Fifteen kids under the age of 13 served with their families this week, and were changed by some special needs children in a state-run orphanage and a visit to the largest dump in Central America.
It was a day of full of smiles, tears and questions.
Although the special needs children looked different, made abrupt movements and just seemed a bit scary, the kids showered them with love.
The special needs orphanage was a little scary at first. When I got there a little boy sat beside me and kissed me on the cheek.
I didn’t expect it to be so sad to watch the kids try to get around when they couldn’t walk. I also didn’t expect to see a little boy whose body was twisted. But what I really didn’t expect was the big smiles on their faces.
These North American children didn’t see the orphans as orphans or children with special needs, they just saw them as kids.
My experience at the special need orphanage was extremely special to me. Holding the child that I thought was a baby and then finding out he was 13 was beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Holding Jose* for a couple of hours and feeding him, I got to experience pure joy. It was an amazing lesson in the power and depth of God’s love for us and it illustrated to my girls the value in slowing down and finding the opportunities to show love to others.
-Nikki McVean, mother
After the orphanage, the team headed to the “crematoria” [the city dump] to serve food to the over 800 desperate men, hopeless women, and barefoot children who attacked the vans as the team slowly drove up the mountain. The families handed out water and offered a small “hola” and pat on the back.
I rode to the dump in the back of a pickup truck. As we drove up the hill I saw people signaling to others that a meal was on the way. There were packs of dogs digging for food, buzzards flying above, cows rummaging through debris and in the midst of all this hundreds of people were digging through the waste.
They were each so grateful— grateful for a meal and a package of water and grateful to be recognized as a human being.
-Keith Owen, M.D.
Last night when we were talking about the experiences of the day, one of my daughters said that she wished everyone could see the dump because they would never look at the things they have in their life the same way again.
I felt a peace about exposing them to all of the things we saw. My girls live a blessed life and sometimes it is difficult to get off the crazy path of life to see what is really important.
I want to be an engineer one day and I think I can solve the dump problem somehow.
I want to just give those people beds or somewhere to sleep. They were so happy when I have them a dum dum and some rice. Most kids here would just ask for more candy.
The team spend the rest of the week at the POI neighborhood programs teaching the children, bringing fresh water to the community, delivering tubs of love, and visiting homeless shelters and a blind school.
I met some of the orphanage kids and we hanged out and it was really fun to talk and play with them.
When we were doing water trucks, we gave out dum dums and the kids just smiled at the smallest things. Its hard to think that I get to come home from school every day for an afternoon snack, but they don’t know where their next meal will come from
– Sarah, 10
When I go home I’m not going to beg my mom to buy me things because I saw how happy those kids were and they didn’t have anything.
When I get home its gonna be weird to use water to drink and shower or electricity to watch TV…I have never really even thought about those things before
Coming on this trip and learning that these kids don’t have the normal things I have made me want to sponsor Bessy, but I wish I could sponsor them all.
I hope when I have a family I can bring them on a trip like this so they can learn to be thankful like I have. I wanted to adopt one of the boys but my mom said that I can when I’m married one day. I can’t wait.
In the US, our churches are huge and the youth programs are amazing, but they rarely see true struggle. Yesterday, my kids and I saw struggle and we saw God’s grace. God provides. It may not be be the newest, trendiest thing, but God provides.
Thank you PDS team for loving on the least of these!