The Nike Sneakers

In July 2011, a girl went to a “Savers” used clothing store and bought a pair of used Nike sneakers. She was going on a mission trip to El Salvador in just a few weeks, and knew with all the painting and construction she’d be doing, that they would probably get very dirty. She didn’t want to spend a lot of money on shoes that would get ruined in one week, so this pair seemed perfect. During her mission trip, the shoes got concrete on the bottom from the house she helped build for a needy family, and purple paint on the toes that had dripped while painting a house for a widow. When the trip was over,  she asked if she could keep the sneakers at my house, because she knew she’d be back next summer for another mission trip. I didn’t mind, and I put them on a shelf in our storage room.

As promised, she returned the following summer, and we dug out her shoes. They still had the paint on them, but were really in good shape other than that. She wore them during the week as we handed out food and clothes to people in several different communities. By the end of the week, they were very muddy, but once again she asked if she could leave them behind, this time adding that we could clean them up, and hand them out if we found a good owner for them!

This summer about a week before returning to El Salvador once again, she messaged me to see if her sneakers were still here. They were, so shortly after arriving, she got them out of storage, and put them on. She wore them this summer as we lead VBS, played games with kids and handed out grooming items to some people in need. Before heading back to the States, she wiped off the sneakers, and said that she knew she would be back, but that she also knew someone here would need the shoes more than her, so we should try to give them away. After all, she had gotten her money’s worth, and the shoes had already been a part of years of mission work!

Last week, our friend and volunteer, Esther, had been telling me about some very needy people she knew of in her town, and in another area a few hours away. We had some food, clothes and stuffed animals that I was able to give her. In addition, we also gave her 40 pairs of shoes. Included in all the shoes, was a pair of Nike sneakers with purple paint on the toes. (The blue and white pair on the top!)photo[1]A few days after taking all the shoes, Esther, met a man in her town who was selling lemons. He asked her is she would like to buy some. Seeing the condition the man was in, she knew she would do more than buy some lemons to help him. Esther, invited him to her house, and was able to give him food, and a pair of shoes. He had come from a town that is fairly far away, and he now has a pair of Nike sneakers to wear as he heads to and from his home each day. 1000957_615003291877882_1887377549_n[1]Years ago, someone in NY donated a pair of sneakers to a Savers store. Someone else bought them and brought them to El Salvador. A house was painted. A home was built. People were clothed, fed, and taught about Jesus. Now a man has shoes to wear as he works to provide for his family.

God can use the smallest things to make a huge difference. Never feel like you don’t have enough to give, or that your small donation doesn’t mean very much. Sometimes those little things end up being the biggest blessings!

9-Day Mission Trip~2013

A couple of weeks ago, we were able to host our third, and final mission trip of this summer. The group of ten stayed for nine-day, during which we did several activities.IMG_0295

We were able to spend some time playing soccer with kids, and finished up the 5-week soccer camp we had started during our last mission trip. On the last day of soccer camp, we handed out stuffed animals to all the kids, and a bunch of grooming items to their parents. The kids were so excited with their new animals, and the parents were equally as happy to receive things like shampoo, soap and toothbrushes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One afternoon we went into 2 other villages, and handed out more stuffed animals, and supplies to the families there. In one area we gave the family’s food, and in another we brought a bag full of clothes to each family.101_3014

The main focus for the trip, was building a new house for a family in real need. Maria and Jesus had been living in the house pictured above, when we met them. It was in terrible shape, and looked more like a kid’s fort than a house for a family to live in. We knew right away that we wanted to help them, and prayed that God would make a way for us to help them get their new house.

101_3006 We had been praying that we would know exactly what construction project God wanted us to do, and right from the start we were very confident that this project was in God’s plan for us. A friend from church, Jorge, (above with Adan) is a contractor, and had offered to help us with the house, which made us pretty sure that we’d be able to conquer such a big project in only 6 work days. IMG_3463

The mission team, Adan, Jorge, and his son, Jorge Jr. worked hard all week to get the house done. Throughout the week, Jesus, and his young grandchildren, Stefany, and Oscar, also helped to do any jobs they could. Maria, the woman whose house it was, could not have been more thankful for the mission team and their hard work. All week she was thanking them, and praising God for bringing the group to El Salvador to make this new home for her. She was determined to pay them back in any way she could, and spent one morning insisting that the girls let her wash the dirt and concrete off their legs. I have honestly never seen someone more thankful, and in everything she was thanking God, and praising Him for all the blessing He was giving to her through the mission team.P1280193

