July 31, 2018
By Gaby Andrade
A team of 12 Andean Aid teachers, a doctor, and some of our children made the arduous 14-hour journey to see our sisters and brothers in Mara and Lechuga near the city of Maracaibo, nervous because of the situation in our country. We traveled over roads destroyed by potholes, stopping, as required, at guard stations. Along the way, we passed groups of people protesting the lack of water and cooking gas over the past year.
In Maracaibo, we were hosted by a wonderful local church, Rompiendo Fortalezas, took us to stay at house left empty by a family that left the country. The house had been without water for a year, making it hard for our team, but still we had a wonderful time, and everyone (even the kids) understood that, ”I know to live humbly, and I know how to have abundance; In everything and for everything I am taught, so that I may have plenty as well as to suffer need.” Philippians 4:12.
On the journey to Mara, our tire exploded and we were delayed many hours, but our driver located an old car and all 12 of us squeezed in and made it to Mara, which serves about 30 indigenous Wayuu native children.
Our mission was to greet our brothers and sisters leading the Center, hear from the children, bring them happiness, and find out if they need anything. We passed out Bibles given to us by Martin Stendal, which made everyone joyous. Pastor Orangel and his wife Omaira of our partner church, Luz del Mundo, with teachers Fatima Gonzalez and Lady Suarez, led the children in song and Bible verses.
Our visit with 122-year-old former pastor Antonio Palmar and his family was a joy. He, too, was happy in the extreme, remembering the visit by Wayne Cramer and Julie Anderson 4 years ago. He told us, “please say hello to the man that is like the sun.”
We prayed there, and something curious happened. In Cucuta, I had contracted scabbies when we were treating the children, and happened to have an ample supply of the medicine with me. Some of the ladies were so relieved to hear this, crying, “We and our children have scabbies too, and no doctors, no medicines!” I felt so good to help with the medicines, and the pediatrician with us took care of them, giving medicine for amebas, diarrea, fever, cough, and more. Pastor Palmar had a large Hongo in his right hand, which the doctor looked at.
Our brothers and sisters shared that they said they need more visits from us. We had our hearts broken with them over the hardships they endure. God willing, our team would like to visit them in December and bring medicines and doctors and food and have a nice Christmas Program.
We arrived at 6:00 p.m. at the Jesus es el Ray church and Help & Hope Center in La Lechuga, where teachers and 70 children had been waiting for us since 10:00 in the morning (originally there were 120!). We all sang with joy, delivered candy and Bibles. The children gave us drawings they had made.
The needs in La Lechuga are many: food, medicine, doctors, clothes, shoes. But the same as always, they have an excellent attitude in everything. Former teacher Janet Toscano is the new pastor, replacing one who moved to Colombia. She has two teachers: Tibisay Bracho and Maria Alejandra Gutierrez.
And there are severe hardships in La Lechuga.as well. We found children who live alone because their parents left to work in another country. And the six-month-old brother of one of our students passed away from starvation.
Our hosts at the Rompiendo Fortalezas church invited us to visit their neighborhood, where they’re serving 130 kids with food and homework help. They are requesting that Andean Aid open a Help & Hope Center there.
Well, we finisheded this visit with our hearts broken more. This team wants us to come in December to make something special for this community, too.
While we were driving in the city of Ojeda, it rained. There was enough rain water for two of our team to take a shower with rainwater.
On August 1st, we went to Barquisimeto to visit Anacarib Martinez Alarcon, who has cancer, and is the mother of one of our students at Juan Christiansen school. Here in this city she receives chemotherapy and radiation. She was happy to see us, and our children enjoyed seeing her family again. In Barquisimeto we stay in my cousin’s house – he went to another country for to work. Another cousin in this city, Alirio Rodriguez, invited us to the beach, and imagine our answer….. YES!