Last Day at Shalom

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We set out to Shalom, the orphanage we have been working at, early this morning. Only to realize half way through we had a flat tire. Luckily one of the full time missionaries was able to take some of our team to the orphanage so they could start work. Meanwhile, Sean, Justin, Will, Meghan, Kaleigh, and I were stuck in a van on the side of the road. This could have easily been something to complain about but instead we resorted to make the most of our situation and name all the ways we could survive as we waited for a spare tire, these are the things we came up with: Jolly Ranchers, the Bible, and Wi-Fi. Many others revealed themselves as we had some conversations that definitely wouldn’t have happened outside of our situation. Eventually we did make it to the orphanage.

At the end of the day I saw tears well up in two of my best friends’ eyes as we left the orphanage for the last time, they waved goodbye and as soon as they turned around in their seats their hearts sank in their chests for what they had just done. We had made bonds and friendships with these children and severed them much too soon. The first couple of days at the orphanage we mainly just painted but we soon got to see the children return from schools, smiles on their faces and wondering who these strangers were. Meghan and Kaleigh made special friends with Sean, a little boy with a vivacious personality and beaming smile. He jumped on them at every possible chance, hungry for love. Speaking of hungry for love another small boy named Moses kissed me on the lips, unashamed, almost as if this love could be given to anyone. Following suit Thandeka, which means lovely gift from God Almighty, kissed me on the cheek and hand. It was the most innocent of gestures and out of a pure heart, untainted by the fractured and broken world outside the walls of the orphanage. Our youth pastor Sean finished a sunrise on the outside wall, and Tara continued painting vines and flowers around the chalk boards. Inside on the deep blue wall Laura, Paige, and Justin put the verse Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe,” surrounded by white, yellow, and shooting stars.

When the children came home after school we came up with a program on the spot to do with the kids, which consisted of songs, games, and two skits. The story of the prodigal son and paralyzed man whose friends take him to Jesus. The audience was receptive and we prayed together as a group at the end. Their prayers are so powerful, they pray in the name of the Holy God Jesus Christ.

Today was emotionally strenuous and we ended up delusional on the bus ride home, unable to control our laughter. It is such a blessing to be here and live in community with people who can make you laugh no matter the circumstance. We will be leaving in a couple of days and I don’t think any of us are ready to come home, please pray our hearts would be ready for the next couple of days and what he already has planned for us at home. Thank you for your prayers. They truly are being answered here!!! Love, Maria.

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