The school year has begun in Peru! We are excited to be back and to see all of our kids' smiling faces again. This year we have opened a new preschool room for the youngest ones (2-3 years old) and now have six classrooms. Most of our kids are returning, but we have also welcomed a total of 16 new kids, bringing us to 62 kids overall! We are thrilled to have many of our teaching staff returning this year along with three new teachers. God has provided in abundance and we are thankful for another school year at Esperanza de Ana. Scroll down to enjoy some photos of our kids' first week back!
Juan Diego (9) and his older brother Jefferson (13) came to Esperanza School in the middle of 2016. Jefferson is a kind and caring older brother, very respectful. Juan Diego has symptoms of being within the autism spectrum; he is highly verbal and has wonderful insights. Their family was going through a very difficult time.
Irma counseled both parents and learned that momma had been enduring both emotional and verbal abuse for many years. She had found refuge in the arms of another man. She left the home just after the boys were enrolled.
Dad couldn’t understand why she left. He had always apologized for his behavior. Irma helped him to see the abuse cycle in their home, that words can damage hearts. His constant response to her attempts at forming healthy relationship were questions like, "Who bought the clothes you’re wearing? Who buys shoes for this family? You wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for me.”
He acknowledged the cycle and cried. He was convinced that the relationship was beyond repair.
The boys were first left with their dad, later Jefferson bounced back and forth. Both boys were suffering terribly, totally neglected emotionally.
One day Juan Diego asked Irma to pray with him. With his precious special perceptive heart he cried out, “Please, please pray with me. Pray for my mamá!" He closed his eyes, “Please, please God, help my parents not to be separated, please!” Then he said to Irma, “Pray, you too, please. Now. Pray that my parents don’t stay separated.”
About 8 weeks ago Irma sat down to talk with momma. Her heart broken, she talked to Irma. "I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know where my head was that I would abandon my kids and leave my husband. I don’t know. I don’t understand. I've always wondered how people abandon their kids. I don’t know how I did it.”
As she shared her story she said that she had no peace at all the whole time she was in the other relationship. Her mind constantly worried about her boys. She knew she belonged with them. Finally, she walked out the door. The other man followed and begged her to stay. He even followed her down the street. She told him to stay home and wait, but she never went back.
Healing is beginning to take place in their relationship. They were spending some time together in the afternoons with the boys and had gone on some outings as a family to the beach. Sometimes her husband would ask permission to come to her home and cook a meal for her and the boys.
There is still fear, though, of the recurring cycle that she has lived for years.
Hilda is the aunt of one of the students in Esperanza School. During our dental clinic last October - November she shared with Dr. Claudia that she has suffered various illnesses since she was 15 years old. Now in her forties she is caring for her niece, Karen, whose mother died when she was five years old. Karen is now 11.
As she dealt with sickness for so long, Hilda wasn't able to go to the dentist, resulting in the loss of her teeth at a very young age. She had dentures at one time, but they had long worn out. Her niece asked her not to smile because her missing teeth were embarrassing. Hilda’s heart was broken over Karen’s attitude. She was living with this sense of shame.
"I feel ashamed because I can't smile like everybody else does. I have to hide my teeth even when I am talking and I live with this deep sadness." - Hilda.
With no upper teeth and no molars on the bottom she always covered her teeth with her lips and talked often with her hand up at her mouth.
While the dental clinic was primarily for the children, Hilda was one of two parents who were treated. She had a few teeth extracted and a few fillings and then new dentures were made for her.
When Claudia put her new dentures in and asked her to smile she couldn’t remember how to shape her lips. She had forgotten how to smile.
She had forgotten how to speak properly and could no longer pronounce some letters. Claudia and Hilda worked together for a while and she began to feel more confident. When she stood up her whole posture was different. Hilda stood tall, shame falling away.
"I feel happy and confident now that I can smile and have the freedom to show my teeth. I used to feel ashamed, but not anymore. Thank you for fixing my teeth." - Hilda.
