Ann Faller and her daughters, Faith and Grace, spent a week serving the children and families of Escuela Integrada with a mission team from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salisbury, North Carolina. This was the first trip for Grace, 16, and the second for Ann and Faith, 18, who came on a mission trip with St. John’s in 2014.
Ann, Faith and Grace played with the children at Escuela Integrada, built stoves and went on home visits to meet the children’s families. They also participated in a collaborative service project with the older children at Escuela Integrada for Casa María, a nursing home in Jocotenango.
“It was important for our kids to work with the kids at Escuela Integrada,” said Ann, who teaches Spanish in Salisbury. “They were put in a situation where both groups had to step out of their comfort zones to serve others. They were there together to help someone else.”
The high schoolers partnered with seventh, eighth and ninth graders from Escuela Integrada to provide three afternoons of activities, dancing and food for the residents. Two students from Escuela Integrada taught the high schoolers a few dances that they later performed at Casa María. They dressed up as clowns and wore makeup for the performance.
“This is the first time I met children my age here,” said Faith, who will be a freshman at Lenoir-Rhyne University this fall. “Their set of worries is different from my set of worries, but we are also in the same boat in some ways. We are all growing and thinking about the future.”
Though the Fallers did not go on home visits or build stoves together—they were in different groups—they will be able to process their experiences together.
“It’s hard to process when you are actually here,” said Faith. “It’s really in your face when you’re back in the U.S. It’s very different from the reality here.”
Ann echoed Faith’s thoughts.
“Three women talk a lot,” said Ann. “I was excited to have both of them come. We will be able to talk through it together when we go back to Salisbury.”
The Fallers started sponsoring children from Escuela Integrada shortly after their first visit in 2014. Today, they sponsor Desee, who is nine years old and in third grade at Escuela Integrada.
“One child at a time; we can’t fix everything at once,” said Ann. “It’s like the road to Jericho. That road was broken and dangerous. People didn’t want to travel it, but there were people who needed help along the way. You have to travel the road to help the people who have fallen. You also have to fix the road.”
Leaving is always the hardest part, all three remarked. The kids and the residents at Casa María were also sad to see them go.
“I love it here,” said Faith, who plans to study international business and Spanish in college. “Every time I’ve left, I’ve felt pulled back. I love the community. I’m always trying to think of how I can get back.”
When the Fallers get back to North Carolina, they plan to share their stories with friends, family and their church community in hopes of encouraging others to support Escuela Integrada.
“They are our neighbors,” said Ann. “We all live in this world together. We have to help our neighbor for it to be a better world.”
To find out how you and your family can help the families of Escuela Integrada, visit WeAreGraces/donate.