In 1986 a major earthquake hit the country of El Salvador causing major devastation. Many buildings and homes were destroyed. Numerous families lost their livelihood and were unable to recover. Sadly, many historic buildings and landmarks still remain unrepaired, full of cracks and huge gaping fractures to this day.
This afternoon we visited Guirola, a special needs orphanage. I have been to El Salvador 4 times now, and this was my 3rd time to visit the beautiful children that call Guirola home. As you enter the gate to Guirola, you pass by a beautiful church that is filled with cracks, holes in the exterior walls, and many signs of aging and decay. However, there is something about this building that has always fascinated me. Where others may see a decaying and cracked building, I looked at each crack and crevice and see a story that is untold. I try to imagine how each imperfection made its way to its resting place and what narrative it would portray.
On my first trip to Guirola, one of the translators for Sus Hijos, Josué, took the time to explain the history of the church. After asking a hundred questions and hearing the history, I was even more captivated by its beauty. In October while at Guirola, I was able to get an up close look at the church and take numerous pictures. One of my favorite pictures is one of a large crack that runs straight up the side of the building from top to bottom. Today as I stood looking at this same crack, and admiring its beauty and antiquity, it dawned on me how God must see us the same way. Where friends and family members see all of our imperfections and how many times we mess up, and where society sees “cracks” in our lives, God sees beauty.
God sees beauty in each of the amazing individuals that our team was so very blessed to be able to visit this morning at San Martin. San Martin is a special needs adult facilty. On the exterior, it is not a very beautiful place to look at. The grass is overgrown, the buildings need a fresh coat of paint, and the iron gates leading into the complex are full of rust. However, once you get past the gate, you see how beautiful that place really is on the inside, how happy the people that live there are, and how much your face can hurt from smiling while dancing and laughing.
This afternoon, while at Guirola, we were able to play games, dance, and color with the special needs children that live there. We were also each given the task to feed a child his or her dinner. While feeding a child would normally be a quite simple task for me, I could not even get the first spoonful into his mouth. The child that I was asked to feed appeared to be around 8 to 10 years old. He was confined to a crib and had plastic guards on his arms and legs due to violent thrashing fits. Today, I could not even get the spoon close to his mouth because he was moving back and forth so forcefully in his bed. Finally after it was obvious that I was not going to be able to have any success, the nanny, or “tia” as they are called in El Salvador, saw the crack in the situation and came to my rescue.
Many times in our society, we tend to overlook special needs individuals. Almost like the Disney movie “Peter Pan”, special needs individuals would be this world’s lost boys. However, we are all lost. And just like each one of us, they have an imperfection. Their crack just happens to be a learning or physical disability. However, in God’s eyes, He looks past the cracks each of us has and sees his wonderfully made creation. He sees His child. And regardless of how many times we mess up or cause another crack to form in the once perfect potter’s clay, He loves us enough repair all of our cracks.
Think of how different our life would be if God looked at us and saw all of the cracks that we have in our lives and in our hearts. Think of what our fate would be if He decided that we weren't worth salvaging just because we didn't appear to be perfect. Think about what our future would hold if after self inflicted devastation and destruction, God left us to just recover on our own full of cracks and huge gaping fractures. However, He decided that we were so undeniably worth the cost of repair the minute He stretched out his perfect and unflawed arms and died on the cross for all of our imperfections and flaws. May God help us all to look at others’ imperfections and flaws with the same loving eyes.
“But now, Oh Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you are our potter. We are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8