Hey ya'll- it's Karis.
Wow- where to start, eh? These couple days have been beyond belief. There's more to say than we'll ever be able to compress into a couple paragraphs, but here goes nothing. This trip began on both the lowest and highest note. After a beautifully smooth day of travel, (minus one broken door and de-planing in Texas,) our first day was... immersive. Rather than gradually warming ourselves up to the tough stuff, Day 1 in Colombia found us diving in headfirst.
We visited the orphanage, Luz Y Vida. This is not just any orphanage, this is an orphanage specifically for abandoned, severely disabled children. These children live with blindness, paralysis, tumours, brain damage, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome, and many other struggles. These are the kids that represent Luz Y Vida. Did I mention that the name translates to Light and Life? We toured the place which held many people. Some were babies, and others were old enough to have facial hair. This building is their morning, noon, and night. This is their life. We calmed the flailing limbs and howling voices. We held the paralyzed and hands. We fed them, tickled them, held them, and loved on them. In return, they broke our hearts. It was hard feeding little Maya her bland soup, while little Maria had to be content with the feeding tube inserted in her stomach. It was hard talking to little Diana, who was strapped in tight to her wheelchair to combat her uncontrollable movements. I learned that laughter is the universal language of joy. The laughter of Maria and Diana and Maya was just as heartfelt and full of life as any 'healthy' child. And when I told Diana, in very broken Spanish, that she was beautiful, the smile that spread across her face was even bigger than any smile I had ever seen before.
I was convicted with the realization of how much easier it was to approach the younger children, and how hesitant our team was to approach those closer to our age. We lavished love and attention on the babies, and tried to avert our eyes from the older ones. Do we feel guilty? Are we filled with pity? We're for sure not filled with as much compassion. Day 1 in Colombia taught us that grace knows no bounds. Love has no conditions. Mercy is blind to colour, gender, physical ability, and age. Compassion should be infinite, so why isn't ours?
(to protect these little ones from exploitation, we were asked not to take
any pictures of the children at Luz y Vida. This is a painting on
the wall that we saw as we came into the building)
Here is Reagan...
Colombia is a country that is so easy to fall in love with. Everything from the sightseeing to the culture itself. Everyone is so loving, and so easily accepting of who you are. La Mesa was a perfect example of this, it was so amazing to see how different the culture was from Canada. The kids were not shy or nervous about meeting us at all, it took no time at all for all of us to be playing soccer and basketball together, even through the language barrier.
The worship service was a lot like the ones that go on in Canada, except the passion these people had was unlike anything I\d ever seen before. Some of the kids would get on their knees while they were praying, and some would just cry. The kids really had no shame at all, during the songs, they were screaming the Spanish lyrics,and even trying to sing along to the English lyrics. It was so cool to see the amount of faith these kids had, and how unashamed they were to show that they believed. Just being in the church, you were not afraid to be judged by the way you worshiped, which was really encouraging, it showed me that we all worship the same God. It was not easy to leave La Mesa.