Surfers and tourists who travel to the beautiful, remote beach town of El Sunzal, El Salvador often pass by the large metal gate of the Remar orphanage. Unbeknownst to them, hidden behind barbed wire and a foreboding entrance is the evidence of a God who heals; children who laugh, run, play and care for one another. These children have been placed in the orphanage because of abuse or abandonment. Their stories are so disturbing that at times I could not translate them to our team members. They have suffered broken bones, attacks by family members and abuse that is grueling to recount, yet their smiles are beautiful, their laughter contagious, and their community is indescribable. These children live in a safe world, protected from the poverty and cruelty they have suffered. They are the children of the "Ciudad de Los Ninos" orphanage and each one of them has captured my heart. We were amazed by their countenance - they were kind, loving, affectionate and hard working. Each child diligently cleaned and did their chores daily. They never argued, fought or complained. They taught us how to worship and how to pray. We listened to toddlers' bedtime prayers (some praying for over 5 minutes) with grateful hearts and passionate prayers to the Lord they love to worship. It was absolutely precious.
One of the highlights of my trip was being called an "angel" and "answer to prayer." The orphanage director described how she often cries out to God when the kitchen is bare, the children need new shoes, and she can not afford to pay the electrical bill. Then God responds and sends "angels" to meet their needs. Our team arrived with $12,000 in cash, 8 suitcases filled with gifts, and arms ready to hold each child, listen to their stories, tickle, laugh and play. We felt honored to bring hope and encouragement from their brothers and sisters in America. We were privileged to purchase a stove, refrigerator and table for the newly built baby house (which will soon house 20 infants). We purchased more than 2,000 pounds of rice and beans, sugar, kitchen supplies, toiletries, baby food, oil, spices and toys.
One of my favorite stories was the time we spotted an orange truck in the market and began to barter for oranges. After a long, dramatic experience of negotiating (which involved driving away and being chased down by the orange truck driver), we purchased the ENTIRE truck load (7,620 oranges) for $300. The truck followed us into the orphanage, and the staff and children were practically dancing as the truck rolled in (they can rarely afford to buy fruit for the kids). Another night we ordered pizza for 150. Most of the children had never eaten pizza. Needless to say, it was the best pizza party ever! We had tearful good byes, but sense that we will each return one day.
We also had unbelievable meetings with key government officials, including the Attorney General, who oversees adoption in El Salvador. God opened doors for us through unplanned circumstances and we were treated like dignitaries. We expressed our concerns over the plight of the orphans of their country, our personal adoption experiences, and at the request of the Attorney General herself, laid our hands on her back and prayed over her. I truly felt like Esther in the throne room of the King. We also met with
the attorney who is handling our adoption cases. We were encouraged and discouraged, amazed and exhausted, surprised and overwhelmed all at the same time. It was an unforgettable day of "divine appointments" and we know that God orchestrated all of this for our future children, other waiting adoptive families and all those who defend the cause of the orphan.
I can not begin to express the gratitude I feel for your love, support and partnership on this trip. As I mentioned time and time again at the orphanage, the true "angels" were YOU, my supporters in the United States who gave so generously. On behalf of Carolina, Juan, Beatriz, Wilson, Antonio, Ana, and the precious children of the Ciudad de Los Ninos orphanage, I want to say thank you. We are already considering what the Lord has in store for future trips. We know this story is to be continued...
You can visit and help this same orphanage by joining the next Visiting Orphans trip to El Salvador from March 6th to March 13th, 2010. You can sign up and learn more on their website at www.visitingorphans.org.