The last day of work, we were able to bring lunch to the work site, and eat with Maria, Jesus, and their extended family, as well as Jorge and his family. It was a great time of fellowship, and a way to show Jorge how much we appreciated him, and all his hard work on the house.IMG_0419

It’s hard to imagine that this little house, that most American’s would think of more as a shed, could be such a blessing, but for Maria and Jesus, it is their first real home. They finally have a safe, dry, house that they can call their own, and to them, that is huge! They now own the second best house in their area. Think about that for a moment.IMG_7393

The last full day of the mission trip was a Sunday. We spent the morning in church, and it was a very special time. We were going to be handing the key to the family, and singing in church, so Jesus came with Maria to church for the first time in a very long time. She was so happy to have him come with her, as well as her grandchildren. After the group presented the couple with the key to their new home, Maria said a few words, and continued to thank God, and the group for giving her the best home she had ever lived in.

Later in the service, something even more special happened. Jesus accepted Christ into his heart, something Maria had been praying about for a long time. After church, we were able to welcome Jesus into the family of God. Maria was so happy she could hardly contain herself. She told us that she now had a new home, and her husband was a Christian, she had everything she could want!

We were blessed with such a wonderful final mission trip. In all we did, we were able to see God’s hand. We are praying for Jesus, that he will have a true relationship with Christ, and that this couple will grow in Him.

Throughout the week we had been singing a song, that ironically was also sung in church on Sunday, and it seemed to be really fitting for all at took place during the week…

“Y tu nombre sobre todo es ,Tu eres digno de alabar
y mi ser dira, Cuan Grande es Dios.”

“Name above all names, You are, worthy of our praise,
My heart will sing how great, is our God.”

 

The Best Parts of 2012

2012 was quite a busy year for Hope and a Future Missions. We started this blog. We did 8 successful fundraisers. We became an outreach of our home church, West Sayville Reformed Bible Church. We hosted 3 mission trips. The list goes on, but if I had to choose what the best moments were, it would be some of the things we have had an opportunily to do to help people in our community.

I could fill this blog post with hundreds of pictures of great moments from the past year. I could go on and on writing about all the special people we have had the pleasure of working with, but instead, I will share just a few of my favorite things we have been able to be a part of this year.

I loved being able to work in the community where we own some land. The people are so friendly, and the kids especially have a special place in my heart. They LOVED playing soccer with us, and our mission team in July. Seeing how happy we could make these kids, just by spending a little time with them, was amazing.

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Another great part of this year, was being able to go back in August with another group, and do VBS with these kids. They loved watching our skits, hearing the Bible verses, making the crafts, and singing the songs we taught them. It was such a great blessing to see these little ones singing praises, and getting excited to learn about Jesus!

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These kids are so happy when they see our truck coming. They literally jump in the back of the truck to try to see what we have planned this time! I love that these kids are so excited to see us, and that they know, no matter what we bring, or do in the neighborhood, it is something that will make them smile!

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One of the other things that I have really enjoyed over the past year have been handing things out to families that are in real need. We have been able to bring food, clothing, grooming items, and the Gospel to hundreds of people over the past year. Though these long lines can be a little over-whelming at times, (things could get really ugly if we run out of food!) it’s also exciting, because it means we will be able to help so many people!

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Being able to bring food to people who don’t know where there next meal is coming from, or putting shoes on the feet of a child who has none is an incredible feeling. We are so thankful for all those who have donated to our mission, or supported us through fundraisers, offerings, etc. Without your support, we would not be able to put smiles on faces like these…

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There are so many people who have helped us over the past year, in various ways. Many have donating clothes, or stuffed animals, that have been a huge help to us. One of my favorite donations we have received was all the pillowcase dresses that were made for us to hand out, by some dear sisters in Christ. They have spent countless hours making these adorable dresses, and thanks to them we have given over 80 little girls, new dresses!

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To everyone who has liked our facebook page, liked a status, or commented on our blog, thank you. Thanks to anyone who has said a prayer for our mission, or a prayer for the families we are helping. They really do need prayer, and we are thankful that we have some amazing prayer warriors, constantly lifting them and us in prayer.

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I also want to thank all those who came down here on mission trips this year. It’s not an easy things to do, and we are so grateful for every single one of you! Without your help we wouldn’t have been able to do many of these activities, or see things like Clato standing in front his completed house, that YOU built for him…

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…or sunday school children smiling as they hear the story of salvation, and sing songs!

