On their final day in El Salvador the team visited some familiar faces. They began the day at CISNA’s orphanage for boys. The young men range in ages from 7-17 years old and live in a former prison. I use the word “former” loosely because things haven’t changed much at all. The boys are sleeping in cells on thin mats with discusting conditions. The turn over rate for workers is high and there is only about one employee per 40 or or so boys. Many of them escape to join gangs in the city, and are later caught by police and brought back.

It is an amazing thing to see the hardened hearts of these young men, broken by God’s love for them. The government allows Starfish to come into the orphanage and share with the boys that God has a better plan for their lives.

Diego, shown here, is a boy we met several years ago on our fisrst visit to CISNA. At the time, he was one of the youngest boys there, and quickly attached to Jay Michael, one of our team members. After spending some time with Jay talking and playing, Diego asked if Jay could be his Papa. Since then, their relationship has continued to grow. The following trip when Jay wen’t back to visit Diego, he prayed and accepted Christ! Jay was unable to go on this trip, but wrote a letter to Diego and continues to be a positive influence to this young man of Christ.

The group spent the day talking with and encouraging the boys, plaing games, teaching them of God and His love, painting faces and building relationships.

Below you will find Stanley, another friend we met several years ago. He is a self educated young man who has traveled the world and speaks several languages. Somehow, he has ended up in this orphanage in El Salvador. Over the past few months we have spoken to Stanley and he expressed his desire to learn to play the violin.

Kathy Gardner was able to get a violin donated for Stanley that Starfish sent to him with lesson books last month. Olivia Harp was on this weeks team and helped Stanley improve his technique!

Brian Carter wrote, “Today I watched Olivia giving a violin lesson to a young man who would soon have to leave the orphanage called CISNA. I had positioned myself there to take a picture of the two, so I could share it with her parents. The young man had played the insturment before and he had some ability, but he was struggling to put his fingers on the right strings. with a warm smile and a tender touch, our Olivia took his hand and placed it in the correct place. The result was wonderful to watch… The music filled the air of the courtyard and the young man’s face broke into a smile. When he finished, they shared a moment together as she praised him and they laughed together. I realized that this week God has taken our hands and placed them on the lives of these people, and our shared moments together have brought a smile to all. Our great God has blessed our week with moments like this daily!”

Before ending the day, the team stopped by La Casa de mi Padre where they were able to visit many great friends that we love and miss dearly! These are some the first relationships God built with us and the children of El Salvador, and they will always remain close to our hearts!

As the week came to an end, we hope we completed God’s mission to El Salvador to the fullest. He loves these children and so do we! Our prayer is to continue His work with these precious children we have come to love so much and bring awarness of their circumstances to the world!