If I had to describe today’s events, and in fact my whole Nicaraguan experience thus far, I would say the following: First,
I took the buses to Metrocentro to have lunch with the kids. I didn’t get off the bus until the stop following Metrocentro, meaning I rode past the kids as they were working on the other side of the street. I’ve seen them at work before but it still breaks my heart. Only Ninoska, Sonia, Leonardo, and Kevin joined me today. I haven’t seen Carlos or Milton in quite some time. The other kids keep telling me they are at school. We made sure to order extra food for the kids to take to them, though. They were disappointed that Nefret wasn’t going to join us but were pleased to hear she would be back tomorrow.
We enjoyed a nice lunch at Tip-Top. I was thrilled to discover a non-fried option – an iceberg salad with some grilled chicken – and the kids got their usual 3-piece combos. I talked with Ninoska about her school. She told me all of the classes she takes and also that they take the bus to out front of Metrocentro after school so they can wash windshields. Like yesterday, everyone was upbeat, friendly, and engaging.
We sat down and I noticed a young white couple, whom we had seen at the airport on Thursday, sitting at the table next to us. I didn’t really think anything of seeing them again other than it was quite coincidental. Every time I see another “gringo” I wonder what his story is.
As we were cleaning up a well-dressed Nicaraguan man came up to me and asked me if I speak Spanish. When I told him I only speak a little bit he sat down and started talking very slowly with me. He told me that he recognized the kids I was with from the street and asked if I was with them on behalf of an organization. I told him I wasn’t, and he responded that he wanted to help and asked me how he could do so. Recognizing the limitations in my Spanish I decided that offering him my email address and phone number might be the best option. As I was writing, he asked me if I like baseball. Clearly I responded that I did, and he told me he was going to help get me an ID to enter the stadium. He then told me he is a sports journalist who works for both the local paper and the LNBP, the Nicaraguan professional baseball league. He also told me that the white guy who was sitting next to me, who at this point had gone, was Clyde Williams, an American baseball star here in
If you want to, check out this story from ESPN.com about Clyde Williams. There is a video of him getting a cab right outside of Metrocentro, where I meet the kids every day.
At this point I didn’t really know what was going on or what to think. He then started saying things that I did not understand. Eventually I grasped that he wants me to go to a place to get an ID tomorrow, and that he is going to contact me soon to talk about helping the kids. Beyond that, I don’t really know what he said. I plan on going to the place to get an ID tomorrow. In
The kids were quite patient with me during this encounter. After Mr. Hernandez left we went over to the play area next to the restaurants. I haven’t seen the kids happier than they were for the 20 minutes or so we rode the rides and took lots of pictures. In stark contrast to last Friday, I haven’t seen them smile this much, ever. And to think this is because we played on the kiddy rides and took pictures.
After we left the mall we met up with both of the kids’ (they are all either brothers/sisters of cousins) moms. They insisted that I hold their babies and then took many pictures of us. They thanked me for taking the kids to lunch. I was so touched because I could see how genuine they were with their thanks.
The kids walked me to my bus stop and I couldn’t help but think how great the Lord is. I sensed His joy today in a new way. At least for a few hours the kids could experience pure, childlike joy, untainted by the reality of their situation. I’ve spent the whole afternoon reflecting on just how “good” our time together was.
I’ve been thinking about ways in which I can help these kids in a more permanent fashion. Buying them lunch every day is good, but I realize its impact is far from long-lasting. My best idea so far is to see how much it would cost to send them to a full-day school, thus cutting down on the time they had to spend washing windshields on the street. There are many details that will need to be worked out, for example; making up for the potential lost income, transportation, if the moms will even agree, choosing kids, etc., but I am going to talk to some people about the possibility. Also, if anyone has any ideas please don’t hesitate to let me know (email@example.com).
Enough for now. Lauren and I are hoping to give you a special treat sometime soon. Stay posted.