The Past Two Months…

It has been over 2 months since I have posted on our blog…not sure how it can be that long already! The lack of writing isn’t because nothing has taken place, if anything, it is the opposite. So much has been going on that it has been hard to find the time to sit down and write about it all.

Shortly after my last blog post, we headed to the U.S. Over the next few months we will be spending time fundraising, talking about our mission, setting up mission trips and collecting donations to be handed out over the next year. So far, we are off to a great start!

At the end of September we had a Flea Market Sale. Several people paid for a space at our sale, and sold all kinds of things. We had yard sale items, clothing, crafts, and more! The sale was a success, and we raised a good amount of money for our mission.1371302_10200834675014039_1886777216_n[1]This October we received two donations. One community is collecting grooming items for us, and they have already gathered a good amount! We were excited to receive all the shampoos, soaps, lotions, etc. they have collected for us so far!IMG_7723We also received a large donation from a family who bought all kinds of things for us to bring back to El Salvador. The items include toys, clothing, school supplies, and more! We know all these things will be a blessing to the many people who will get them. IMG_7707

We are so thankful for all the help and support we have been given so far in the United States. Over the next few months we will be doing some more fundraisers and activities, and we are confident that we will return to El Salvador with more than we could have imagined! Thank you to all who have blessed our mission with your generosity!

A Grama’s Heart

I love my Grama. She has such a good heart, and really loves her family! Ever since I was a little kid, she has always been one of my biggest supporters. Whether she was coming to watch me sing a solo in a Christmas program, or cheering me up with some of her yummy baked goods on a bad day, she has always “had my back”!

Well, I’m not a little kid anymore, but she continues to show me her love and support all the time.

Whenever I am in the States, I am sure to spend a lot of time visiting my Grama in her nursing home. When I am there, she always tells me the same two things, “I pray for you every night” and “I love you very, very much”! Even at 2 and 3 years old, my sons know that whenever we see “old Grama” or talk to her on video chat, that she will finish by reminding us that she prays for us and loves us!

When I first moved to El Salvador, it was hard for her to see me go. I remember clearly saying goodbye to her and my Pop-Pop, and praying that I’d see them again. I think the fact that my Pop-Pop died less than two months later, and I never got to see him after that day, has really made me appreciate the visits I have had with my Grama over the past five years.

When we first started, Hope and a Future Missions, my Grama was full of questions about the work we do, and the people we help. After hearing about the needs of people in El Salvador, she helped us with a fundraiser, selling crafts with the red hat society at her nursing home.

IMG_3330

Yesterday, my Grama turned 85! When my mom first told her that they were going to have a party for her birthday,540599_10200500708432929_1687904414_n[1] one of the first things she said, was that she didn’t need any presents. After talking it over with my mom, she decided that if people wanted to give her something, that they could make a donation in her name, to our mission. Thanks to her friends and family, $175 were donated to Hope and a Future Missions, in her honor!

We are so grateful for this donation, and my Grama’s willingness to help our mission! We look forward to using the money in June, for our Vacation Bible School. It will allow us to purchase supplies for the kids, and food for the families of kids who come!

541629_10200500709552957_552656907_n[1]

I may not be able to see my Grama as often as I’d like, but I still “pray for her every night”, and “love her very, very much”!

Never Too Young

I love the way that kids think. You never know what they will say, or how much they are listening to things.

A few weeks ago, I bought some candy to put in the little goody bags we make up to give kids. When we got home my son asked me if he could have some candy, and I told him that he couldn’t, because it was for the “otros niños” (other kids) that we see sometimes. Then I gave him a real quick explanation, something like, “we give it to them to help them have a happy day.”

Two weeks later, I was in the grocery store with my 3 year-old, and he was excited to be pushing his own little cart. He felt like a big deal and was grabbing things he knows we always buy, like juice boxes, and rice. While I was putting a few things in my shopping cart, I looked over at him and saw him drop a big bag of candy into his cart. When I asked him why he took the candy, he told me, “I want to make otros niños happy too mami”!

Bless his heart, at 3 years old he is already thinking about other kids, who don’t have as much as he does. He’s not the only one either.

IMG_6389

We have received an incredible amount of new, or barely used stuffed animals over the past few months. We love getting any donations, but there is something really special about these stuffed animals. Many of them were given to us by children who want to make a difference. Kids, who heard that there are other kids who have no toys, and were so shocked, that they had to do something about it. This really touches my heart. To hear stories about young children who searched through their own toys, to find a few for kids they don’t even know, in a country they have never even heard of…wow! What a blessing!

