The Morning After the Quinceanera
Post written by Jenni Ramsey
Yesterday we returned to the government orphanage to spend a few last hours with the girls who participated in the quinceanera. We were literally mobbed when we arrived, the girls were so happy to see us! Many of the girls told us that they didn't sleep after the quinceanera, and those that did said that they dreamt of the quinceanera all night long. It was so precious to see their dresses hanging around the property (and a few of the dresses were laying on their beds). These girls own almost no material possessions. Needless to say, their dresses have now become their most treasured gifts.
It is truly impossible to describe in words the intense transformation that has taken place this week. When we arrived on Sunday and began the eyebrow waxing, the girls were clearly uncomfortable looking at themselves in our mirrors. None of them even owned mirrors, and we had to bring hand mirrors along with us. Throughout the week we continually reminded the girls that the quinceanera was a gift from God. We were the "deliverers" who were blessed to bring the dresses and accessories, but it was their Heavenly Daddy who gave us the vision to bless them. Everything that we did for them this week was a picture of their beauty and value to God. On Monday we decided to purchase a full length mirror so the girls could see themselves as they prepared for the big event. By Tuesday, they couldn't resist looking at themselves and it was incredible to see the transformation through their pride, laughter, giggles and desire to gaze at themselves in the mirror. They were finally beginning to understand their worth in light of a loving, forgiving and redeeming God.
I was thrilled to see so many of the girls wearing the necklaces that they received as gifts at the quinceanera. Two women from our church had approached me a few months ago and asked if they could make hand-made necklaces as gifts. There are so many heroes like these women who contributed significantly to making the quinceanera such an unbelievable evening. The girls were so grateful for the necklaces and it is difficult to describe the deep connection that we formed with these unbelievable young ladies through their week of transformation.
I brought my laptop along with us so the girls could see the photos of themselves in their gowns at the quinceanera. They giggled as they saw their photos and it was priceless to see the looks of pride on their glowing faces. We also showed them the iMovie video, which Colleen Bowen produced for the quinceanera. They asked to see the photos and watch the video over and over again.
Throughout the morning we were able to talk and pray with some of the girls before saying our good byes. Many of them opened up and shared personal stories that even our ministry leaders in El Salvador had never heard. We learned the heart-wrenching story of one girl, who was raped by her father and had a baby at age 11. Amidst her tears, our team members were able to share their own personal experiences of abuse, trauma and healing. These were irreplaceable moments of tears, hugs, prayers and words of encouragement that will never be forgotten.
A few of the team members were able to spend some time with the babies in the morning as well. My favorite moment was watching HannaGrace, who is 8 years old, sing "Jesus Loves You" to one of the abandoned babies, who suffers from Hydrocephalus.
While these babies' stories are heart breaking, the presence of the Lord is so real in this place. I will always treasure these memories in my heart. It is difficult to describe the sense of awe of what God is doing here, and we have been reminded again and again that "The Lord is near to the broken hearted" (Psalm 34:18).