At the end of August, I traveled with a few high schoolers and young adults from Bethany to a place I love… Cochabamba, Bolivia. The organization we worked with, Ninos con Valor, welcomed us into their family and we were blessed by the love and joy the kids of Cochabamba have. Thank you to so many of you who donated arts supplies for our trip. Kids had a blast with all the craft projects and we left them with many supplies for the next few months of school.
One student on this trip wrote the following reflection after her time in Bolivia:
“This summer I got the opportunity to travel to Bolivia with 5 other young women and serve at an orphanage for kids with severe learning disabilities and HIV. We traveled to Bolivia to serve with an organization called Niños Con Valor, which can be translated to mean either Children with Value or Brave Children. On this trip, I saw both. They seek to help kids that have been orphaned or abused and give them a chance to grow up without as many challenges as they would have otherwise faced.
Before I left Seattle, one of my biggest fears was not being liked by the kids. It seems weird now, because the only thing they ever did was welcome us. They welcomed us into their home, into their lives, and even welcomed us to attend the Quinceanera of one of the girls there. For me and several others on this trip, God’s light shone through these kid’s smiles and their uncaring attitudes towards the hardships life had dealt them. And now I think I understand more about why so many people describe kids as the light in their lives; because the kids we met were surrounded by so much joy that they didn’t even know what darkness was. It was truly amazing to see how active God was in their lives.
During the Quinceanera, I was especially struck by the relationships everyone had with each other. The birthday girl had the younger girls, who were like her sisters, perform a dance and then later waltzed the traditional father-daughter dance with the director of the entire organization. I saw her family that night, and no one was related by blood, but every single one of them loved each other and cared for each other. My trip was all about discovering that God’s light is really the joy that happens through relationships.
The mission trip was our mission in discovering how to best serve God, and in Bolivia, that meant them teaching us how to find joy in every relationship we make.” – Danica Barwell, 10th grade, King’s High School