Quinceanera Reflections From a North American
Blog post written by Stephanie Keenan
As I sit here reflecting on the quinceanera, trying to figure out the correct words needed to describe what we all experienced, I am overwhelmed with emotions and words fighting for space on this page. I feel I need to start with FREEDOM, something I know I take for granted. All of the freedoms and choices I experience on a daily basis. The girls that we served have none. They don't get to decide what to wear each day, where they want to go or what they want to do. They don't even have the freedom to escape their painful pasts. But on the night of the party and in the days leading up to it they had some freedom to choose dresses and shoes, hair styles, make up. They had the freedom to laugh and smile. The freedom to experience a bit of joy in the midst of difficult situations.
Our team had so much ANTICIPATION as we prepared for the event, and wondered how this was going to come together. With a team made up of mostly women, of course we had to know how every detail would be taken care of. To say the girls had anticipation would be an understatement. As they showed up at The Holiday Inn, their faces glowed with excitement and nervousness. However, their anticipation quickly turned to PRIDE as they had their make up and hair done and picked their jewelry.
As we zipped up every dress, their smiles beamed from ear to ear. Our team had great pride for them as well. We could feel the swell in the room as more and more girls dressed for the big event. These girls were not the same girls that we had visited for the two days prior. It was obvious that they were proud of how they looked and even more, how they felt.
When the event started the girls names were announced on the microphone and they were escorted into the room. As each name was announced, the room filled with great joy. A joy that can only come from the presence of a great redeemer. We all knew that this party was an extremely redemptive evening for girls, many who had never had their birthdays acknowledged. Their joy swelled as the night went on and climaxed with an hour of nonstop dancing. As the samba drums played and glow sticks waved, the exuberance on the dance floor was undeniable. We all hoped that the night would never end.
For these girls I believe that this was the beginning of a new JOURNEY. We're not sure where their journeys will take them, and whether their futures will be good or bad, but we know that they will carry this night in their hearts forever. For Jenni and I, this journey has been a long time in the making. There have been many redemptive struggles that have put us in a unique place to love these girls in a special way. To read how God led us to plan the first quinceanera, click here. It's such a blessing that so many incredible people have been able to be part of the redemptive story of these girls. We pray that God will continue to use more and more people to touch the lives of the young women of El Salvador.
P.S. I'm sure you would all love to hear more "detaily" details:
- Yes, the first and second ladies of El Salvador attended the event.
- Yes, every girls' dress was perfect.
- Yes, the girls were escorted by members of our team and members of the SUS HIJOS staff.
- Yes, once again there was a perfect piece of jewelry for every girl.
- Yes, the girls received hand made necklaces as quinceanera gifts in addition to gift bags filled with hygiene products.
- Yes, once again the SUS HIJOS team blew us away with their attention to detail, hard work and passion for these beautiful, young women.