By: Liesel Odden
So many things have changed since I first participated in this mission three years ago. I came into it having no clue how life changing and magnificent it would be, and it has gotten better and better each year. There is no way I could have prepared myself for the messes these families have been through - yet with how kind, loving, funny, playful and beautiful (inside and out) the people are, you wouldn’t know it. I have had so many touching experiences on this mission, and my eyes are opened up wider each year. Every single second spent with the children has impacted me greatly.
One of the many life changing experiences I have had on this mission is Vacation Bible School. Three hundred kids are packed into a tiny chapel, and song after song is sung to its fullest. The kids are then divided into two groups of complete chaos and sent to play games or make crafts. Trying to control one hundred and fifty little kids is hard enough – and then throw in speaking different languages. The kids have to have an amazing amount of patience to be able to listen to us slaughter their language and then help us to say it right. . I will forever miss the fantastic time of VBS.
From the very beginning to the very end of the day we spend at the orphanage, the kids are attached to you. Imagine living in a tin house small enough to be a closet. Then add in seven children, no father, mother on drugs, and unfathomable abuse. This is how many of the children staying at the orphanage have been treated. Yet somehow, the kids put this behind them and not only continue to be alive, but continue to live. They act towards us as if nothing has happened and welcome you with unimaginable love. They cling to you as if you are their family – which in many cases, you might be.
Just as wonderful as the kids is the family running the orphanage. Karen and Estuardo are the couple in charge of the orphanage, and there is no one better to do it. They are legal guardians of who knows how many kids – over 150 – and they put their whole heart into the kids’ new home. Every single child is special and you can see it in the way Karen and Estuardo take care of the children and give them a new hope. Karen, Estuardo and their daughter are complete patience, kindness, and unbelievable love.
I have witnessed God in this mission over and over. He has taught me to open my eyes and let Him use me as His hands and feet. I can’t imagine missing a year of the character and love – again, there is so much love – in this mission. It is so hard not to come back after really seeing God in the children, in Karen and Estuardo, and in the other missionaries I get to spend time with. I have hope and love in my heart for each child, and I will always remember the orphanage and families in Guatemala.