The impact of the investment of time, friendship, and a few dollars has given Hilda a blessing as she continues to care for her niece and learn how to endure and overcome the abuse of this emotionally-hurting young girl.
A big and beautiful smile, a smile hidden for many years, has now been restored through Christ’s love and His disciples who serve at Esperanza de Ana. Hilda has had her dream come true.
This month we have a few visitors here to help us in various projects. Phase one of our building project is implementing a new septic system. Paul, Jim, and Jay have been hard at work digging, hauling dirt, preparing materials, and assembling new soccer nets for us. Tim and Jeff are constructing cabinets for our kitchen, something we've been wanting to do for a while. The lovely ladies, Robin, Monica, Mary, Amy, and Amelia have been covering close to 300 notebooks and textbooks for our kids, have painting and maintenance projects lined up, and will spend time in the afternoons doing crafts in each classroom.
We are beyond thankful for these team members and their example of what it looks like to be servant leaders. Give thanks to God with us as we celebrate the work they are doing and the work God is doing through them.
Introducing—David, Dina, Mahidi, and Brenda, new members of our EA team.
Presentamos a Dina. We have known Dina since 2008 and have been blessed to witness her heart of service for the people of Peru and mission teams that visit from abroad. It has been a long-time hope to have her work with us; God has answered the prayer of our hearts. She will be serving as home missionary. She is uniquely talented and will communicate the gospel through her many gifts.
Presentamos a David. Many of you know him. We are excited to have David return to EA as missionary and in new role. He has become a famous photographer (wink)!! But what we love about him is his pastor’s heart and through the anointing of the Holy Spirit in his life we know that our children, families, and national staff will be encouraged and grow.
Presentamos a Brenda. She is a native our own town. Brenda is 21 years old and studied psychology at Alas Peruanas. She is joining us for a one-year internship under the supervision of Irma. She has a beautiful spirit and a passion for children and families. And…she has some English :-).
Presentamos a Mahidi. We know this precious young woman through our local church. She serves in leadership there. Mahidi will serve as a house parent in our part-time residential program as well as a teacher in the after school program. Mahidi has a passion to listen well to the words and hearts of children. She has a gift for gentle firmness that serves well here at Esperanza de Ana.
Summer is here! That means so is our summer program. This year we have five classrooms with kids from ages 2 to 15; have welcomed twelve new kids into the program, a total of 8 new families.
These precious lives add to the growing number of students at EA. They are spending their summer reading, practicing their math skills, taking art class, making crafts, and having dynamic game time to work on their logic and motor skills. At Esperanza de Ana they have a place to belong, be accepted and be loved well. Praise God for He each one he has chosen to be here where they can play, learn, and grow.
Yamiret and Stif are the two youngest we have this year. Both are having fun with their teacher and new friends. At EA they have access to grow many necessary early development skills. We love watching the littlest ones learn.
Jair and Johan have joined us for the first time this year and have quickly made new friends in their classroom. They've gotten to read a lot and have even created their own characters and stories. They have shown a lot of creative skills. We focus on reading and writing
Most of our new kids aren't kids at all. They're teenagers! Terry, Kaled, Carolay, Linda, Antony, Brayan, and Yheik have spent their summer learning how to create and sell a product. They have been working very hard and it shows. Their craftsmanship shines through and we are glad to see them expanding their views of what they can do.
We are so thankful for the opportunity to reach more and more families every year as we grow and trust the Lord to bring us to those who need him the most. Pray that these kids' lives would be greatly impacted because of their time at Esperanza de Ana.
Meet our young entrepreneurs...
Our high school students are learning how to run their own business through hands-on experience this summer. They opened up their very own 'tienda’ (shop). Each student has a specific role within the business, from strategic planning, resource management, marketing, accounting and more. They are learning the principles of managing a self-owned business and applying them. Through investigative outings, they have researched local entreprueners in their community and preformed a market study to inform their class-led business plan.
