Post written by Michelle Lynn (from Kentucky)
Even prior to this trip, I was filled with anticipation to visit the young boys here in El Salvador. I hold a special place in my heart for little boys because God blessed me so dearly for my precious son. My son, in this anticipation asked if it would be okay to send some of his toys to the boys. He was excited to see them being packed in the suitcases on our team packing day.
At the government funded orphanage on Monday, I was able to deliver the bulk of my son's toys to boys very close to his age. Five young boys ranging in ages from 6 to 10, 3 of which were siblings, eagerly watched as we walked through the door of their dorm with a large box filled with unknown treasures. My team mate Carol and I excitedly watched these sweet boys open this box and look at each item like our children do on Christmas morning. They were so appreciative and blessed my heart watching one little man fly his new airplane around the room while his brothers played cars and dinosaurs on the floor. Their faces of adoration will forever be etched in my memory!
Today, Tuesday, we visited a home for boys ages 11-18. When we arrived we were taken on a tour seeing the boys' lunchroom, some classroom areas, and their dormitories. I don't think we were prepared when we saw their dorm rooms and realized they were locked in daily. Melissa, a team mate of mine and mother of two young boys, came up to me during our tour and asked, "Could you imagine Brodey (my son) living somewhere like this?" I said, "Please don't even put it in that perspective."
In retrospect, I knew they would be appreciative and excited about our visit...but...I think we were equally blessed. I knew that the Lord would have something special in store for the day, but what He delivered was not at all what I could've fathomed!
We began the day with the task of painting and continuing some of the improvements that have been done there at the home. Witnessing the transformation of this building from dull faded paint is only a minute representation of the transformation that would happen after lunch.
When returning from lunch we were told we would have a time to deliver the gospel and perhaps share some testimonies. I had no idea I would be one asked to do so...and sing as well! REALLY? Christella sang "Come to Jesus" by Chris Rice and I chose the classic, "Amazing Grace" accompanied by Jenni (our team leader). Prior to singing however, I shared a bit of my testimony to these young boys with tragic lives to explain to them the difficulties I experienced but how, by God's grace, I was set free and gained the strength to go on. After our songs, Larry, Orsy (one of our wonderful translators), and Steve shared with the young boys what it means to be strong. "Do you think you are strong?", they were all asked. Both men explained their strength, through all trials comes from the Lord. The next event, the most moving event, happened right after when all the boys were fixated on Jenny (another wonderful translator) began to share the gospel with them. We were asked to bow our heads and any of the boys wanting to accept Jesus into their hearts, repeat after her--needless to say the repetition of words floating through the air brought instant and heavily flowing tears to our eyes! We then prayed individually with the boys for their specific need, which allowed us to begin to form individual bonds with them.
We then gave them gifts, did crafts, watched as they drew with sidewalk chalk and played hopscotch, and witnessed a great, long-lasting game of "futbol" (soccer for those North American readers!). Each boy was so appreciative of every craft and gift--even if it was as simple as a pair of socks or as embarrassing as a pair of new underwear.
In their shower area, we placed curtains to give them some privacy too.We were told that some boys didn't shower because the showers were open and they would be teased. It is crazy the conditions these children live in, what they perceive as normal, when we are so discontented with our "outdated bathrooms".
The day ended, walking the path back to the bus, seeing Kurt, the missionary assisting us here in El Salvador, walking in socked feet because a young boy needed his shoes! What a witness to the selfless and compassionate heart we should all have for HIS young children.