Everything this week has been challenging and interesting. Sunday evening me and my friend Audrey went out to an old part of the city called "La Boca" to visit local coordinators of an international NGO called "Word-Made-Flesh" (WMF). Jen and Jeremiah invited us into their home where we met 3 kids ages 1.5, 3, and 6. Also, field coordinator David joined us at the grown-ups table to talk to us about WMF while the kiddos went swimming in a kiddie pool on the roof.
David explained that Word-Made-Flesh is an organization that tries to be the hands and feet of Jesus by reaching out to the poor--primarily relationally. One of their major areas of involvement is with street kids down by the Retiro train station.
They go down to the train station and in groups of two begin playing Uno, soccer, or just chatting with the kids. Over time everyone gets more and more comfortable opening doors for conversations on (I would assume) everything from hygiene to vocational possibilities to spiritual matters. Honestly I'm not sure if the mission of WMF is more evangelistic or social and physical... or if it is a tie between each. I still have more questions than answers, but I get the feeling its more about empowerment than hand-outs.
I was glad to have met them because it was an excellent start to getting to know the non-profit world in Buenos Aires... a major goal of mine right now.
By the end of the night, Audrey and I learned that WMF is not in a position to invite new volunteers because they are forming policies o how and when to do so and what would be the necessary steps and qualifications. I understand that.
On the other hand, after all the chit chat with the grown-ups Audrey and I really hit it off with the kids. They loved playing with English speakers... and so did we! At the end we set up a date to go back and baby-sit, and Audrey and I will be headed back out to do that tonight.
Just briefly, since I've already written so much, I met a new friend from the US in the mall this week who does work ministering on university campuses through an international organization called Cruzades for Christ. Yesterday Audrey and I spoke with her and their coordinator in their office to talk about the organization, its mission, strategies, and what information they had gathered through surveys and conversations with university students in Buenos Aires--hopefully what we learned will help us over the next few months.
ps The night before I visited my new friends from WMF in the Boca, I got this drawing of the Boca via facebook from Shannon Morgan. She drew this for me about 2 years ago and just posted it on facebook last Saturday... and the picture is of the area of town that I met those people in the very next day. Cool right? To give you an idea of how cool it was to me, Sunday was only the 3rd time I ever saw that part of town and was the first time I ever spent time in the residential area or met anyone who lived there.