Serving here in El Salvador has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I cannot begin to explain how each time I enter this country that God begins to reshape and mold my heart even more. This time, being my 5th time to visit this country, God continues to do the same.
We began our day by going to Cambia Tu Vida, a center that aims to help kids that are at risk of violence and sexual abuse.
We spent the morning talking, playing soccer, painting faces, and loving on the kids there. After leaving the center, we had lunch and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Yep, the mid week slump hit me. I was exhausted! I just wanted to go back to the mission house and go to sleep. The entire way to Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, a private run orphanage, all I could think about was how ready I was to rest and be in the safeties of the mission house. God knows how whiny I can be at times. I am honestly surprised that He hasn’t gotten fed up with me already, but instead He chooses to love me, imperfections and all.
I know this because the very second I stepped out of the bus I was engulfed in His love. A sweet little boy that I met the first time I was at this center came running up to me and wrapped his arms around me. He gave me the biggest hug and smiled at me with big brown eyes that melted away every bit of exhaustion. For the next couple of hours this little boy was my best friend. He gave me the job of holding his popcorn while he jumped on the inflatables. He gave me the job of holding his popcorn while he ran to get the two of us snow cones. He gave me the job of holding his popcorn when he went to get more popcorn. Today, I was the official popcorn holder, but I was perfectly fine with that.
With my broken Spanish skills I learned that he loves school, but not math. He likes cats better than dogs. He is 11 and his birthday is in May. I learned the name of his younger brother, I learned that Steve is his favorite person, and I learned that he really likes popcorn! I received a lot of sweaty little boy hugs and when he offered me some of his popcorn, I replied, “No. Gracias!” However he looked at me with those brown eyes, giggled, held up the popcorn, and I opened my mouth and ate the popcorn.
Later his older brother who is now 16 and will soon age out of the system shared with me that their mother had died. He said “I don’t have a dad”. Then pointing to one of the translators of sus hijos, he said “They are my dad now”. As I fought back the tears I couldn’t help but think about how I hoped he also knew that he had a Heavenly Father that loved him more than anything.
When our time at NPH was over, my sweet little popcorn loving friend continued to hug me tight. I told him that I hoped to see him soon and that I loved him. His reply was that he loved me too. He then said in English, “I miss you”.
Today God placed me in the middle of El Salvador to hold popcorn, share laughs, and hold hands with a precious little orphan. He placed me there to talk with his 16 year old brother. But most importantly He placed me there to remind me that no matter who we are, He loves us. He loves us so, so much.... We are all orphans, but it is only through His love, His goodness, and His grace that we are His children. Because of that, it is our job as Christians to give that same love to others. (Today my job just happened to be popcorn holder).
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” -John 14:18