With memories still so vivid, and my heart so full it's hard to believe that we were en route to El Salvador two and a half months ago. I promised to share my experience, and I am so excited to do so now! My heart honestly grew and changed a billion times more than I thought it ever could every single day! So here goes en route to and Day 1 in El Salvador:
The closest I've physically been to heaven is in an airplane and although I used to be afraid of flying, I now feel such a peace of being up in the sky ... I mean look at the BEAUTY that we miss out on from standing on the ground.
On our first day in El Salvador we took a bus to a Compassion center in San Martin. The scenery on the way was gorgeous! It was filled with palm trees, rural lush hillsides, and as we started getting to our destination rows and rows of houses lined the streets along with so many beautiful + vibrant murals
When we arrived at the Compassion center, we were greeted by the precious kids that attend the center dressed as shepherds, they were waving colorful balloons in the air, dancing, clapping, and jumping. Smiles covered their entire faces and when we each got off the bus they ran to us and hugged us, I looked down through tears and saw that 4 little girls were clutching my legs.
I felt SO loved and welcomed, they just instantly loved us and we had already brought so much love for them with us but it was amazing to get to see the faces our love was going to! We were then each outfitted in our own shepherd garments and each paired with a child that wore the same color of shepherd vest as us. They led us into our next activity.
The day commenced with welcoming singing, dancing by the students that attend the center, and amazing speaking and preaching by young women and men as well as the Pastor who together faithfully lead the project. It was so inspiring to watch the confidence and strength that they each carried.
The message that resonated throughout was that they each have very big dreams, and I can say that they are each honestly SOOO talented and gifted, with so many capabilities! They also let us know that they can't get the opportunities to learn, grow, and work towards those dreams without the support of the Compassion sponsors.
We only saw a glimpse into a day in the life of the center and even with that glimpse I am extremely proud of each of these children + young men and young women. The pastors and leaders do incredible and endless amounts of work, and I am so honored that my family gets to take part in a Compassion sponsorship.
Afterwards we were taken to see all of the different departments that make up the program. We sang, danced. and colored with them which I completely loved. We were led through many of the classrooms and were told about the skills courses they offer their students. Some of the skills include computer skills, orchestra, sewing and baking which goes without saying but they are very talented in. They learn how to sew beautiful garments to outfit the Compassion orchestra which some of them actually play/conduct in as well!
We were also able to see an example of the binders that each Compassion child has which holds the childs' development forms, areas they need help in, what their goals are, holds examples of their work and letters to and from their sponsors. I loved seeing that they keep all of the records for every single child in the program that way. Wow! What an organization!
After we toured the Compassion center, our teams went on house visits. When I say house I mean an about 20 x 20 foot space that was made up of 1 small room where 5 people sleep and a small outdoor courtyard. Many of the homes in the area are like this and as we walked to the home we visited, we were warmly greeted by women, men and children who sat in their door steps fanning the heat away.
It was very special to get to meet the young boy who lived in the home we got to go to along with his family. Our team was honored to be welcomed into their home, spend some time with them, and to hear their heart wrenching story. Within their story we heard of hopes of doing well in education then job wise since the adults in the home (mom and dad) work very hard as day laborers when there is work available making very little per month.
There’s also the fact that the youth of El Salvador and their families are surrounded by extreme gang activity and war like violence. Although they could live in fear and uncertainty, the youth that we encountered at the Compassion center were so brave, strong, had unwavering faith and a contagious boldness. They work so hard to reach their dreams to better themselves and their families lives, they don’t take their opportunities lightly and they keep moving forward in their callings.
Once we returned to the Compassion center, our team and the compassion students had a few soccer matches while the last portion of our time there was being prepared inside. The kids were all so gifted in playing soccer! I wish I had played during the girls against girls game!
When we were called back inside, a beautiful orchestra made up of many of the compassion students was on the stage. They played and sang beautiful songs for us. We were wowed by their capabilities and the conductors; one being another young boy that one of our teams visited with an incredible story as well, conducted wonderful music.
That was our first day in El Salvador! I could keep writing on and on forever and post even more photos because I loved the experience and I love each and every photo!
I'm so happy to sponsor through Compassion and that they are one of the organizations that we have teamed up with as a company as well! If you're interested in sponsoring a child and/or learning more about Compassion, be sure to look at their website which you can find HERE. It is definitely an incredible organization that I will be writing more about! Thank you for coming along this journey, I'm excited to continue writing about the rest of our time in El Salvador! ❤️