Our First Day
The morning dawned with an air of excitement, the purpose of our mission; our first day at the center!! The anticipation among the team was almost palpable; you could feel the enthusiasm during breakfast and morning devotions. Pastor Brian shared a brief word about not being afraid, but like an anxious child on Christmas morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us were more focused on what lie ahead. As soon as we were dismissed, the team practically raced out of the meeting room to gather our things and meet the buses that would transport us to the center.
The drive to the center takes place on a mixture of bumpy cobblestone and smooth blacktop, the latter being much more comfortable. The roads are narrow, busy and somewhat treacherous, but not a challenge for our extremely skilled drivers. The scenery ranges from huffing volcanos to community laundries to dilapidated buildings, all fascinating in and of themselves. The first hour of the trip passed quickly, but the last stretch was torture as we were anxious to hurry up and love on some kiddos. We were not disappointed. Some of the children playing in the yard when we arrived spotted the team and began furiously waving, shouting, “Hola, hola!” If those adorable little faces peeking through the fence slats don’t melt your heart, I am not sure anything could.
We disembarked quickly, unloading our things and dividing into groups for a center tour. The children here range in age from infant to nine years. Prior to arrival in Guatemala, team members submit their preferences regarding how they would like to serve at the center. Care is given to try and fit everyone where they are most comfortable. At the conclusion of the tour, we hastily headed to our assigned areas to meet the children.
Many of the team members have served at the center more than once. All of the “old-timers” will testify to how quickly and easily you fall in love with the children, today was no exception. As I settled in with the first baby I picked up, I had to fight back tears. All of the children here have families, families who voluntarily surrender them because they have nutritional needs that cannot be met at home. These children are not abandoned; they are brought here by broken-hearted parents who love them dearly and one day hope to bring them back home. As I rocked that beautiful child, my heart broke, not only for her, but for the mother who had to leave her. The children here are loved and cared for, but still, the hard truth is; their presence represents a broken family.
Just as each of the children have a story concerning how they ended up at the center, so do each of the team members. Each of us brings something unique to the table. Each of us is here with a purpose. Each of us is here because Father called and we answered. Each of us will leave profoundly impacted by our time here. And each of us will leave a little piece of ourselves behind.