My time spent at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos El Salvador cannot really be described in words. Among many things, it was awesome, beautiful, happy, joyful, fun, and bittersweet. Even though I had been before, I learned that NPH does not fit the definition of the word orphanage. NPH is a family. One great big loving family. No matter what your story, you are welcomed and you are loved. At NPH, children who did not have a chance before now have the tools to break the cycle of poverty. They will be able to go out in the world and make something of themselves, to make a difference in the world. To truly experience what NPH is all about, one should actually visit!
We (the group of 15) went with many gifts to give, but what we got from the children was more valuable than clothes or books. We received more than we could ever have hoped for. Love is ever present at NPH El Salvador. The children find the good in everyone and every situation. We learned how to love unconditionally. We learned that singing (even if you can't sing) is truly making a joyful noise for the Lord. It doesn't matter if you can't speak the same language, love is a language everyone can understand. And even though we were terribly sweaty 100% of the time, the kids still hugged us and held our hands. Pushing each other into the pool can create lasting friendships.
Looking back on my six days in El Salvador, I have learned many things:
-Graffiti is universal.
-Texting while driving is universal.
-Love is universal.
-Praying the Our Father and the Hail Mary over and over really helps while flying (especially if you hate planes)
-Turbulence is actually soothing.
-Love, joy, happiness, and laughter can transcend language barriers.
-It seems I have better luck attracting Salvadoranian boys than I do American boys.
-People that you've met only once will still remember you.
-Running through a typical Salvadoranian thunderstorm is fun. A lot of fun.
-The kids of NPH love love love their national soccer team.
-A fried egg, beans, and bread make a great dinner combination.
-You learn to like watermelon if it is the only fruit offered at breakfast.
-The kids don't really mind if you sweat; they'll hug you anyway.
-Abject poverty is real. It is present in our world.Just before I left for El Salvador, I received a wonderful little meditation book. Along with excerpts from the Bible, there are quotes from the saints. By Divine Providence, these two were part of the daily reflections during the trip. "Presumption is like vermin burrowing at the root of the tree of our soul. If we do not uproot it with great care and humility, it will eventually destroy the soul." -St. Catherine of Siena and "Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe--but believe that you may understand." -St. Augustine
If you go into any place or situation with an open heart and mind, God will find a way to teach you something valuable.