IMG_6388 Today we were blessed again…

My mom had the opportunity to go to my old school, West Sayville Christian School in N.Y. to talk about Hope and a Future Missions, and show the kids some pictures. After telling the kids what things are like in El Salvador, she asked if anyone had any questions. Several kids did. She got asked all kinds of things like, do kids play sports in El Salvador, are there churches there, where do people without indoor plumbing go to the bathroom, what does El Salvador mean, and my favorite, are there wild animals, like lions there? This is why I love kids, they are always thinking!

The school has a chapel service every Wednesday morning, and the offering they collect for the month of April is going to be donated to our mission. My mom explained that we’d be using the money to buy some plastic tables and chairs, so that when we do kid’s activities, like VBS, the kids will have a place to sit, and make their projects. The students were surprised to learn that we had been doing VBS on the side of the road, with children sitting on the ground on a sheet. All the students agreed, that the tables sounded like a better idea!

Before she left, my mom handed out bracelets that said “El Salvador” to each student in the whole school. She told them that the bracelet can be a reminder to pray for the people in El Salvador, and Hope and a Future Missions. I can only imagine what the stories were like around the dinner table tonight, about kids in El Salvador who don’t have clothes, or who go to bed hungry!

Praise God for these children who are learning at an early age what it means to give, and to care for others. Who knows how they are touching lives by selflessly giving a child who is underprivlidged a toy, or whose heart may be touched during a Vacation Bible School lesson around one of those plastic tables!

You are never too young to be a blessing in someone else’s life.

 

March

March has been a really great month for us here at, Hope and a Future Missions. As you know the boxes of stuff to donate have finally arrived, and we got a van donated to us, but there is more. We also had someone donate $18+ of cans and bottles to us, which was an unexpected bonus, and we finished our first fundraiser of the year, which was a huge success!

When we first talked about doing the February fundraiser, we were hoping that a lot of people would learn a little more about El Salvador, pray for us, and maybe raise $400 if we could get enough people to participate in it. Well, as it turns out, LOTS of people, “Have a Heart for El Salvador” because in this fundraiser we raised just over $700! We could not believe how great this fundraiser was! Not only did we raise hundreds more than we thought, but we figure, if we raised all that, there must have been lots of prayers being said too, and that is priceless!

We are so grateful for the congregations of West Sayville Reformed Bible Church, and Christ Community Church, for taking part in this fundraiser, as well as all the other friends who prayed for us, and supported us throughout the month!

This March is also the first handout we are doing of the New Year. We are very excited because we will have some special helpers coming all the way from New York to work with us handing out a bunch of great stuff this weekend. I have been busy organizing all those new items, and getting everything ready to give out.

In one location we will be handing out TONS of flip-flops! IMG_5992

This box is full of brand new flip-flops, and kids and adults in this location will be blessed to walk away with these shoes on their feet! I guarantee there will a few kids who will be there barefoot, so seeing these families all leave with shoes on will be very exciting!

In another location, we will be handing out some food.IMG_5996 Each family will get a tote bag that has some ramen soups, chips, and rice in them, plus a little note wishing them a Happy Easter, and a verse to remind them what Easter is truly about.IMG_6004

The kids in this area will all receive a little goody bag. Each bag has some candy, cookies, a whistle, an Easter maze with a verse on it, and a crayon to do the maze!

The last location where we are going will be getting bags of grooming items.IMG_5988

These bags have items like, razors, toothbrushes, lotion, shower gel, toothpaste, soap, and the Easter note. The bags will be one per family, so we have tried to make sure that there is a little something for everyone!

IMG_5998

The kids in this location will get these little goody bags. They are similar to the others, but have a mini pinball game instead of a whistle.

We are excited to be able to bring this stuff to the families this weekend. Thank you to all those who have donated the items we are handing out, or money so that we could purchase things like, food, crayons, candy and small toys to give out!

Inside the Small Box

A few weeks ago, I wrote about all the great things we received inside a huge box. We recently got another box that was sent to us, and though it was smaller, it was still FULL of great stuff for us to hand out!

