This trip has been a whirlwind and a half, and I haven't taken the time to write any posts since it began, but sitting here, enjoying the beautiful morning and watching some form of ceremony involving all the kids happen across the street at the Children's Home has encouraged me to go ahead and write some. My thoughts are pretty jumbled, so this post will likely just wander around to different things that have impacted me the most. There have been a lot of those kinds of moments and experiences!
The people here in Mexico are AWESOME!! The family that we've been staying with, the workers at the Home, and especially the children themselves - they are all incredible individuals to have gotten to know over the past few days. The relationships that have begun will not be easily broken, even if I only get to see this people once each year, and I greatly look forward to growing these new friendships.
The children especially have been fun to get to know - since the very first day, a few girls and some of the boys have always made a point of coming up and giving me a hug or asking me questions whenever I see them. To this day, I still have no idea what they said to me, but I have been able to pick up a few words and phrases. But that doesn't seem to matter to them - even without being able to say to them much besides English and "No hablo Espanol" ("I don't speak Spanish"), they still have worked with me and we've spent some good time together. Some of them have shown me the different games they want to play or simply grabbed my hand and led me around. Others have been trying to teach me Spanish without being able to speak any English - one little girl was very excited when she decided I had finally learned how to say 'you' in Spanish. But it's some of the quieter, more subtle moments that have really stuck out with the kids.
During the evening after our first full day at the Home, one young girl, who I think is the daughter of one of the caretakers, sat with Dawn and I before we left for the night. We didn't really say much, but it was obvious that all she wanted was to sit there with Dawn's arm around her and lean on my shoulder with her arm wrapped around mine. It was a very touching moment, largely because neither of us had much prior interaction with this girl. She came up to basically complete strangers and had us sit with her. Many of the kids are that way here. They don't really care who you are or why you're there or even if you can understand them or talk to them. They simply want to ask you what your name is, and then you are friends - all they want is to sit next to you, be held by you or play a game or take a photo with you. The kids don't demand anything of you - just be there with them.
Another evening, during the devotions we have been doing with the girls, we were sitting in the dormitory and the girls were singing a worship song. The lights had been turned off because they were getting ready for bed, but there was enough light coming through the windows to still mostly see. (The video that follows is an audio recording of the girls singing and talking, but it's terrible quality - I didn't want to disrupt the moment, so I was trying to discretely record it with my cell phone) I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by girls sitting or lying around us, and I felt a small hand slip into mine. I followed the arm to its owner and was very surprised to see which girl it was. This girl is very independent and she frequently was being rebellious and not following directions during our lessons each day. That night, while we were sitting, her hand resting in mine, she never even looked at me, but she still needed to know that I was there and I cared for her. She wanted that confirmation that we loved her, even if she was being trying during the lessons, so she needed to feel that I was there and I wouldn't reject or leave her. It was a very powerful moment that is hard to fully explain the true feeling of.
I have also grown much more connected to the other people on this trip. Our relationships have become stronger and I've very much enjoyed getting to know each person through this experience. There have also been a few developments that I was not at all expecting and am still trying to work out. The most prominent one is that this trip has forced me to be more dependent on others, which is not something I'm used to or entirely comfortable with. I'm still working to figure out how to balance this dependence with my native inclination to rely on only myself and my own abilities. Without being able to speak the language or understand it, it's been necessary for me to depend on Brandon and James, as well as Becky and a few of the other people who work at the Children's Home to speak for me and to translate what the kids and workers who only speak Spanish say. Although it does not always matter if I can't communicate with words, there have been a few instances that have required it, such as when I was trying to explain the rules to a game during one of the lessons, and in those moments I feel quite helpless. I usually would have to wait for one of the guys to help me out, but in that moment when I can't say what is needed, I have this terrible feeling of uselessness. It has never really caused a major issue during the lessons or when I'm playing with the kids, but it has forced me to change my perspective some, and I believe it is for the better.
I didn't really expect this trip to cause any drastic changes in my own faith besides just strengthen it, but it has. This need to rely on the abilities of others when my own are lacking will likely lead to some pretty major changes in my perspective and relationship with God. I greatly prefer to do things on my own and receive a lot of satisfaction from knowing I am capable of doing things well under my own power. But my inability on this trip to communicate with words when the situation made it necessary has caused me to reconsider if that is really how it should be. My faith in God, including my dependence and reliance on Him, is what should give me strength and enable me to effectively complete tasks, not my own abilities. I have realized over the past four days here in Juarez that I don't really trust God in the way I should, and this has given me a new drive to increase my faith in Him. I should rely on Him completely, not just in the partial way I have been. I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunities this trip has given me, especially in ways that I never would have expected. This trip has lead to a huge realization in my own faith, and hopefully I will continue to grow in my dependence on the Lord's strength.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog and for your prayers and support! We can't do our work here without it! Today is our last day with the kids (they go home for the weekends), and our last full day in Juarez. Our plan is to get up early tomorrow morning and cross back into the US. If you feel lead to, please pray that the kids would enjoy the fiesta we have planned for this afternoon and the 'spa day' Dawn and I are going to have with the girls and the caretakers. I would also request prayers that the kids are safe as they head home for the weekend, and that they still have access to Christian role models during that time. Also please pray for safe travels for us tomorrow. We have a couple good but LONG days ahead of us, so we'll need energy and patience as we push through them.
Thank you again! -Tella