Everyday that we served at the mission in Baja Mexico we were assigned or volunteered for various jobs that needed to be done. These ranged from construction work, painting, cleaning bathrooms, weeding, cooking or helping in various ministries. My favorite assignment was being sent to the day home for disabled children to help out and fill in for staff who weren't there. I did a variety of other jobs listed above but this one was more like play than work. The mission in Baja is a very multi faceted ministry. The heart of the place is the childrens home (the orgional ministry) which provides a home for about 80 kids. Out of that ministry branches many "limbs" that minister to the surrounding community or support the childrens home. One of the newest of these is the day home for disabled children.
This little guy pictured above has the most adorable smile. It's not totally clear what is causing his problems but he is small for his age (4), is non verbal and is delayed in mental development. He was not at all impressed that I was helping him with his breakfast instead of his normal caregiver. He was very communicative and I could tell he was frustrated with his lack of verbal skills.
These are two of the older boys in the group, there are several older kids. They had a good time hamming it up for the camera. We then switched and they snapped pictures of me making goofy faces.
This little Angel (his name is actually Angel) was a joyful little bundle of energy. He keeps his caregivers on their toes! It was fun to play with him. He reminds me so much of a little girl that I had the priviledge of caring for a year ago. She also has Downsydrome and was in my home for 8 months. So bright and sociable.
This is my little amiga Lupita. I spent a morning "sewing" with her. She worked so hard at stringing the laces through the holes to sew the clothes onto the wooden bear. She has such a cheerful little sense of humor. And the dimples are so cute. She has cerebral palsy and some eye issues as well.
These are just a few of the kids at the day home. There are a few boys with muscular dystrophy which is a tragic disease that gradually destroys their bodies. They were still so full of personality and life dispite their prognosis. There are kids there with a broad spectrum of mental and physical challenges.
In this part of the world a child with a disability is not able to go to school (integration is just not an option) and they are often left on the side lines of society living their lives in a small house or bed. They grow up to survive by begging on the streets. When we were there three years ago this ministry was still only a dream and vision of a wonderful retired couple from Canada who had spent time volunteering at the mission. It is wonderful to see the fruits of their prayers and continuing hard work. The staff picks up each of the kids in the morning , feeds them breakfast, provides a stimulating and educational environment for them, provides equipment (often custom made) such as walkers and rough terrain wheel chairs, gives them medical attention at the mission clinic, and of course loves all over these kids until they return home later in the day.
I was so impressed at how well organized the volunteer staff were and how much attention to detail they had in a desire to see each of the children reach their potential. Its often hard to see past the wheelchairs, twisted limbs, or unusual features in special needs kids and really see the child. It was so fun to be able to spend enough time with them to see their individual personalities, their sense of humor and their tenacious and joyful spirits shine through. I loved every minute of it! After a few minutes I hardly noticed all the things that tell the world that they are "different" .
This was just one of the amazing things God is doing through his dedicated servants that our group had the priviledge to witness and experience. If you want to know more about some of the other ministries of FFHM check out their website.
They are a ministry founded on prayer and that moves ahead in faith. This work is done by the donations of caring people all over the world. Right now their donations are down because giving has dropped off. With a tough economy in the UnitedStates unfortunately charities and ministries like these are often the first things cut out of peoples family budgets. Every little bit helps and multiplies to change kids lives.