By: Marissa Martin
Our last official day in Guatemala involved swarms of children running, jumping, and collecting the last bits of popcorn and cotton candy during the school day. We packed up all the bouncie castles and games and headed to the school for a fun block party. The kids were relentless in their hugs, kisses, and endless amount of smiles during the day. We savored the last little amount of time we shared with them before we left. One monumental part of the morning spent with the kids is when the care packages were handed out. Each child received a gift that contained toiletries, school supplies, and toys. The smiles on their faces showed their genuine amount of appreciation and excitement. After the block party came to a close, we came to the hardest part of the week; we were confronted with the reality of saying goodbye. These are kids that we had spent all week building strong relationships with. How can you tell a child, who is constantly confronted with despair and disappointment, that you may never be back to see them? How do you tell a child, who showers you with hugs and kisses, that this may be goodbye forever?
Although today was filled with sad and meaningful moments, it is reassuring that we accomplished one incredible achievement. Many of these children not only aren’t able to afford simple necessities of life, but they also are a part of a broken family, where they are forced to care for themselves and their siblings. They hold a big responsibility, and they lose what it feels like to show and receive affection and to just be a kid again. We can be assured that this week, we gave these kids that missing piece. We cuddled, loved, and played with them, and in return received the biggest and most genuine smiles. This accomplishment is greater than any physical gift that can be given. The gift of love surpasses all of our understanding. Although we can be assured that we left these kids with a sense of affection and compassion, they also gave us a new and fresh outlook. Our hearts are full with not only the love of these kids, but also the promise of God’s never failing power.