Today’s blog was written by our friend, Carly, one of the student leaders for a recent team we hosted from Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU). OWU has been sending spring-break mission teams to Love & Hope Children’s Home for 10 years now! Carly first visited Love & Hope with her university classmates in 2013 and has been profoundly impacted by both of her trips. Here is what Carly had to say about her most recent trip to El Salvador.
When I think of Love & Hope Children’s Home I think of just that: love and hope. It’s probably a bit simplistic, but those were the overwhelming feelings I was overcome with on my first visit two years ago. And two years later, the love and hope I found was even more profound.
Before I went to Love & Hope in 2013, I had already realized my passion for helping kids. I knew that I would enjoy my time there, but I had no idea just how intensely that experience would change and inspire me. I quickly fell in love with these charming, smart and sweet kids who wanted to play Legos, read books and even sing some Taylor Swift with our team. They invited us into their special family for a week and for that I couldn’t be more grateful. I smiled till my cheeks hurt, I laughed till I cried, I played soccer till I was winded…but mostly I just felt a part of something much, much bigger than myself.
Two years later (a few weeks ago), I had the immense privilege of leading a team down there. I was so excited to return and see the smiling faces I had seen two years ago, and couldn’t wait to be reinvigorated by Love & Hope’s mission. I wasn’t expecting the beautiful mission Love & Hope to set in more than it already had. But it absolutely did. Tears come to my eyes when I think about the family that Love & Hope has created and all the lives they have touched. I hope that a team like mine can reassure Love & Hope of all the people that they have in their corner. I am deeply humbled to have experienced firsthand their mission, even for just a short amount of time.
This trip could not have come at a more perfect time for me, as I am about to graduate college. Love & Hope is one of the biggest manifestations of unconditional love and support that I have ever seen, and I want to radiate that same kind of love as I set out into the ‘real world.’ Because of my time at Love & Hope I understand how to share the love that is on my heart, and use it to make a positive change in the world. As I stand on the precipice of making so many important decisions on how I want to live my life, Love & Hope has helped me, and will continue to help me, make them. After graduation I will be joining Teach for America Corps in Chicago, a decision I have no reservations about after my time at Love & Hope. Nurturing children who need it so that they may reach their full potential is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Whether or not my journey brings me back to Love & Hope (and I certainly hope that it does!), I can walk away with confidence knowing that I will be fully equipped to embody the spirit of Love & Hope wherever I go. And for that, I am forever changed.
We had a wonderful time getting to know the OWU team. They bonded with the kids within minutes of entering the house, playing, singing, joking around and talking. They worked hard deep cleaning the house, painting the entire exterior wall of our property and the front of our entire house, visiting a local community, making a donation to a local hospital and organizing an “amazing race” for our children. Thank you so much to Carly, Kassidy, René, Cole, Amy, Emma, Chris, Olivia, Courtney and Kelley. Come back soon, OWU!