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Guatemala Adoption

Journey of a lifetime: Galva woman's Visit to Guatemalan Orphanages Changed Her Forever.

GALVA - "It's so heartbreaking to know that when you walk out, you leave them behind, and you don't know what future they have," said Galva resident Gloria Wilson, as she wiped away tears.

"It'll forever change my life - just thinking about them, their faces - I can't get them out of my mind."

Wilson, 59, recently returned from a mission trip, where she and a group of 44 strangers from all over the United States visited seven Guatemalan orphanages.

"It's just amazing to see how hungry they are for love - how hungry they are for a hug, a touch. These are babies, toddlers, even older children," she said.

Through her church, First Baptist Church of Galva, and the support of the community, Wilson was able to share a week's worth of time and aid with Dallas-based Buckner Baptist Benevolences, one of the largest private social-care ministries in the nation that serves approximately 70,000 people each year, world-wide, with an annual budget close to $65 million.

Wilson was in Guatemala to assist with Buckner's Orphan Care International program in sharing the Gospel and distributing new shoes to orphans. She first heard about Shoes for Orphan Souls while listening to WDLM-FM 89.3, a Christian radio station in East Moline.

Shortly thereafter, she and Marlene Manning of Galva started collecting shoes for Buckner two years ago at First Baptist. The church recently sent 5,000 pairs of shoes for children around the world. During the second year of the drive, Wilson's interest in travel deepened.

"I knew I wanted to go and deliver these shoes," she said.

Wilson always wanted to go on a mission trip but wasn't able to because she was busy raising three girls and teaching high school Spanish in Annawan. Wilson's been a widow for 12 years.

"After I retired, that was my goal - to go on a mission trip," said Wilson, in her strong Hispanic accent.

She shared her experiences and stories while flipping through several packages of photos.

"It's amazing to see so many children in these orphanages ... one place had 504 children that was run by an American couple," said Wilson.

"It is so sad to see those children who have absolutely nothing. One of the orphanages we went to, they didn't have dressers - they didn't have anything they could call their own ... and whatever's cleaned and whatever fits them, that's what they wear."

During her visit, Wilson met 2-month-old babies to 18-year-old teens. Not all these children are literally orphans. Social orphans do have parents. The parents can't provide for their children, yet do not give permission to have them adopted. Children without parents can be adopted.

"In fact," said Wilson, "we've been getting e-mails to pray for a certain couple that is shortly going to be leaving to Guatemala to adopt."

Born in Mexico herself, Wilson quickly bonded with the children.

"I didn't have to translate what the kids wanted or needed. I'd just go do it ... it was very helpful (that she could communicate). There were children who accepted the Lord as their savior, and I was instrumental in translating for one child because others were busy.

"I tell everybody, 'Don't let the language be a barrier because they provide translators for you,' and you know hugs and love and smiles are the universal language. That's what these kids need. They have so limited relationships that they just want. They're so hungry for all that love and hugs and human touch - the bonding. The short time you're there you bond with them already. That's what makes it so hard to leave," said Wilson, as she wiped away tears.

Pausing a moment with her photos, Wilson points out one child, who among all the children with their sweet faces and chestnut eyes, stands out. A girl, looking less than a year old, rests in Wilson's arms as though she were the little girl's own grandmother.

"See what I mean about these children, the ages?" she asked. "They just want that human touch."

Wilson knows she has many people to thank for enabling her to go.

"The church had a special collection one day, and the youth group had a car wash and donated all the money plus more," she said.

An additional fund drive through Galva Elementary School, where Wilson's an aide, allowed her to buy humanitarian aid, such as desperately needed bottles of lice shampoo.

"(The trip) was really provided by caring people, loving people. I was very blessed to have people that cared so much, and they have the love of children and orphans - and the love of Jesus, because if they didn't have that in their hearts they wouldn't provide," said Wilson smiling.

"So many of us broke down after we'd get on the bus each day. It just touched us. Nobody will be the same."

Later she added, "It has changed me to appreciate everything that I have and to know that it is not mine, that I need to share what I have with anybody or everybody."

It has changed her in other ways. She would like to provide at least one wheelchair for a special needs child, and she is planning on sponsoring a child for $35 a month. "One hundred percent of what you sponsor goes to the children," she said.

She also gave her daughters Christmas money to buy humanitarian aid, and she's planning on returning to Guatemala next year.

"I just thank the whole community and church family for supporting me in this mission trip," Wilson said. "Because without their help it wouldn't have been possible for me to go."

- - -

For more information on Shoes for Orphan Souls, or the Buckner organization, call 1-877-7-ORPHAN (1-877-767-7426), or log onto www.shoesfororphansouls.org, or www.buckner.org.

This article was written by Ann Ring for The Register-Mail Tom Martin, Editor
The Register-Mail
Galesburg, IL 61401
309 343-7181 Ext. 250

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