After spending a few weeks in Quito, we’ve finally arrived in Cuenca. I made some good friends in Quito, and I’ve been able to keep in touch with a few a them. Cuenca is great – unlike Quito we have hot water, so I am loving life. These days, little things can really make me happy.
We are living in the former home of the Salesian priests, with a group of street kids, a couple of university students who are orphans here on scholarships, and an Ecuadoran volunteer. The place where we’re staying is pretty nice – there’s a great chapel right above me. The food continues to be interesting. They’re into feet here – today was cow’s foot soup.
One of the boys here, Miguel, has lived here for quite awhile, and he is always so happy. One of his favorite things to say is "Muy bien! Muy bien!" No matter what you ask him, he’ll say that, with a big smile. Another’s name is Hugo – he’s 13 – they told us he had just come in off the streets, where he’d been addicted to some kind of drugs. He seems really bright, but he’s so needy – whenever we’re around he’s got his arms wrapped around one of us. He just soaks up any attention. We’ve been praying with the kids in the chapel, and he really got to me that other night – he prayed "to be a good boy, and not to go back to doing the bad things I used to do."
Another one of the kids is pretty amazing – his name is Roman, and he still has at least one parent, maybe both. They’re incredibly poor, so he lives with us during the week so he can work in the workshops. On Saturdays, he goes to regular school with the rest of the kids, and then he spends Sundays at home. Even though he only goes once a week, he’s managed to keep up with his grade level. He told me today that his biggest dream is to be able to go to school. It made me think about how much we take for granted, even things like being thirteen and being able to go to school instead of working in a carpentry shop. He’s really bright, too, but his parents can’t support his family, and what he’s learning in the shops will help him get a job. He’s a great guy – he never complains about anything, helps out without being asked, and he’s always smiling – really an inspiration.
My responsibilities here have been pretty varied. A lot of it is just being a stable presence in the kids’ lives. I’m still doing a lot with music – last night we had a big sing-along, complete with a translated version of "His Banner over me is Love." We also take care of the cooking on weekends. It’s pretty interesting when I don’t recognize much of what’s in the pantry, but so far things have turned out pretty well!