Senior, soccer player at Crean Lutheran High School
We started the day off at the girls orphanage with everyone speeding out excitedly to pick an activity (we had brought different crafts and activities). Some kids went to the play set, some played soccer or basketball, others drew with chalk and played jump rope and hopscotch.
No matter where, or what, everyone was doing, we all ended up "on the same court." We played soccer, boys versus girls (of course!). Although the boys were greatly outnumbered, they still held their own. Playing soccer with kids in these centers is so much different than back home. They might not have crazy foot work or outstanding plays, but they definitely have fun. Nothing but laughter and smiles remained on the field... with a lot of sweat of course!
After soccer, we played basketball and split up into teams . Once we picked our team captains, the teen girls huddled around me and all I heard was a bunch of people yelling, "conmigo! conmigo!" (with me) and pulling me in all different directions. I discovered that they had watched me play soccer and wanted me on their team. Little did they know I had about 1/80th of the basketball skills that I have in soccer. But that didn't seem to matter, they still wanted me with them on their team! That felt great! They got split up and I had to choose a team to be on. I picked a team that had one of the girls in it and she immediately ran to me and gave me a huge hug and held my hand. She gave me so much love for such a little gesture.
After the sports we gathered around in the same area. Lauren played a song other guitar, some of the girls led a cheer and then Amanda and Emily gave their testimonies. The girls were all ears and open hearts as they shared how God had brought them through struggles in their lives . Lilly then started speaking in Spanish, and although I didn't know exactly understand what she was saying, I caught a few words like "gringos locos." She was preaching the hope of the gospel and asked them to stand up if they were willing to accept Jesus into their hearts and lives. You could sense the emotion in the eyes of the girls. They then repeated after Lilly in a powerful prayer. They began to understand that God wasn't judging them and He loved them unconditionally. She encouraged them with God's constant forgiveness and ability to wash them clean of sin. The team stood up and surrounded the girls with prayer. One girl told a translator that when she wanted to stand up, she heard a voice say, "Don't stand up, sit down. This isn't for you." She ignored the voice, stood up anyways and accepted Jesus into her heart. Praise God!
It is truly amazing to understand how God has a plan for each of our lives, even in the midst of struggles and heart ache. He is sovereign and He can redeem anything. His love mends broken people and can truly wash us clean of sin. It was clear that the girls were emotional as they heard how God never turns his back on us. He never, ever will. I'm so glad that we were able to see so many hearts touched today with the God's word. Days like these make me realize that there is a lot more to life than staring at a digital screen and just hanging out with my friends, enjoying summer vacation. I'm so glad to be here. We all need God and there is nothing as amazing as knowing His peace, grace and forgiveness. I will never forget watching these precious young people giving their hearts to Him.