Our new friend Shayna spent about a month at Love & Hope Children’s Home in January/February. She visited us all the way from Australia, joining her friend Meike who had already been volunteering at Love & Hope for a couple months. It is always nice to hear a fresh take on our ministry through the eyes of someone who has never been to El Salvador before. Read below for a few excerpts and photos from Shayna’s blog.
“I’ve left my home to travel the world, and now i find myself in El Salvador, volunteering at a children’s home for the next couple of weeks before Meike (my friend from Germany) and I travel down through South America. It’s terrifying leaving everything I love for a whole year as I travel, but I didn’t want my life to continue in an endless routine of comfort and lack of real trust in God. That’s not my only reason for this trip; I’m all for the travel, I want to help out the kids here and the people who have dedicated their whole lives to make the lives of others better, and I want to see and experience new culture. So, why not do it all in one hit?
“It took a couple of days for my stomach to adjust to the food, to get used to everyone driving on the right side of the road (that’s a joke – they literally drive all over the road), and to remember not to flush toilet paper because the system here isn’t built to deal with that.
“It’s a weird blend of cultures – expensive shopping centres almost directly opposite little slum communities. Security guards are constantly on patrol, as well as the police and army (today i passed an armed guard reading his Bible in the Burger King drive-thru). It is busy and dirty (the rubbish situation is out of control), but it’s exciting and I love it.
“As I learn more about how the home started and the backgrounds of the kids, it’s amazing to see how their lives have changed because of the love shown by the people here. They eat three meals a day, have clean clothes, sleep in proper beds in an actual house, and are able to go to school – things which seem so basic but are so much compared to what they would have otherwise – and a good reminder of how blessed and totally spoiled I am back home. The kids are just like a big family, all with such different personalities but also a love (and occasional dislike) of each other, just as siblings would be. The most encouraging thing to see here is how they are being shown God’s grace by the women who run the home, for them to know that even in their circumstances, God made them and knows them personally and has a plan for each one of them.
“I loved my time there, short as it was, and I’ve learned a lot from these people about what it means to live selflessly for others. It is something I know I’m lacking and want to change about my life as I go on from here. I was also left in awe of how much the kids care about each other (sometimes hard to see when they’re on the ground in a head lock), which i was able to hear about first hand by some of the older girls. It actually made me want to go home and hug all of my siblings.
“Love & Hope Children’s Home is a big, crazy family. Their focus now after 10 years of running is to see their kids raised up in the best way possible – to get an education and be able to leave the home and grow up knowing that they were loved and cared for by so many people, but ultimately by God who does a far better job of it then we ever could.
“Raising a family isn’t cheap, and supporting a huge family with so many individual needs on donations, sponsorships and volunteers is a mission in itself, so if the only thing I’ve achieved by visiting El Salvador is raising awareness for Love & Hope Children’s Home, then I won’t pass up the opportunity to ask you to check out their website, read more about what they do and support them however you can – in funds, prayer, time (they’re always looking for more volunteers) or however else you think you can help.”
Shayna, we’re so glad that you chose to start your Latin American adventure at Love & Hope Children’s Home. Come visit us again soon!