Monday, July 27, 2009

A Part of Their Lives ~ Reflections On the 2009 Mission Trip, by Anastacia and Alexandra Taylor

When we arrived at the Hogar on Monday afternoon, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what connections I would make with the children in the few days I was there. Although I spoke no Spanish, and most of the children knew very little English, it didn’t stop friendships from being made.

As a missionary team, we were in charge of moving all of the furniture and instruments from the ‘old’ music room into the next room over and repainting the ‘old’ music room in order to expand the wood-workshop. While it was hard work, knowing how much we were helping the Hogar staff and children was well worth it. Many people on our team also helped with gardening and grounds keeping. The beautiful ‘park’ area now has freshly cut grass and weed-less flower beds.

On Tuesday night, Anastacia K, Mara, Megan, Alexandra, and I went with the older girls to a cinema to see Jonas: 3D Concert Experience. The girls were much like many of the girls here in the U.S.-they love the Jonas Brothers. Many of them knew more of the songs than I did!

When there was any extra time, (after lunch, before the next activity) I enjoyed helping at the nursery. I enjoyed playing with the children in their play-pen and also taking them outside on the swings. Some of the children were old enough to swing by themselves and some enjoyed sitting on my lap and swinging. David, one of the younger boys, was so sleepy one day that after swinging for just a few minutes he fell happily asleep.

On my second-to-last day, I decided to play in the courtyard with the pre-schoolers. Even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying to each other and to me, we had so much fun playing with bubbles. They loved blowing bubbles and chasing them and trying to pop them! They were laughing so hard and were having so much fun. Even though I was only able to play with them a few times the rest of the trip, I will never forget how happy they were to play with me. They loved having my full attention and talking to me, even though I couldn’t respond with words. They also loved being spun around and around in circles again and again. Their whole face would light up when I told them they were next…

The church at the orphanage was also beautiful. It was amazing how well-behaved all of the children were during each of the services. Everyone paid attention and sang along. Many of the girls had ‘jobs’ during the services, such as reading or leading the songs.

Going on this trip, I have taken a new perspective on life. I have realized not only how much my family means to me, but also that is not what you surround a person with, it’s who. All of the children are loved by Mother’s, care takers, nannies, and their peers. It amazed me how well everyone seemed to get along, always being so near to each other.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much the children wanted to be with us. We would communicate through hand-signals, games, and a combination of English and Spanish!


~ ~ ~

For our missionary work, we painted the music room. First, we moved all of the furniture out of the room and to the new music room next door. Then, we scraped off the bright red paint. Finally, we repainted the walls white. Afterward, we expanded the woodshop to include the newly-painted room. We did this because their wood shop needed more space for all of the large equipment. The children learn how to carve wood during the week.

It’s amazing how you can get so close to some of the children. From the sixteen-month old babies to the thirteen-year-old girls they were all fun to be around. I was especially fond of a toddler named Anna. We would go out on the courtyard swings and she would sit in the baby swing and I would push her. We would also go into her play pen and she would sit in my lap and we would play peek-a-boo or she would sit on the floor next to me and I would hold her ands and play pat-a cake.

We went to church in the morning and in the afternoon. Before church began, one of the girls would ring the bells, so everyone would know church was beginning. The church had many beautiful icons. There were more than 120 icons in it. On Tuesday morning, we celebrated liturgy. All of the children sat down and paid attention to the service.

Leaving the orphanage was the hardest part. The children all stood in a line and then we hugged each of them. I remember hugging them like it was yesterday. They all seemed so thankful for having us come to the Hogar. I felt part of their life and now they are part of mine.

I wanted to stay much longer.

Alexandra T.