Hogar Ezekiel Floors for the Poor Three Week Update

20160317_124050Wow what a blessed few weeks it has been in Leoncio Prado. God is so good to His children. The last few weeks we have been wonderfully busy working on floors for some of the families we serve through the ministry of Hogar Ezekiel. We wanted to let you in on some of our joy and some of you reading this have helped make possible.

In our last blog we wrote about our good friends Crespo and Sarina Armas and how God had blessed us and them with a new project idea and some possiblilites for a work that would give Crespo a much better paying job and help local kids in our poor town who live in mostly dirt houses with little sanitation. Since we last wrote we have been blessed to be able to help 5 other families through generous benefactors and prayer partners.

One little girl Colin attends Teresa’s drawing and painting classes. She has been an integral part of our church choir since its inception and has a beautiful smile and cheerful disposition. Her brother Kris suffers from a large tumor in his leg. We are still unsure of whether it is cancerous but are hopefully praying that God will heal him and/or help him get the appropriate medical attention. His father, Chicle, told me last night that they have to bring him to Lima to be looked at and are hoping to raise enough money for the airfare. We know God will help them. We were so blessed to have Tony and Monica Habashy contact us desiring to partner with us in getting them a floor and also pray for them daily that God will be present in their lives and help them with their needs. I remember the day we laid out the floor we were brought to Colin’s grandmother’s house down the street who raises Guinea Pigs (here called Cui). Micah immediately grabbed one up as the other kids ran about the room chasing the 20-30 cui that live in her kitchen. It was a bit wild. As a side note guinea pigs are great eating!! I think we all preferred them to giant jungle snail;)

20160318_193536Our third project was in Jorge’s house. Jorge is one of our older choir members and has one of the most beautiful smiles. He has been a great example for the younger kids always cheerfully helping out with church services and clean up. Last Sunday he was head of the church clean up and set up crew for our Sunday morning service. He also is currently in catechesis and we are so excited to think that he will receive baptism and First communion this September for the feast of Saint Martin de Porres, who is our town patron saint. When we worked in his house his mother Silya prepared us some Yuca chicha with salsa on the side. It was strange and good. You basically take a spoonful of the salsa and then drink the slightly fermented yuca juice which combines to give a very unique flavor. They call it masato. This project was helped by Jorge’s prayer partner Susan Taylor. Thanks to her generous gift Jorge can actually sweep out his room and keep clean. He came over immediately after the project to tell us how much he love his floor. I smiled thinking it was so strange to us in the US to think of a young man receiving a floor as a gift. It was beautiful seeing his gratitude.

IMG_1773The fourth floor was given to the Cordoba family. I was contacted by Gemma’s godparents, Mike and Angela Larkin who were glad to be partners in the project. Their son Drew is one of the semenarians in the Savanah diocese. The project was actually funny because Roberto, the father, who is our town’s main hunter, was going out into the mountains to hunt so couldn’t help out for the whole project. He showed us a small mountain cat fur and some unspecified jungle meat that he had brought back form the night before. It was interesting. He and his wife, Margarita have three girls, Corey, Nikita and Ruth. They all share the same bedroom. When we mentioned the project to them you could see their eyes light up. They were so surprised and began to apologize for not being more faithful church goers. I told them this was not a payment for going to church but rather a free gift of God’s love and grace. They were so happy. Margarita made us a wonderful salad out of a vegetable they grow here called caiwa.Descripción caigua It tastes kind of like a mix of bell pepper and poblano pepper. It was an amazing treat.

Yesterday we put in a floor in the Davila house. They live near Crespo and Sarina. The father Polidoro helped us out with the project. He and his wife Mercedes live in the house with their three kids, Jhon (spelled that way) Gerson, and Vilianita.  Gerson participates in our church choir.  Gerson’s mother is a seamstress and his father works in the chacra (farm or large garden). He actually was one of the hardest workers we have worked with. He seemed so thankful. His wife, Mercedes, made us chicha from slightly fermenting corn (which is more common here than that of Yuca). I had to leave a little early to be home for Gemma when she got out of school (12PM). They actually brought us lunch in their personal bowls. Probably our favorite part was the caiwa salsa that we put over our split peas. They had a puppy that would not leave us alone. It seemed to know exactly where to go to be in the way and get attention. This project was partnered by John and Christine Brooks. Thank you so much for your prayers and generosity.

This morning we put in the sixth floor in the Garcia house. We met Eylin and her mother Estefita earlier this year when a number of nursing school students from Benedictine Collage came for a medical mission. Eylin needs glasses and has been had been having problems with her eyesight. Their house is particularly dark and she was having real issues finishing her homework. I remember feeling touched as both she and her mother cried. Estefita felt ashamed that they couldn’t do more for their daughter. Estefita earns a living cooking for the neighborhood when she is able. She once sold me something called “mountain soup” which was basically oily water and armadillo meat. It wasn’t our favorite but we were thankful for her giving us an extra large helping because we were missionaries:) Eylin has a lot of hopes for her education. She is one of the few girls in our town who definitely hopes to go to the university after high school. We were blessed to be able to do this project with the help of Saint John’s CYM.

So far so blessed. Please continue to pray for us as we seek benefactors and prayer partners to keep working to give young people here more safe and clean homes. Pray that they come to know more deeply the great love Jesus has for them and that they would come to realize their important identity as children of God and disciples in mission.

