This is a summary of the trip written by one of the team membwer
After several meetings, our team journey started and we were glad to leave behind our cold Canadian winter for the beautiful Mexico.
In Queretaro, Mexico, we were picked up from the airport by Jeremy Van Beelen and arrived at Pan de Vida, our home for the next ten days. Jeremy and his wife Ana Van Beelen are the directors of the orphanage and are in charge of the care of more than 70 beautiful children. Jeremy explained that as grateful as he would be for the work we complete, he wanted us to spend time with the children and show love to them. Many come from homes where they were abandoned or abused.
The next morning we received a tour of the premises and learned that the girls’ dining hall and kitchen were in desperate need of a paint job. We saw where the girls live and continued towards the sports field at the back, which also functions as the grazing field for the sheep. We were then introduced to the numerous bunnies, chickens, turkeys and several sheep roaming around. This is where Jeremy is looking to do an expansion of animal pens. Moving on, Jeremy explained that they planted many trees with the hopes of yielding fruit so that they can rely less on donations. We were then shown the boys’ area as well as the school and the church, all on the same property, fenced and gated in.
We certainly had our work cut out for us! We painted the girls’ kitchen and dining hall. We expanded the garden as well as the farm area where we poured concrete. We worked hard but took a break at 11:30am every day to spend time with the school children on their break. When they returned to the classrooms, we returned to our respective duties.
On Monday evening we heard the testimonies of two boys and two girls on how their journey brought them to the orphanage and how through this they learned about God and now serve Him. We are thankful for their courage to share their stories with us. On Tuesday night we had a prayer evening with the children and learned how thankful to God they were for our presence among them.
On Wednesday morning some of us were invited to go along to the market for donations. It was an eye opening experience watching the staff asking for donations. Oftentimes we received fruit and vegetables that were considered too damaged to sell, some no longer fit for human consumption. We gratefully accepted all donations because at the very least it would feed the animals.
On Wednesday evening we had a midweek church service. On Thursday afternoon we drove to Esperanza para Ti, another Children of Hope orphanage, where we were able to have dinner and a game night with their children. On Friday night the Taco truck came, giving us and the children a fantastic meal.
We were blessed with two weekends on our trip. On Saturdays we spent time together bonding as a team. After our initial tour on the first Saturday, we went to downtown Queretaro where we saw the famous Aqueduct. We also saw a Mariachi band as well as street clowns perform. The second Saturday Jeremy took us to Pena de Bernal, a popular tourist attraction for hiking up the mountain. We certainly had quite the workout climbing up the mountain and spent the afternoon recovering…I mean… roaming the streets for some souvenirs to bring home to our loved ones.
On the Sundays we spent time with the children. Our day started with a church service which was translated into English for our team. Following the service we bonded with the children, playing ultimate Frisbee, soccer, jump rope, or even jumping on the trampoline. At other times we were practicing our Spanish often ending with the children laughing with or at us.
We spent time as a team doing daily devotions, and growing closer to God and each other during this experience. I truly believe that actions speak louder than words and to have the opportunity to attend this orphanage was an experience that I will never forget. We showed love to these children but received the same in return. They welcomed us with open arms for which we will always be thankful. It is at this time that you know it does not matter how much money is in your bank account or what you look like after a long day at work. God provides for us, as He does for the beautiful children at this orphanage, and the love we share as brothers and sister in Christ will always be enough.
Our time flew by and we are back to our every day lives. I encourage everyone to keep Pan de Vida and all the children in prayers. “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. 1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV.
On a final note, Pan de Vida is run by Children of Hope which is a Christian organization in British Columbia. The orphanage receives funding from donations as well as child sponsorships, so if anyone is able to contribute please check out the website: www.childrenofhope.info