2020 has brought many challenges, thrown human plans out the window and made us feel a little out of place in this world. BUT, when placed under pressure, put through the fire, we are refined, and even hope can be found growing in the small crevices around us.
To be honest, 2019 had been a year of growth and changes, but in some ways division. Sometimes it felt like we had staff in two corners rather than in a circle supporting one another. We had been stretched in many ways. We never saw a worldwide pandemic or a martial law quarantine or the inability to get much support staff into the farm or looking at children not returning to school- for maybe the rest of the year, which is November here in El Salvador- as being something that would refine us, pull us together. BUT, trials can either take us under or make us rise seeing hope.
Two of the biggest challenges we have faced during this time has been getting staff to the farm to help houseparent and continuing schooling for the children. Both of these challenges meant we had to rise to the occasion to do what we could. Our staff that has been able to get to the farm have had to join together and figure out how to support one another and find ways to offer some down time to each other. It hasn’t been easy, but everyone has done their part to make things work.
Our educational coordinator hasn’t been able to travel to the farm since the martial law quarantine began the middle of March. She has been coordinating with the schools and sending assignments to us on the farm. Our social workers and counselors have stepped into roles as tutors, coordinating schedules, printing off assignments, study guides and tests, and supervising scheduled video classes- generally, running the home schooling program in the mornings. Other office staff have also helped as they have been able to come to the farm. In the afternoons, children return to their homes for lunch and continue with assignments not completed in the mornings.
Two weeks ago, the young adults in the Transition Program ended their first semester of university classes, and now they have a three to four week break. We had plans of the young adults to continue reaching out to the widows who live around our farm, yet we haven’t been able to act upon that plan. When asked if they would volunteer to help out with schooling in the mornings, the young adults quickly said, “Absolutely!” Part of the reason may have been that they had literally not been out of their homes for three months . . .but after seeing them helping the children, it is obviously that their heart was to serve. We are a family, and that has rung true during these difficult days. They have been big brothers and sisters, not tutors. They have worked with care, but not “doing” their work for them. They want them to succeed.
As an example of the effort our young adults have put into their new assigned task, Karla worked with one our girls who always needs a little more creativity to get and keep her focused on her assignments. After working with her the first day, she went home and researched some ways to help. She came back with some new tools . . . and they worked. Both Karla and her “student” have formed a special relationship.
We are grateful for our big family and for the ways everyone is circling around to support each other. God provides solutions that are sometimes right in front of our face, right in our midst. Although the young adults won’t be a long term solution, they are bringing much needed respite to those who have had this responsibility all of this time. We are finding hope in our midst!