El Salvador Mission Trip - Day 8
As the final hours of our final full day in El Salvador come to a close, I find myself in the midst of emotional chaos. Not only do I struggle with a mental debrief for the entire week here but I find myself particularly challenged with the mental roller coaster of the day. For sanity’s sake, I need to break it down into smaller pieces.
Leading up to this day, God put in the hearts of three of our teammates (David, Tim, & Mason) to sponsor children from this final project so that we could visit with them and their families. This would be the day that we would meet our newly-sponsored children so the anticipation was already in the air.
After our standard team breakfast that morning, we boarded the bus to head back to Project ES0013 “Herd of Jesus”. Although we had toured the project the day before and had enjoyed a formal welcome program from the church and the kids, most of the kids were away for a school vacation day. Today was going to be our actual children’s program (like VBS) with singing, stories, crafts and games.
Even though we had the formal welcome “gauntlet” of kids on the previous day, they still met us at the bus but this time it was for a different purpose. Lined up in front of the group, ready to meet their sponsors were our three new children PLUS Dwayne’s sponsored child that he spoke about in yesterday’s blog post.
When meeting a sponsored child, you never know what to expect. Some of the kids were shy and quiet at first, others jumped right in to speak with their sponsors. After exchanging pleasantries with the assistance of our interpreters, we all walked hand-in-hand up to the church building for our official welcome for the kids.
Because the kids had so much fun singing and dancing with us the previous day, they formally requested that we do five songs with them this morning and that is how we got our morning aerobic activity. Nothing causes the sweat to flow quite like five songs of celebration with a room full of kids singing and dancing and jumping around. Did I mention the lack of air conditioning and the long pants/jeans that we all were wearing?
After the elation was over, the kids broke up into three groups and the team broke up to lead the three stations for the kiddos. We had a station with songs and a story (Daniel and the Lions Den), a station with crafts (creating a lion craft), and games (multiple fun games). In the same spirit of the rest of the week, the kids were more than willing to take part in all of the festivities. The love and joy that filled the air was palpable and it was great fun for everyone involved.
After the rotation was complete, we met again in the main room to say goodbye to the kids and to end their day with a snack for their way home. All the kids left EXCEPT for our four sponsored kids and their parents, who stayed behind for a time of visitation and to have lunch with our team.
Personally, my attention shifted to my 6-year-old sponsored girl Naomi, her siblings (Pamela and Jefferson) and her mother. We had our own table and our translator Evelyn made our time together incredible. We shared gifts, talked a lot about our families, and prayed together. Naomi’s shyness dissolved to reveal an extremely playful, fun, and energetic girl who climbed in my lap and willingly enjoyed the hugs and kisses that I had saved up for her.
Saying goodbye to them was the top of the emotional roller coaster. There were hugs all around for the entire family and the visit was capped off when Naomi ran back over to me and gave me a kiss on my cheek. Watching them walk away was the largest heart tug that I had experienced on this entire trip.
The afternoon led us back to the construction project where we did some painting/priming for the construction project. Then we met up with the rest of the team, part of the staff team for this project and the pastor of the church. Final messages were shared back and forth, they gave us farewell gifts and we ended our time together with a large group prayer.
That night, we had our final team dinner with our translators, an incredible group of women who love the Lord and love the kids of this country. It was a great time but as the day came to a close, it wasn’t dinner or construction that were on my mind. A little girl named Naomi will forever have a special place in my heart and I pray that God will be with her, her family, this community, Compassion International and everything that the Spirit is doing in the country of El Salvador.