Just take a look at what was inside:

IMG_5870 A family friend works for a dentist office, and was able to get 288 tubes of toothpaste and these 63 toothbrushes donated to us! It may seem crazy to think that a toothbrush could be a big deal, but many of these families do not have toothbrushes, or have to share one toothbrush for the whole family, so these will be a huge blessing to them!IMG_5874

We also found a box with dozens of hand creams, and lotions that one lady who used to sell MaryKay donated! These will be a great addition to the bags of grooming items that we will be making up, and handing out in a few weeks!IMG_5871

We also received this box with over a hundred razors! We are excited that we can give each family a razor in the bags as well!IMG_5873

In addition to all of these items, we also got a bunch of donations of things like mini shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and more! Here you can see I have started to separate them so that each family will get a little bit of everything!IMG_5884

No box is ever complete without some clothes, and this one was no exception. We also found 36 MORE pairs of flip-flops that didn’t make it into the big box!IMG_5861

Thanks so much to everyone who donated these items! We know they will be a real blessing to the families who get them. I know it is hard to imagine, but to these people even these small bottles of shampoo, or a used t-shirt is often more than they have now. These little things mean a lot to them, so thank you!

Mission Van

We were recently blessed with our largest donation yet…literally! We received a monetary donation through our supporting church, West Sayville Reformed Bible Church, and it was enough to buy this 2005 Kia Sedona!

IMG_5768

We have been praying for a van for quite a while. Not only will it provide a safe way for us to do our mission work, but it is exactly what we need to transport groups! In the past we have had rides fall through, or change at the last-minute, and it has been a bit of a challenge to get everyone to the work sites. Although riding in the back of pick-up trucks is very common here, it is not very safe, so this van will ensure that we can transport everyone safely!

IMG_5774

The van is in great condition, and as you can see, there are a lot of extras, like leather seats, a sun-roof and a DVD player, which will be nice for the three-hour drive to and from the airport! Another plus is all the cup holders, which will be great for carrying some of the MANY water bottles that we’ll need on long, hot days, working in the Salvadorian-sun!

IMG_5777

We are so grateful for this donation, and are anxious to put the van to good use in the coming month! Praise God for answering our prayers for a safe, reliable way to transport groups!

Inside the Big Box

 A few days ago, we received a HUGE box of donated items from the U.S. We are always excited to see what has been sent to us, and we were in no way disappointed at large selection of clothes that were donated to us this time!

IMG_5734Among the clothes were these 65 brand new, New York Islanders t-shirts. A man had been doing work for the team and was given these shirts, but was told he wasn’t allowed to sell them. He decided to donate them to us, and we are really excited. They are marked $27 each, so that is a total of $1,755 worth of t-shirts! They will be a huge blessing to so many men and teen boys in our town, especially because we tend to have less men’s clothes donated to us.

IMG_5736Also in the box, were 100 pairs of brand new flip-flops! A lady saw them on sale and bought all of these because she had been in El Salvador in the past, and seen first hand the kids, and adults, who have no choice but to walk barefoot. We can hardly wait until next month when we bring a bunch of these flip-flops into one of the communities where we work. I have noticed that many of the children in this area show up to our programs without any shoes, so getting these flip-flops will make them really happy!

IMG_5730The majority of the children’s clothes that were sent to us came from a girl who was on a mission trip with us last summer. She was part of a group that organized and handed out a bunch of clothes in a needy community. Seeing how much these kids needed these clothes, and how excited they were to receive them, really made an impact on her. She knew we were out of kid’s clothes when she left, so as soon as she got back to America, she sold a Coach purse she had, and used the money to buy clothes for the children in El Salvador. She shopped on clearance racks at Kmart, and went to a Savers used clothes store on a discount day, and ended up getting tons of new, and like-new clothes!

IMG_5739
After we got the box I had a conversation with her. During our talk, she said something that really stood out to me. She was talking about how she really didn’t need to have a Coach brand purse, and how it’s really amazing to think that selling a small purse for about $50, is making it possible for all the kids in an entire village to get some new clothes. Some of these kids have never owned new clothes in their lives, so seeing the tags still on these clothes will be a real surprise to them.

She’s right, it is crazy to think that by her making a small sacrifice, she will be blessing an entire community. She is planning to return this summer, and I am happy that she will have the opportunity to see these kids’ faces light up as they receive their clothes!

We are so thankful to each and every person who has donated to us. No matter what you gave, no matter how big or small, every single donation touches lives here, and helps us show God’s love to others! Thank you!