I’ve avoided writing this post for a week and a half now, but I think it is time to actually put some words around all that I have been thinking about and feeling since I returned from El Salvador. You see, I went on this trip with some pretty sturdy walls of self-preservation built up around me. I have found, unhealthy as it is, that if you pre-build them, it saves a lot of trouble! Like I said, it’s unhealthy. So I went into this trip thinking, “I am going to take care of the team money, I will help with translating as much as I can, and I will support my team. But, I am NOT going to get attached to the kids at My Father’s House, I am NOT going to get attached to the staff that runs it, and I am NOT going to get attached to El Salvador. It was a really good plan.
The problem with plans like this is that God has his own plans, and in this case, it was much much different than my own. He took all of my awesome pre-built walls and absolutely crushed them. He took all of my “I will NOT” resolutions and said “oh yes you WILL!” Our last day in El Salvador happened to be my birthday and I can honestly say that it was the worst birthday I have ever had. Not for lack of celebration, but because I was so broken hearted over having to leave those kids and my new friends. I literally broke down into tears at having to say good-bye. It was so terrible and wonderful all at the same time! So here is a little breakdown of our week…aka a breakdown of my breaking down.
SATURDAY- After a little trouble with delayed flights, we finally landed in El Salvador and were greeted by Gary Powell (founder of My Father’s House) and his son Carlos. We checked into our hotel and headed over to his house for a cook out. This should have been a simple thing for me and a fairly easy place for me to maintain my walls and resolutions, but I made the critical error of sitting at a table with one of Gary’s daughters and soon found myself surrounded by all three of them plus his wife. Other than the fact that our personalities clicked…there is something contagious about being around people that are living through their calling…in their “sweet spot” as Gary calls it.
SUNDAY- Sunday we were able to attend the English speaking church where Gary is the pastor. It was a great time of worship and then Gary gave the message…oh Gary…did he not know that I had an agenda that I was trying to maintain?! His message was about living in our “sweet spot.” So I ignored Gary and just enjoyed the rest of the service. Sunday evening the kids from My Father’s House came over to the church and we got to play with them for a few hours and have pizza. I decided to just observe. It’s safer.
MONDAY & TUESDAY- These days were spent doing the majority of the work on the girls rooms at My Father’s House. Our project was to redo them and we had a blast doing it! We cleaned, painted, installed ceiling fans, fixed sinks, sanded and repainted lockers, and some other random tasks. I played some soccer with a couple of little girls (and got my butt kicked, I might add), but otherwise I was getting back some of my ground of self-preservation.
WEDNESDAY- Another good day with my walls around me. I had to repair them a little bit from where Gary and his family messed them up, but they were looking pretty good again. We had a fun day of checking out an indigo farm and getting to dye our own shirts with the indigo. After that we went to see the future home of My Father’s House…a 30 acre farm where they are ready to start building some homes. We started out in the prayer chapel, the first building built on the property, and Gary cast some vision for the farm and told some incredible God stories.
THURSDAY- Oh Thurdsay. I had no idea what I was in for! I knew (but the team didn’t) that this day we would be heading out to the family of on of the kids at My Father’s House to give them one of their heart’s desires…a COW! I was so excited! After our morning devotion I looked up and noticed that Graciela, the girl who’s family we were about to see was there waiting for us with one of the staff from My Father’s House. As soon as I saw her it was like dynamite went off on my walls and I was totally vulnerable. It was awful. So for the morning I avoided her. This eleven year old girl scared me to death because I knew that God had started a mighty work in my heart and that he was calling me to something. So we went out to see the family out in the country. I’m talking walk across a river hopping from rock to rock, dirt floor, no electricity, no running water…country. We learned how to make corn tortillas, we gave some kids candy, and we gave the family a cow. It was a great moment! And then we got back in the bus. And God said it was time. I felt him calling me to reach out to Graciela and to be her friend. I had no idea why. I still have no idea why. But I knew it was going to change my life. So I went up to her and said “Graciela, my name is Kelly and I think that you and I should be friends.” She thought it was a good idea, so she grabbed my hand and we talked for the rest of the day. I was struggling with my Spanish the whole trip until that point and suddenly I was able to communicate. Not like “whoa, Kelly is suddenly fluent” communicate, but it was good enough!
FRIDAY- My birthday. We started out the day back at the farm and had all of the kids come out for a morning of soccer, horse back riding, bracelet making, chalk drawing, four square, and all kinds of fun. It was a blast! Graciela ran up to hug me and then proceeded to brag to all of the other kids that she got to spend the entire day with us the day before. It was awesome! After lunch we headed back to My Father’s House to finish up the girls rooms and to play some more. We taught them Red Light Green Light, played tag, and just had fun. I had a headache going all day from trying not to cry. I am not a crier so when I feel unexpectedly emotional, I fight it really hard. Finally the new bunk beds were delivered, the cork boards were hung, the new bedding was put on the beds, and the rooms were ready. We sent the girls up room by room and cheered as they saw their new rooms. And I lost it. Totally lost it.
I am not sure what to do with this feeling that has gotten stronger and stronger since I left, but in that moment I thought to myself, “I can’t imagine my life without these kids in it.” And I was fully and completely undone.
I have no idea what all of this means or even what I am trying to say…but I just thought you should know.