When I thought about the things I wanted to do in my life, going to an El Salvadoran girls’ prison never made it to the list. Tahiti, yes. A really cool place in France where there are houses carved in the mountains, absolutely. Montana, very high on my list.
But seriously, an El Salvadoran girls’ prison, let’s face it, nowhere near the top thousand. But I have experienced two of the most emotional and tender days of my life and I would say every Christian mother needs to visit an El Salvadoran prison.
It’s almost an insult to even try to explain all that I have seen, heard and felt because all words are lacking.
We entered the locked doors and teenage girls some as young as 13 began en- thusiastically greeting us. Beth Anne and I along with our wonderful translator Lulu went upstairs into the stark meeting room and the girls practically jumped for joy! It was a pretty cool to see girls so happy to see us.
About a week ago, I did something else rather unexpected. I put some blue highlights in my hair! Think the colors of a parakeet and you have a fairly good idea what it looks like. I did it on a whim and just decided to go for it.
Members of my own family, (AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) 😉 have not approved of this decision but I seriously have been wanting to do it for a while. I dyed just about 10% of my entire head…now I know why I did it. The girls in the El Salvadoran prison have LOVED it! We have definitely bonded over my stylish coif.
They have found my blue (azule) hair VERY beautiful and maybe even glamorous! So take that everyone else who hasn’t found it especially “bonita,” y’all I’ve been workin’ it at the El Salvadoran girls’ prison!
We shared our message about hope and purity. In the middle of the presentation, the mood in the room became so precious, so sweet. Beth Anne, Lulu the translator and I were talking about the infinite love of God. His grace. His mercy. His forgiveness.
If you could have seen these girls, some serving sentences for extortion and other crimes, wiping tears from their eyes, you would have been as emotional as we were. We told them that despite all the things that they have done, and quite honestly we have done, Jesus loves us and died for our sins. There was a hush in the prison walls.
Here we were, behind bars, in a prison, with young criminals and we had the humble privilege of telling these girls that THIS place could become a place of hope and freedom because of Jesus. Lulu had to stop translating for a moment, she was so overcome with God’s presence. Tears were streaming down our faces and there was love overflowing. Even the prison guards were touched by the message as we also told these ladies that Jesus loved them.
We couldn’t take pictures of the girls’ faces but in a moment of creativity, we found a way around it. We took pictures of feet! Our feet among their feet!
And we took pictures of our hands. Our hands embracing their hands. The white hands holding the little brown hands. The women who were free to leave this prison among the girls who were going to stay.
We took pictures of our shadows. Our shadows among theirs. We took pictures with our backs to the camera with all of our arms around each other. It will be among my most treasured photos. As soon as I come home I will post the photos. You’ve got to see them.
What am I doing here? I do not deserve to be in a place like this. It is too beautiful, too moving and yet the Lord has brought me to this place for such a time as this. I am deeply, profoundly, eternally humbled.
Every Christian mother needs to spend time in an El Salvadoran prison. Put it on your list.