As we pulled into Project Samuel Latin America Monday morning, little faces began to appear from the tin shacks in the surrounding community to watch the white van drive down the dirt road to the property. When we got out of the van a few children emerged along the barbed wire fence and they walked with us through the community to let everyone know it was time for Vacation Bible School to start. This was the first outreach we have been able to do so we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but we placed it into God’s hands and prayed we would be a blessing to the community. Slowly, children of various ages began wandering onto the project full of curiosity.
Over fifty at risk children came to participate in our first day of VBS! You could see the excitement on their faces as they interacted with our team during the various Bible stories, games, and crafts. As they all left with their shields they made, we could sense the anticipation for the next day. The next morning, we had a great session with the kids but what really grabbed my attention was what happened Tuesday afternoon! We returned back to the project from lunch and before we could even get close we had a group of children chasing us down the dirt road, following us to the project. Once we arrived at the project we found another group of children anxiously waiting for us. I could see the excitement on the faces of our team as children swarmed the van waiting for us to get out.
As I stepped out of the van, my new friend Armando handed me a paper with a big smile on his face and gave me a big hug. On the paper were the words, “Bien benidos a mi comarca Guanacastillo amigo Criss y todo tu grupo” or “Welcome to my neighborhood Guanacastillo, my friend Chris and your entire group.” In this moment, I realized after only a day and a half we had impacted so many new lives in this community. It allowed me to see a glimpse of hope in the eyes of another child Project Samuel can minister to. I watched the children help unload our supplies and get set up; It amazed me that they were already taking ownership and inviting us into their lives. They have welcomed Project Samuel into their community with open arms and open hearts.
On Wednesday, as we packed up and ended our last day of ministry for this trip, there was a lingering question that everyone seemed to ask, “When will you return?” Children were literally hanging from me awaiting an answer. Mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles all looked with hope as to when we would return and invest in their children again. “Soon,” I said as I somehow managed to hide my broken heart behind a smile, “We will be back soon”.
Thank you to everyone that is making Project Samuel Latin America a reality. We truly value our relationship with you and without your prayers and support we wouldn’t be able to reach out and bring hope to at risk children around the world. We might not be able to save them all, but together we can change the lives of those God puts in our path.