat, spoiled cats and dogs that are treated like people, sometimes so much that their owners pour more love into Rufus and Fluffy than they do the real people in their lives. But the animals know they have value and act like they're the most important part of life. But here, so many animals roam the streets, starving and desperate for anything: food, affection, acknowledgement. It's the same with a lot of the people here, and it shows up most clearly in the kids, who are more likely to display their emotions. The kids there at Los Bordos may not be focused enough to do the school work, but you can see the desperation they have for love.

There's one little boy that has become attached to me, Christian. He's two at the most, but he's big, and hangs all over me, wanting me to pick him up and swing him like I mistakenly did the first time I was there. And there's a little girl, Isol. She's closer to 4, I think, but is small for her age, and absolutely adorable. She's also quite attached to me, and is constantly trying to get me to do the handclap games that she sees the older girls doing, but she can't keep a rhythm and I can't follow her sporatic movements, so our attempts at playing usually fail.

Whenever I smile at them, or just pat them on the head, they light up and give me a hug. It's the same with all of them. There's such a joy that fills them when they feel the love of God that I'm giving them, and you can see it so clearly on their faces. They don't care that I can't speak the language and that I don't understand them, because they do understand one thing: LOVE.

Love is a universal language, and can be expressed by so many ways other than words. I'm so thankful that God is teaching me all about this with these kids. It's something that I can continue to use when working at Los Bordos, but also in every area of life. There's not a single person in the world that does not desire and need love. And there's not a single person in the world that God does not love; He wants us to share that love with everyone we meet.

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