There are certain things you get used to. Gladys will always call me Soraya (pronounced So-rah-sha); Hernán will always greet me with "bella"; the owner of the ferreteria has grown accustom to calling me Nicole. And in reality, they become such a norm that if they don't happen, you feel like something has gone wrong.
I woke up early today with every intention of biking to the boys' institute and meeting with the director Gabriel about how the year will look. I had gone yesterday to find an empty house being renovated for the new plans. While I chatted with the workers that were there, I thought it best to meet with the director himself.
Unfortunately, it was raining this morning. So I first called and asked if I could come later. Around 1pm it finally seemed to stop. I felt like I was risking it, hoping not to be the infamous Marianne from that one Jane Austen novel where everyone gets married at the end. Thankfully, I stayed dry.
Gabriel greeted me and we sat down. Again, no boys in the house. They have all either been shipped to Río Cuarto, or are in homes with family members throughout the city. "Everything is changing," he told me.
And to a point, it's not a surprise. I was expecting something to change, as we had talked about the possibility in December. The institute will become an open building for the kids of the neighborhood to come and take workshops. Workshops ranging from sports to computers to what have you. There was even mention of religious charlas* to which I showed interest. Only a handful of those we've come to love over the past year will make visits during this time.
The encouraging news is Gabriel had been thinking of us, and would like us to take over the sports side of things. I found it neat that he wants us to continue collaborating, even if it will be nothing like what we had been doing. The unfortunate part is just that. I want to work with the kids who don't have anything, not those of this neighborhood which is actually somewhat wealthy.
So I took a leap and asked about the others. Is there any way we can visit Chechu and Sergio and Rodrigo who have been sent to the other institutes further away? He looked at me sternly, but then softened. 'Thank you, Lord,' I prayed to myself.
"I would have to ask my superiors for official permission," he told me. "But with all that you have done in this past year for these boys, I don't see why it would be a problem." He added that it might even be possible to visit the other boys in the homes they are staying in. I just have to wait for the official permission.
So there's the first prayer; wisdom of how to make sure we obtain that permission.
When we finished our informal meeting, he showed me something quite special. "Remember when your dad came two Christmases ago? Well, we kept the painting that he made and it now hangs in the computer room" (the computer room takes up the former dwelling for the boys).
A remaining testament to the way things were.
In the ride back I kept thinking about what to do. Do we stay with this institute or is it time to move on? On one hand, is it not wise to maintain a positive relationship with a government facility, and see what doors open up in the future? Just thinking of the possibility of visiting the boys where they are seems like one fruit. It is but a few hours of my time to give each week. The other hand is mainly that which has already mentioned. I don't want to continue to spread out OM Córdoba's already spread thin ministry.
The second bike trip of the day consisted of the first time with the girls' institute. I just took mate and Uno so I could chat with the girls and see what they want to do.
"Soraya!!" Gladys says to greet me, and without skipping a beat, "What did you bring me?" haha
The ministry with the girls' institute allows for the local church to be more involved because it is conveniently only a 20 minute walk from the OM house/church. And in terms of personal desires for serving those in need, it caters to the spending time with those who have nowhere and no one else side of things. Buenísimo, one might say.
Biking home, I made a quick stop to make photocopies for Sol of the daily devotional I'm reading. "Hola bella," says Hernán once we make eye contact. We chat about some movies and where I've been this summer before I head out.
As I am already on Arrecifes, I pass by the ferretería. Looking into the window, I see my friend and he shouts, "Nicole!!" So I turn around and drop in for a couple rounds of mate. Again, I tell a little about my summer, but he and the other worker ask me more about what I'm doing in Córdoba. How exciting to share more of what I am so privileged to be a part of.
God is also gracious to hold back the rain during all of this time, until after I had re-parked Rosita in the back.
Here we are; some things already quite different. Many remaining the same. May I continue to seek wisdom for how to best utilize my time here. Chau!
*means "chats" with a hint of debate, but mainly informative