The class determined their target audience would be Valentine’s day beach-goers. They are currently making love and friendship themed keychains and artisan crafts to sell for Valentine's day. This coming week they will be heading out to the beaches to put their business plan to the test.
We are amazed by their creativity and ingenuity! Ana, has done an exceptional job at guiding and motivating our high schoolers in this student-lead business project. Wish them success!
...and Masters of the trade
Another unique opportunity this summer season brings, is intentional discipleship and training for two of our older high school boys, Alex and Hugo. These two are approaching their last year of school and thinking about their futures. We are enjoying watching them grow and mature as they complete an intership at Esperanza de Ana.
Carlos, the staff member who leads in the care and maintenance of the property, has not only been teaching these boys practical skills of the construction trade, but investing them personally. His heart is to see these boys grow in their character, as well as practical knowledge. He sets an example of a loving and caring father for these two young men.
We also loved having Alliance Christian Fellowship, a group of Penn State college students, serving alongside our high school boys in a construction project this past January. ACF brought a joy and dedication to the work that spoke miles.
Pray with us over Alex and Hugo as they make plans for their future.
The Lord continues to bless this ministry with talented young leaders and Suzanna Esther is no exception! She, as well others serving here, comes to us from State College, PA. Suzanna Esther is an HDFS (Human Development and Family Studies) major with a minor in Child Maltreatment and Advocacy from Penn State University. She is completing her last semester of coursework interning at Esperanza de Ana.
We could not have asked for a better-suited and gifted leader. Her unique background and skills have made her not only a valuable asset to the team, but a great encourager and friend to our staff. With her Spanish fluency, experience with children, and researcher's eye, she quickly became an integral part of the work we do with children and families that have experienced trauma and/or are in crisis.
Suzanna Esther has been working alongside our families under the guidance of our national staff administrator, Irma Marquez. At our last family meeting, she led a creative activity that encouraged parents to make memories with their children and to prioritize spending quality time with them.
Suzanna Esther also works directly with our pre-school children; alongside our missionary staff member, Julie Lundberg. Her focus is on giving individual attention and support to three of our newest little ones in the program, Keyler, Kiery, and Irvin. These kids come from two families that have recently been admitted into the program, both passing through major crises. This is the first time for these 3 children to be in a structured environment. It is their first time to receive formal education, as well. Suzanna Esther is working hard to build their confidence in the classroom, helping them reach age-level standards in motor skills and and other development areas. This includes the task of helping them learn to follow classroom rhythms and focus on teacher instructions.
This Friday, she is giving a workshop at our staff meeting on the theme: 'Risk and Protective Factors of Maltreatment'. We are grateful for the strength she brings to this team and the heart with which she loves and cares for the children here.
The past few weeks the children at Esperanza de Ana have been getting some much needed dental work. Cleaning teeth, filing cavities, and 16 tooth extractions have been performed as a part of restoring the kids' teeth back to health. And they have been troopers! We are grateful to have this talented couple working on behalf of the dental health of the children here. Claudia and Luis are dentists in Lima who are preparing to go out onto the international mission field as medical professionals. Meanwhile, they have been such a valuable resource to our community. They serve with the apparent love of Christ and have partnered with us in investing in the individual education of each child and parent as we strive for improving their physical health.
Claudia shared with our parents last week the importance of brushing your teeth and providing healthy meals for your kids. She explained the vital role the parents play in this endeavor, that the habits and lifestyle their kids develop at home will impact them for the rest of their lives. By providing education and training for our parents and for the kids, we are one step closer to helping them improve their overall physical health. Sealants, fluoride treatments, and a personal toothbrush were also provided to the children as part of the tooth decay prevention work.
Pray our parents would be actively involved in helping meet the goals of physical health and hygiene we have established for the children. We all love to see their beautiful smiles!