Sometimes Fruition Begins with Demolition

Oh, how I wish you could feel their sticky kisses, enjoy their tight hugs and hear them say
¡Gracias por la casa nueva!
(Thank you for the new house!)

Jose (red) and his little brother Fernando (gray) in their home.
Shortly after arriving in Peru 2½ years ago we realized that Jose and Fernando were among the worst off in our community.  Having been completely neglected by all, these little boys were animal-like. They snarled at us, spit on our house, and hung from our van's windshield wipers and side mirrors until they snapped off.  Fernando even peed all over our son one time, which was mortifying. Despite the rough beginning, Jose and Fernando have become like adopted sons.  Upon awaking in the morning they sprint from their front door to ours, hoping upon hope that we haven't eaten yet.  They invite themselves in and stay until we insist they leave.  If we have errands to run, they tag along.  When we go to church, they join us and often fall asleep in our arms.  When others invite us over for a meal they know to prepare eight extra plates instead of just six. 

This is the backside of their home.
Every time I went to Jose and Fernando's house I was appalled by their living conditions, but felt conflicted about the prospect of fixing up their home because of the neighbors' speculations. If we improved Maria's house most predicted that she would just sell it and pocket the money. Some felt confident that she'd turn it into a brothel while others hedged their bets on something more like a "full-service" bar whereby customers could enjoy some extra attention in exchange for groceries, firewood, laundry soap, etc..

The more we got to know the boys, the better we got to know their mom as well.  And although we never became great friends, we determined that her negligence is not malicious, but only the result of her own ignorance, insecurity and desperation.

Maria loves her kids the best she knows how.  Just like every other mom in the world, she has good days and bad. Despite her love, she falls short, just like the rest of us. She's tempted by sin and gives in...but who doesn't?

Of course, there is no guarantee that Maria will cherish the gift that she has been given, but that's between her and God.

Dismissing all fear, we charged full-steam ahead with the demolition of her mud structure so that the lot was ready for the short-term missionaries who would arrive days later to begin building Jose and Fernando a respectable home.

The teens in our community were happy to help, not just because demolition is fun, but because they were sincerely excited for Jose and Fernando to have a real house.

Our friend Russel volunteered to sort through the mess of electrical wires strewn about.  He carefully unwrapped, untied and followed each line back to the power supply.  Despite our constant warnings and precautions, he assured us of his safety.  "Mom, don't worry," he kept saying, "Peruvians know how to do things like this!"  Although I knew he was right, I kept praying that God would keep him safe.

Everyone pitched in to tear down the mud/grass walls that had been formed around a bamboo infrastructure about 25 years prior.

Fernando was so out-of-his-mind excited that all he could do was smile, scream, laugh and run around in circles all day.  It was a raw, unfiltered display of shear joy.

This may look really easy, but 25 year old dirt mixed with a mess of grasses and various reeds is as hard, if not harder, to break apart than cement.

After the mud was gone Russel could continue his de-wiring job.

With a bit of ingenuity we figured out that we could pop the roof panels off by jabbing them with another long pole.

We saved the sheets of steel so that they could be used for the outhouse that we were planning to build.

The next order of business was CAREFULLY moving the 220 electrical supply that was connected with frayed, rotted wires.

As I started to pray I heard Russel say, "Relax Mom.  Remember Peruvians know how to do things like this!"  I gave him a warm, loving smile and then returned to my prayers.

One of the last steps was to remove the old posts from the very, very hard ground.

When the old mud house was completely disassembled and the lot was cleared Jose asked me what the new house would be like. As I began to explain, he yelped and giggled and insisted on being in my arms so that he could yell into my ear, "Te amo, te amo, te amo!" ("I love you, I love you, I love you!")  My eyes flooded with tears as I praised God for casting out the doubt, dispelling the lies that the devil had been telling us for so long, and giving us the courage to surrender to His most holy will. I was filled with joy, knowing that this is exactly what the Lord wanted for Jose when He called my family to Peru.  Jesus wanted this mixed-up, lost family in the middle of the jungle to know that they are beloved children of God and deserve a respectable place to live.  Thank you Jesus for allowing us to be a part of this incredible plan!

In the coming days look for another blog post that captures the construction of Maria's new home.

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