One of the sayings at the Hogar is that when you are there, you are family. I love this mentality, and it definitely describes the atmosphere of love and acceptance that I always feel when I am at the orphanage.
This year, we were lucky enough to have some members of our family (and others who might as well be members of our family) with us for our El Sal trip! Ryan's younger siblings, Ashley and Cole, and one of my best friends from college, Kirsten, came along for the week of fun. They have heard about the orphanage for years, and it was so fun to introduce them to the kids.
Ashley is a fabulous seamstress (as is her mother), so she brought supplies for a pillow craft which she did with several of the girls. She printed their photos on fabric and then helped them embroider their names and stitch the pillow together. They love their photo pillows and carry them around all day!
I think the boys in the orphanage quite liked Ashley as well...these two fellas kept trying to hold her hand while she helped them with Bingo! (Watch out, Nate!)
Cole may not be a cute seamstress with crafty ideas...but he is a tough athlete with sports ideas. He kept the orphanage boys moving all week, as they tossed footballs, passed soccer balls, and even completed an obstacle course. Here he is with Edwin, racing through the obstacle course at top speed:
Here he is with Muscle Man Memo (who looks a little like Nacho Libre in this photo, might I add):
Although Ryan is not nearly as big and tough as his little bro, he had to get in on the Muscle Man action too!
My good friend and former roommate, Kirsten, is a fantastic singer, and she used that talent to keep the girls at the orphanage entertained. They were singing, "Hola! Hola!" all week!
Finally, I must write a word or two about two of my favorite new friends, Molly and Andrew Hunter. I met Molly and Andrew when I was in Provo last February recruiting for the orphanage project, and I knew right away that they would do a fabulous job as Hogar volunteers. I was right! They lived at the orphanage this summer and made such a difference in the lives of the kids. Andrew is a Therapeutic Recreation major and used those skills in his activities and interactions with the residents; Molly is a photography major and used her talents to capture the kids' spirits and souls through the lens of her camera. Not only is her photography going to be used for all of the orphanage's new fundraising materials, but she also hung a display of many of the kids' photos on the orphanage wall before she left:
In addition to being exceedingly talented, this couple is exceedingly fun. Check out the Dumbledore and Harry Potter outfits that they sported during our HP-themed scavenger hunt this week! Classic!
As a side note, I must also add a photo of Ryan's costume. He was the vicious Voldemort, whom the kids hunted and threw water balloons at. Frightening, huh?
Through my involvement with the orphanage in El Salvador, I am lucky to not only get to know such incredible kids, but also to get to know better my wonderful family, old friends, and new friends.
Thanks, hermanos, for a great great week of fun and laughs.