Every day this week has been busy, busy, busy. The last two days at the Manny Mota Foundation were no exception. It all started with a group of parents getting up early in the morning and heading to the local store to purchase hundreds of items of food to give away to the people of El Tamarindo. When the rest of us arrived to the Foundation for the day students went off to play games with the friends they had made, some of the adults went to visit and deliver school supplies to a local school, while others got busy helping in the cage or in the kitchen. When the food was delivered to the foundation parents and students quickly got busy organizing rice, bread, chicken, cooking oil, and many other staples the locals use to feed their families. As the 40 pound bags of food were prepared, locals who received a food ticket earlier in the day began to line up. When 2:00 rolled around, the Foothill students eagerly grabbed a bag of food and handed it over to one of the locals. After about thirty minutes of passing food out we were down to the last few bags. One hundred 40 pound bags of food were passed out to families that were in dire need of necessities to feed their children. The grateful smiles of these mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children as they walked away with their bags will be something our students and parents will never forget.
Foothill’s last day at the Foundation can be summed up with two words: not easy. As we took our final journey into the village and drove through the gates of the Manny Mota Foundation for the last time, the students exited the bus with anticipation. Anticipation of last games played together, last face painting, last swipe of the nail polish brush, and last race through the field. Before we said our farewell, everyone got to walk over to see what progress had been made on Emily’s house. Emily is a thirteen year old girl who lives with her mom and siblings in a small one or two room house that was recently destroyed in a fire. During this week I have learned that the people of this village have each other’s backs and truly take care of each other. Maybe this is where we get the term: “It takes a village.” Because their house burnt down, Emily and her family had thankfully been living with another family for the last two months. Emily has grown up in El Tamarindo and has gotten to know some of the faces of Foothill and because of these relationships that had been built over the last eleven years, our team of parents got together with some local contractors to rebuild Emily’s house. It was amazing to see that after three days of work, her house was well on its way to being a home once again.
After visiting Emily’s house it was time to head back to the foundation to say our good-byes. To say it was tearful is an understatement. From the parents to the students to the locals, we all shed tears. I don’t think it was a sad good-bye. Yes, in that moment everyone felt sad, however I think it was a hopeful good-bye. Friendships and relationships were built during our time serving. We were all sent to El Tamarindo by God; for one reason or another we were all sent by God and because our mission was given to us by God, it was one of hope. After passing out clothes and food and medications all week I realized that none of it is worth anything unless there is hope behind it all- hope for future trips, hope for friendships, hope for more relationships, and hope for a better life for the people of El Tamarindo. This kind of hope can only come from our Lord. To be the hands and feet of Jesus this week and to give His hope to the people was truly a pleasure and honor. As our final hugs, high fives, and tears (and sips of their AMAZING coffee) were given out we loaded the bus and drove back to the hotel. Farewell, for now, D.R.!