I went to Peru with an impossible task.
922 photos. 3 days.
We got those 922 photos done in 10 hours or less.
For nothing is impossible with God.
It was incredible to be back in Peru! I got to see all of my Peruvian friends and the sweet, precious orphans I'd fallen in love with before! That country will always have a special place in my heart.
Needless to say, the highlight of the trip was the orphanage. Oh, how I love Sagrada Familia. Ask any child living there if they like it and they will reply with the most emphatic "sí" you've ever heard.
On our second day at the orphanage, we were going to be at the baby house all morning. You can imagine how anxious I was to see Carmensita again. We walked in there and I abandoned my duty as trip documenter for a moment so I could look for her. My heart dropped. She wasn't there.
Surely, surely, she hadn't left? Surely nothing had happened to her? Where was she? Where was my girl?
After asking one of the workers, I learned that she was at school. She wouldn't be back until 1:00. We were supposed to go to the baby house in the morning. I didn't know what "the morning" was considered in Peru, but I promised myself that today "the morning" wouldn't end until at least 2:00.
While filming and photographing the other Worthday team members was fun, and I really enjoyed it, my mind was forever on Carmensita. Would she remember me? Would she even like me?
At the first glimpse of older children coming in from school, I shoved my camera into the hands of another team member, telling them to film us and take pictures. I stood shaking by the door as one by one the children walked in. Until, very last, Carmensita stepped her little lopsided step into the baby house. My eyes filled instantly with tears, and I knelt to the ground. But she barely had time to glance my way. She had wet her pants at school and was whisked off to the bathrooms. Determined not to let her out of my sight, I followed her into the bathrooms where she was left standing to wait until someone could change her.
I knelt down beside her, and held my breath. This was it. "Carmensita?" I said. "Hola Carmensita!"
Her face lit up and she wrapped her warm, little arms around my neck. "Mi amiga! Mi amiga!" she said over and over again. That had been what we repeated over and over again last year. She remembered me.
I grabbed her up in my arms and didn't let her go for the rest of the two hours we were at the baby house.
When we left, I had a translator tell her that I loved her very much, and that I prayed of her every day, and that I would see her soon.
After that, I had a meeting with the doctor who had gotten Carmensita's eyes tested. He was able to give me a lot of information about her condition. She is medically diagnosed as "intellectually disabled". The problem with her eyes is strabismus. He said that her surgery would be covered by the state in Peru, but she had to have it before she turned 5 1/2 or it wouldn't be effective. This means she'll probably have surgery before or while I'm in Peru in July. From closer inspection by me and other members of the team, though, Carmensita really looks to me like she may have cerebral palsy. Of course, this is just a guess, but from what I've researched she has a lot of the tendencies.
I wasn't needed as a documenter for the rest of the day, so I spent my time getting to know some of the other kids. My camera was kidnapped (just kidding, given) to a group of teenage girls at the orphanage who may have used half of my memory card taking pictures! It was incredible getting to talk to them!
And then I met Esteban.
Esteban was nine years old. And he wanted his picture taken badly. He had the sweetest voice and face. When he would talk to me, he would take both of my hands in his and stare unabashedly into my eyes. He wanted that physical and emotional attention so badly. Although I couldn't understand a lot of his Spanish, there was one thing that got through to me. And he loved it.
"Canta Justin Bieber, por favor?"
Sing Just Bieber, please?
How can you say no to that?
We sang the chorus of "Baby" over and over and over again. He sang along in broken English.
Later that night, when I learned that we had finished, I was overjoyed! We had scheduled three days for the orphanage, which meant that the next day would be filled with simply playing with and loving on the kids!
You can imagine how crushed I was when our team leader told us that we would not be returning on the orphanage to that trip. I did my best to rush to my room before bursting into tears. It was embarrassing to cry when no one else was. I had told Carmensita and Esteban that I would see them later, thinking I would be back the next day! Oh, I was angry, and hurt, and confused and all I wanted was to see them again!
I cried for nearly two hours. Gut-wrenching sobbing. Thankfully most of the team had gone to the church. They weren't there to see my humiliation. On Friday we visited a school for the blind. It was cool, but all I could think while I was there was how much I wanted to be back at the orphanage.
That night we went to a Christian rehab house. While the others were excited to see how God worked, I was still thinking about how much better playing with Carmensita would be than visiting with drug and alcohol addicts who spoke a different language than me.
I was still unsure when we walked in. But then they started to worship. I have never seen such pure, unadulterated, passionate worship in my life!
It gives me chills every time I see the video. It was in that moment that I realized, yes, I had been called into orphan care, but that didn't mean that God couldn't work in my heart and the hearts of others through things other than orphans.
Peru was incredible. I love Peru, and I love the people. I love the orphanage, and I love, love, love Carmensita.
But mostly I love that I have a God who loves the least of the least, the poor over the rich, the sick over the healthy. I love that I have a God who is present even when I feel broken and betrayed. I love that my God takes care of Carmensita when I can't. And I love that my God has put a fire for orphan care in me, and it has grown so big that it has consumed me.