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Diego’s Smile & Jaquelin’s Faith

I was beyond blessed to be a part of something so amazing like this Reaching Trip to El Salvador! On Sunday we went to CIPI where the orphaned children go before they are placed in permanent housing. When I first got there I thought I want to be with the teen girls; I feel I can connect with them. When we were on our tour, our first stop was where the abandoned babies were at - that’s where I met Diego.

Diego is a newborn with Down syndrome who I instantly fell in love with! He stole my heart. I didn’t even take the rest of the tour, I just stayed there holding him. While I held him I knew he felt the love I had for him we just connected. He never once cried with me. I put him down and left for an hour, when I returned he recognized me and wouldn’t take his eyes off me, smiling. I held him and he fell asleep in my arms. I was with him for hours!!

We were told that was going to be the only time we would go to CIPI and I was sad I thought Diego was for sure my one person! I was able to show that amazing gift of God what love really feels like and I knew he felt it! On Thursday I was told we were returning to CIPI; you can only imagine my excitement! I said I’m spending all day with Diego - I will not leave his side all morning! But God had different plans for me.

When we arrived Diego was asleep so I let him be and decided I’d go spend time with one of the teen girls named Jaquelin who lives in the same building. Now keep in mind, when I started talking to her, I thought I’ll just talk to her till my baby wakes up. Once we started talking about why she was in there, I broke out in tears. She is afraid to go home because she has good reason to believe some of the gang members want to harm her or kill her. They keep her apart from the rest of the teens because they want to harm her.

At this point the tears would not stop, she said tell me why are you crying? My response was, because I am angry. I am angry because I want to protect you, because I want to be here every day so that you know you are not alone, so that they know you are not alone, so that you know somebody cares and loves you! But I can’t because I have to go back home. She hugged me and then went to get her bible. She flipped the pages until she got to her favorite verse (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). She told me I truly believe that there is a time for everything and anytime I feel sad or scared I read the bible.

Then I realized I shouldn’t be angry because she is not alone! Because our amazing Father protects her and holds her every day! I told her I admire her, because at her age I did not turn to the bible for comfort; I turned to revenge. She made me realize I shouldn’t be angry about the things I see on this trip, but rejoice in the amazing love he has given us to spread! I am so happy and blessed to be able to spread the love our Father has given us. I feel the children filled us with so much humility and so much love. There’s nobody on our team that came home unchanged!!

Claudia Vargas


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