Lessons from S

S seems to show up in our Instagram and Facebook feeds more than any other child here at Love & Hope Children’s Home. It is because of his wonderful and crazy personality, funny stories and great photos. S is so unique and special; he brings joy to all of our lives here.

S has friends all over the place. Here is a common scenario: we are walking through the grocery store with S. From behind us we hear, “Hi S!” We say “Hi!” S smiles. Then we (the adults) timidly ask, “Sorry, how do you know S?” They explain and we have an epiphany moment. Seriously, this has happened many times. Everywhere we go, S knows someone.


He also understands a lot of English. S will never respond in English, but we have to be careful about what we say in English in front of him. At times he has surprised us with his understanding.


S is a dancer. From the time he was little, he could pick out a good beat. And he isn’t ashamed to let loose and dance in front of anyone. We recently went to a wedding and S danced for about two hours straight. Really, he didn’t stop, and we were all wondering where all that energy came from. Even when it was time to eat, he sat in his seat, bouncing up and down. He didn’t care what everyone else thought, and he also got the other little boys dancing too.


One of our friends once said that S is Love & Hope’s “Welcoming Party.” So true. He is the first to greet and play with visitors, opening his heart to new people immediately. S puts up no walls, and his is the first name that our visitors learn. He loves the attention and loves to play.


Sometimes S gets upset. But, his bad mood only lasts minutes. Then, he comes up (many times without any prompting) to say sorry. “I need to ask you something. I need to ask for forgiveness.” Then S gives the sweetest hug and kiss you’ve ever had. The way that S can set aside his pride or stubbornness and ask for forgiveness with such sincere humility amazes us every time.


For the last year or so, S has been talking to us about a classmate at school. “G is my girlfriend.” “G did this or that.” “I’m going to marry G.” We teased S about G, listened to him talk about her, etc., but we had never met her. Then at a school talent show, S pointed her out to us. One thing he had never mentioned about G? She uses a wheelchair. We were astounded. Maybe S doesn’t notice the wheelchair at all, or to him, it just doesn’t matter, it isn’t even worth mentioning. S is too preoccupied with the beautiful person in the wheelchair to pay any attention to the wheelchair.

S teaches us a lot: forgiveness, inclusion, how to laugh, how to be a free spirit. He really is an amazing kid!

No More Violence

It is no secret that El Salvador is suffering from the effects of a violent gang culture. Rates of delinquency and violence are at or above the levels that this tiny country experienced during its 12-year civil war. Thankfully, Love & Hope Children’s Home is situated in an area that is safe. Still, our daily decisions and activities are all affected by the reality of the situation here.

For the last couple weeks, a group from the organization No Mas Violencia: Un Mensaje de Dios (No More Violence: A Message from God) has conducted a workshop for our children on Friday afternoons. The mission of this organization is to “influence individuals and communities by using concrete actions that express a message of peace, justice and love founded in God.” No Mas Violencia works in many countries in the Americas, including El Salvador and the United States, and was founded in Argentina.

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The leaders of our workshop do a great job at reaching all of our children, despite a big age gap. They use activities, funny videos and conversation to keep everyone involved and engaged. The workshop started off by talking about bullying. As in any other place, bullying is a huge problem amongst the youth of El Salvador, and we have even seen the effects of bullying amongst our children. Talking about bullying candidly allows everyone to reconsider their words and actions.

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We’ve talked about self-esteem. The leaders explained that having low self-esteem or high self-esteem are both unhealthy. A healthy level of self-esteem is best. We’ve also talked about being a good listener and an effective communicator.


While some of these topics could be seen as insignificant compared to the real situation of violence here in El Salvador, they are starting points. Bullying, unhealthy self esteem, and ineffective communication lead to more serious problems. Prevention is key!

Workshops and experiences like this one are so very important for our children. Our prayer is that the Love & Hope kids will grow up to be followers of Jesus, leaders in El Salvador, positive agents of change in their own country, fostering peace, justice and love rather than violence and hate. Please pray for our children as they choose friends at school and in their activities, and as they make daily decisions to follow God and strive to honor him. Please also pray for the government leaders of El Salvador as they search for the best methods to combat the gang culture.