Today was a good day. A great day. We spent it at Oasis de Esperanza – Oasis of Hope. It’s a school run by ,Wayne and Elaine’s ministry located near La Chureca. La Chureca is Managua’s dumpground. We visited the dumpground today. It’s the second time I’ve seen it. And I still can’t believe what I saw. It’s truly hell on earth. People gather at the dumpground, sorting through miles of trash, competing with dogs and buzzards and other people for items to sell. Fires smolder. Young men sniff glue. It’s awful. And houses are there. People live there. 40% of the studens at Oasis de Esperanza live in La Chureca. The rest live within walking distance. Many are born, raised, live, and die in La Chureca. They know nothing else. They know no hope. But in the midst of that is an incredible school that is home to 400 incredible kids. It fills them with hope. It prepares them for a future. It allows them to simply be kids for a few hours every day. Oasis de Esperanza is exactly what it’s name implies.
Since last year, they’ve made some amazing additions and improvements to the school. There is a large assembly room to meet. The classrooms are enclosed and have doors. There are bathrooms and sinks. There’s a section for the little kids. It’s just amazing. Seeing how much progress they’ve made over the last year made me very happy. We’ll be doing the same thing we did today both tomorrow and Friday: In the morning, the younger kids – about pre-K through 5th grade go to school – about 250 of them. We started with a big group assembly. We sang and danced. I did a few magic tricks and shared a story with them. Here’s the kids taking their seats in the awesome new open air assembly room at the school:
Then we sent them to their classes, split into teams, and went to each individual class and took pictures of each child. We had them make frames for their pictures, which we’ll give them tomorrow. The kids love photos. I took many, many pictures like this one:
Here’s Katie taking one of the many portraits:
In the afternoon, they have a deverse group of kids from 2nd grade to 9th grade. So we spit it up into two assemblies and did the picture thing again. That means I get to do 3 magic shows, but it’s a blast, even if it is ridiculously hot and I have an extreme sweating problem.
Standing with me is my interpretor and my good friend Jhonny. He worked with us last year. He’s a youth minister in a town a couple hours from here, and he’s spending the week with us. He’s an incredible, talented, humble guy who loves the Lord. We’ve had a great time working together this week. I know we’ll be real friends for a long time (especially with the help of Facebook!)
We finished the day with Me, Tommy, Jared, Casey and Hayes getting destroyed by 4 or 5 teenage boys in an impromtu game of soccer in the courtyard. I don’t have any pictures of the game at this point. I’m pretty sure one of the ladies got some, so hopefully I can share them. But those boys were amazing. Against the orphans, we took it pretty easy since they were kids. But we tried hard today. Tommy and I are competitive, and we cheated and tried to push them around. They were wearing loafers and slacks. And they destroyed us. It was a blast, though. And Tommy would be mad if I didn’t point out he scored a goal on an amazing header. So well, done Tommy, for pulling us within 7 goals late in the game.
That’s about it for the day. I know I’ll have stories about a few of the kids I’m already close to after today (and last year) later in the week. It was long and busy and fun and not quite as difficult as yesterday (though seeing La Chureca is really hard). I can’t wait to go back tomorrow, see the kids, and play in the dirt and sing and dance and laugh and hug and help play a small role in bringing hope and light into a difficult place. To spend time seeing kids who will break a horrible cycle of poverty. Kids who circumstances had destined to spend their lives in garbage, but who Jesus, through the love of Wayne, Elaine, and many others, are going to grow up to be leaders and businessmen and pastors and teachers and mothers and fathers and providers of hope themselves.
Nothing beats seeing the dumpground, and then to come back and to see the kids who live there spinning and laughing and worshipping their God. It’s literally beauty for ashes.
This school makes me happy.