A B.C. family spending Christmas with relatives in Central America for the first time in seven years is desperate to be reunited with their lost luggage, which includes donations for an orphanage and medications.

The Cruz family, who lives in Maple Ridge, left Vancouver International Airport on Sunday to see relatives in El Salvador - but things didn't go according to plan.

"It's far from a vacation, it's been a nightmare," Maria Cruz told CTV News, detailing the chaos of their journey home.

First they faced delays, then were re-routed, eventually arriving in El Salvador more than 12 hours later than they were supposed to - but their luggage was nowhere to be found.

It's now been five days into the trip, and the family's luggage has not been returned.

"We keep getting tricked, 'Oh, you're getting your bags tomorrow, they're coming on the next flight,'" said Cruz. "We keep waiting and waiting, and now it's five days into our trip."

Cruz says her husband's prescription medications are in the bags, and what he took in his carry-on luggage is about to run out.

But that's not all - four of the seven bags contained donations collected in B.C. that the family had planned to give away to children in need.

"We're actually going to the orphanage tomorrow, and the orphanage won't have any of the help the great communities of Vancouver and Maple Ridge have given us [through] those donations," said Cruz.

American Airlines told CTV News they apologized for the delayed baggage, and will reimburse the Cruz family for incidental expenses. By Friday evening, the airline confirmed all the bags had been located, and would be arriving in El Salvador at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday.

Cruz says she'll believe it when she sees it. She says all the anxiety has taken away something even more valuable - time with her family.

"We immigrated to Canada seven years ago, and we've not spent Christmas with our family in seven years," she said.

"So you can imagine the excitement, and how heartbroken we are not to help our family and the people of our country."

With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan