I remember telling the three people who would work together to pick my Peace Corps site that I have nothing against little kids, it just doesn’t get my heart pumping to think of working with them for my service. And now, just as has happened so many times before, I’m changing my mind.
My heart skips a beat when Isaiah and I get within eyesight of the children’s soup kitchen (comedor) in our town and a group of adorable kids come running at us, calling our foreign names they’ve already committed to memory.
We show up each Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday – the days the soup kitchen is open for any youth who is in need of a good meal – to play games with the kids before lunch is served, help pass out and refill plates, wash up dishes after lunch, and shoo away the hungry dog that desperately darts inside to scan the floor for dropped scraps of delicious food.
And talk about great Guaraní tutors. Handfuls of willing little teachers crowd around, patiently repeating a phrase in Guaraní until we’ve finally pronounced it
just right close enough.
Being strangers in a new town, it lights up my day to see some familiar faces from the comedor walking home from school, eager to greet us and hug us and tell us about their day. Or to hear our names called out on a morning jog as we pass the house of a youth.
Just when I start feeling worried that I won’t make any friends, or that I’ll never learn the languages, or that I miss the food from home too much to stand it for two years, one of my little friends from the comedor will pop up in my life as if on cue to reassure me with a huge grin that things are good and they’re happy I’m here.