We arrived at the airport in El Salvador at/around 12:00 pm and were taken from there to Calvary Chapel of San Salvador, and from there to the orphanage. We got settled in pretty well before we met the boys. Our introduction was kicked off by a game of frisbee then of soccer. That is, that's how the guys in our group were introduced to them. It didn't take long for us to realize what the favorite sport was there -- soccer, or "football" more appropriately -- and that seven Americans, ages 18-40ish, were no match for ten little El Salvadorian boys, ages 8-12. It felt more like we'd come to Soccer Camp than on a missions trip.
The water in the showers must have been around 70 degrees farenheidt. I could hardly breathe when I took a shower. There were many inconveniences and a few of us got sick, myself included. On Wednesday we went to a pool with the boys and that's the day I was sick. The ride was a bumpy one so that didn't help. We got to the pool, I prayed with one of the adults of our group, subsequently vomited, and then was fine so I got to swim after all.
Most of us (of the teens in our group) got attached to at least one of the orphans. Roman got attached to Angel, and so did Chrissy, Matt got attached to Alex (conveniently, Matt has a brother named Alex), Gina got attached to Victor, Chelsie to Emerson (they share birthdays), and I to Kevin.
I first saw Kevin while we were playing frisbee the first night. He came up to watch us play and stood there for a couple minutes. I knew that he was the one the Lord wanted me to reach out to on the trip. I waited until I got the frisbee again then threw it to him. Later on while we were playing soccer, he came up to me, gave me a hug, and tried to tell me his name. At first I thought he was saying "Gabing" but later I heard Lora call him "Kevin" and Tandrian explained the pronunciation to me (Tandrian is the one who spoke fluent Spanish). When I told Kevin my name he couldn't pronounce it so eventually I ended up with the name "Nick" to all the orphans, and "Nick Junior" exclusively to Kevin. All this in spite of trying to get them to call me by my middle name, "Daniel." Kevin and I became best buds even though we had no idea what the other would say.
The night before we left we all watched a movie together -- "The Climb," A Billy Graham movie. It also was in Spanish so I tried to guess the story just by the picture and little words I'd picked up on. Kevin was leaning on my lap for the latter portion of the movie, and when it was over he wrapped his arms around my neck for upwards of five minutes.
The day of our departure we took some group photos, of us, of the boys, and combined. About a half an hour before we officially left Kevin disappeared. I searched him out thinking I couldn't leave without saying goodbye. "Donde es Kabveen?" I asked the other kids, but nobody knew. I finally found him on his bunk crying. I got him down and carried him outside to say "goodbye." He gave Max, and Chelsie, and me a hug, and then I felt it... "Oh no!" I said to Chelsie, then I started crying too. I was doing fine up to that point but then...
All in all this trip was well worth it and I'd go back in a heartbeat -- sickness, ant attacks, and all.
The Former St. Bernard’s Seminary.
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