El Salvador Spring Break Mission Trip

We are a small team but serve a large God and already feel blessed for being here. In 24 hours, we have developed a deep passion for La Casa De Mi Padre - My Fathers House - an incredible orphanage in San Salvador. We visited the farm where they one day hope to have 8 family model homes with 8 children in each home. There, they will grow up as every child should: under the roof of a set of loving parents.

The children get to go to the farm on Saturdays and ride a horse. Whitney is a certified horse therapist and it has remarkable for them to see the changes in the children emotionally. They learn trust, confidence and learn to overcome fear and many obstacles. There is an autistic child that was screaming and crying and when he was placed on the horse he calmed down and started singing. It is a great program that we were thrilled to witness first hand. Not only did we get to witness it, but we were allowed a little glimpse of God's faithfulness and favor by watching Abby and Ericka ride the two horses together.
Abby and Ericka are sisters. They are now 8 and almost 10 years of age. I learned about them when they were just 2 and 4 years old and started a process of trying to adopt them. After going through the legal steps, we learned that the birth mother would not sign over the rights and later had problems and could not take care of the girls. They will remain in the program at La Casa. Trey and Tripp and I were crushed and hurt. We could not figure why God closed the doors at the time.
Abby and Ericka are part of the reasons that HEAL Ministries began. They are a perfect example of the quote that we give: There are 145 million orphans in the world and only about 250,000 children are adopted each year. The statistics are alarming and overwhelming. Most orphans will never be adopted. Who takes care of them? God called me to a harder place. We learned that we were not supposed to take care of the two beautiful little girls that we fell in love with. We were supposed to send teams to care for hundreds. God used Abby and Ericka to develop a deep passion for the unadopted. While adoption is most often the best solution, there are times that God reveals it is not always what He wants. Abby and Ericka are where they are supposed to be. We want to partner with La Casa and assists them with their vision of providing a home for Abby and Ericka and all the children there. Family Model homes. Not my home but a home where they will grow up and be loved and raised by loving house parents and still be able to visit their family.
Trey and I met Abby and Ericka two years ago. Tripp met them today for the first time. It was an emotional experience for all of us that will forever change us. God has placed a deep passion in our hearts for the children that cannot be adopted but has also taught us to dig deeper and love the family of the orphan.
La Casa helps to restore the family. They are exemplifying Christ in every way. Many of us would choose to abandon the family of the orphan and yet doing that is exactly the opposite of what God teaches us in His word. To care for the heartbroken, to help those that cannot help themselves, to defend the defenseless, to help the thirsty and hungry. La Casa has figured it out. They are restoring the family and helping a nation understand redemption. Abby and Ericka get to see their mother a couple of times a month and La Casa is working with her.
We met an 8 year old boy that will be reunited with his mother this year. He was living on top of a trash dump a few years ago with his mother. La Casa took the child in and started teaching the mother how to live. They built a home for her and assisted her in starting a cooking business. She was so uneducated that the day they gave her the key to her house, she did not know what the key was for. They had to show her how to unlock her door. She thought that the oven was a bird cage. Now, she keeps her house and cooks for others. She has been trained in how to take care of her child and they get to see each other often. Instead of taking the child away and abandoning the mother, La Casa took the time to do the right thing. They reached out to the mother and now the most beautiful example of restoration happens. What a beautiful example as mother and child have learned about Christ together because of La Casa.
The 30 plus acres La Casa bought is beautiful. There will be 8 family model homes, an administrative office building, missionary housing, a guest house for teams, school, playgrounds, sports complex, etc. We saw the large retaining wall where steps and decks are being built that will lead the soccer players to the pavilion, housing and playgrounds. The chapel was the first building and it is beautiful. Our team had the privilege of praying together with Gary Powell, the orphanage director, for the entire orphanage, grounds and God's plans. We are excited about our week. Already, the team members have taken the time to build relationships with the kids and play games, color, kickball, soccer and just talk and laugh. Well, talking is sometimes hard - but they love that we try to speak their beautiful language.
In typical El Salvadorian tradition, we were invited to Gary and Sharon's home. They live in the parsonage at the church where Gary is the pastor. We had real tacos! Not fast food tacos - really great tacos for dinner! Tomorrow we are looking forward to attending church there where the La Casa children will join us and have an afternoon of playing games on the church property.
Tonight, I sleep a little easier knowing that there really are orphanages that are making a difference. I'm thrilled that Abby and Ericka took over my heart a few years ago and even more thrilled that they are healthy and happy. They know their heavenly Father. I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve and to know that God's plan is always better than mine.