My heart was pounding as we plunged forward up the hill. The incline was so severe I was afraid we’d tip over and start rolling front to back. “Let us make it to the top Lord. Please let us make it to the top”. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew the church was poor – and I could attest to that solely from the look of the neighbourhood as we made our way closer. I came only equipped with a love for Jesus and a desire to let these kids know their worth in Him. As we rounded the corner, all I could see were little hands waving in the air – they didn’t even know us yet, but they were waiting in anticipation. The van doors slid open and as my feet touched the dusty ground, small hands were suddenly intertwined with my hands – little legs trying desperately to keep in step with me as I made my way into the church. My heart was breaking – I wanted to pack each one of these kids into my suitcase and bring them home with me. I could only imagine the kind of situations they were experience at home that would cause them to reach out to a complete stranger for attention. The moment that first little hand touched mine, I was determined to put my all into making this a week that would have a lasting impact on them.
Minutes later there I was, legs crossed on the cement floor, balloons all around me, trying my very best to create things: “Espada” “Perro” “Sombrero”. It was hard enough trying to figure out what they were requesting let alone trying to bring it to life for them. After popping at least 6 balloons, and scaring the poor things every time, I created my first dog (“PERRO!”) and handed it to Alexia – who’s big eyes were beaming. As the minutes passed I somehow found my creative niche for balloon designs and was in full production mode – flowers, snowmen, dogs, hats – they named it and I would attempt it. The farthest thing from my mind was the earlier instructions we had received as a team: “Try not to use all the balloons up on day one”. How could I say no to those big eyes?
Two hours later – with duck, duck goose, a puppet story and a craft under our belt – we found ourselves at the end of day one. It had gone smoother than I had anticipated and I was elated to see just how much of my Spanish had returned to me. I knew the next 4 days would be life changing, I just hadn’t anticipated it being MY life that would be so changed from it.
My "best friend" Rebecca - she spoke English and would translate for me when I needed it. She was also a huge fan of my camera and would walk around snapping pictures!
Alexia - sweet little angel!
This little girl named her doll after me
Naomi (girl on the right) was one of the most kind-hearted kids - she was heart broken our last day.
Rebecca took this one. What a great photographer hey?!
My buddy Carlos
Lupita - so shy and so cuddly. Adored her!