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Women’s soccer team faces tough goodbyes in El Salvador
The women’s soccer team with Karla. The team has been helping Karla in rebuilding her house.
The women’s soccer team with Karla. The team has been helping Karla in rebuilding her house.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jolene Muir provides fans in today's update from El Salvador how everyone is coping with the final leg of the trip. 

 

Throughout our lives we meet people who impact us in many ways. On this trip, there have been many for each individual person.

Through the words of Matilde, Karla, Humberto, Coach Klotz and so many others we have all learned so much about both ourselves and The Lord.

Yet it is not always through words that people impact us. They say that actions speak louder than words, and that was ever-so apparent in today's journey. 

We spent most of our day at Karla's house; a place we had all learned to call home. Here we were free to do what our hearts desired.

Some helped the builders continue the finishing aspects of the house, while others stuck straight in with the kids. The atmosphere was amazing. So much love and joy filled us as the sun beat down on our sweating backs.

Through the endless hours of work and play, God ensured we never wavered. Not one complaint was heard of hunger or thirst as we gave all our energy and attention. And those children returned it. They longed for our hugs, our conversation and, in reality, just our love. We all created everlasting bonds and friendships with these kids and soon it began to hit us that this was goodbye. 

We never understood how much a child could change our lives until today. But these children didn't just steal our hearts. They burrowed through our flesh and bones and cemented themselves in place.

With each smile, each gift and each hug, they gave us a piece of their love and we willingly returned it. They showed us the unconditional love that children possess and, through this, the face of Christ. 

But soon the sun began to darken, and the tears began to form as we all embraced for the last time. When we welcomed Karla and her family into her new home and prayed over them for one last time, the reality hit hard.

We had found our family in this neighborhood and now we had to leave them for good. I can't even begin to describe the raw emotion which began to unfold before us. Bodies crippled from tears, tears poured from eyes, and those eyes unveiled so much pain. 

After our final embraces and goodbyes, we filled the bus with an eerie silence. As we sobbed and comforted each other, we saw tears in the eyes of the children who waved us farewell.

While we do not know where these children's futures will take them, we do know that God will be watching over them. We will pray for their safety, their joy and that one day they will find their way back into our lives. 

Following a short break, we headed to a different destination, where we got the opportunity to share the Gospel with girls our own age again. We had been invited to meet and share with the U-20 El Salvador women's soccer team.

To ease ourselves into their environment, we had a short mixer. By getting to know us on the field, I feel they were more willing to accept what we had to share off it.

As some teammates spoke to them, you could see their eyes fixated and their brains soaking in all we had to say. Some shed tears, while others nodded along and, although not all whole-heartedly prayed or worshipped, I know that at least one or two took something special away from our short time together. 

Again, through this simple game of soccer, we were able to form friendships with these unique people, regardless of the language barrier.

But this week has not been about the relationships we have made with the kids, the soccer players or El Salvador as a whole. This week is about our relationship with God, and encouraging others to walk in the path we have chosen to take.

We will never truly know if any of the people we have met will take heed of our words and begin their relationship with God, but we know that through our own we have shared our love, sweat and tears.

These children, these people and this country have opened our eyes to a new world and a new life, and we will never forget all that they have done.