Estamos Muy Cansada! (Tuesday, January 20th)
Today has been such a roller coaster of emotions that we quite don’t know where to start. With that being said, it might be good to start at the beginning…
It was an early rise to get some quick breakfast and head out to ensure we arrived at the orphanage on time. Some translators met us at the house to catch a ride (Francisco, Alex, Sandra, Claudia, Paola and Debra). Francisco & Alex are seminary students who have both taken medical classes. Sandra is a nurse and also Alex’s mom, and she has been serving in this capacity for many years. This is the first time Claudia & Paola have helped. Claudia was born in the states after her parents fled the Civil War in the early 1980’s. She returned in her early teenage years, and apart from attending college at Tulane, has been in El Salvador ever since. Paola is a friend of Claudia’s from high school, and they had heard about Lorraine and Hannah’s Hand through Pam (American Missionary, see earlier blog entry if confused-but praise God for the connections the Lord can make!). Debra has been a translator with Lorraine for about five years. Anyways…the reason we tell you this is that there is tremendous hope for El Salvador through these five young adults. Francisco and Alex have a huge love for Jesus and serving others through medicine. Claudia and Paola are extremely passionate about human rights and child education, while Debra is in law school. Please pray for these individuals and that the Lord will lead them to do great things for El Salvador!
Anyways, on to our impactful day at the orphanage. As we rolled through the towering walls with intimidating barbwire on top, we were greeted with excitement and hope in the children’s eyes. As we waited for our instructions, a little chico named Guillermo hopped on the bus. He must have been 9 or 10 years old, and immediately started hugging us and patting us on our bellies (a show of affection) while rapidly speaking Spanish. He also got the attention of some of our nurses to show them a substantial size cut on his hand that had not properly healed. With this cheerful welcoming, we knew we were in for an incredible day!
We must admit, the orphanage was in a bit better shape than we imagined, but still heartbreaking. The smell of burning trash filled the air, evident by the many piles that littered the outside. The old, open air concrete style buildings coincided with the broken wire fences that attempted to create a few walking trails throughout the grounds. There are four “houses,” to separate the age groups, but are really just buildings connecting to one another. Each one looks the same; hard concrete floors with 2 rooms wall to wall with bunk beds on the left and a tiny common area along with bathrooms/wash area on the right. The ceilings are very high, and there is a “cage” material that covers the ceiling, the windows, and the open-air area above the walls of the room. The bathrooms are also tough to imagine, also an open area with roughly a four-foot wall surrounding it. There are no showers per say, just buckets of water for the children to wash with. Outside are 2 concrete basketball courts adorned with soccer goals beneath the basketball goals. There is a hill with a few trees that the children like to play on, although a good portion of it is covered with burning trash. The only sign of toys were 2 or 3 beat up soccer balls that had lost all the stitching, and a rusty old wheel barrel. They actually even have a swimming pool. One of the caretakers admitted it “need a few chemicals.” We can be honest in saying that many of us thought it may actually be a pool for waste run off before they told us it was for swimming. While the water was not brown, it had a green tint sort of like a lake and there was zero visibility past the surface.
As evident in our first interaction with Guillermo, it was obvious that these boys were starving for attention. As you can imagine, the most fulfilling appeared to be from the men, as they were yearning for father figures. This was confirmed as we began to pick up that they were calling us, “Tio,” or uncle in English. Thus, much of our children’s ministry today was to LOVE. In God’s word Jesus tells us the two most important commandments, to love the Lord with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Love God. Love Others. In short, this is how the children’s ministry went-Soccer, lovin on kids, more soccer, more hugs, more soccer, tag games, even more soccer, more affection, yes-still soccer, balloon animals, taking turns holding the children and throwing them up in the air, and of course…soccer! (did we mention that all soccer is played on concrete?! It’s a good thing we have a doctor and nurses staying with us for all the old folk) The love continued throughout the day, even when the children disassembled their balloon animals in favor of homemade water balloons. Not too many of us managed to stay dry, and the highlight of the water fight was Pastor Jon taking a hard shot to the Cabeza! As he stood there soaking wet and wiped off his glasses, the look on his face said it all…LOVE :)
Over in the clinic, our awesome medical team was able to see 50 patients! This included the orphans, some girls from the prison, and even the staff at the orphanage. While some of the children had physical issues, others had psychological abuse. Many of the children confessed to have been physically and sexually abused by their peers. This abuse has caused anything from stomachaches to major stress issues. Please pray for the heath and safety of these orphans. They do not receive any type of consistent medical care, and what they do receive is very sporadic.
Through generous donations, we were able to give every boy a soccer jersey and pair of shorts. Plus, each “house” was given a soccer ball! As we went to leave, we noticed that many of the children had already begun to disengage with us. The good news is that this orphanage is used to having groups come in to care for them. The bad news is that they realize the harsh truth-that at the end of the day, the people who gave them an entire day of attention will be leaving, most likely never to return ever again. While this made our goodbye’s a tad bit easier at the time, the feeling we had knowing that we could only do so much will stay with us for a good while.
After such a long and draining day, we were treated to a true El Salvadorian dinner. The food and environment was absolutely fantastic, but since this post has been so long we will have to give you the details later! As you can imagine, we had a great debriefing session after dinner. Donna spoke an inspiring word about El Salvador through Isaiah 51. There were also many emotions and reflecting. While it would be too tough to try to communicate it in great detail, here a few quotes from our team members:
-“I was just sad all day by what we saw.”
-“My heart went out…I felt like I was putting a band aid on a broken bone”
-“The children and staff were so gracious and accepting.”
-“I’m thankful for what I/we have…”
-“I’m thankful these children are in an orphanage and not in the streets of San Salvador.”
Tomorrow most of will go to Jazaviel's fathers church to continue the medical clinics and children’s ministry. Dr. Tyner, Terri and Christina will actually head to the local hospital to do some pre-op for an operation later in the week, as well as go back to the orphanage to conduct a minor shoulder surgery. We will all meet back up at the church for an evening service where Pastor Jon will be brining the Word. Please continue to pray for health, safety, and energy! Also, we LOVE to read your comments at the end of a hard day, they are very inspiring. Please keep them coming!
***this last pic is one of “Tent City.” Another story for another time, but basically people bought a plot of land they were promised. The eventual phony salesman of the land went into hiding, and the current owner of the land said it was a, “no-go.” So, everyone stormed the land, set up a place, and now there is, “Tent City.”