Week-Long Mission Trip-June 2013

Last week we had the opportunity to host our first mission trip of the summer. The mission team was made up of two amazing girls, who have a real heart for missions. We spent the week doing several activities in our town, starting with a four-day Vacation Bible School.

When we arrived in the community, the kids were very happy to see us. They were also excited to see that we had tables and chairs to use this summer, because last year they had to sit on the ground on a sheet. We explained to them that West Sayville Christian School, in New York had been taking offerings for four weeks to collect the money for our mission to buy the tables and chairs. The kids were grateful and they even made a short video thanking the school for their generosity.1017320_485519491516187_1625599880_n[2]The first day our theme was the story of Noah. We were able to listen to the Bible story, and sing the songs, but halfway through our cute ark craft, it started pouring! The kids all took off before we got to have snack, or play games, but they still had a great time.10644_484682204933249_1736326137_n[1]

The second day our theme was, “David and Goliath.” The kids started catching on to the songs, and we took turns having a few kids at a time come up to help lead the singing, and do hand motions. They had lots of fun, and thankfully the rain held off until after snack time!1044793_485049748229828_640196581_n[1]

Day three our theme was, “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” The kids had a wonderful time making their lion masks, and pretending to be lions! We were excited to be able to have VBS from start to finish with no rain that day! 1011136_485050181563118_358483505_n[1]
Our fourth, and final day, the theme was, “Jonah.” We listened to a story, sang songs, made a whale craft, and had some whale crackers for snack! After we finished, we spent about an hour playing with the kids. Most of the boys played soccer, while the girls and younger kids did jump rope, and played some other games.1044595_485511011517035_1722211109_n[1]

Saying goodbye is always difficult. The kids told the girls how much they will be missed. The girls told the kids that they would never forget them, and that they will be praying for them. They also reminded the kids how special each of them is to God, and how much He loves them!11487_485510844850385_1047677714_n[1]

On Sunday, we went to church, and then spent some time sorting through clothes that we would be handing out on Monday. We also put together some goody bags for kids. The next morning we headed to two areas to hand out some things to the people there.

In one location we brought food to all the families in the community, and small toys for all the kids.IMG_7082

In the other community we brought the clothes to the families, and gave out the goody bags for the kids.IMG_7086

Monday afternoon, we ate lunch at a place near the water. That evening, we spent some time together shopping in town, and cooling off at the park. IMG_7070

God blessed us with a wonderful time together, and a great mission trip. We are so thankful for the girls who came to help us serve, and for God’s guidance and protection throughout the trip.

Honoring Our Fathers

If you walk down the streets of my town, one thing you are sure to see are moms. They are everywhere…making pupusas on the side of the road, selling breads from a basket on their head or sitting with a wheelbarrow full of fruits to sell. You know these ladies are moms, because they are surrounded by kids. They are feeding their newborns while they sell that fruit, and keeping an eye on their toddlers while they flip those pupusas. I recently saw a lady selling tamales, while her daughter, who was about a year old, sat in a small cardboard box behind her. These moms work hard. Watching them work while trying to care for their kids can make you wonder, where are all the dads?

Unfortunately, it is not that uncommon here, for a mom to have a half a dozen kids, with no father in the picture. Their reasons for leaving can vary. Some men decide that the things they want are more important than the needs of their families. They leave, and never give it another thought. For other fathers, the needs of their families are so great that they have to leave the country in order to provide for them. The only way that these dads can make sure that their families have food on the table, is to forfeit being at the table with them.

A man’s reasons for leaving their families can be selfish, or selfless, but either way, their children are effected by it. The absence of fathers, and the break-down of families is very evident in El Salvador. It can been seen in young boys who look to gang members to be their role models, or in young girls who run away with men, hoping to find a father figure. It’s sad really, that the impact of not having a father can be so devastating.

In the United States, society is still in denial about the importance of fathers.

I know that there are situations where a mother is single, and it cannot be helped. Many of these moms are strong, loving parents. Likewise, there are some great single dads out there, and I’m in no way trying to put them down.

