I hear the clock ticking in the kitchen where we are staying. Every click of the second hand resonates in my heart. Our mission trip hasn’t even officially begun, and I’m already longing for one more day.
Last night, Courtney and I shared our prayers on Facebook:
I’m at peace – and waging war. Praying for hope to shine brightly tomorrow at Hogar Solidario, an orphanage for teenage girls. And praying for a miracle – to see Josabeth again.
Tomorrow will be so different from today. Visiting an orphanage that’s been described as devoid of hope. There will be hard things to see, hard things to hear, hard things to know. Praying for a heart that’s soft and feet that stand firm and rooted in the call to love until it hurts.
The drive to Hogar Solidario was a familiar one. We’ve traveled the road many times to visit San Gabriel, a former juvenile detention facility that was converted to an orphanage years ago. San Gabriel still stands, now part of the 10-acre “City of Children” that is home to 800 kids ranging in age from newborn to 18. Hogar Solidario is the Guatemalan government’s attempt to offer standardized care and education for at least a portion of the 1/2 million orphans in the country. The high walls, razor wire, guard posts and heavy security make the imposing cinderblock structure seem more like a prison than a home. Guests are not allowed without government permission, and visits are heavily monitored. Cameras and video equipment are forbidden. We had been told to expect little – but we prayed for more.
And more happened. Hope happened.
We were greeted with smiles. Every caregiver, every office worker, every guard welcomed us. We walked the grounds, chatting with workers who shared their stories and tearfully thanked us for caring for the children.
We spent hours with the kids. Babies, toddlers, teens. We laughed and wept and listened and hugged and held. Our cheeks were covered in kisses. And we watched in awe as our friend Dennis danced with a most lucky young lady – one of the special needs orphans. As she twirled, her beautiful laughter filled the courtyard – and our hearts.
Today, God smiled and whispered, “See, I’m here. I love the fatherless and I’m here. Hope is here.”
Oh, and that ban on cameras and video equipment? God smiled there too.
There are stories to share. Soon. For now, we are thankful for the sparkling glimmers of hope at Hogar Solidario.