Friday, December 12, 2014

An Interesting Story

I know - you don't get updates from me for a month and now I've got 2 in one day. It's feast or famine with me!  I'm a bulimic blogger :)  (And yes, I am a therapist that just made an eating disorder joke.  I don't think 2 years working with Hospice nurses did much to curb my morbid humor).

But, I realized tonight that I have a much more interesting story to share than what I posted before.  And that last blog is probably something a lot more significant for me than for you anyways.  So, let the storytelling begin!

This morning I was told an interesting story.  For it to be understood properly, I'm going to share some back stories, but I think your patience will be worth it.

At a breakfast with friends this morning, my friend Alejandra (my translator I've mentioned before), was sharing about how the Director of the House of Hope (the women's shelter I volunteer at) ended up starting this home.  She began with how she ended up in El Salvador wanting to see how to help.  She literally was told about the country from a friend, bought a plane ticket, found a hotel, and just came to explore what it is like here.  This is not normal here.  This is not a touristy country and it makes her story all the more impressive.

She ended up finding some people that needed help, and while searching for more opportunities she was also connecting with others that were helping in orphanages - which brought her to meet a mutual acquaintance of Alejandra. A mutual friend came to Alejandra and said, "I think I found a way to provide funding for your project!"  Alejandra was introduced to the now director, a partnership was created and after a bit of a process, The House of Hope was born.  

I met Alejandra the day after her first visit to meet the young woman that filled the home.  Her description and enthusiasm for the home led me to share that I'm a therapist just moving to El Salvador to volunteer where needed and she set up with the director for a chance for me to start working with the girls about a month after the home was started.

Alejandra's story-
About 10 years ago, Alejandra was wanting to start an orphanage.  A lot of things came together but there was always a shortage of funding.  But they had found the property, permits, government approvals.  All the plans were set up and they even had potential workers.  One of the people  Alejandra worked with to organize this home was Rosemarie Rivas.  Rosemarie is the mom of the family that I used to stay with every year when I would visit.  They are my second family.  And Rosemarie began sharing with me the dreams of this home.  And I started dreaming about how I would like to live in El Salvador and be a part of this.  I didn't have much to qualify me as a great asset to help - but there's never a shortage of need and I was sure I could be of some use!  But, it never worked out for me.  Every time I considered (or attempted) to find a way to move here, something came up to prevent me.  

When I heard that all the plans with the home fell apart, I was saddened, but still hoped that someday this home could exist that was designed to emulate a family rather than an institution to help the kids grow up in a real home.

Imagine my shock today when I discovered that the home I dreamed about helping build 10 years ago is the same one I've been working at for a year!  Such a gift.  It has been a joy to work in this home all year - but now it seems even more special.

Going Home for Christmas!

I'm excited to spend Christmas with my family in California this year!  I have so much to be grateful for this year. 

One thing I'm thrilled about is that on my last trip home there was a small problem with one of my planes and they gave me a $400 voucher for volunteering for the next flight.  It's lovely that a 3 hour delay was able to provide for me to take this extra trip home :)
I'm grateful for being surrounded by wonderful, caring people here in El Salvador.  I've been reminded of that as I've had car problems this month and I have had many people gladly helping me out.

I'm grateful that I get to meet a new girl that came to the women's shelter yesterday.

I'm grateful that there are people here who trust me enough to be a part of the amazing work being done at the orphanage and women's shelter.  I'm still learning spanish and the nuances of the culture and this is a whole new population in which to practice therapy.  And I've been handed a lot of responsibility and trust in order to be involved as I am.

I'm grateful that I am appreciated where I'm volunteering.  At the school, orphanage, women's shelter and individuals I'm counseling - I'm always being thanked and reminded of how much they appreciate my help.   It certainly helps me keep perspective on the tough days.

I'm grateful for my garden and that I haven't killed it!  I love that it includes plants I couldn't have in the states and helps me relax after tough days of therapy.

I'm grateful that when I email and call people in the states, they almost always make time for me.  I know that long distance is hard and time is valuable - and I really appreciate this!

I'm grateful that I have a supportive and understanding family even when I do crazy things like move to El Salvador.

I'm grateful for the family I live with in El Salvador, that they put up with my and my crazy Gringa ways :)

I'm grateful that I have so much to appreciate that I know this list is much shorter than what it should be.

And most of all, I'm grateful for a loving God who is in control of all and that (usually) prevents me from messing everything up!