I am talking about people pretending that whatever boyfriend a mom has this week is a good enough role model for her kids, or suggesting that having two moms is equal to a child having a mom and a dad. This is not the way families were designed to be, yet society would like us to believe that they are “just as good”. Sadly in doing this, it’s like saying that fathers are no longer necessary, or important.

God’s word has a very different view on the role of fathers. In the fifth commandment we are reminded to honor our fathers, and there are still fathers out there who are worthy not only of honor, but respect.

Growing up I was blessed with a hard-working, Godly, father. All my life he has worked to provide for his family, and teach his children about the Lord. My children have also been blessed with a loving, Christian father. There is nothing that my dad wouldn’t do for me, and nothing that my husband wouldn’t do for our sons. They are two men that truly deserve to be honored.

In my opinion, if society would start reminding people how important and irreplaceable fathers are, more men may want to live lives that are honorable. I know no one could ever replace my father or my husband. This Father’s day, I want them to know that they are respected, and honored, and I want to thank them for living in a way that is worthy of respect and honor!

Training My Spanglish Children

A few days ago, I saw my two and three-year old sons playing a little game. My older boy, Chito, was picking up all the toys that were on the floor, and putting them into a bag. At first I thought he was attempting to clean up, but I quickly realized he was just getting ready to play something he had in mind, with the toys. Once everything was in the bag, he threw it over his shoulder, and walked over to his little brother, Marquez, who was pretending to cry. Chito opened the bag, took out a toy, and gave it to Marquez, who immediately stopped “crying” and then gave Chito and hug, and yelled, “Gracias” as Chito walked away with the rest of the toys. For about ten minutes I watched them take turns being the one with the toys, and the one who was sad.

I was laughing, thinking, “Santa? Boys, its June!” Then I asked, “Are you boys pretending it’s Navidad?” Chito said, “NOOO Mami” and went on to explain what the game really was.

My kids speak 100% Spanglish, which can be hard to follow if you don’t speak both English, and Spanish, so here is the English version of what he told me:

“We are playing that there are sad kids crying, because they don’t have any toys, and we are taking turns being like Mami and Papi, and bringing toys to them. Then they are happy and give us a hug and say thanks!”

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That’s when I stopped laughing and tried to hold back my tears. My two little boys haven’t even started school yet, but they have learned things that a lot of adults still don’t know. They have seen more poverty in their two and three years than most Americans will see in their lifetimes. They understand that there are people who are hurting, and need our help.

My kids have watched us, and been a part of our mission work since they were infants. They get excited to see pictures of kids wearing their old clothes, or to play with the kids in the needy communities where we work. My boys know a little bit about what we do here, but they still don’t understand that they are not like most kids here.

They don’t know that most people don’t have a house like we do, or that some kids don’t have a tv to watch. When they complain about their dinner, we are quick to remind them of all the kids who are hungry, but it’s hard for them to really know what that means at this point. My kids are just starting to understand that most people do not speak Spanish and English, but they still constantly mix the two when they talk to people. They know that they are “Salvadoreños” and “Americans”, but they have no idea how important that is.

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Right now my boys are “Spaniglish” in every sense of the word. Not just in the way they talk or the foods they eat, but in the way they think. They love everything about both of their cultures. One day they will grow up though, and their eyes will be opened to see the flaws in both of their countries. They will see the huge difference between the country where they were born, and they country where they live. It will become clear to them, why they are so blessed to be dual citizens. Right now they just know that they love to visit family in America and they love to live in El Salvador, but one day they will understand that most people can not come and go like they can.

I pray that when that day comes, they won’t forget all the things that they have seen. Years from now, I hope that the idea of helping sad kids is still something that they long to do. When it finally hits them just how blessed they are, I pray that they will remember those who are not, and do what they can to help them.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

On one hand, I wish my kids didn’t have to see such poverty, and hurt at such a young age. On the other hand, I’m glad that they know that there are children who have no toys, so they will appreciate their’s a little more. They are in “training”, and I’m thankful that they already understand that it is important to help them others, because that is what Jesus has called us to do.

