The temperature here is 20 degrees below normal and it’s been pouring rain since about midnight. Great sleeping weather. That is until therooster outside the window starts crowing at about 4 AM. Not to be outdone, every other rooster in the neighborhood feels obligated to chime in.
For some reason it didn’t really bother me and I fantasized about the breakfast that was being brought here in four hours. We asked Kina if we could do authentic instead of typical fare from the states and so far it’s been amazing. The neighbors are really nice ladies and excellent cooks. Not sure if my plan to lose a couple pounds is going to hold up to their cooking … a couple of times I actually had the urge to lick the plate.
We headed out at 9:30 this morning for New Hope, run by Nahum’s father Jorge Gutierrez. He was a pastor before becoming the full time director, and it’s obvious he loves the boys like a father.
The property was formerly a residential house, but over the past five years they’ve added a kitchen/dining structure, laundry, bodega, directors house, greenhouse and woodworking shop.
The woodworking shop would make Bob Villa drool. Outfitted by Rotary International the boys learn not just skills, but math, how to read schematics and self- esteem. They have been able to sell some of what they have made in the local market, enabling them to see a project from conception to final sale.
The green house uses aquaponics to grow plants. It’s really quite ingenious — the fish fertilize the plants and the plants oxygenate the water for the fish. This is the first orphanage I’ve ever seen that grows mushrooms. Nahum converted a chicken house on the property into mushroom production and they have found a market for them at many of the local restaurants, as well as using them in cooking for the boys.
I was amazed to learn they feed nearly 20 boys plus staff on $200 USD a month. It’s an astonishing feat, and what makes it possible is Walmart giving them day old bread and other products like fruits and vegetables that are consumable but no longer on the shelves. Add a cook who’s a genius and you have a recipe for a miracle. A vanload of the food showed up while we were there.
The best part of our day was simply spending time playing with the kids and even doing their math with them. They love Jenga, and we found ourselves explaining long multiplication and negative numbers in Spanish. They really wanted to learn and the smiles of success were awesome. As a reward, if the boys did all of the math problems right they got a ticket to watch a movie. (they got to fix their mistakes)
Before we left Jorge told the boys how he believed there are no coincidences and that everything happened for a reason. He then looked at us and told the children we were sent to them as postcards from God, a reminder that He has not forgotten them. I looked over at Reagan and we were both tearing up. We are all feeling blessed to be here.