Esmeralda “Esme” Mathieu is a sophomore Music Education major at Washington Adventist University. She is currently in a gap year program as a Volunteer EMS Provider at the Bethesda, Maryland Fire Department, is a member of the Capital Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and served as a Campus Ministry leader last year.
— This is Esme’s story —
"Last summer I went on an amazing mission trip to El Salvador along with the Washington Adventist University women’s basketball team. It was truly a powerful experience for me.
The Hogar Escuela Adventista is an orphanage school in the little town of San Juan Opico. The 20 or so children there were excited to see us, and could not wait to become friends with these new arrivals from the United States! We stayed on campus, and each morning after breakfast, with a little help from some of the boys at the school, we painted an entire dormitory building—inside and out.
In the evenings, we would go swimming with the kids, play soccer or basketball, and just hang out. You had to be there to understand the bonds we formed with the children and with each other.
During our 11-day trip, we also got to see the cities of Santa Anna and San Salvador. The WAU Lady Shock basketball team got to play an exhibition game with the country’s top professional team. We also had a special time together helping lead Sabbath services at the orphanage.Many of the children spoke with us and told us the heartbreaking stories of how they got there, bringing many of us to tears. But, as they finished their stories, they showed promise and hope for a better future."