I was at Rancho de los Ninos....an orphanage that, by God's design is currently home to 20 boys - all who are disabled in some way and to varying degrees. Many of these boys are not true orphans, but are living here because their parents cannot take care of them or because they do not want to take care of them.
As I was coming through customs in Phoenix last night, the agent asked me why I was in Mexico and our conversation went something like this....
Agent: "What did you do during your time in Mexico?"
Me: "I was visiting and working in an orphanage."
Agent: "Wow. I bet that was a little bit disheartening."
Me: "Actually it was such a blessing. You see, all the kids in the orphanage are either physically or mentally disabled and in most cases are both. It was so encouraging to see how well taken care of they are and how much they are loved by the staff there. There was nothing disheartening about it."
Cesar and myself ~ Cesar didn't talk, except for right before this photo was taken. He walked up to me and said, "Foto?"
When I went to Peru two years ago I wished I had thought to arrange to take my violin to play for the kids. This time I made such arrangements and had the honor of playing several times. It was a blessing to me to be able to share this part of myself with these boys.
And let me tell you about Ricky....
Ricky is blind and severely mentally handicapped. He loves to swing, and he loves to listen to music. On most days you will either find him here on the swing or in the kitchen listening to the radio while Monica prepares meals.
Sunday morning I took my violin over to the house to play for the staff who was finished serving breakfast as we were waiting to go to church. There were a few boys in the room, and within minutes of me playing they had all come in to listen.
And Ricky was outside....but within 30 seconds of him hearing the music, he scooted his way inside and sat right at my feet. It was all I could do to not start crying.
I also had the privilege of playing soccer with some of the boys. It was hot and dusty, but it was fun!
The boy in the red shirt, Juan, came to the orphanage at age 14 wearing a diaper and sitting on a scooter, unable to walk. He was severely neglected. After just a couple months of care and love at the orphanage, he was potty trained. They got him some leg braces and he not only walks, he runs and kicks a soccer ball like any other teenage boy.
Another thing we got to do was take the kids to the beach.
Oh what fun we had! We were each assigned to a boy and if our boy wanted to be in the water, well then we were in the water! Let's just say I haven't been swimming like that since I was much, much younger.
This is Tonponio (and Janet - co-director of the orphanage). I never did hear Tonponio speak, but he had the biggest smile pasted across his face and it spoke volumes.
But my time there was not all play. We were also there to work and much of my time was spent with this lovely tool.
Anyone can go to the ranch as part of a short-term mission work crew. It is a wonderful opportunity to get your hands dirty, put your skills to use and interact with some of the most amazing kids. To learn more about the short-term mission opportunity, visit the website. Ed Barker is the go-to guy for arranging such trips and is a personal friend of mine.
I'll end this post with a few of the other "friends" I met while in Mexico...
and last but not least....