Monday, October 1, 2012

BR-458 Projeto Sementinhas (Little Seeds), Project Visit, Thursday September 27, 2012

Our first day was to be spent at Compassion Project BR-458 – Projeto Sementinhas (Little Seeds Project), which is located in the region of Caucaia, just outside Fortaleza. Here I sponsor Ana Cristina (12), Jessica (8) and Christian (8). It has been running for 5 years and has 152 children. Pastor Josue actually began caring for neighbourhood kids before he joined with Compassion. He started with 7 kids, increased to 20 something and then found out about Compassion. When they met, Compassion encouraged him to get 100 kids before forming a partnership. The Project has three classrooms, and is relatively new. 

The new church is being built on site, so at the moment, the kids main play area is basically a construction zone. They play in bare feet and flip-flops, and have to contend with dirt, rocks, stones, and possibly nails and glass. OH&S boffins would be horrified! Fortunately Pastor Josue lives just across the road and he provides them with a safer place to play.

I’ll be honest, in my mind I went through what I hoped meeting these kids would be like, probably a thousand times over, and the way it went down was, initially, an anti-climax. All three of them were in their classes, and when I went in there I almost felt like I was interrupting things. We took them downstairs to have a get-to-know-you chat, and didn’t get much out of them. Simply, they were just shy, withdrawn and overwhelmed. Cristina and Jessica stayed that way for the majority of the day, but Christian was by far the most open and expressive of the three.

 Another thing that was interesting was how little they knew or remembered about me, despite the fact that I send them letters and pictures at least once month, of at least one page in length. I don’t hold back in my letters. They should basically know my life story. I don’t know whether it’s a translation issue, but I thought they should have known more than they did.

 Isabela and I did a good job of keeping things moving, and soon enough, the other kids came down for their snack. I got lots of curious looks and shy glances. I stuck my hand out for a high five to see who would get it. Some did, others walked right past. After the snack it was music time! They did a couple of songs for me, and I taught them a couple of songs I learned as a summer camp counsellor in Indiana back in 2004. It was good they were mainly action songs, because the language barrier proved a bit tricky.

 After this we had some free time out in the construction zone a.k.a the half built church. They loved to play a game that was similar to dodge-ball, but as a way of keeping everyone in the game, if you got hit, you go up one end, and continue playing. I also taught them paper-scissors-rock, thumb-wars, a finger trick and My Aunty Anna (a hand-clapping game where the person who can put their legs apart the furthest wins).

This group of kids were very receptive and curious. We had the language barrier, but all I had to do was walk with a wiggle and I had them in stitches.   

 Another special event I was able to be part of today was giving some gifts to a child from their sponsor all the way in the US. I met Jennifer Nunley on the OurCompassion website, which is like a social networking site for Compassion sponsors, and she sponsors Erica from this Project. When she found out I was going there, she was keen to send some gifts. The Project staff very kindly arranged for Erica to be at the Project on this day, and I was able to meet her, give her the gifts, as well as take some photos and video to give to Jennifer. 

 One thing that went down really well was the Australian football I brought along. This group of kids really got into it, especially my boy Christian, who carried it round with him when we went walking on the home visits. I taught them how to kick and handball, then we played some kick-to-kick for a while. They even had to be encouraged to go back to their soccer game – they’d forgotten all about it!

 I was looked after really well. Once again the hospitality was fantastic and the project staff genuinely care about the kids in their care and any visitors that may come. They are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Lesson learned: Today I learned that God is a God who answers prayers, whether or not it comes in the form we want or expect. Before this trip I repeatedly prayed for God to clothe me in humility, and to help me remember that this is all about Him. There was not one occasion on this first day for me to get a big head. There was no great outpouring of emotion or gratitude from any of the kids or parents, even though I know they loved having me there, and were appreciative of all I've done. They were just very low-key in the way they expressed it. 

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