My final days at the albergue...
...were a total blur. And not just because my eyes welled with tears at the drop of a hat (though that certainly didn't help the situation. Here's about a million pictures to supplement the words I just can't seem to get out of my heart and into this blog.
We took advantage of our sandy surroundings and explored the dunes. I much prefer sand boarding to snowboarding (no surprise there).
|Here's a view of the albergue from up on our sand boarding dune|
|Miguel and Fernando|
|My form is terrible, but I don't even care.|
|Jorge. I particularly love this picture because underneath that red t-shirt you find:|
|this. Jorge is a burn victim, but he refuses to let that stop him or exclude him from any of the fun.|
|Nate was obviously the more experienced out of our group - look at his form!|
|One of my very favorite days|
|After they finished boarding, the boys decided to go explore some of the other dunes. We climbed all over them for hours, and even found some seashells a llllll the way up there.|
A large church group arrived just a few days before I left and treated the kids (and volunteers!) to a fun day at a resort/recreation center.
|The pool was obviously a big hit.|
|Alejo was my designated "little" for the day. Remember him from this post?|
|Although I had to prompt him to do it, his smile gives me so much hope.|
|In addition to pools, a jumping castle, zip line, badminton, dance floor, and much more, this place also had cheap pony rides. Awesome.|
|This is my attempt to show us all crowded into the bus. The picture doesn't really capture it well, but it was a tight squeeze for sure.|
|Christy, Estelle, and myself.|
|I got to play on one of the infamous reed boats this time!|
|Took some maternity shots of Sam, our volunteer coordinator, and her husband Oscar. He is Peruvian. They met at the orphanage. I just love them.|
|This, my friends, is a picture of me eating cow heart. On a stick. And kind of liking it.|
|I blame Sam, she tricked me.|
I led the special tutoría for the last time. Someone gave Edwin a watch and he was in full-on, self-hitting, lip-motoring, flapping-fit-of-stemming-excitement pretty much every three minutes. Edwin is one of our autistic boys and someone you really just have to experience to understand. Here's a little video I took of him interacting with one of the other volunteers last week. I know it's all in Spanish, but it gives you a small glimpse into the glory that is this sweet child.
I was scheduled to have a little despedida (send-off) during lunch, but the director of the orphanage was not on site so we decided to postpone. Instead, the older girls piled their memory journals in my arms with instructions to write them all a note and include a picture for them to remember me by. I flipped through a few of them and read some of the beautiful notes previous volunteers had written - talk about pressure! Somehow, I managed to write in every single journal before dinner.
The volunteers were invited to eat over at the rancho with the group for dinner, since our cook tends to pour a little bit of extra love into her meals for them. We walked over from the albergue and were instantly hit with the mouth-watering smells simmering on the stove. Unfortunately, it was going to be a late dinner and I had a bus to catch, so I wasn't able to stay. Imagine my surprise when the other volunteers agreed to walk back with me, empty bellies and all. That, my friends, is true sacrifice.
We scoured the volunteer kitchen and found some potatoes, which we chopped and fried for a delicious and not-so-nutritious dinner. As they were cooking, I walked over to the Tesoros house (the youngest boys) to deliver a card to their madre. My sweet tutoría boys grabbed me and ushered me into their bedroom, where they asked if I would please join them for prayer. Without hesitation, we knelt on the floor together and little seven-year-old Pedro prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over my final days in Peru. Naturally, I was a complete puddle of tears and sniffles by the time I left their house.
Then, Estelle surprised us with unbelievably rich mug-cups (cakes baked right into coffee mugs), topped with real whipped cream (a true delicacy at the albergue). Yumm. As we were devouring our healthy and balanced meal of french fries and chocolate cake, I heard "Tía Natalie!" coming from the front of the orphanage.
I walked around the corner and discovered all the children standing on the soccer field, in the dark. There they serenaded me with their favorite praise song, "Todopoderoso." This was my make-shift despedida and oh-my-goodness was it ever perfect! When their song ended, they rushed forward and I was engulfed in a flurry of hugs and kisses (and anchovy breath, because God has a sense of humor).
And with that, I was piled into the truck and on my way to the bus station.