Marathon of Mission Trips

Last year, we were blessed with the opportunity to host three mission trips. This year one of our goals was to be able to host at least three trips, and maybe even throw in a fourth!  As of now we have met that goal, and currently have three mission trips planned for this summer.(We’d still love to host a fourth, if anyone is looking for something to do this fall?) It’s gonna be a little crazy, because each trip is one after another, but we are up for the challenge!

In a few weeks, we will welcome our first group. It’s a small group with only two girls, but we are confident that we will be able to accomplish all the work we have planned. During the week-long trip, we will be returning to the same community where we did a lot of work last summer, and once again, lead a VBS there. We will also be bringing clothes and supplies into two other neighborhoods that are in need. This trip is coming up soon, and we are very excited to see how God uses our mission in the lives of these children.IMG_3938

The day they leave, our next mission trip begins. This will be a four-week long trip with one young lady. Together, we will be running a kid’s soccer camp, and leading a VBS program for children in a different community. We also plan to do work in three communities, bringing them food, and other items that they are in need of. In addition, we will be going to be visit a local hospital and bring stuffed animals to the sick kids who are there. We have many things planned for this month-long trip, and are eager to start the projects we will be doing during those four weeks!IMG_1520

The final trip of the summer starts just three days after our four-week trip ends. This week and a half-long trip has a larger mission team than the others. The group of ten is a mix of people, some who are new-comers, and others who are returning for their second and third summers in a row! This group will be focusing on doing construction work, but they will also be doing handouts of supplies in 2 neighborhoods, and running the last week of our five-week soccer camp. (Started during the four-week mission trip.) We are looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, and getting to know the newest additions to this mission team!

This summer is going to be busy, with our “Marathon of Mission Trips”, but we are very thankful for all who are willing to come and work with our misson. We have some exciting things planned, and we know that God will use each and every one who comes on these mission trips, to be a blessing in our community!

“Hope” and “Smiles”

Over the past few weeks, we have been blessed to partner up with our friend and volunteer, Esther, and her group Regalando Sonrisas-Giving Smiles.(https://www.facebook.com/regalandosonrisassv) Together, Hope and a Future Missions, and Regalando Sonrisas, have been able to help some needy kids who live in a pretty remote area. Esther took a bunch of items that our mission had, as well as some donations she had received, and brought them to these kids.

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Above is 2-year-old, Ariel. His mother is not able to care for him right now, so she had to leave him with his grandparents. The couple had very little for him, and don’t have the money to buy him new clothes and toys. Our mission was able to give him a bunch of clothes, (including the outfit he is trying on here) as well as a pair of shoes, and a stuffed animal. Esther, also brought some stuff she had to Ariel’s family. During her visit she was able to share a tract about Jesus with the family. The grandparents were very thankful for all the things we were able to give to them.

248391_469663269768476_1565425134_n[1]A struggling single mom desperately needed shoes for her children, so they could go to school. After hearing about this family, Esther, shared their story with me, and I knew we needed to find shoes for these kids. We were able to give each child a pair of shoes or flip-flops, as well as a goodie bag. Each of the goodie bags had some cookies, candy, small toys and activity pages about Jesus dying on the cross for them, and rising again. The two older boys are holding their new shoes, in the picture, (which looked too big, but surprisingly fit!) and the younger two children are wearing their shoes.

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In addition to the children in that family, Esther was able to bring a bunch of pairs of shoes and flip-flops to other children in need in the community. This young man was very happy with his “new” shoes. They were a little big for him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was just thankful to have some shoes to wear as he walks down the rocky roads in his village.

