The first two complete days we were in Colombia we visited a girl’s institution in a small town outside of Bogota in Madrid. The institution is Santa Maria. I can’t remember the statistics of how many girls live there or their ages. But I can remember their faces. So many smiles, you could just feel the love. When we first arrived some of the girls who have had the opportunity to have visits from OHI teams before ran to our bus and were yelling out some of the boys names. You could hear “Mateo, Mateo!” and “Tyler!”
I stepped off the bus with Tate and I was very shocked to realize the girls were very interested meeting Tate, I was taken aback. It was the first time as a mom I saw females interested in my son. Thankfully Tate is a little too young and in embarrassed to recuperate the excitement. When we first arrived we walked thru the art rooms and the girls had a loud speaker system playing what I could only guess was Spanish pop. They sang and danced as all girls do.
Sometime in that first morning I met Sandra. I can’t even think of the words to describe Sandra. She has a terrific smile and the greatest freckles. She led me around the property my taking my hand. She is 14. My Spanish at the time was not as developed (not that I can use the word developed to describe it now) so I am not quite sure of her exact situation. She told me, I think there was some abuse by family. When she described why she was there she was crying and I wasn’t going to make her repeat her story just so I could know the details. I just hugged her and tried to show her that somebody cared for her. Over the next few days we did a lot of hugging. Lots of playing too, she wore me out! We played volleyball and Frisbee and soccer and basketball….. And in mountain air all of that is pretty hard to do.
Sandra introduced me to some of her friends. One in particular pulled on my heart. A young girl, 14, she showed me her arms were she had repeatedly cut herself from her wrist to her elbows on both arms. Between our broken Spanish and English we talked about how awful that is, and she promised she doesn’t do it anymore. I then found out she had a baby. The baby was one, and she thinks he is in another institution. I didn’t know what to say. I looked over and I could see my son in the distance playing cards with a group. My son, the same baby I had as a teenager he was there with me. I was so fortunate and blessed to have an amazing family and support system I got to keep and raise my baby. And now 12 years later he is with me in Colombia on a mission trip. And this young girl did not have that opportunity and she wasn’t sure where her baby was. All I could do was hug her.
I hugged those girls a lot. I just wanted them to know I cared. The second day I was there, all I could think was how happy these girls were and by my standards they had nothing. We took a tour of the institution by the President of the organization that runs Santa Maria, Jose V. (I am not going to butcher his last name by spelling it wrong) That man has a great heart for the children on Colombia. You can tell he is trying his hardest to make sure the children get everything they need including Jesus.
As much as I cried while in Bogota, I think I laughed twice as much. Being around the children was such a blessing for my heart. Sandra was so sweet and you could tell she was so concerned about me having a good time. The last day she asked me twice if I was going to adopt her. I was so sad I had to tell her no. I made sure that she knew I would be praying for her every day. And now that you have read this blog you have to pray for her, and all the children out there without homes. You thought you were just going to be reading about my trip and now I have roped you into the cause.
Saying goodbye that day was probably one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever been thru. It was sad because I am not sure what the future holds for Sandra or any of the girls at Santa Maria. It was sweet because in two days a group of girls without families showed me just how important love and support is in life. Every child deserves love and support and I can only hope that I God uses me to show that to children who do not have it.