For those of you that follow my personal blog, you might recall a story that I wrote last year about my friend Karen and the scarf (click here to read it). Today we returned to the Nina Maria orphanage - the home of Karen. To try to describe the look on her face when she saw me would be impossible. What an incredible reunion we had. We hugged and cried and she took my hand and led me to "our spot". I had the task of face painting, so was occupied for the first part of our time there, but as soon as the crowd died down we were able to "talk".
She kept touching my face, stroking my hair and just sitting in silence looking at me. She was so happy and content to just be next to me. My dear girl, Natalia served as interpreter, as Karen shared her hurts and pain. She told more of her story of abuse and neglect by her family. She talked again about her little boy that she loved dearly but had been separated from her arms since birth. She told me that she still had "the scarf"...that she held it to her face every day and remembered me.
Then she asked a question. She asked if the next time we came, if it could please be on a Saturday. She told us that this was the day that the other children's families came to visit and ever since she arrived at the orphanage, she had never had a visitor come on family day. She wanted to have us to come so that she could have the same feeling of family as the others.
Natalia...her "sister" and me...her "mother"
I come once a year...once. But that is the only family that she knows and looks forward to for 364 days a year.
As we were getting ready to leave the orphanage, I asked one of the workers if there was any way that I could break the "no picture taking" rule. She agreed as long as I didn't publish it. This is a compromise of that agreement.
This is Karen. She is my "hija de mi corazon" (daughter of my heart)
Jenny Scott shares the experiences of the day...
Today we had breakfast at 7:30, then piled into the bus for the drive to church. We were happy to have three translators (Machi, Ruben and another girl from ECA) interspersed among the team. The music and singing was cool, and it was also really cool to figure out phrases from the songs (due to Spanish lessons!) while trying to pick up the melodies as well. Then the worship team held up signs with sins written on them that they had been forgiven while another man talked. Through Ruben we learned that it was a reminder that God rescued all of us from all our sins and that we should remember what he has done. The pastor preached and later I learned that he was a "gringo" himself. The sermon was about Peter and his journey to leadership. It was cool to have the experience of having a service in Spanish, although I was really thankful to have our translators.
After that we headed to the handicapped orphanage (Nina Maria). It was in a huge building surround by lots of land with a basketball court. We joined some kids playing soccer on the court and soon other kids joined and we started playing with the older kids who didn't seem to have very severe disabilities. Kids came pouring out into the yard and some of the team started face painting while the soccer game continued. I left the soccer game and wandered around talking to different people. I am really glad for the little bit of Spanish I know and I want to know more than I do. One girl I talked to was named Maria. I think she was 10 years old. It was really funny because I would try to talk to her, but sometimes I couldn't understand what she was saying. She would dramatically sigh or hit her head with her hand. Sadly we weren't able to take pictures because of security reasons for the kids. This was a place I feel I could go back to again and again.
On the way home I sat with Shaylah in the front seat of the bus and had a cool time trying out my Spanish with the bus driver, Daniel. We sadly had to say goodbye to our new friend Natalia. It was a more relaxing but cool and fun.