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We also want to thank all our volunteers here, once again. All of the things we have done over the past year have been with the help of Esther and/or Angel.

Without Esther’s help we wouldn’t have been able to do things like pray with a shut-in who was hurting, or share the gospel with dozens of children in a public elementary school!

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Without Angel’s help, it would be difficult to keep rowdy crowds under control, or bring so many people things like food, or Christmas presents!

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We are so thankful for all the great moments we have had in 2012, and for all the special people who have made them possible. We may be the ones here, but Hope and a Future Missions wouldn’t exist without people who are willing to donate time, money, clothing, etc. to us. We certainly could not have done all these things without the mission teams who came to help us or our hard-working volunteers! So thankyou. Even if all you have done is read this blog, and said a prayer, thankyou! Prayer is the number one thing we need to succeed!

So what is the number one best moment we have had in 2012? It’s hard to say really, because there have been so many wonderful things that have happened. If I had to choose, though, I’d say that my favorite part of 2012, was just being able to bring some smiles to people who don’t seem to have many reasons to smile. To be able to bring food or clothing to them is a great thing, but to bring hope for their future…the hope we have in Christ, is indescribable. I pray that we have given these people lots to smile about. Not just with the physical things we have brought them, but that they may have been blessed by the spiritual food we have brought them too!

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Fall Mission Trip~The Second Two Weeks

It’s hard to believe that another two weeks have passed! Our time with Colleen is going way too quickly! Over the past few weeks, everyone in the house has dealt with some cold or flu symtoms, so we did have to change a few of our plans. Even with our germs, we were still able to do a bunch of different things.

One of our big projects over the last two weeks, was handing out food and goodie bags in a poor community in our town. We handed out food and clothes in this area once before, and it got very out of hand! The people knew we were coming, and the word had traveled quickly. Hundreds of people came from as far as five miles away to get “free stuff”! In order to avoide another dangerous situation, and to better help those who truly need it, we decided not to tell people we were coming this time. We went door to door instead, focusing on the houses, and families who really need our help. This made things a lot smoother and safer! Each of the kids in the area, were given one of the bags we made up in the weeks before.

We had 65 kid’s bags, and we gave out 50 of them! That’s 50 very excited kids who are wearing our braceletes, reading our Jeremiah verse, and coloring our Hope and a Future picture!

The parents were equally excited to recieve their bags of food. We were able to bless about 30 families with bags of beans that day! It’s so touching to be able to give food to these unexpecting families. They are so thankful, and a few people even begged us to come again!

A couple of weeks ago, we were planning to lead a sunday school class for the kids in our friend, Esther’s church, but sadly we had to cancel due to illness. It was disappointing not being able to go to the church, but thankfully the kids will still be able to hear our lesson, and do our crafts. Since we had already made up all the bags and crafts for the kids, Esther is going to be sharing our message with them over the next few weeks. We are so thankful that we are still going to be able to touch the lives of these kids, even without being there! We had put together over 60 bags for these kids, which had the little projects shown below, reminding the kid’s that Jesus loves them, as well as some candy, and materials to make witnessing braceletes, that will teach the kids about salvation.

After spending a few days couped up in the house, trying to recover, we were excited to be able to get out to visit some friends last week. First we went to Lita’s house. Colleen was part of a group that painted her house in 2011. Lita was happy to see Colleen again, and spend some time with us. Then we headed over to Clato’s house. Colleen played a part in building his house, and she hadn’t seen it all done yet. She was excited to see how the house looked, and visit with Clato.

We brought some food and clothes to Clato and his family, which they were quite excited about. They remain very grateful for their house, and the clothes, Bibles, food, and shoes we have brought to them over the past year and a half. Even Clato’s little grandaughter was happy to visit with us!

We may have had some bumps in the road, being sick over the past couple of weeks, but it didn’t stop us from sharing God’s love with some very special people. Thankfully we are all feeling better, and are looking forward to all the things we have planned for the next two weeks!

Clato’s House

In July of 2011, the group of 11 that came for a mission trip, took on the biggest project we have done so far. They were planning to build a house for a family who was living in a house that was made of sticks, and black plastic, not much thicker than a garbage bag.

When they started, all that was done for the new house were a few concrete polls. The group quickly got to work framing, and adding some more polls.

