Quinceanera Reflections From a Gringo
Blog post written by Lauren O'Brien, Crean Lutheran High School graduate
"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - John 10:10
This week is my fourth short term trip to El Salvador. I have been privileged to attend this summer outreach every year as a Crean Lutheran High School student. I can honestly say that this past week has exceeded all of my expectations. It has been exciting, emotional, encouraging, and eye opening. Like always, serving every day in such extraordinary ways has continually renewed my faith, and I am already looking forward to coming back.
I have many amazing memories from my first trip, when we threw a quinceanera for forty special needs girls at the Sus Hijos restaurant, The States Diner. It was small, but beautiful nonetheless. Even so, the party that we put on this year was beyond anything I could ever imagine. This was the biggest and grandest quinceañera that Sus Hijos has ever organized in partnership with His Hands His Feet. I was so grateful to be a part of it!
The girls from our team did dress fittings all week at orphanages throughout the country as we prepared for the gala on Wednesday evening. Not only did we get to meet the girls and hear some of their stories, we also had the chance to share the gospel and the reason for our trip. With Sus Hijos staff member, Lilly, translating for me, I was honored to speak at each orphanage. I told the girls that our team had two goals for the week. The first was to make them look beautiful on the outside. The second and most important goal was to make them feel beautiful on the inside, and for them to leave the party knowing their true worth in Jesus Christ. I shared what the Bible says about God knowing us since our conception, and how He gives each of us a purpose for our lives.
The gorgeous dresses, shoes, nails, makeup, and hotel were not a display of grandeur. Rather, they were a reminder to these girls of their own inner beauty that had been stripped by Satan through difficult situations and traumatizing backgrounds. We told them that Jesus could give them a joy that lasted beyond the night of the party, into eternity. He came to give us all abundant life!
To see the gospel shared in such a culturally significant way was absolutely awe-inspiring. Both the second lady and the mayor’s wife attended the gala. They understood the work God is doing through Sus Hijos, and their hearts were moved for the broken and hurting of their country. I can not wait to see how God expands this ministry as a result of the party, making waves through the rest of El Salvador, and eventually the world. This has definitely been one of my favorite experiences of all my time in El Salvador and I can't wait to return again!