– by Laureen Knueven

Here we are, the end of the week. As I sit here typing this blog in the Salon at the Valley my heart melts thinking about leaving these children, this experience and this time away from my normal routine. So much is going on in my mind right now and it is difficult to put into words the experience I had here, the experience the Lourdes students had here. Currently I am watching a group of our student learn to crochet with a student from the Valley, how blessed we are to share the gifts we have been given.

The week was full of struggles and exposed us to the harsh realities that we have witnessed. The week has also given us much joy, a view of another culture and new friends. We have played hard, we have worked hard and because we opened our hearts to these 215 children, the families we met along the way and the staff here at Valley, our hearts are much bigger than they were a mere week ago.

I’m trying to think of my favorite moment, but there are many moments that have made an impact on me… from the little girl who always says “Hola Laurie!” when she sees me, to the families from Mano Amiga, to the work we did in the garden with the girls, to the people we watched at the city garbage dump, to the culture and history we witnessed in Antigua. Each of these things will leave a lasting impression on my heart – I almost forgot to add, the girls who insisted on braiding my hair then leaving it in pig tails. When I went to tell the children that I looked like a little kid, I told them instead that I looked like a boy. Needless to say, I do not know Spanish well, but the communication of laughter, a hug, a smile, tears all translate the same.

I am truly lucky to have had this experience. In many ways I am blessed abundantly and I hope and pray I never take for granted the life I have been given.






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