Our journey with La Casa began from its inception. Dave was working at the U.S. Embassy on a two-year assignment from Sept. 2000 to Sept. 2002, and we attended Union Church in San Salvador. In our Sunday School class with Gary Powell, we heard of Tia Ana and how she was caring for orphaned and abandoned children in a dilapidated warehouse. Others in the class began to visit the site on a regular basis, taking food, diapers, and clothing, and playing with the children. Dave went along, but I feared to take our daughter when I heard of the deplorable conditions.
As the weeks went by, a number of us began to meet regularly to pray and talk. We decided that the living conditions made it impossible to make lasting positive impact on the children’s lives, and so we needed to get them out of that filthy, deteriorating building. As we looked for a new facility and prepared to move the children, we saw the Lord begin to lead in miraculous ways through the everyday experiences of several group members in their government and business connections. It was exciting to hear the stories each time we met!
Eventually, we rented a building and worked alongside others from the Embassy and church to clean and prepare for the day that we could move the children into a clean environment with separate beds, clean clothes, and wholesome food. I re-purposed some discarded hotel towels into child-sized bath towels and wash cloths. A bolt of beautiful fabric, donated by some Taiwanese Christians who managed a maquila (clothing factory) in San Salvador, sewed up beautifully into 12 adjustable aprons for the ladies who would care for the children. Another bolt of sparkly denim provided several pair of shorts for the little ones.
The day of the big move, we helped de-louse, bathe, clothe and feed all of those children. Many needed just to be held as this was such a scary experience for them. We found out later that when we began moving them to the new building, they thought they were going to a Piñata! Some party!
Shortly after we moved the children, the old warehouse they had been staying in collapsed. We had had just enough time to get them to a safer place.
Over the next few months before our return to the U.S., we spent time with the children and helped however we could by sorting shipments of donated clothing and toys. In spite of our broken Spanish, we were able to communicate, and we grew to love those children, as well as the workers. I can still see three boys climbing all over Dave as he played with them. I can see our daughter Rachel playing an eating game with two fussy toddlers in their high chairs, and I can feel the warmth of a baby falling asleep in my arms as I rocked him.
Just before we left El Salvador, we helped with one of the first mission teams that traveled to assist with La Casa. What a joy it was to watch them connect with our children. Listening to their testimonies of how the Lord was changing their hearts resonated with our own. We knew these children were special and that God was doing something amazing at La Casa. Even though we were leaving, we wanted to remain involved.
It has been a privilege to serve on the Board of MFHI over the years and to see how the Lord continues to work in the lives of each of the children. The ones we knew from that first day are grown now, and it has been such a joy to watch them realize their dreams of careers, of families — knowing the difference their Heavenly Father can make in their lives.
Words from Carol Dark
Oh how sweet this story is and I loved reading your memories here Carol. So thankful for the love and determination you all had then to get these children moved so many years ago and look how much has changed since that time! I am even amazed at all the changes we’ve seen since our involvement in 2005. May the Lord continue to bless these children, bless the adults who care for them and bless the teams that are able to go and help in the future. May the children continue to learn of the Father’s love.