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This blog is written by Irena, one of our Guatemalan friends and volunteers. Irena, along with other Guatemalan volunteers, have been making monthly trips to one of our partner organizations, Oasis, to help build and maintain relationships with the girls throughout the year. We are so inspired by the work that they do and the way they spread their love of God. 

**All pictures of girls here are not associated with the girl mentioned in this story as we want to protect her privacy**

Every time we enter the gates of Oasis, we feel overjoyed to be back and have the best time of our month! We’ve been making it a regular trip for a while now and there has been a lot of impact being made since the beginning of the year!

In February, we were able to start this journey again with the girls and in March we wanted to follow-up an activity we did last year. Our activity from last year was about their dream job or what they want to do when they grow up. We had some doctors, presidents, athletes and artists. So this year, we got some accessories so they could dress up as their dream job. Honestly, I was impressed because some of them seriously allow themselves to dream, and to dream big I must say. Some would like to go to Law School, to be advocates for children’s rights, while others would love to be teachers, musicians, nurses. We even had a maxillofacial surgeon!

Once they were dressed and ready to go, we took a picture to each one of them and let them decorate their own photo frame for it. It was such a fun experience! But none of us had a clue of how gorgeous those pictures were going to look like! Weeks later, the pictures were printed and when I got to see them, I could see real doctors healing people, real advocates fighting for justice, real artists sharing their stories through art, and real athletes being an example of discipline and attitude. Those pictures revealed just how determined those girls are and that they are embracing their future right now.

Then in April we came back and talked to them about how good is to help others, and that we must do it daily. We wanted to strengthen the love among them and emphasize that they could do favors without wanting something in return. We wanted to transmit the idea of a movie called “Pay it Forward”. The girls were told to write five favors they would do to their friends and were given a notepad where they could write favors they plan to do or that they did and the person for whom they did the favor. The five favors were written on paper with hand shapes, as to represent their selves. After making the helping hands, we hung them on a string creating a chain of favors.

After this activity, we were able to present them with their pictures! They were really excited and nervous to see how they looked! They didn’t want us to show their picture to the rest of the girls, because they didn’t feel pretty; this is the complete opposite of what we saw, because we all think they are gorgeous and seriously a masterpiece of God. But, when the activity was done and we were leaving, one of the girls approached to me and said, “Irene, take my picture with you, I don’t want it. I don’t like myself!” I was shocked because she was almost in tears when she said that. I talked to her and tried to make her understand how God sees her, how we see her, and that she is gorgeous herself both inside and out! She is loved, cared, cherished and valued by lots of people including us, which is what makes our time together so special.

After this visit, I had all sorts of emotions! I felt excited because I had seen the girls, but I also felt sad I couldn’t see some of the others because they were back with their families again. Plus, I was overthinking about this girl and how she felt about herself!

But then I could feel how God was trying to tell me that the way I see those girls, gorgeous and powerful, is the exact same way He sees all of us. We will never be able to comprehend His love, but we must understand something: We are loved by the creator of this earth. We are his children and He will never stop loving us no matter what.

And just to finish with this, while writing this post, I’m listening to “Who you say I am” by Hillsong Worship and the bridge of the song describes perfectly what I got to experience this that beautiful Sunday at Oasis.

“I’m chosen, I’m forsaken, I am who you say I am.

You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am.”

And then in the chorus there’s a part that says:

“I’m a child of God, yes I am.”

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