I wrote this blog post last weekend, but didn’t have time or internet access until now to post it:
Today was a beautiful day. We loaded our team and all the kids into two buses and drove into the hills to the EcoPark – about 9200 feet in elevation. There is an abundance of eucalyptus trees, streams, views of Cochabamba, and fresh air. It’s so different from my home; dry, rocky, no lakes or rivers.
The tias cooked an abundance of beef and sausage over fire pits, and the smell was delightful. Little children were everywhere, holding our hands, laughing and enjoying being outside in the sunshine and open space. I spread my blanket out and the older girls on my team sat with the older girls from the house. We made friendship bracelets, braided hair, and chattered in our broken Spanglish.
Different, yet so similar, we care for each other in making food, cuddling little ones, creating small gifts, and being present to one another.
At the end of the day, the children from Ninos gathered us together for a special presentation. The two families on our team are flying home tomorrow so it was important to do the presentation today. Several kids gave short speeches: thank you for being here, thank you for the games and activities, thank you for playing with me, I will never forget you.
Then, they reached into a bag and brought out homemade frames with a picture of all the children, tias and staff of Ninos con Valor. Each child chose one of us to present with a frame.
I wondered who would choose me.
One of the older girls made eye contact with me. Very shy, she is one of my favorites. I cannot tell her story here, but in many ways she reminds me of the young Latinas I have worked with in the past. Beautiful, traumatized beyond belief in her past, she is now finding new life and new hope at Ninos.
Smiling, she made her way to me. She gave me the frame; we hugged, and I kissed her cheek. My eyes filled with tears at her gentle touch and lovely spirit. I am so utterly grateful to God that He has rescued her, brought her into a safe place, where she is loved, protected, and honored.
In the bus on the way home, I quietly looked out the window.
Lord, I do not know what the future holds for this young woman, but I pray that she comes to know that she is completely and utterly loved by You. I pray her heart is healed through relationships with her Ninos family and with You. I grieve that so much was taken from her, and rejoice that You rescued her. Lord – keep her safe, protect her, show her how lovely and valuable she is to You.
Where have you experienced the Lord in your own simple acts of caring for others or being cared for by others? How has God touched your heart for the poor in your community?