Two days ago Rich, Alexa and I were walking through downtown Trujillo, Peru, reliving times gone by, and rushing to find some soccer cleats for Alexa before catching our bus to Ecuador that night. I was grumbling to Alexa that I had just bought her some shoes, and was she absolutely sure that she had grown out of her others ones, and could she please STOP growing so fast. As I was grumbling, I saw out of the corner of my eye a little form huddled in the doorway of one of the buildings we were walking by. Having grown up in Latin America, seeing beggars on the street is nothing new, and now huddled forms rarely even register in my hard heart. I’ve got things to do. Thankfully, I married an amazing man, who notices details, and he stopped us and told us that that form in the door was a little boy, and it looked like he was crying in pain. Convicted immediately, we walked back to the doorway, and sure enough it was a little boy holding his belly and crying.
We stooped over the boy, as people pushed by us on the street, and we asked him if he needed medical help. He said he was crying because his stomach hurt. I asked him if he wanted us to go get him medicine. He said his stomach hurt because he was so hungry.
We helped him up slowly, and asked him his name. He said he was Alexander. We took him over to the nearest lunch counter over at the market place, and asked for the largest meal they served. While we waited for the food, Alexander chugged down two fruit smoothies in two seconds flat.
We sat on the bar stools together and started to talk. Alexander was dirty, his pants ripped, his shoes without laces, the grime on his neck screaming street kid. He was hunched over, and rarely made eye contact. He talked so quietly that Rich and I had to lean way in to hear him. He told us that he sells newspapers. He has been doing that for 3 months, because his mom is in the hospital. He was supposed to be paid 3 days ago, but his “boss” had run away. He had no money to get home on the bus, or to help pay for his little brothers food, or his mom’s hospital needs. He hadn’t eaten in 3 days, and he didn’t have the energy to walk 2 hours to his home. He had been living on the streets. He is eleven and hasn’t been to school in over a year.
I sat next to him, rubbing his back, feeling each little rib that jutted out as he told his story. When the appetizer came (Papa a la Huancaina, a hearty potato dish), he wolfed it down so fast; I honestly thought he had dumped it down his shirt or something! It disappeared in seconds. He had been STARVING.
As we sat there I felt sadness, but then I felt guilt and embarrassment! This little boy was starving in front of me. If it hadn’t been for Rich, I would have walked right past Alexander and never given it another thought. Me, the co founder of an organization that feeds hungry kids! I looked into his eyes and saw so much pain, and then I felt panicked! We didn’t have our phones, we couldn’t call anyone, we had to rush to catch our bus, what were we going to do? We couldn’t just leave him there!
Alexander finished his lunch, and we got up and sort of awkwardly started roaming the market place trying to think of what to do. We were trying to find a way to use a phone to call Wendy and see if Inca Link Peru could help Alexander, when we saw an angel! Well…okay, not really an angel, but Sandino, a guy that used to be a leader in our youth group in the America Sur church. He is now married and expecting his first child. He also is now owner of a fruit stand at the market place. So he was there selling fruit. We ran over to him and gave him a big hug, and after catching up on his life, he helped us get in touch with Wendy, and then he offered to help us with Alexander. Since Sandino is at the market every day, we gave him some money so that anytime Alexander is hungry, Sandino will buy him food. Sandino also told him to pick any fruit from his stand at any time! We gathered around Alexander, made sure he had a way home, and then prayed for him. Sandino was the perfect help at the perfect time.
Why do I tell you this story? Just like Alexander, there are hundreds of thousands of kids in Latin America that need help. Honestly, it is completely overwhelming. It takes manpower, money and resources that we just never have enough of. Inca Link missionaries, staff and volunteers, we have to say that sometimes we feel very helpless and alone looking at a MOUNTAIN of needs. Well…most of the year…except for May, June, July and August! These are our salvation months! In these months we have heroes come and help us. Sure, summer is BUSY around Inca Link, but it’s also so GREAT to get fresh legs, fresh hearts, and fresh eyes to work along side of.
Take the Weller family for example. Jon and Cindy Weller, along with their two boys take every summer to come to Peru and help Inca Link. Yes, the entire summer they stay and work. Yes, EVERY summer they sacrifice the benefit of being teachers…long holidays…to live in the dust and rescue the Alexander’s around us. They help ease our burden. Thank you Jon and Cindy and boys!
Every summer we also have a bunch of college students come down and be our interns! This year I met the interns for just 30 minutes and left impressed, excited and encouraged! We are so blessed to have these students raise money and PAY to work for us. They all sacrifice money, but they also sacrifice time and comfort over and over to help rescue the Alexander’s all around us. This years interns are: Aaron, Brent, Derek, Kyle, Matt, Sean, Ana, Bethany, Heather, Jen, Abby, Georgia Ann and Christina. Thank you guys for your great attitude and your sacrificial giving!
Each summer we get teams coming to Ecuador and Peru (and this year it looks like finally Colombia). How we need you guys. We need you to take some of the burden, and when you guys come you always do! Thank you so much.
I know of course that all during the year, we have wonderful people sponsoring our different children’s programs, and giving to our projects. We praise God all the time for you. You are rescuing the Alexander’s of our communities. We bless God’s name for your sacrifices!
We recognize that we are blessed, but its not enough. I don’t want to be rude or pushy but I want you guys to know I can still feel every one of Alexander’s ribs in the palm of my hand. I can still see the pain in his eyes. It makes me bold. Truly, the task of Inca Link is overwhelming. We need your help.
If you are a team that is trying to come help, TRY HARDER.
If you are a team that had to cancel because flights were just too expensive, SEND WHATEVER MONEY you CAN raise.
If you are a person who would like to come as an intern, APPLY NOW.
If you are a person who wants to help, but just doesn’t think they can make it in a tough missionary setting, SEND THE MONEY it would take to have you here.
If you can’t do any of the above mentioned, then PLEASE PRAY PRAY PRAY!
If you want to give to a project, please give to one of these three that are in need of help. They are going to make a difference for the Alexander’s of this world!
1. Tesoros- A children’s home for kids whose parents are in prison. They are often abused and starving on the streets of Quito, Ecuador, abused inside the prison, abused in what are supposed to be “safe houses” for these kids. We are in the process of buying a home for these kids. We need help buying the home, furnishing it, and feeding and educating the children in the home. Please give.
2. Pasitos de Fe (Children’s Home)- A children’s home that is ALMOST completed in Trujillo, Peru. We need money to finish the projects (cafeteria, the gardens around the home, furnishings) and get it up to government standards to house children. Please give.
3. Huaticocha Training School- we have to be honest, we are not going to live forever. We need to train more and more leaders to take our place and reach the lost. Leaders who will not walk past Alexander on the street. Leaders who are willing to go where it is very dark, and spread some light. It’s hard to raise money for a training school. It’s not like people get moved by a picture of a hungry student. This school however is an urgent felt need. PLEASE give.
We love what Inca Link stands for and are not ashamed to ask for help. Thanks for helping.
Just so you know, we had a great Inca Link retreat this last week in Peru. Since we are an international organization we rarely see each other. It was good to get all the Inca Links together (despite the 24 hour road trip for those of us in Ecuador) and encourage each other. We saw how well the Peru projects are advancing, and we were also able to go up to the garbage dump and praise God for what He is doing there too. Did I mention we are blessed?