Three weeks ago I boarded a flight in Atlanta with 15 other team members on a globalX short term mission trip to El Salvador. Today and back home, I’m a different person.
Our purpose in El Salvador was to serve alongside La Casa de mi Padre, a children’s home whose vision is to heal hearts, restore families and bring hope. We met the children under their care, saw firsthand the healthy home environments they provide, and experienced the love poured out onto these children and into their community. Though La Casa’s work is ongoing, from my perspective, their vision is reality.
Our team spent several days working at La Finca (the future home for La Casa) on a house that will be the transition home for their young adult men: boys who have aged out of the children’s home. We painted the interior and exterior walls and hung ceiling fans and lighting. We also sealed a fence containing a horse-riding area, used as a form of therapy for the children who need it. It was great to see how much work can be accomplished with many helping hands and willing hearts.
La Finca transition home – before
Applying the base coat
New textured, orange Colonial finish
La Finca transition home – after
The children of La Casa were in school during the week days, but we were still able to have some quality time with them during our stay. Just like any other kids, they were full of energy and liked to have fun! We had an afternoon of crafts with the girls, making colorful, duct tape handbags and beaded ribbon barrettes, while the boys played fútbol/soccer. Even faces were painted.
Colorful ribbons, barrettes and tape
Receiving a demonstration. I needed it, too!
We spent another afternoon at the park with the kids, playing kickball and basketball, braiding hair and painting nails. Afterward the boys retreated to play a game, while the girls held a dance party! There were a lot of smiles and laughs that day.
Dina (and Aby – not shown) gave me the most beautiful, artistic manicure. I rarely paint my fingernails, so I felt pampered.
Probably one of the most profound experiences occurred while we delivered food to families surrounding La Finca. La Casa makes it a practice to meet their neighbors face to face, and provide their most basic needs such as rice and beans for cooking, to show them they are valued.
Bags of food prepared for us to carry out into the community
Literally in the jungle, we hiked up and down mountainous terrain to find the humblest of homes tucked away among the trees. Not expecting our visit, each person we met greeted us with both surprise and gratitude.
View while delivering food
Most of us required a translator (thank you Carlos!) in order to communicate with our Spanish-speaking neighbors. We spent a little time at each house, talking with the families, praying with them and hearing their stories. One woman in particular captured my heart as she invited us into her home. As we were getting ready to say goodbye, I wanted to tell this woman that we loved her. I watched her outward demeanor soften as she heard those words in her language and her eyes filled with tears. In that moment, I knew that was why we traveled all those miles to El Salvador…
…to partner with La Casa in sharing God’s love.
Something happens inside of us when we catch a glimpse of God at work, when we see people through His lens instead of our own. Suddenly the little things that distract us fade away. The things and people that matter to God, matter to us. We find ourselves the recipients of unconditional love and therefore receive the capacity to give it. We are changed.
I am changed.
It feels like the beginning of something new…and it’s entirely beautiful.
The view from the back of the house. Their chapel is seen on the middle left. We spent a few minutes there hearing about the future plans for La Casa de mi Padre and sang Amazing Grace. No instruments, just our voices lifted up in worship to God. Beautiful.