I’ve traveled to the end of South America and climbed my way up to Machu Picchu. I’ve met people from all over the world and held conversations in several different languages. I’ve climbed volcanoes, hung out with monkeys in the Amazon, and spent hours fighting for my life in a blizzard. But NONE of those experiences compare to what I’ve learned and experienced in these last five days. You think you’ve seen it all until God completely rocks your world. When He enters the picture, all circumstances are magnified to glorify Him and only Him. When everything is stripped away and we see how temporary the things of this world are, only He remains. Living in Adulam these past five days have taught me so much about life, people, and the grace of God. These are the stories of the people that have rocked my world and have given me a new scope on life.
My bunkmate for five days, Joni is the kind of kid that stands off to the side and quietly observes. He doesn’t scream for attention or even ask many questions. He is humble, considerate, and gentle. Before coming to Adulam with two of his younger sisters, Mariela (7) and Guliana (6), Joni’s mother would leave the kids at home and not return for days. With no money or any idea where his mom was, Joni would take it upon himself to clean the house and cook for him and his little sisters…all at 8 years old. In the four nights I spent with him, we would read his Spanish Bible together, his favorite book. Two years ago, he couldn’t read at all, and now he takes pride in his Bible and knowing the books and stories inside it. He doesn’t have much knowledge and reads incredibly slow, but it doesn’t take much to know that God loves you and is trying to teach you through His Word, and Joni knows that. He’s such a smart kid…
Nicole with Guliana and Mariela
Before arriving to Adulam, Axel and his two older sisters, Rocio (7) and Luciana (5), lived in one of the poorest parts of Buenos Aires. Firsthand, they witnessed the prostitution of their mother as men came and left. Now, they sleep comfortably at night and are able to spend the days getting dirty and playing with each other. Knowing their story, you really understand why they ask for so much attention. Axel is always holding your hand, climbing up and down your body, and asking you to look at what he’s doing. Rocio finds every opportunity to cuddle and hugs you with the grip of a bear, never letting go. Luciana stands back and lets other kids hug you out. And when there’s a free moment, she runs over to be picked up and hugs the breath out of you. With such difficult beginnings, love and affection mean the world to them. They’re so darn cute that you never would have thought they had to see what they saw. Love heals.
Morgan with Rocio and Axel
Daiana, 11 months
Though she won’t remember any of her difficult beginnings, she arrived at Adulam as a malnutritioned baby girl. Her mother, at 19 years old, spent the first months of her daughter’s life trying to sell her on the streets. Clearly not wanting Daiana, she brought her to the hospital and Daiana was sent to Adulam. Three weeks later as a little princesa gordita, Daiana is all smiles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby girl smile as much as her. If a wife and job showed up at my door tomorrow morning, I would adopt the little nena. God’s grace will raise her to be a beloved angel.
Milagros means “miracle”. Mili arrived at Adulam just one day before I got there. She seemed out of the loop and disoriented. Just weeks earlier, Mili was on the streets begging for money. Whenever she didn’t bring back enough money, her mother beat her and beat her and beat her. Knowing her story and looking at her again, her eyes were blackened and she was just hesitant to trust anyone. In the next few days, she would slowly warm up to her new family and the idea of going to church and having people to love her. At this point after experiencing so much, we can only pray that the love of God would overwhelm her and restore her.
Many times, Hugo seemed overwhelmed and helpless. He’s a small man of about 5’5″ and 115 pounds and he puts up with living with and providing for 15 kids, 11 of them orphans and 4 of them his own. With weak bones, Hugo rides his bike around the local neighborhood selling fruits and vegetables to provide for his family. But his true strength comes out when he’s playing worship and leading weekly services at Adulam. With a plastic spoon as a guitar pick and a guitar as old as he is, he sings his heart away to God and seems at peace while sharing the Word. One of the smallest men I have ever seen, but one of the hardest working and biggest hearts. May God continue to bless him.
Hugo is the little man in the white t-shirt.
A leader and true lover of God and those around him. He doesn’t have a crazy story…only those shared by his parents, who were drug addicts and ex-druglords. The oldest of four, Agustin never fails to love everyone around him. The entire community looks to him as the future and the glue. With so much potential, he gives all the thanks and glory to God. His heart beats for the peace and love of the community. With him, the future of Adulam is bright.
Pensamientos, 5 days
So many new thoughts have surfaced within me after seeing how these people live every day. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the stories of Adulam. There are so many more mothers and children who have been redeemed by God. They make up the community of about 60. They are the poorest people I’ve ever lived with supporting an entire community of once-lost souls, and yet it’s the place that I’ve experienced the most love. They have nothing, yet they have everything. At first, I was angry. I was angry at American churches that spend millions of dollars on new sanctuaries, and here we have Christian communities that need a couple thousand dollars to replace their Ford truck from the 1980s to transport 30 people to church. I was angry at myself for spending $10 on a nice meal when that could buy enough food to feed a family of 17 for two days. But our God is full of grace and hope and love. Because of that, I know that His children will find a way out of their suffering and that His love will overwhelm them to love others despite their circumstances. I know that He gives me the strength to be a source of hope or light to those who are less fortunate. And with that, I know He calls me to help. So that’s what I’m gonna do. I will go.