Monday, October 8, 2012

So long, El Salvador!

Sadly, this is our final post of this summer, and since we have had some time to process the happenings of this summer, we hope you don't mind it being a little on the lengthy side ;) 

My time in El Salvador this past summer was one that was different than most of my visits to this wonderful country. Most summers I go to spend time with my family there. But this summer I spent it with Sara, my partner for the summer who turned out to be such a good friend, in the Hogar Del Padre Vito Guarato. It proved to be one of the best and most rewarding experience of my life!

At first, I was so overwhelmed with everything at the Hogar, especially since I arrived before Sara. But as time went on, we grew closer to the residents as well as the workers that make the place a home for these wonderful children! As with anything in life that is planned, the unplanned happens instead. We had many ups and downs with our stay at the Hogar but ultimately reminded ourselves that we were there for the children first, everything else came second. So we worked our way through every imposing obstacle to give the children the love and attention they crave and thrive off of! 

 One of the best moments was hearing your name being screamed from across el rancho when the children would see you!  Along all the countless other memories that I have and will never forget, I think in our own small way Sara and I made a difference. We made these children feel loved and important, we became their friend and tried to teach them along the way. Perhaps one of the most important things I realized was while trying to make the children feel loved, they also made us feel loved; while trying to teach the kids, they taught me something vital. Love is the answer to everything. It doesn't matter if you have anything in this world besides the clothes on your back, or whatever your race, gender, color, age- every person is loved and deserves love, it's what makes the world go 'round! It's what makes all of us happy, and these beautiful children of God are the happiest human beings I know. We all can learn so much from every single one of them. I felt that as though we had administrative problems interrupting our ideas for projects or lack of communication, we had accomplished something. I had never felt any more alive or connected to God and nature and the people around me or myself as I did during my time at the Hogar. If anyone has the opportunity to ever go, do it. Do it in a heartbeat. You will not regret it, it may just change your life. It changed mine, and I didn't even see it  happening until it was upon me because all the while I was making a small difference in the life of the residents. I truly cannot wait for the day I can go back and laugh, cry, smile, sing and dance along with my beloved friends at the Hogar del Niño.


It’s been several weeks since I’ve been home, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about at least one resident, but rarely (if ever) just one. I hear One Direction, and Maritza’s beaming face pops in my head as she shouts their songs, talking about which one is cutest. I see someone drinking a Coke, and I think of Ana del Carmen wrapping her arms around my waist with a big, cheesy grin saying “Quiero Coca-Cola, mama” (we might have done a little bit of spoiling this summer ;)).Waking up is slightly less enjoyable now that I hear a normal alarm clock instead of Memo talking (grunting) outside my window, or mariachi music down at the Rancho. I turn a corner, wishing Anita was there, ready to tackle me with a huge hug. I go out to eat at a Hispanic restaurant and am genuinely disappointed when they don’t have pupusas.

And I really, really miss Xiomara and her little crew calling me "Cuchara" instead of Sara. They started calling me "Cuchara Sara" (or vice versa) because it has a nice ring to it, I guess. Cuchara means spoon. So naturally, they liked that better than my name and eventually dropped the Sara altogether. 

This summer was incredible. Truly incredible. This summer, I learned the power of love and intentionality. Letting someone know that you wholeheartedly care for them and WANT to spend a morning with them, even if it just means letting them drag you around by your arm talking to every one you come across, or sitting next to them and massaging their arm. This summer, a lot of things didn’t go as planned. We didn’t get to teach as many classes as we wanted or paint as many rooms as we intended (though we still painted all the dormitory hallways! :)). But everything still happened perfectly. What the residents are going to remember is that we took individual time with each of them to let them know how loved they were. We made bracelets with them and wrote them letters and helped them practice their handwriting. We helped Aida with her English and made little books for her to teach her English words. We sat in the bedrooms of residents who are often lonely. We helped them with their homework. We took them for walks around the orphanage. We embraced goodnight hugs from Xiomara that were known to last several minutes. We held some as they cried, or laughed with them until we were all in tears. We developed lasting relationships with both the residents and the wonderful workers. 

I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. I made the most wonderful friend, Melissa, a girl who could not have been any more perfect to spend the summer and love the residents with. This was my first time leaving the United States, and though I’ve always had my heart set on traveling the world, I have a feeling I’ll be making trips back to where a big piece of my heart was left – right at the Hogar.

Sara (Cuchara) :)

We are so thankful for all of your support and encouragement along the way. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pictures from the summer. :)

On Melissa's last day there, we handed out our gifts to several of the residents, including mix CDs and pictures. I'm pretty sure they loved it. :)

One of my friends, Sara, came to the Hogar for the last 11 days of my stay there (she came the day before Melissa left). The residents were quick to share their love with her.

This also happened to be the week the workers decided to pull out the pool, in which we joined the residents several days in our clothes. :)

 We hope that you have found joy in seeing their faces and hearing stories from this summer. We are so excited to see who gets to go down there in the future! If you are thinking about it. :)

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