Today was our last work day in El Salvador. With a 7:30 am departure from the mission house this was also our earliest day! The first group of people we visited was a group of teenage boys at an orphanage. These students are part of a rigorous academic program to help them catch up to other students their age. They are completing two years of classes in one year. We got to play games and share a devotional message with them. Our next stop gave us the opportunity to spend some time with the residents of a home for people with special needs. We got to visit some of the less mobile residents in their homes (small cement block dormitories that each house 7-9 residents) and sing songs together. After that we danced, played, shared some fun bracelets and necklaces, and had ice cream and popsicles with those who were able. They taught us much by sharing their joy and their ability to love others, even those they just met. We also learned how Sus Hijos has been able to help the residents and staff at the home in very practical ways including providing a washer and dryer for each dormitory to replace the one aging industrial washer that had been shared by the entire facility. The third group of people we spent time with today were the residents of a juvenile detention facility for teenage girls. The girls were friendly and outgoing. Some played soccer with us while others chatted and drew with several of the girls from our group. It was a short visit but there good discussions including one of the girls from the prison telling our girls about her plans to avoid getting in trouble again.
Our meals were special treats today as well! We had lunch at States Diner, a full service restaurant that serves American food in huge portions. More important than the delicious food is the fact that States Diner is another ministry of Sus Hijos, offering jobs and valuable training to young men and women who would likely struggle to find jobs elsewhere. After lunch we even made a quick stop at a potential new location for the diner, the warehouse, and the offices of Sus Hijos. Dinner was our farewell dinner of popusas – a tasty traditional Salvadorian food. We were able to thank the staff and volunteers who helped us have such a meaningful trip.
There are many stories that could be told (and please ask our team members when you see them) but I’ll leave you with reflections from two of our team members, both recently graduated seniors who are heading to college this fall:
“Today I learned about how influential god can be in situations where it may not seem like He is treating everyone equally. This was apparent at the center for the people with disabilities. I saw the joy of God in everyone’s eyes even though they were in very tough situations. Situations in which most people would want to surrender or stray away from positivity. The people were very nice and did not have any hate in their hearts. This will help me stay positive everyday when I think about negative things or experience tough situations.” -Thomas