I am always surprised when I go 2 weeks without posting unintentionally. Again, I will apologize I have not kept to my once a week post as I had intended. The good news is for those of you who have Facebook, I was able to finally post photos of my work at the animal conservation place, Tatu Careeta last week. For those of you who do not have Facebook you can still see the photos, by clicking this link or copy & paste in a new browser window if it doesn’t show up as a link for you:
I hope you enjoy these photos, for those who haven’t seen them. I hope to be able to upload some photos for my exploration of Cordoba city sometime in the near future as well. So you can see some of the interesting churches, museums, and history as well. Now on to what I have been up to recently. 😉
Well, I think I had hinted a little that things were not so great at the horse farm, El Jaguel, where I am working. There are many factors that go into situations such as this, but suffice it to say that in the US, I would be seeking assistance from authorities because I am very worried about the care of the horses due to the inefficiencies. There is as usual a money problem which was worsened by the flood that occurred about a month ago. I have learned that the man who is running the farm, is renting the facilities, which is an additional burden financially to him. Also very different from in the US is that the actual owner who the man is renting from, is NOT required to do any upkeep/maintenance on the property or buildings. Therefore, all of the financial burden is in the hands of the man who is renting the property. In my opinion that is quite unreasonable, however there is absolutely nothing I can do about that as it is one of the cultural differences of the area. During the time I have been working on this project from midway through week one, I have been doing my best to be an advocate for what the horses are most in need of. My struggle is the amount of time things take here. I have now been working at the farm for 3 weeks, and have yet to get some of the initial things I was asking for. Progress is being made, painfully slowly, but each small step is hopefully getting us to the end result of better care and well being for the horses, which currently is my primary goal for the farm. Continued prayer for my patience and wisdom in handling these essential, but very touchy areas is much appreciated. I quite frankly have never seen a functioning horse farm with so much need, especially when the “hired hands” seem to have no real desire to make change/progress for the betterment of the horses. At any rate I am learning many things including how to work hard and do what I am able to do in the midst of chaos and frustration. I had quite high goals of what I’d like to see changed in the time I am here, but now I have slightly more reasonable goals that I hope to achieve and leave some continued work that hopefully will get accomplished after I leave. If I am able to get things going in the proper direction, I hope they will be able to continue to improve even when I am gone. I am also making new “rules/lists” for future volunteers of what they should accomplish while working on this project in hopes that what I am able to start will be continued when I am gone.
On a more positive note about the farm, I have had the privilege over the last few weeks to work with a variety of children for therapy/instruction. There are not a great deal of children that seem to come for special therapy lessons, however some of those that come are pretty severely handicapped children with a great need for therapy. One of the first I was able to work with was a boy with spastic body movements. Now mind you all communication and instruction for me are done in Spanish and via being shown. Thankfully, I can understand just enough and recognize with demonstration what is needed because I have never had opportunity to work with any children in a setting such as this before. It has been a very unique opportunity to ride a horse with only a couple of pads, holding a child with pretty much no control over their own body, and be required to keep both yourself and the child safe while performing various therapy movements with the child. I have learned what it means to wish you had about 5 or 6 sets of arms, but how to use what you have very effectively. 😉 Thankfully another volunteer was leading the horse so as long as she kept a slow and steady pace with no quick turns or overly rough terrain I was fine! We had another boy this week with a very different set of issues. He was not spastic, but was quite a bit older and heavier and had very very weak to almost no control of his muscles and was very limp instead. His increased weight and height proved to be difficult for me. Thankfully the man in charge came out and showed us several different techniques to use with him to assist in stimulation of his muscles. I have been thankful to learn a great deal of different techniques/strategies to assisting the muscle movement of children on a horse. There have been some other children learning more about basic riding skills, balance, and focus, but these particular 2 cases, have been for me the most educational.
Due to the work I am trying to accomplish at the farm, they have asked me to change my work plan while I am here. They want me to continue to work at the farm at least 3 days a week, and we have picked 1 of the final 2 projects for me to get involved with in addition to the horse farm. The community development project is actually working with children in a hospital setting. This is the one we have chosen for me to get involved with because the other project with the women is still in its very early stages and wouldn’t be fully ready to receive me until April. I will go tomorrow, Tuesday morning to get introduced to this new project, see where it is, figure out what sort of time frame they need help during and what kind of help that is. After I am able to see the project tomorrow I will need to devise some sort of schedule that will work for me how I can help at both places. I have many things to consider including, but not limited to travel times from my house to each location, if it is possible to get from one work to the other in the same day, if I would have the stamina to do both projects in one day because the horse farm is lots of exhausting manual labor, etc. I hope that by Wednesday of this week I will know what my plans are for the remainder of my 6 weeks here. I am looking forward to another new type of project as I’ve worked with kids plenty of times, but never in a hospital setting. Prayer for my language skills to be adequate for this job are much appreciated as it will be yet again a largely new set of vocabulary which I have not been exposed to thus far. I hope on my next update to be able to give you some ideas about what I will be doing for this project as well! 🙂
This coming weekend I will be spending 4 days with a church youth/young adult group in a camp setting out near La Falda. I was asked to come and participate with them and after verifying it would be acceptable to miss 2 days of work, I am excited to experience this time of worship, seeking God, and fellowship with some young people. I was pleasantly surprised not only to be asked and given permission to go, but also at how many of the people going were very happy to hear I would be able to come. I have only known these folks about 3 weeks or a little more and they have all expressed excitement that I would be able to come and spend 4 days with them! 😉 It is always nice to be included and will give me opportunities to both practice my Spanish and speak some English since there are a few people who are attending that also know English in varying degrees! I am looking forward to this time with the Lord and with new friends!
I hope each of you are doing well and enjoying the not as cold temperatures as Spring starts to come around! I hope you have a great St. Patty’s Day tomorrow, don’t forget to wear your green! I hope it will not be so long until my next post and look forward to sharing about my last new project as well! Thank you to everyone who is praying for me and the encouragement along the way! The Lord has blessed me with 6 more weeks, to share His love, and continue to make an impact in many more lives!