On February 20, Juan turned 14 years old. When I first came to the orphanage he was only 12 and a very different boy from the young man I know today.
When I first came to Bachiniva, he was very shy at first, very quick to get upset and frequently shut down. It was hard for me to form a friendship with him at first, because he always had such a bad attitude with me. In the culture of the Tarahumara Indians, there is no respect given to women. And we’ve seen that first hand here at the orphanage. Juan was one of the first kids that always got under my skin, talked rudely to me, and the one I had to pray for…a lot, to make sure my heart was in the right place when I talked to him. Which, to be honest, there were many moments I acted in my flesh.
As my time at the orphanage continued and I stayed and became a part of the children’s lives the Lord showed me that the main reason Juan and I started our friendship so rocky was because he was on the defense. He was trying to protect himself. Trying to be prepared for the worst.
Out of all the kids at the orphanage, Juan and one other boy are true orphans. Wards of the state. He was left at an orphanage and kept getting passed around to a few others, ones that were so cruel and rough, before he ended up here with us. As I got to understand Juan more, who he was as a person and young man trying to learn what it meant to be a man, I saw such sweet moments and many hard ones.
Juan is the second oldest boy at the orphanage, the third oldest of all the kids. Because he was left at a young age and passed around to many orphanages, when he first came to Casa de Bendicion, he didn’t know how to read or write. He can be very quick to get angry, quickly shut down and have a bad attitude. As time has gone on, he has opened up immensely.
He is slowly but VERY surely, learning how to read and write. I have the privilege of tutoring him Monday and Tuesday mornings. He also has special evening classes that another worker takes him to every Monday evening. He is one of the hardest workers I have ever met. He will GLADLY work outside with the guys doing construction, cut wood, help clean inside the house, cut grass or anything else that needs work. Juan is there, ready for a job. He’s also been really into learning how to cook. The past few times I’ve been in the kitchen cooking, he wants to help chop, stir and serve because as he says, “I need to learn how to cook for when I’m an old man”. He is a great soccer player. For many of you who have come down on trips, a lot of you know he’s got the moves! He has learned how to make coffee and likes to drink it black with the adults…”like the cowboys”. Juan is pretty good with numbers, so a lot of days we play UNO and the card game Speed. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been blessed with seeing the Lord work mightily in Juan’s life. His love for the Lord has grown, his desire to go to church and youth group is so present. During our tutor times in the mornings, he always wants to practice reading in his Bible rather than another book. He loves to pray, sing worship songs and learn more about the Savior of the world.
As I write this in the dining room, Juan is enjoying some guy time watching Basketball. Every time I see him, talk to him or watch as he grows as a young man, I’m always in awe of how the Lord works in all of the kids’ lives and how he has a plan for each and everyone of them.
As you all pray for the kids down here, please be in prayer for their growth in the orphanage. That us staff can minister to them and show them how to be strong men and women of God. Pray for Juan that he would continue to dedicate time to his tutoring and learning to read and write as that is VERY important for him to learn. Ask the Lord to guard his heart, soul, mind and life from the snares of sin and temptation and that he would hungrily come to the Lord daily and his desire for the Lord would grow.
P.S. Juan is very difficult to take pictures of because as soon as he realizes there’s a camera, he’s gone…