March 15th, 2009 Part 2

Woke up at 8am (10am CDT) after a great sleep in a nice bed! Took a nice warm shower in a shower that was about 8 X 5 ft, quite large. Got up and had some cereal – Zucritas – it is essentially Frosted Flakes, but with MORE SUGAR!! Everyone liked it, and it does not get soggy like American Frosted Flakes do, so I liked it better. I was the first of our group to wake up, John & Mary were already up and going. We sat around the table talking and having breakfast. The girls started to filter in, around 10:15. Everyone in was in good spirits after our odyssey. That’s the one thing about our group – very high energy level. Also, everyone gets along really well – well as much as can be expected. At 11am, we went to the chapel on the grounds and Janiene & Luis showed us a PowerPoint on La Granja Hogar that some of the sisters made. Very informative, hopefully I can get a copy of it for my notes.

Church

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After that we went to iglesias (church), just about 4 blocks down the street. It was a very, very beautiful church – big stone walls, high ceilings, beautiful artwork and statues. I took pictures, so I will not even try to describe it further, although my guess is the pictures may not even do it justice. The mass was very cool, last about 1:20. Janiene gave us Spanish-English church books, so we could follow along. It was exactly how I had seen it in movies. There were about 6 altar boys, all wearing the red shirt with the white robes, very ornate. Incense was used during the whole mass, almost before anything could be done incense was shook over and blessed. We were able to follow the mass until the homily, and then we were on our own. And it was a long homily – maybe 20 minutes. Then, I almost took out a kneeler, I was sitting with Kerry & Hannah and there was a lady to my left. Kerry and the lady had both gotten down on the kneeler, and then I got down and that thing bent and felt like it may collapse. Oh, side note: the kneeler was all wood, so pretty hard on the knees. Then communion was not organized – you just go up there when you want, so we just jumped in line. They also had 3 lines, which we didn’t realize, so people were cutting through the middle of the 2 standard lines and I had no idea what was happening. Also, only take communion by sticking your tongue out, and I was most certainly the tallest person in church, so when padre put the wafer out, it was at my chest – then he looked up and saw me, and lifted it up. The music at the church was beautiful too. Some of the same songs that we are used to back home were sung; except they had a nice Spanish guitar and their singers had beautiful voices. Mass finished up, then we got some pictures of our group and the church. It was very nice outside, sunny and warm.

First Meal with the Kids

We walked back to La Granja Hogar, and we had our first meal with the kids. We had spaghetti & salad and also a potato patty thing, and it was very good. We walked to the cafeteria carrying our own bowls and spoons. I felt pretty basic just easting my food out of a bowl, and only having a spoon. We also spread ourselves out among the kids, so we could mingle. The first meal went decent; we tried to talk a bit. The kids – and us – still shy.

The River

After lunch, we had a walking tour of the facility – although we did not make it far because Sister Maryimar asked us to go play with the kids. The kids along with Paco – the leader of the 1st-3rd graders, is a very nice man, I have much more to say about him in this journal before the end. All the kids love him, he is very playful and fun, he lets the kids do what they can, but keeps them safe. He was in seminary for 7 years, but then decided to get married. We walked down to the river, just across the street from us – out the back gate of La Granja Hogar, past the farm (see Appendix A: La Granja Hogar Map). We went down to the river, and some of the children already crossed on a fallen tree. So the rest of us decided to cross too – which made for an adventure. Also, great experience to start connecting with the kids.

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A big part is that there are only about 30 kids at La Granja Hogar right now, another 100 or so will be coming tomorrow. Monday is a holiday here – Juarez day or something like that – some sort of former president. So, it was a good sized group, really allowed us to get to know the kids better that first day with only 30 instead of 130. Crossing the river was fun, I got to carry Marissa across – she is one of the cutest little kids I have ever seen, she is 5 and adorable.

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She was a little shy and first, but she embraced me and trusted me to walk over a river on a log. I was pretty scared taking her across the river; I was afraid I would drop her or put both of us in the river. But I had good balance and got us both across just fine. Carmen was wearing a type of heeled shoes and those shoes got torn apart from a day of playing in the gravel. She had to crawl across the log. Once we all had crossed, we walked a ways and stopped at the foot of some large mountains. I forgot to mention how beautiful the mountains are here, large, and everywhere. We got into a circle and starting hitting a soccer ball like volleyball. There were about 15 of us in the circle, and we counted as we hit the ball – uno, dos, tres… We also started learning some names. I was running everywhere, trying to hit the balls that fell in the middle. The ball also went into the river once, and I was going to try and reach and grab it, but it was too far out, so I jumped in quick, grabbed it and jumped out. I was only wet up to my shins, so not too bad – but the kids liked it. We played some more, then we quit and the kids did other things. But then Martin, one of the kids – asked to teach me futbol. So we hit the ball around, and he would hit the ball off his knees and foot and head – and would count as he hit. Then he would have me do the same. I, of course, was not very good, but I did get better. Then he threw the ball at me, and I did headers back.

Then we started to head back, we had to relive the river crossing experience. Then we walked back to La Granja Hoger, and went for dinner. Can’t recall what we did for supper, but we mingled with the kids again, and I sat with Margie, and we talked a lot with the kids, just about our names, etc.

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Evening

Then we went back to our bunk house and hung out and talked with Janiene, Luis, John, and Mary. It was a nice evening. We are so blessed to have John and Mary here – I feel bad about their bikes breaking down, but I think it was a God’s plan for us to meet these people. They are true examples of service & love, and they have great stories to share and great perspectives. They have done so much in their lives, and have a different perspective on life then the rest of us, that really added to our group and I think we all grew from each other.

Then we had our reflection time as a group, our first reflection. Mary joined us. The reflection was decent, but it did not go as well as I hoped. No patience in our group, they cannot handles reflective silence, and went through the questions really quickly. I was hoping to get God more involved, but maybe in future reflections – it is only the second day with each other, and our first reflection, so I am sure they will get better. I ended up with a nice closing prayer – then I took a quick shower and went to bed.

-Nate