941284_469663129768490_811713551_n[1]This little boy with Esther, belongs to another family Hope and a Future Missions, and Regalando Sonrisas, were able to help. His father, only 25 years old, recently died as he was working. He had been trying to provide for his young family, by cutting branches from trees, when he fell, hitting his head on a rock. Esther was able to spend some time visiting with this little guy, his mom, and 6 week old baby brother. She brought them several things that had been donated to her group, as well clothes for each boy, some food, and stuffed animals, that our mission had for the family. During her visit, she tried to bring some “hope”, and “smiles” to this hurting family, by sharing God’s love with them. The mother was very grateful for Esther, and all the things we were able to provide her family with.

It can be challenging for my family and I to bring items to people in these very rural areas. (Some of these villages cannot be reached by car.) We are so thankful that Esther is able to bring a bunch of the food and clothes that our mission has available, to these families who are in need of them. Working together, we hope we are able to bring many smiles to some people who don’t always have hope, or reasons to smile.

 

Sunny Days and Rainy Nights

I am mom to two very active little boys. At 2 and 3 years old, they are always playing and running around. The older they get, it seems the less time they want to spend cuddling with me in the hammock, or giving me hugs for no reason. Every once in a while they might come over and need me to kiss an “ouchie”, or want to drink a sippy cup by me, but once they spot a toy to play with, or a tv show they want to see, they are off!

Where we live, May is the start of our rainy season. For about six months straight it rains almost every night. Hard rain on our tin roof, mixed with thunder and lightning, is a guarantee that we’ll have some little visitors in our bed!

The other night as it was thundering, my 3-year-old told me that he needed to come in my bed, because he was scared. He laid down real close to me, and I put my arm around him. A few minutes later he whispered, “I’m not scared anymore, because mami has me!” A little later, I thought he was sleeping, and I moved my arm. He quickly grabbed it and put it around him again. He need to know I was there next to him as he fell asleep.

Isn’t it funny how during the day he is too busy doing his own thing to let me hold him, but all it takes is some loud rain at night, and he wants to be close to me. He wants to feel my arms around him, and know that he is safe, and that I will take care of him.

As I was laying there next to my son, I couldn’t help thinking that sometimes I act the same way in my relationship with God. When things are going well, and everything is “sunny”, it’s easy to feel like I don’t need to spend as much time with God. Sure, I’ll stop by and say a prayer, or maybe ask or thank Him for something specific going on in my life, but I don’t always focus on Him. Then those “rain clouds” move in, and I realize just how much I need Him. Suddenly, I need to feel His arms around me. I need to be reminded that He is near.

It’s sad that sometimes, it takes those tough times, for me to remember that God is there. Just like when I ask my boys to come and sit with me, or want them to take a break from playing, God is there wanting to spend time with us. He’s there, in the good and  bad times, but sadly, sometimes I let every day life get in my way of spending time with Him. 

Next time that I’m watching my boys play, and thinking about how much I want to be close to them, and spend time with them, maybe it will remind me that God wants the same things from me. He wants me to spend time with in His word, and talking to Him, and I need to be as close to Him on good days as I am on days when I am worried, or afraid.   

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Greater Things Are Still To Be Done In This City

There is something about hearing a hymn or worship song that I know in English, being sung in Spanish that gets me every time. If you have never been in a church service that was in a different language, it’s a feeling that is hard to explain, but each time it hits me like a ton of bricks, that there are Christians, all over the world! Sometimes on sunday mornings I can’t help thinking about my church in the U.S.singing in English, the same song we are singing here in Spanish, and churches meeting underground praising God with the same song in their languages. It’s really neat to think about, and it’s a sure way to make you feel really small. For me it’s a reminder that I am one of millions of Christians in this world, but some how God still cares for me, and knows my name, and loves me! It’s an amazing thing to think about!

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Last sunday, I had that moment while we were singing, “God of this City”:

“Grandes cosas vienen ya,
Grandes cosas Dios hará en este pueblo”

It seemed to be a really fitting song, because in the days before, I had just finished planning a bunch of things, and finalizing 2 of our 3 mission trips that will be taking place this summer. There are so many exciting things that we will be blessed to be a part of over this summer, and we are confident that:

“Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city”

We are looking forward to seeing what God has planned for us, and what doors He will open for us this summer!