This is probably where it all began....Salome was with us this summer. Wait..it goes past that!
I guess the story goes back to this point...the point where Eleanor and I visited friends in Medellin, Colombia to volunteer at their ministry.
It is here where we met Salome for the first time. Salome, despite her environment, despite her family life would spend hours a week pouring into the lives of the children at Viento Fresco. She had a huge passion for learning English and any time she would meet a missionary, she would quickly go introduce herself and talk to them. Salome, Beth (another missionary from the US who was on long term trip) and Eleanor quickly became best friends. In one week, they grew so close!
I don't know what "it" was, but we knew immediately that we had a unique, special relationship. We all knew that Salome was, in some way, meant to be part of our family. So, we helped her visit the US this past summer. That is where the picture from the beach comes in. We had a great 10 days in the summer with Salome. We took her to the ocean for the first time, kept her busy with swimming, long walks, and volunteering at the Frazee Center.
It was during this trip that we all had a dream that someday Salome could come live with us. But, it seemed a huge obstacle to overcome. How does a very poor girl from Colombia just move to the US?
I don't feel comfortable telling all of Salome's story...for it is hers to tell someday. But I can tell you that when Joe and I went back to Colombia this fall, we met with Salome's mother (no -Salome is NOT an orphan) who asked Joe and I if we would be willing to take guardianship of Salome in order to give her the opportunity to go to school and live in the US. Joe didn't skip a beat and said, "Yes!"
Salome has since told us much of her life in Colombia. It is hard to listen to at times. I told Joe the other day that yet again...God has put us into His plan of RESCUE. Sometimes when we say "yes" to God's plan, we don't know the details...and we don't know the whys...but God seems to always have a plan to RESCUE his hurting children and put them into places of safety and love and security. I am humbled that God chose our family...again...to be part of that plan.
So, I know this is pretty vague - maybe someday when I have permission from Salo I can fill in all the gaps. For now, we are moving forward with legal guardianship of Salome. But, while this guardianship does things like pave the way for insurance, tax deductions and public education - the REAL joy of taking guardianship is that Salome is no longer just a visitor or a guest in our home..she is becoming one of us.
Joe and I pulled her aside yesterday and talked about the significance of this. We wanted her to know how serious this idea of guardianship is to us. It is no longer just about a piece of paper that helps her go to school. No, this means Joe and I have earned the right to be her parent. We want to teach her, to guide her, to help her make decisions. We want to love her as if she were one of our own. We wanted her to know that we were committing to her...committing for a lifetime! She smiled ear to ear.
We held hands at the kitchen counter and prayed.
What started as a long-distance friendship between two teenage girls....has turned into a FAMILY.