"Let them praise his name with dancing." - Psalm 149:3
One of my favorite things to do in El Salvador is to visit the San Martin special needs adults center. As our bus pulled into the facility this morning, we were greeted by residents who were grinning from ear to ear and begging to dance. The team received a tour of the facility, where they were met with hugs, kisses and shouts of glee. We eventually moved to the grass area where team members interacted with the residents, played soccer and danced, danced, and danced!
It's hard to describe what it feels like to experience the pure joy of dancing at San Martin. The residents live simple lives with childlike faith. Their disabilities range from minor to extreme, and it is comforting to know that they are well cared for in this government run facility. Sus Hijos has supported this center in significant ways, and recently provided desperately needed new mattresses for many of the residents. I was invited to dance with the residents over and over again and loved every moment. The scorching ninety degree sun was intense, but I wouldn't have traded anything for those sweet moments of exuberance. The song repertoire ranged from Michael Jackson to Spanish pop songs and line dances and the residents loved each and every one. What a day!
One of the highlights of my day was spending time with Sandra, a precious, young woman who has experienced horrific trauma in her life. I met Sandra three years ago and her story pierced my soul. Last year Sandra was moved to the San Martin home, where she is thriving. Her smile is absolutely contagious. The team from Crean Lutheran High School will be throwing a quinceanera for the special needs women on July 28 and my heart beats in anticipation of picking a gown for Carla and dancing the night away in her arms!
In the United States, people often receive recognition for their outward appearances, and the inward beauty is often overlooked. The residents of San Martin are in no way glamorous by the world's standards. But they are some of the most beautiful people that I have ever encountered. Their affection, gratitude and love envelopes me. They are my "Dancing with the Stars" winners and I will never forget them.
"The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18