Apart from checking in on our projects, being at the mission for that short time allowed me to see the kids we help in their daily lives. The children wake up early everyday (at 5am!) to get ready for school, do their daily chores, and eat before classes started. Since our largest project at Mission Santa Maria is the education of these children, I was so excited to see the children in school. I couldn’t resist thinking, “we made this possible!” To see our work in action was a great feeling.
One day we took the smallest 30 children at the mission home to the movies. This entails a 90 minute bus ride, followed by a taxi ride to the shopping mall with the only movie theater in the state. These children come from horrible family situations, many from abusive families. To see the joy and excitement they all experienced was invigorating. For many of the kids, this was their first time to a movie theater. Of course, taking 30 children back and forth to the city was like herding a group of kittens through a journey to the end of the earth, so I was grateful that some of the missionaries came with us.
On the bus ride home, Catiuska, a small 5-year-old girl sat next to me. It was past the children’s normal bedtimes. I asked her if she enjoyed the movies and she smiled and said: “Yes. And I am really happy that I have a bed because I didn’t always have one.” Needless to say that left me speechless, but was a good reminder of the poverty of many of these children.
We will share more stories of the children in the coming months and hope that you will be able to get a sense of the difference you make in the lives of these children through our photos and videos. We also hope that you might consider making a visit with us on one of our future trips to see first hand the incredible effect your generosity has on the lives of these children.
On behalf of the missionaries, the children, the teachers and the staff at Mission Santa Maria, I am grateful to each of you.