Today was an unforgettable day. We woke up early to the sweet sound and smell of the Salvadorian winter rain. We are staying in an incredible missionary guest home which truly feels like a "home away from home." The missionary family prepares breakfast and dinner each day. We have our own kitchen, family room, sleeping areas, bathrooms, game room and courtyard plus computer access and two cells!
After breakfast we had a powerful devotion together. We spent time in God's Word, worshipping together and praying for God's heart for the fatherless. We shared our excitement and fears as we prepared to visit the orphans for the first time today. Kurt Ackermann, the missionary that we are serving with, warned us that many of the children in this home can not be placed (in other centers) because of behavioral issues. These truly are "the least of these."
We drove to the orphanage with our arms filled with gifts and our hearts filled with anticipation. During the drive one of our team members accidentally dropped the metal van seat onto my foot. It was very painful and my foot was instantly black and blue. To our shock, Jenny Gorcoff had a pack of cold ice in her bag. God truly cares about the little details of our lives!
When we arrived at the orphanage we took a tour of the home. This particular orphanage is the government "intake" center for abused and abandoned children in El Salvador. It was extremely emotional for me as I wondered if our daughter could possibly be there, or possibly pass through these walls in the near future?
When we entered the room for abandonded babies and pregnant teens, we immediately met Marvin. Marvin reached out to me and cried, "Mama." Later we realized that he calls all women "Mama." Marvin was unforgettable because of his eyes, which were black and blue. As I held him, I started talking to other children in the room. One girl pointed to Marvin and said that he had just arrived in the home. Then she said something that broke my heart - "Su mama le golpea" (his mom hits him). I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Brittany asked me to translate, and I broke into tears. Later I thought of my bruised food - caused innocently by an accident that could happen to anyone. Then I thought of Marvin - bruised and wounded by the woman that gave him life. Needless to say, the tears would not stop flowing.
We spent a lot of our time holding the babies and playing with the kids. They loved the attention, touch and warmth of the team. They were precious children and we were all touched by their sweet spirits, grateful hearts and childlike faith in light of the abuse and trauma that many have suffered.
When we entered the boys area, the boys ran out and screamed, "Gringos! Gringos! Gringos!" It was precious! We brought soccer balls and Nico and Stephen loved playing with them all day long. The boys loved Brittany (our college soccer star!) and our van driver even joined in!
One of the highlights of the day was praying with Brenda. Susan and I asked some of the girls if they wanted to do a Bible study. They instantly said yes. As we were sharing, Brenda approached with tears in her eyes. We asked if she wanted prayer, and she said yes. God gave us words and scripture to share over her, and she could not stop weeping. We asked if she wanted to give her heart to Jesus, and she nodded her head. It was a precious moment that we will never forget.
After praying together, we were able to hear more of Brenda's tragic story. She is only 16 years old, pregnant and already has a 1 1/2 year old daughter. We met her daughter (Tatiana) and learned more about her family court case, her desire to leave the orphanage and return to her mother. Brenda has to stay in the home until the baby is born, and has been removed from her family situation. She seemed more joyful after sharing her story and praying with us. She received the greatest gift she could ever receive today - the freedom of salvation in Christ. Please pray with us for Brenda. Pray that she will find healing and hope in Christ, who was also wounded and misunderstood because of His great love for Brenda and for you and me.
This is Brenda and her daughter Tatiana
We ended our day today by filling pinatas with gifts (for tomorrow). We will spend another day at the orphanage and have some special things planned. We will also be purchasing and preparing meals to feed the homeless tomorrow night. We plan to feed about 200 people (and will distribute meals throughout the city in the back of Kurt's truck). Please pray us tomorrow. We can't wait to see what God is going to do!
-Jenni for the team