Today was the only last day of school that I have ever dreaded. We walked into the center this morning knowing that it was our last day. As a team, we collectively soaked it all in. Manantial was more than a school for all of us. It represents a safe haven for children who battle with things that we cannot even begin to comprehend. It represents the power and love of Christ for all of his people. It represents hope for these kids to break out of the poverty circle. The kids splashed around in small, inflatable pools filled with ice-cold water, grins stretching from ear-to-ear. We finished painting the railing we had worked on all week, and it was time for the goodbye ceremony. All the classes that we worked with gathered in the gymnasium area where they danced and clung onto the volunteers who had shown them the love that they deserve. We received thank you letters from the school, and it was then time to say goodbye. Tears welled in the everyone’s eyes. The kids continued to show abundant love to these people that they met just four short days ago through “Te amo para siempre” and big hugs. Everyone’s goodbyes were challenging, but just like the rest of the week, the kids were there for us just as much as we were there for them. They gave us a new perspective, lessons on how to love, hope and confirmation in God, and so many special moments. It wasn’t goodbye, it was see-you later.
El Quince de Septiembre:
I’m not much of a cryer. I’m not much of liar either but that last sentence was a big one.
I’d also be lying if I told you my last day at quince de septiembre wasn’t a hard one. Saying goodbye to someone you love is one of the most difficult things to do in life and this entire last day I knew in the back of my mind that good bye was inevitable. Over the week I had formed a relationship with a 5th grader named Jared, we would arm wrestle. Every day I would walk in and he would be sitting down, arm upright and ready to go and I would happily sit down next to him and proceed to have the most intense battle the world has ever seen. So when it came time for our last arm wrestle, I cherished it.
In America the phrase I love you has been turned into just that “a phrase” it doesn’t hold as much weight, but that last day when I was hugging my new friend Jared ,who spoke no English to me all week, he looked up at me and in broken English said “I love you.” And I’m not going to lie to you, I cried.
Today was bittersweet. From the moment we opened our eyes for a 7:00 breakfast to the moment we left our centers for the very last time, eyes were wet and hearts were heavy. Finca, however, started off as a colorful celebration. There were balloons, dance parties, and crafts to get the day going. The kids showed endless love, as usual, and we soaked it up as much as we could because we knew that time was ticking away. Once Chase Cole started his speech about our reason for coming to Costa Rica, tears started flowing. The kids realized that our time left was short, and we feared the idea of sending them back to their threatening living conditions. As we made our way to the front of the crowd and we saw the tears in our babies’ eyes, the sadness in our hearts just grew. The kids had made cards to thank us for our hard work, and each of us were called up to receive the gift, as well as a hug from the arms of these genuinely loving children. Pictures were taken and hugs continued to be given out until the gloominess in the air was taken away by the game of the week – ¡AGUA! Buckets of water were thrown into the air and onto our faces as cheerful screams arose and smiles returned. After that, it was time for the soccer balls. Three lines were formed as each child patiently awaited their very own neon yellow soccer ball. They were ecstatic as their names were written on the ball in sharpie, officially making it their own. Some of the kids even wanted us to sign our names and write our phone numbers on the ball in hopes that we would reconnect someday. Finally, the time had come. We walked our children out to the front of the center with tears streaming down our faces. We did not want to let go. We wanted to keep them in our arms forever, protecting them from any kind of harm that they may face in their everyday lives. As the kids said one last goodbye, we turned to each other for comfort. By the time lunch ended we had partially recovered and were looking forward to finishing our work on their classrooms. Music played and paint splattered as we worked together to make Finca a more desirable learning area. Unfortunately, the time had come to walk out of that gate one last time. Adios Finca. Despite the worry about whether or not we would see that school again, we had an enjoyable rest of the day. From jumping in the pool fully clothed to going to dinner on a mountaintop with a breathtaking view, we savored every moment with each other. We worked hard to make Finca a place that the children of San Jose would be excited to attend. Little did we know that these children would have such caring and generous hearts. The beautiful faces and outstanding love in Finca will definitely not be forgotten.