The stories continue. If you missed part one, you can find it here. This is everything that happened last week Tuesday. Well, not EVERY thing, but everything important and memorable.
The Copy Machine
Last week were exams for the kids, which meant making copies was more important than usual. I, along with several other teachers, had several exams that were done by hand. Most of mine were on my computer and easily printed from the printer even though it took longer, but my math test was all drawn and written out by hand, and other teachers don't have a computer, which means everything is by hand.
We just got the copier back from the repair shop because it was leaving black smudges along the edges of the pages and the copies were become partially unreadable. It worked well enough for about 3 days. Then, it started leaving blurry streaks along a good 3 inches along one side that almost made it look like the paper was underwater. You could sort of read what it said, but it was blurry and covered in gray.
It was frustrating. The tests I had printed out then copied were hard to read/see, but I wasn't going to waste 10 sheets of paper printing them all out on the computer, so I ended up having to draw the missing pieces on the board. and putting numbers by them, and by the blurred drawings on their papers and hope they understood my directions. In math, I had to do all 4 pages of their test on the board, including 10 addition problems that were all lost to the failing copier. That was Monday.
On Tuesday, I wasn't giving any exams, but I went anyway because I was being picked up there later to go to Casita. I intended to just relax and work on my article writing job that I was still working on about the capital of Malaysia, but ended up spending the majority of the morning trying to fix the copier.
As much as I am not a computer repair specialist, I am even less of a copier repair specialist. At one point, I did have the solution explained to me by Ethan, our 3 year old Autistic boy, but he just used hand motions and sounds, so I didn't understand what he was saying. He may have just been explaining the wonders of the inner workings of copy machines according to a 3 year old, but I like to think he was trying to tell me how to fix it. I wished I had had my camera with me to capture his explanation, but alas, I had not thought it necessary when fixing the copier.
After somewhat identifying what the problem might be, blackening my hands twice, cleaning several surfaces of the copy machine, and considering paying $28 for an online expert to tell me what the problem was, I gave up and decided I could not fix the copy machine without risking breaking it. I did desperately want a screwdriver so I could tear it apart and see if I could figure it out, but I thought the higher powers might not appreciate me dismantling the machine and not being able to put it back together.
The Grocery Store
Usually, trips to the grocery store are generally uneventful, though they sometimes involve me making a fool of myself trying to go in the out door or not knowing where my ride is. Sometimes they involve free samples of toast, too. But last week Tuesday, my shopping trip involved me spending 10 minutes faking knowing Spanish to the bag boy.
At this particular grocery story, the bag boys not only bag your groceries, but they also take them out to your car and load them for you. And on that day, I had been dropped off by Dennis and was supposed to call Hermano Hector when I was finished to come pick me up. After buying my groceries and minutes for my phone, we headed outside. I made the call, mumbling something resembling "I'm finished" in Spanish, and ended the call.
The bag boy took this as a sure sign that I was fluent in Spanish and began talking to me. Between the automatic door opening and closing behind me and the traffic out on the street, I could barely hear what he was saying. And I definitely couldn't hear it enough to understand, but I put on a good show. At some point he told me he has a cousin in the US, confirmed that "I love jyou" is "Te amo," talked about sports, asked me about music and if I had friends in Guatemala and other nearby countries, and at some point asked me "Estas cansada?"
Or so I thought. Cansada means tired. So, I said yes. I was tired. He seems a little surprised when I said yes, and I just sort of shrugged it off at the time. Later that night when I was trying to think of the word for married, I realized he hadn't asked me if I was "cansada." He asked me if I was "casada." Married. That one letter makes a big difference, no? So, I told the bag boy at the grocery store that I was married. This explains his surprise at my answer. With my hair in pigtails that day, I probably looked no more than 17.
When I posted my blunder on Facebook later, one of my friends told me I'd missed out on a boyfriend, and when I told the story at Bible study the following Thursday, they exclaimed that I had missed my opportunity and laughed with me at my mistake.
That being the third stupid thing I've done there, I don't ever want to go back there again. Unfortunately, I'm mostly at the mercy of whoever is kind enough to drive me to the grocery store. I guess I at least don't have to try to appear normal, since they all know I'm weird there. :)
I touched on this when it actually happened, but now I'm going to expand a little on what happened at Casita last week. For those of you not aware, Casita ("little house") is a girl's orphanage run by the government. Most of the girls there are between the ages of 10 and 15, with a few that are older. Many of them are runaways, or their parents have stopped caring about them. A lot of them have been sexually abused at some point or were prostitutes, and a surprising number have babies.
Despite being safe from the world of gangs, sex, drugs, and violence within the 20 foot concrete walls of Casita where they are cared for by a team of Tias ("Aunts"), many of them still run from the orphanage and back onto the streets. Sometimes, they are caught again and brought back, but not before they have wound up pregnant.
Last week, there were 3 babies there, and 5 girls that were pregnant. The girls who were pregnant all ranged around 15 years old. Already, with new arrivals and escapes, those numbers could easily change.
As I looked around at the girls during our time of worship, there were a few that stayed seated, too mentally disabled to understand what was happening or to want to join in. And there was one girl who sat and looked around who had a clear mind. She looked at the girls who were singing with eyes closed and hands raised with some contempt, and my heart broke for her.
Another girl that was close to her was among those standing. She had her eyes closed and her hands were reaching out to God as she sang and didn't care who was looking or not looking. It gave me hope that some of these girls do want to change, and they can see how much they need Jesus in their lives to make that change. I didn't get to talk to either of them after, but I continue to lift them up in prayer, and pray that they would find what they are looking for.
After worship, they all get a verse that Shari prints out for them. This week was I Timothy 4:12, one of my favorites, and such a perfect one for these girls who have been told they are worthless either by action or by word and think they can't do any good. I hope they take this verse to heart like I have, and realize that they don't have to be anything special to be an example to others. They can be that example that they ought to be, because all they need is Jesus in them.
Once we had passed out all the cupcakes and cups of juice, the girls started drifting off to their normal activities, which mostly just involved sitting around. A few of the girls stuck around, and I was able to play around and sort of talk with a couple of them. Once girl came up and playfully pinched me, so her and I pinched/hit at each other for a couple minutes before I pulled her into an embrace. Another time a couple of girls were goofing off and one hit the other, and I demanded, "Que estas haciendo?!" ("What are you doing?!") They seemed surprised that I had called them out and in Spanish, and assured me they were just playing as I shook my head and smiled.
As Terry shook hands with multiple girls to prove he wasn't going to shake one of them hard, I had girls on either side of me who put their arms around my waist. We watched and laughed as Terry slowly gained the girl's trust that he wouldn't shake her hand hard, then did when she finally consented to shake his hand again. They all laughed about it, and I was reminded again of how much he's a grandfather to all of them, constantly teasing and tormenting them with a smile on his face. No matter what he's doing to them, they see the love that's behind it, and it's great to watch and be a part of.
So, it looks like I'll be able to go back every other week and be a part of their ministry there. I'm REALLY excited about that, and look forward to getting to know the girls better and just being able to love them. They recently had a room converted into a beauty parlor, so I'll let them do whatever to my hair if I get the chance. That's for sure.