P.S. to see more photos of our work please visit Jonathan Kiehl’s facebook page.

The Armas Family and a New Project

IMG_1594

The Armas Family and a New Project

When we began the new Ezekiel Home in Leoncio Prado we began praying and searching for a cook and someone who could fix a few things around the house to make it more kid friendly before recieving so many young people into our home. How blessed we felt when God decided to bless us doubly by sending us the Armas family.

I met Crespo during Holy Week when we needed a cement floor put in the house because John was so dirty from the dirt floor. He and I worked well together and we really got along talking throughout about Crespo’s life and his time in the army. He has a great since of humor and is a true optimist. His normal occupation is a pig farmer in which he makes 10 soles (3 dollars) a day. This is low even for San Martin, Peru where the local wage average is about 50 soles a day for a skilled worker.

Crespo’s wife, Sarina, is one of the most gentle and serene souls we have met in mission. She is a great cook and although she cannot read or write she has a mother’s wisdom and a great way of dealing with tough situations. She can cook almost anything. When we first met she offered us mountain soup (a local soup for the poor made from armadillo), she has cooked giant snail (not my favorite), majas,

majas

Majas

and even fox. We really wanted to help their family but struggled to find a way to help them without hurting their sense of human dignity. They don’t like charity so we hired Sarina to cook for us during Hogar Ezekiel and she also helps out with the laundry. It is a true blessing.

Crespo and Sarina received the sacrament of matrimony on May 14th.

The wedding

Crespo and Sarina’s Wedding

Sarinas baptism

Sarina’s Baptism

Sarina was baptized during the wedding and both Crespo and Sarina received first communion. It was beautiful. They have continued to come faithfully to church on Sundays and whenever Father comes into our area to celebrate Mass.

Their oldest child, 10 year old Nashely, has been coming to Ezekiel Home from the beginning and is a classmate to Micah. She has a radiant smile and loves to hold little John. One of her favorite foods is the Juane. It is a lump of rice with a small piece of chicken (often the head) inside and one or two olives. It represents John the Baptist’s head and his sacrifice for the sake of justice. For the feast day of Saint John the Baptist most everyone makes Juanes at home and shares them with their neighbors. It ends up being all we eat for days! Yum. She is part of our church choir and participates in Teresa’s drawing and painting classes on Wednesdays.

Jenco the TerrorJenko is 2 and a handful of trouble. We first met little Jenko when his mother Sarina came to a one day health clinic that a number of Benedictine College students set up during their 1 week visit earlier this year. He was so thin and sickly. Sarina told us he haden’t been eating and was losing a lot of weight. We brought them to see the sisters in Picota (who have a little clinic there). They did some tests and found out he had a high number of parasites inside him that were making him very ill. The sisters gave him some medications and he was soon back to normal.

One of the issues that face many of the families here is that they have dirt floors and walls that house and breed all sorts of bad bugs and diseases. Peru has the largest cockroaches in the world and they are very present in the dirt floors and walls of the houses here. Many of the youngest children are the most vulnerable to health problems because they crawl around on the dirt and then put their hands and whatever is in them into their mouths.

We wanted to have a cement floor put into our house and soon after we realized the great blessing it was to not have to worry so much about little John getting sick or ruining his clothes. We could wash our cement floor which helps to get rid of unwanted flies, ants, spiders, etc. that tend to congregate in the dirt floor houses. You can sweep the floor without worrying about making holes in the floor. You could also spray diesel and water on the floor which is a local remedy against disease carrying mosquitoes and biting gnats.

Thinking about all these things, we remembered that during our first year in missions some of our fellow missionaries, Sammy and Lindsey Romero, had started a project called Floors for the Poor. They were able to bless a number of families in the Philipines with new cement floors for their houses. We also were able to put some floors into houses we worked on our first year of mission in General Cepeda. We realized Leoncio Prado and its surrounding communities were perfect for doing floor projects. Within days we had contacted Sammy and Kevin Granger, our sub-director, and gotten permission to began an Ezekiel Home/Floors for the Poor project. We would like to make sure that all the kids who attend our Ezekiel Home can live in a home with a cement floor. It’s a way to help these beautiful young kids have a small buffer against the local diseases that affect our local kids so much.

This project also will help Crespo who, if you remember, currently works 10 hour shifts as a pig farmer for a mere 3 dollars a day! Crespo will recieve 20 dollars for every floor we put in together. This is a good wage down here where the average wage is around 16 dollars a day. We can do a floor from start to finish in 4-6 hours.

We would like to invite anyone reading this to help us help these great kids. For $150.00 you can give a family a cement floor in a room of their house. Many of the homes here are only one or two dirt rooms so it maybe that their whole house gets a new floor. Those who donate will be given a photo of the family they help so they can be praying for their Peruvian Partner Family who will also get a photo of the donor(s) that help put in their floor so they can also be praying for their American Partner Benefactor(s). We are hoping that this can lead to a beautiful spiritual solidarity that transcends mere charity or monatary donation. We want the children here to know that people in the US love them and are praying for their well being. We want the families here to began to realize they can be part of something bigger, that the family of God is global.

Thank you all for your help and support. We couldn’t do this without you.

SPECIAL THANKS – A special thanks to Michael and Lena Vrazel for helping us with our first project putting in a floor and some walss in the Armas family house!  More to come soon!!!