Oct 26, 2008

Getting Started With Work

       Scott Pepito introduced me to an orphanage in Tijuana called Alcanzando la Vision B.  A local church started this orphanage on faith (they didn't have the means to support it) and found an amazing couple, Victor and Gaby, to be the parents and run it. There are twenty-five of them living together in a fifty's vintage, two room, one bath bungalow. In the states it would have been condemned. On our first visit we worked to get the bathroom in working order. The tub had fallen through the floor revealing a situation that defies description. The plumbing had been broken for some time turning the sub-area into a cesspool. The Pepito's oldest daughter became quite sick after working to clean out the area below. With God's help we were able to replace the plumbing and the floor. A couple of weeks later their was a working toilet, hot water and a cement double shower. The double shower was a blessing because many of the young children were afraid to bathe alone and required the help of an older sibling. Thankfully sibling groups are not usually separated in Mexican orphanages.

       Our next project was to build twelve beds in a ten by twelve foot room. This required custom mattresses and a special bed design. God provided a man who could design the beds and also a factory that was willing to donate custom mattresses at their cost. As if that wasn't enough He brought that man and his whole family down to help build the bunk beds! Now the girls had real beds with storage drawers underneath.

        The boys were not yet so fortunate. The twelve of them slept on the cement slab floor in the living room. It wasn't too bad though, most of them had a blanket to themselves. It was heartbreaking really. We asked God if He would provide for an additional room for the boys. He did of course. He sent a group of young people who had some experience building in Mexico. They got the foundation, a few walls, and the roof up in just one weekend. God also brought another group of young people who were interested in a long term relationship with the orphanage. With their help (financial and labor) we were able to add two new bathrooms as well. One for the parents and one for the boys! Wow God!

       The next hurdle was beds for the boys. My sons and I had designed and built a triple bunk that was rock solid. It seemed perfect for orphanages. It was simple enough to be constructed by teams of volunteers and they were stout enough to last through a hundred years of abuse by boys. The problem was that they were quite expensive. God's solution, a team of men, rich men, wanted to come and do something for the orphanage. Thanks again God! They came and not only paid for but also built four sets of triple bunks for the boys. The day before they arrived I discovered that the beds wouldn't fit! We would need to make some creative adjustments. Help God! He wasn't as surprised as I was. He had already arranged for a couple of carpenters and some other very handy men to be on the team and they came up with workable solutions for every difficulty. For the first time in over a year (and for some the first time ever) the boys slept in real beds, with mattresses and linens.

       Victor and Gaby, the parents, had been living in what most of us would call a small office or a large walk-in closet but now, at least, they had a private bathroom. It is hard to express how special God has made Victor and Gaby. They gave up all expectation of a comfortable life for a life of complete servitude. They don't get vacations. They seldom get any sort of a break. They have three children of their own that now have to share their parents with many others. Not just twenty-three to thirty children at a time but that number of children, all with extra needs. They seldom have enough of anything. They have no privacy! They never get to experience a peaceful night. They took up this cross with no promise of regular support. Just an abiding faith in God's goodness.

      The children who are not actually orphans all have a horrific story that is their past. The Mexican version of Child Protective Services (DIF) doesn't take a child from a home unless the situation is criminal and Mexico doesn't call the same small things criminal that California does. Most of the children were not only unwanted but hated as well. Some could not come home until they had begged, stolen, or earned enough money to placate their parents. Some were put into childhood prostitution by their parents. Virtually all were abused. One boy could no longer make himself speak and all that DIF knew of why was that he had seen his father cut another man's throat. God is amazing though and all of these children have repented and confessed their need for Jesus to save them and are well on their way to leading blessed lives. It is beautiful to hear the boy who could not speak tell his testimony of how God has changed him and helped him to forgive his father.