Quinceanera Missions Trips - Why All The Fuss?
Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey, Director, His Hands His Feet
This week our team is preparing to celebrate our sixth quinceanera in partnership with Sus Hijos, a foundation that serves abandoned and orphaned children living in orphanages in El Salvador. Many people throughout the years have questioned why we do these parties. Why all the fuss? Make up? Dresses? Jewelry? Is it really important? As I reflect on these questions in the cool shade of an almond tree while my team members dote on teenage girls in a government orphanage, my heart is overflowing. And I have a lot to say.
Why all the fuss? Because these teenage girls deserve it. I was visiting this same government orphanage with a team from my church in California seven years ago when the dream was born. My close friend and ministry partner, Stephanie Keenan was spending time with teenage girls. One by one the girls shared their heartbreaks over the fact that they would never have a quinceanera. Stephanie looked around at our group of California girls and realized that our teams could make their dreams come true.
What is a quinceanera? "Quinceanera" translates into "fifteenth birthday party." It's a traditional celebration for a Latin American girl on her fifteenth birthday and the party is a rite of passage. The quinceanera represents the passage for a young girl from childhood into adulthood. I recently learned about "quinceanera Barbies," which you can purchase in your local toy store. Every Latin American girl dreams of her quinceanera from her earliest memories.
The girls that we serve in El Salvador come from difficult pasts. They've experienced deep traumas. Some of the stories that I've heard have been incredibly disturbing. A quinceanera is but a distant dream for these girls, many of whom have never celebrated their birthdays, chosen a dress or visited a restaurant or hotel. Some have never heard the life giving words from their parents, "You're beautiful." But God.
God in his great love sees them. He knows their stories. He hears their cries. Psalm 34:18 says that God is near to the brokenhearted. And He is here. I have felt his nearness here in this place. That's why I keep coming back. It's an honor for me to bring teams from the states to serve in this tiny Central American country. This week I feel overjoyed to be leading my seventeenth team of volunteers to bring the hope of the Gospel where hope is desperately needed. And we get to do that through a quinceanera.
His Hands His Feet is thrilled to partner with Young Women of Vision (YWOV), a Christian organization based in Orange County, California, that empowers mothers and their high school daughters to serve in their local community and internationally. This week we're throwing our fourth quinceanera in partnership with YWOV. These women have been preparing for the quinceanera for seven months, collecting shoes, dresses, jewelry, bras, make up, hair supplies and gifts for the girls. They brought over four-hundred dresses for the girls to choose from! This team's passion for the young women of El Salvador is contagious and I love partnering with YWOV. There is truly no place else I would rather be this week.
This week our team has traveled throughout the country to meet the girls that we will celebrate. We've had the amazing opportunity to share our hearts, pray over them and help each girl pick her dress, bra and shoes. On Thursday our team will gather at the Crown Plaza Hotel in San Salvador to celebrate one-hundred girls. The girls will have their make up, nails and hair done upon their arrival. They will receive birthday gifts at the party. It will be an unforgettable evening with men from the ministry escorting them into the gala, live music, dancing and a message of hope that can only be found in Christ. These girls have been forgotten. They have been rejected and disregarded. But God has not forgotten them. He has sent His Church to bring healing into their lives. He has chosen this team to celebrate their quinceaneras. And He has used donors from the United States to provide the funding and items needed to make the girls' dreams come true.
So why all the fuss? Because He sees them. And they're worth it.