Nov. 23, 2011 Children, Giving Back

They are thankful too! LBF Mexico Outreach 2011

This is truly the season of giving!  
This past weekend, I had the most awesome opportunity to travel to Mexico with our new church, Life Bible Fellowship. I haven't done a ton of traveling out of the country, but I felt that I needed to be stretched and as my friend Matt says, "ruined for the ordinary". We traveled down to Tijuana, Mexico bright and early Saturday morning. We arrived at Casa Hogar El Faro, an orphanage located in the eastern part of Tijuana. Lots of prayers were sent up for our team, and the most important prayer was that the playground we were taking down to the orphanage would make it across the border. We all made it, including the playground. Aside from the 4 1/2 hours it took to cross the border, our team was truly touched by this trip in more ways than one.  
*Photographers note, all images were shot with my Canon 5D, 24-105mm f/4 L IS and JPEG format vs. my 5D Mark II and RAW. 
When we arrived, we were greeted by 40+ beautiful children who were so happy to see us! As we got organized, the kids started to take all of our name tags off. So much for our group trying to remember each other's names. It was hysterical. The one little girl in the image above collected the most name tags, and later, she decided to share.
My new little friend Enrique wore my name tag all day. I fell in love with him.
The purpose of our visit was to not only set up a new playground for the kids, but to also have a carnival for them with loads of games, food and prizes. Each child at this orphanage was so sweet, and the smallest token was the greatest gift we could have given them.
The playground, almost complete!
My traveling companions for the day, the Parkers! Russ, Amy, Owen and Mya. If you saw the video I had posted FB on Sunday evening as we were doing the border crawl, things were getting pretty funny! Mya and Owen are always laughing! I feel so blessed to have such great friends at LBF. And Russ, he organized this entire trip! Kudos to him for being so organized!
Drew and Edwin giving the day a thumbs up! Drew was also taking pictures at the orphanage. Be on the look out for a video! He's cool that way!
Many of the children at this orphanage are not really orphans. Their parents can't quite take care of them for a number of reasons, so they are sent here for short and long amounts of time. Many of them do go back to their families. One young man had been there for 10 years. I tried to find out more, but couldn't. Maybe next time. My hope is that not all the same kids are there when we go back, because that means their family situations have improved.
Kathy and I fell in love with this little one. Her name is Elise and she is just precious! We were trying to figure out a way to bring her home.
The entire team with all the kiddos! God is so good!  
I can't wait to travel back to Casa Hogar El Faro, not only to see the kiddos, but to bring more things they need like shoes and undergarments. 
Enjoy more images from our trip in the gallery below. Just hit play!  
Happy Thanksgiving!
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