Rain Changes Things Guyana Thursday
Our intended morning was to have PAL playgroup, however God had other plans! We woke up to rain- which didn’t change our first destination. We went to Ruimveldt Children’s Home to deliver care bags collected by Shady Grove Wesleyan Church in Colfax. We were greeted at the gate by faces peering out and shouts of “Auntie, Auntie!” We spent just a few minutes with the children as they were dashing out to school.
The rain was pouring as we crossed the bridge towards Plastic City. As we rode over the bridge we were captivated by the thick fog to our right and the dark clouds hovering to the left. The rain and sinking mud kept our playgroup parents away, so we prepared to go into the community to them. We walked into the oldest section and were greeted by a grandmother of a 9 year old PAL member. She asked us questions about how her granddaughter was doing and invited us into her home to chat. Our intention was for a brief visit and then move on to see more families. God had other plans and sent the rain! The rains echoed on the tin roof as we looked at photos and heard the story of an orphan’s life. And even now the words of her story continue to resonate with us. In a world that has rejected her, she finds a haven in PAL and the growing relationships that come with it.
As we checked back in to see if anyone had risked a soaking in the downpour to come to PAL, we found our host visiting with a friend on her porch. He was very curious, inquiring as to who we were and what we did the community. In our minds, we did not have time to have a conversation, especially with a young man we weren’t sure of. When he asked outright, “Do you have time?” we were convicted- isn’t this all about building relationships? So we set our agenda aside. He was puzzled by the idea of someone coming to Guyana to volunteer- whether short or long term. He couldn’t figure out why- when there wasn’t something in it for us. The next questions came... “So, are you Christians or something? What are you teaching the children- to pray?” His questions highlight why PAL has made a conscious choice to build relational bridges preceding any talks of Christianity. We are able meet a practical need and show we genuinely care about all people. It brings to light the passage in Acts 11:26 and how the community was the ones to recognize the disciples and call them Christians after a year of teaching and meeting in the community.
We then took a boat across the Demerara River back to town in the rain AGAIN. We excitedly purchased books for PAL usage. It is amazing how expensive used books are in Guyana, especially well-made quality books. It brings to light another reason books are not readily accessible in homes such as Plastic city. The resources of PAL are so needed for the children.
Finally the rain had stopped! We reentered Plastic City for the afternoon session. Due to the rain, we were delayed and Sister Genny was already with the children. We walked up and were delighted at the development in Genny’s skills. One of our goals in this week was to develop the adult leaders of PAL. Development was both taught and caught as we modeled and encouraged the practice of new skills and a creative perspective when teaching. We realize that the PAL children respond best to relational teaching and a hands-on, interactive approach. This hands-on approach is out of Genny’s comfort zone and experience. However, as Stephanie poured her life into Genny this week, Genny heard and responded to the ideas. We felt rushed and were a few minutes late due to the rain, but as we peered onto the porch from the sea wall we saw how once again God used the rain. On a corner of the porch 15 children sat together engaged in a book as Genny encouraged one of our stronger young readers. It was clear by what we saw that the principles taught to the PAL leaders and put into practice this week, was absorbed by Genny and was bearing fruit. And the biggest smile was hers.
We jumped into our activities. Today was based on “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. We chose this book to illustrate the idea of transformation. PAL is like the cocoon of the butterfly. It offers a safe place for the children to be their best and transform their lives. Each child made their own picture of a butterfly to remind them of their potential and commitment to rise higher than they are right now.