Hey guys! If you know us, you know that you can only talk to us for so long (about 5 seconds) before we work into the conversation how passionate we are about Guatemala…well, more specifically an orphanage in Guatemala called Shadow of His Wings. Shadow of His Wings is home to around 70 girls and 2 boys…they are fed, loved, clothed, hugged, restored, schooled and grown into beautiful women with mended hearts and souls. We have had the pleasure of having a relationship with them for the past five (or so) years and have visited about 13 times between the two of us. We are always so impressed with how much the girls have grown spiritually…they are really growing into mature, happy young women of God. We visited again this past December and got to stay three weeks to be a part of two different mission teams. This is a photo log of our first week…week two will follow (as soon as I get the pictures finished!).
The very first time you go…you expect to see downtrodden, pitiful children. Not so! This is always the kind of faces we can expect to see… they’re sweet and very mischievous.
After you are at the orphanage for a while, usually one will gravitate toward you…and that is your new best friend. I have never seen anything quite like it. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you are able to communicate somehow, and that girl steals your heart and you are never the same.
These are “our” two girls…Jacqueline and Vivian. Are they gorgeous or what?
Jacqueline started calling Tom…”Tomate” (the spanish word for tomato) the first time she met him. She’s a little bit of a jokester (if you can’t tell) and very much into fashion. Kristen and Vivian’s story is a little different. Kristen is and was very shy, especially as a child. Vivian is too. Naturally, with two shy people, it took them almost the entire week to find each other. Kristen was starting to wonder if she would bond with any child…and then Vivian sat down next to her one night. With Kristen’s limited Spanish, she managed to get the word amiga out and a “who are they” shrug and Vivian very simply communicated that she didn’t have any yet. She was new to the home and shy….so no friends yet. Well, that totally got Kristen who ended up in a puddle of tears. Everyone should have a friend, right? Well anyway, Vivian has adjusted beautifully now…but they still cry everytime they see each other at the beginning of mission week. Jacqueline and Vivian feel like family to us. They are family to us.
Because we are sponsors of these two girls, we can take gifts to give them. We wanted to ask them what they wanted and then get them that thing from the market, but Cyndi (the teams coordinator) suggested we take them shopping at the market and let them pick something out themselves. Oh boy…shopping with teenagers is universally the same. And so fun. We went to every store in the market and ended up back at the first store (of course!) to buy jeans and converse shoes. This is them with their jeans…I love how each one of their tastes is a little different.
We do other things for the community while in Guatemala too. Never have I seen anything like the poverty in Guatemala. The seperation of the haves from the have nots is incredible. So, we always want to do anything we can to alleviate someone’s pain and suffering, even if its for a short while. I heard someone describe it perfectly as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…and myself doesn’t want to be hungry, so I feed people”. We do two different food programs in the community…food sacks and a big community meal. We shop in local shops and spend $50 per family for 15 families. We buy staples like rice, beans, eggs, corn mesa, peanut butter, cleaner, matches…and candy. Every child should have candy. Here are a few families that got food sacks.
I’m not sure I will ever get used to seeing the poverty. I hope it never quits breaking my heart. I never want to be numb to it so I always want to do something about it. I always feel like the food sacks aren’t doing enough. I want to do more. But, it has to be enough for now. And it is. Heartbreaking stories…woman with terminal leukemia and two children and no husband (she passed away last week), blind man, old couple with no children and too sick to take care of themselves, widow woman with a one room house and one bed taking care of a mentally handicapped lady, multiple families living together in one room adobe houses, families with none or little food….all received food sacks and were so thankful. You would have thought they won the lottery. I don’t want it to sound like I am patting myself on the back, because I’m not. The money wasn’t mine that bought the food sacks, but rather multiple donations received bought the food sacks. But I’m so happy that I got to be there to distribute them.
We also hosted a community meal where we served anyone that came a traditional meal of a tamale, apple and bread. Someone cooked for us 1600 tamales, we washed 1600 apples…and served 1600 meals. The fellowship was incredible.
And some fabulous ladies from church knitted some prayer shawls that we delivered to the local nursing home.
I really could go on and on…and I will in another blog post about week 2. But for now…its time to leave week one. And this is always what everyone looks like when they leave.