We do so many things as parents that build self esteem in our children. Every day we tell our kids that they are valuable and that their dreams really do matter. Often times these moments of encouragement come in subtle ways that we don't even realize are taking place. When we finally send them out to fly from from the nest, it's clear that our children know they are loved and supported.
This deep knowledge poured into them since birth gives them wings to fly.
But what happens when a child grows up with none of these things? What happens if they go to fly from the nest and there is no one there to cheer them on? I can imagine that without a firm foundation to launch from, it would be hard to know if flying, or even dreaming of flying is a good idea at all.
So bird metaphors aside, I have the privilege of knowing and loving some really great young men and women that are growing up at the Kid's Kingdom orphanage. Two of those really great people are brothers named Ramiro and Richardo. These two absolutely love playing soccer. And let me tell you, they are REALLY good.
As Administrative Coordinator of Baja Love Outreach, a big part of my ministry is looking for ways to support children in following their dreams into a career. But it is equally wonderful to get to support guys like Ramiro and Richardo in something that simply feeds their souls and tells them "If this is important to you..then this is important to me." Regardless if it brings them to a career or not!
Because if it were my own kids, I'd do that for them in a heartbeat.
So when Ramiro asked me if I could help him find sponsors for their upcoming soccer trip, Baja Love jumped on the chance to send them.
The next week the boys traveled to mainland Mexico to play some of the top teams in their age group, in an international soccer tournament. They played hard and enjoyed every minute of it. They got to travel across Mexico and see different landscapes, try new foods and meet new people. They came back so happy for the chance to experience such an epic trip.
Growing up at the orphanage, they had not seen much of anything past the outskirts of Ensenada.
And out of more than 25 teams, their team proudly took second place.
We are so proud of them!
So what kind of doors will playing in an international soccer tournament open for Ramiro and Richardo?
Well besides exposing them to scouts that would be lucky to pick up talented guys like them to play professionally, (Ramiro and Richardo's ultimate dream!) it does so much more.
I've noticed a change in them since the trip. from my perspective its like it's finally clicking that Baja Love is serious about valuing them and their dreams. It's one thing to be an American group that comes down to support the orphanage with much needed finances and supplies, but in my opinion its a whole other thing to stick around long enough to invest in the lives of these kids long term. Especially in such personal ways.
I feel like all the Kid's Kingdom kids are saying to themselves, "If Baja Love believes in a soccer dream for my brothers, than maybe just maybe, I can un-bury my dreams a bit. Maybe they would believe in me and support my dreams too."
I can see the wheels turning for so many of them.
There are no limits for a kid that has the confidence to know their identity and self worth! Kids like that can honestly change the world.
Personally, I feel a little overwhelmed and quite emotional about all of this. Truth be told, I've cried like a baby more than once thinking about the weight of this privilege. The privilege of being part of these guys stories, even if in such tiny ways.
I've even procrastinated writing this blog because every single word I wrote seemed so trivial and undeserving to explain such an important story. There is so much going on in my heart right now that I've honestly had a hard time sorting it out.
It wasn't long ago that I felt like giving up as a missionary. I felt like all my efforts to love these kids would never really matter. But thankfully Bob and I didn't quit when it was hard. We continued to obey the Lord when he said to stick it out. Now I can look at Ramiro and Richardo, as well as all the children at the orphanage and say, "Knowing you has made every difficult moment worth it"
I want to thank Baja Love as well as every single one of the people who support us in the work that we do. The ground work that happens to build meaningful and lasting relationships with these kids really does cause miracles to happen. I don't even care if that sounds cheesy, because it is the honest to goodness truth. And I am so proud to be a part of it.
Thank You Father God for creating us so uniquely. What a thrill it is to find out who we are in you and to fulfill your purposes in our lives. Theres no greater joy than knowing you and walking out your great plan for our lives, with you right by our side.