Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pure Joy!

Today was extra special for the team, and most everyone’s favorite day, as they visited two special needs orphanages. Grab a Kleenex and read these precious accounts of today’s adventure! 

(Please know that we respect the wishes of the orphanages who do not allow photos to be taken.)For our last day, we spent our time visiting special needs orphanages, both adult and children. These are simply the happiest, most carefree people. At San Martín, the adult orphanage, we danced the morning away. It was so special because I got to see so many familiar faces and we got to “Chu Chu Wa” one last time. That afternoon, we went to Guirola, the orphanage for special needs children, and I spent all of my time with a girl named Esperanza, which means Hope in English. Although she was non-communicative, we had such a great time. When it was time to go, she kissed my hand before being taken back to her room. There truly are no words to describe this feeling or this experience as a whole. I’ve never felt such overwhelming feelings of love and pure joy anywhere else. I’m not by any means ready to leave, but I know that these memories will stick with me forever. -Elle Eickholz

Today I had the experience to visit San Martín and Guírola for the second time. San Martín is a special needs orphanage for adults. At San Martín we danced, laughed, hugged, and smiled more than ever. There was a man who would pull my braids then run and hide. Finally I caught up to him and he just smiled and hugged me. It was so amazing that such a small gesture like a hug made my heart so full. We then traveled to Guírola which was a special needs orphanage for kids below 18. There I found a little girl named Dorris who was about 3 years old and had down syndrome. The whole day she laid on me while we laughed. Today my heart became more full than I could ever imagine... The people I met and spent time with today, blessed me more than I ever thought possible. - Kendall Mclean

Today we visited the two special needs orphanages, San Martin and Guirola. San Martin was our first stop. This orphanage is home to special needs kids of ages 18+. This place is full of laughter and smiles, you can’t help but feel the overwhelming amount of love. We danced and sang our hearts out until our sides hurt. I even learned a few new moves :) At around noon we left to get some lunch and then made our way to Guirola. This is my personal favorite!! Backstory- last year on the trip we came to this same orphanage and I made a very special friend, Lionel. He was known to have a rather ornery reputation. At first he was not interested in playing with anyone but I soon convinced him to be my friend. When we had to leave it was extremely heartbreaking because I never thought I’d see him again. I’ve thought about him everyday since. Present- I was so excited to arrive today because I hoped he’d be there. As soon as we got to the center I immediately asked one of the nurses where he was. She took me to his room and he had the biggest smile on his face. I couldn’t tell if he remembered me but he was way more excited to hang out with me this time around!!! We colored and played with water bottles, his favorite thing, all day long. I could tell he was very happy in his home, which made it easier to leave. I hope I can continue to watch him grow. Overall this is by far my favorite day, special needs children is something I’m so extremely passionate about and I plan to make working with them my career one day. This trip will continue to change my life for years to come! -Shelby Sokolik

For their last night the team went out for a traditional El Salvador dinner of Papusas and fried plantains! Please keep them in your thoughts & prayers as they travel home on Tuesday.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A break in the waves...

The team had a unique opportunity today. Kids living in orphanages in El Salvador live life on a loop... the same breakfast lunch & dinner everyday, usually consisting of beans and a little fruit. They also rarely ever get to leave the property. Today, kids who live within an hour of the beach, but many have never layed eyes on it, got a break in the monotony of life... Sunday was all about treating others like royalty!“Today we took an orphanage of around 40 kids to a resort to go swimming at the beach. We began the day with a prayer and then split up to interact with the kids. We all went out to the beach to begin with but the waves were very big so a lot of us ended up going to the pool. We then played chicken and many other pool games with the kids, before we ate lunch. The meal included steak because the kids almost never get the opportunity to eat meat. EditNext we did crafts, tattoos, games, coloring, and many other activities with the kids. I played chess with a 13 year old girl and she beat me every time. Although I kept losing it was such an amazing time being able to make her so happy. After we got done with those games we went back to swim for a little while longer before we had to leave. When leaving, we gave the kids a couple of different things to hopefully make their days much better. I truly enjoyed being able to be with those kids and give them a day they will always remember, as we will as well. Being able to bless them with food and the word of God is an amazing feeling that I wouldn’t want to trade for anything.”  -Cheyanne HoukLater that evening the students prepared a royal meal for the homeless. Instead of going hungry or receiving the typical bologna sandwich the teams give out, they were served spaghetti with meatballs, salad, bread, cookies & a drink. These students went above and beyond to raise extra funds before their trip, allowing them to bless others beyond anyone’s expectations. We are so thankful for their hearts of service. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Festival Fun! 

Today our team had the privilege of traveling to a community full of people with big hearts and great love for each other. We threw a festival and had tables set up with crafts, tattoos, stickers, and a group to play sports. I peeled back many tattoos and applied many stickers and it was such a simple gesture, but the amount of happiness this simple gesture brought to those kids was truly amazing! After all the fun, we set up a table and hundreds of people lined up to receive clothes, shoes, and toys. It created such a good feeling to be able to help the needs of these families and start a better life for them. Last, what impacted me the most, was walking around the community and being able to hand the families bags of rice, beans, and the needs to cook them. As we prayed for the comfort, safety, and health of these families I realized how blessed I really am. Today we changed these families, but they truly changed us even more. -Maddie HarrisToday was my favorite day out of this trip so far. I met this little boy named Jefferson last year when we came to Ahuacapán to build a home for a family. He lived right across from it with his mother, older sister, and 3 week old sister. Jefferson and I instantly had a bond even though I can’t really communicate with him. We played games together, chased each other, watched his baby sister sleep in a makeshift crib, do crafts together; basically everything. He was glued to my hip.

When it was time to leave that day, he told me he loved me and I said I will see you next year. He cried so much; I had never felt so attached to someone so quick. It was heartbreaking and so I gave him a bracelet to remind him of me and he gave me a picture he drew. I had hope that I would actually see him again this year.

So, today was the day we went to their village for the festival. I had absolutely no idea if I’d get to see my little friend again. I have been praying about it this whole week, and I even brought a picture of us two from last year to give to him. As soon as I walked through the gates to the festival, I saw his mom. I immediately said, “Oh my god, that’s Jefferson.” I dropped my backpack and ran towards him. I was so shocked and excited to see him. Jefferson couldn’t even look at me at first because he was crying on his mother’s leg so hard. He had missed me that much.

I gave Jefferson’s mother the picture of us and she was so grateful. We spent the rest of our day together. Doing what we always do, playing games, laughing, chasing each other-I’ll never forget these moments. It was truly the best day ever, and he’ll be in my heart forever. - Chanyng Floyd

Today was a day filled with lots of smiles and laughter. I spent my day at the festival applying tattoos and playing soccer with all of the kids. I have met so many beautiful faces that I will not forget. The littlest things made these guys days and I’m so blessed to be apart of it. This trip has taught me to count my blessing and many more. I can’t wait to come back next year.

-Sophie Cook