by Brittany Koepke, volunteer in Ecuador.
“Oh, the kids. I love these kids so much. But during the permanencia (when we open our doors to the kids from 3-6 pm everyday) the needs can be overwhelming. The kids that come to the permanencia are the kids that normally spend all day unsupervised in the streets. And the kids come to our house to be loved. They come to be heard. They come to play. They come to be in a place where they are important and are shown “another way.”
Ron, the youngest of 4 boys, is one of the kids that faithfully comes to the permanencia nearly every day for a break from roaming the streets. At 4 years old, Ron is normally quite loving and adorable. But recently he suddenly had a turn for the worse and began biting, hitting, yelling, and being overall rebellious. And when we had to tell him to leave the permanencia for his disruptive behavior, he sat outside on our front door step quietly thinking for the remainder of the permanencia.
A week later, an outdoor mass was celebrated on the side of our house to give a blessing to the prayer garden we constructed. Ron came to the outdoor mass and brought his mother. And this day began his fascination with the mass. After communion he said, “What was that they put in your mouth? Open your mouth-let me see.” “It is Jesus.” The next week when we were closing up the permanencia, he found out we were going to the mass and asked “why don’t you take me with you?” Ten minutes later, Ron showed back up at our house with his “nice pants” two sizes too big strung up with a belt with permission from his mom to go to mass with us. He has asked to go to mass with us 4 times this past week. And 4 times he has gone.
It’s been exciting to see Ron’s actions change in the permanencia these days and to realize that a seed for attraction to holy things has been planted deep within him that we hope will mark a transforming path for his life.”