Crean Lutheran HS Graduate
Japanese exchange student
This is my first time going on a missions trip and my first time visiting an orphanage. I didn't know what to expect as we arrived at the orphanage and was really surprised that the kids were so happy. They jumped around when they saw us, hugging us, pulling our hands and welcomed us as though we were celebrities. In one room the kids were screaming and jumping up and down at our arrival. I felt like I had already accomplished something just watching the children rejoicing at our presence even though we just arrived.
Our main activity this afternoon was to host a softball game. As soon as we got to the field, Jenni sat down with pictures to give away of the girls from the quinceanera. The girls surrounded her and were shouting, laughing and giggling as they saw their pictures in their gowns for the first time. It was almost like a mob since they were reaching, grabbing and screaming, "That's me! That's my photo!" I couldn't help myself asking Jenni if I could take pictures of all the girls gathering around her with smiles on their faces.
Hanging out with the kids, I was really regretting that I did not take any Spanish classes in my high school years. The children came to me full of smiles and spoke to me with excitement but I could neither understand nor answer them. It frustrated me so much because I felt like I wasn't helping them or answering to their needs. But they weren't frustrated at all. The two girls on the first picture above gave little gifts of flowers to me. I never expected anything from them. I just thought we were the ones going to help them by doing sports and giving donations. Of course we did those things but they gave us wonderful gifts - their smiles, joy, and perspective. And those can never be better than material things. Of course I was really happy to get flowers from them but the joy and hope that they gave to me and other members of the team were more important.
During the sports activities some of the team members looked at photos and videos from the quinceanera with the teen girls, babysat their babies and even painted nails. As you'll see below, our team members offered to paint the girls' nails but also had their nails painted. One team member had her nails painted three times with three different colors!
We ended the day by sharing a little bit about our team, promising to return on Wednesday and singing a fun Spanish song with the kids. One of our team members, Maribeth, grew up in a missionary family in Argentina. She told her story of growing up as a missionary, moving to the US to become a nurse and talked about how her faith is the most important thing in her life. The kids loved learning her Spanish song and listening to her Argentinian accent. We can't wait to go back to the center again later this week.
As we ended our day today, I was reminded of a quote that has become more real to me on this trip:
"The most important things in life aren't things."- Anthony J. D'Angelo