We had no idea just what a big project this house would be. The group worked long and hard to try to finish the house. By the time the week-long trip was over, they got all the sheets of metal up for the walls, but didn’t have enough time to finish the roof.

Thankfully, this group had done an amazing job fundraising, and had plenty of money left at the end of the trip. They ended up leaving a bunch of money with us, so that we could pay a worker to finish the project, and buy the rest of the supplies.

Over the past year we have been trying to get this job finished. The framing for the roof was done a few months ago.

The worker has been busy putting the roofing tiles up over the past month.

There have been MANY bumps along the way, and set backs with this house, but last week, all the blood, sweat, and tears came to an end, and the house was finished!

There were times that we wondered if we had bit off more than we coud chew. We didn’t know where we would find a worker who would be reliable. We wondered if we would have enough money for the rest of the supplies. There were days when it seemed like more of a headache, than helping someone, but it is finally complete! God provided the workers, the money, and now, a home for this family!

When I see the condition of so many of these homes, it’s heartbreaking. We know we can’t help everyone, but it’s important not to be so focused on thinking that you’ll never be able to help everybody, that you don’t help anybody! For most of the people who we are able to work with, we are just doing little things, but they can still make a big difference for them!

When I see this picture, with Clato smiling in front of his new house, I know we have been blessed to change the life of at least one family, and I am thankful that Hope and a Future was able to be a part of it.

July Mission Trip 2012~The Second Week

Things have been a little busy here with another mission trip, so it took me a little longer than I planned to follow-up with the second week of the July trip. FINALLY, here is the continuation of the July Mission Trip~2012!

On Sunday, at church, the group performed a skit, and sang another song in Spanish. The congregation was touched at how the group learned the song, and thankful for them performing the skit. Then they spent some time leading sunday school for the children, and gave them some little bags we made up for them. Sunday evening it rained really hard, and the group took advantage of it. They all got into their bathing suits, and played in the rain for a while! It was a good way to cool off, on a hot day!

Bright and early monday morning, the group left to paint at the church we went to that sunday. The fence was in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint.

Monday afternoon, they went into town and did some shopping. After going to the market, and the park, we went out to dinner for some Pollo Campestre.

Tuesday morning the group did some more painting at the church. Then they stopped by to visit with Clato, the man whose house they began to build last year. In the past month the house has had a good amount of work done on it, and now looks like this:

For lunch they all went to Lita’s house. She is the elderly woman who the group painted for last summer. She was excited to see them again, and welcome them into her home.

That afternoon, we went into another neighborhood to hand out food, clothes and Bibles. We had all the clothing organized in suitcases, and thought it would be pretty easy to give everyone some clothes. Boy were we WRONG! It ended up being WAY more people than we ever expected! It became a bit chaotic, but in the end, we were all kept safe. We blessed about 200 people with food and clothes and give Bibles to 65 people.

Tuesday evening, we did our worship time a little different. After doing our devotions, we spent time sitting around a campfire finishing our smores, and singing.

Wednesday morning the group finished up painting at the church, and it looked great!

In the afternoon everyone headed to the land one more time, to spend a little time with the people in the neighborhood. The kids enjoyed playing some more soccer!

After the game, we all said goodbye, which was not easy. These kids became so attached to everyone. Most of them don’t have anyone who actually takes an interest in them, or wants to play with them, so it really meant a lot to these kids for us to be there.

Thursday morning, it was time to say goodbye and head to the airport.

In the week and a half that this group was here, we were able to touch the lives of more people than we ever thought. God opened so many doors for us to share about Christ, and let people know that Jesus loves them. Everyone we were able to help was truly thankful.This group was a blessing to us, and all the people we served together, in El Salvador. God is doing great things here, and we are so thankful to be a part of it!

Sunday Drive

The other day after church, we decide to take a drive around a few neighborhoods, including the one where we are hoping to buy land. (to build our mission on) I had seen the land before, and always felt like it was a pretty poor area, but I had never driven all the way to the end of the street before. It’s interesting, because near the main road, the houses were small, but not too bad.

Then we went further and I began to see houses that were unpainted, or in need of repairs. However, the shock I saw at the end of the street, I was not expecting. There are dozens of shacks made of scraps of tin and plastic. Each one literally looks worse than the last.

To be honest, looking at some of these houses brough tears to my eyes. The conditions are just terrible, and thinking about the way these people are living is truly heartbreaking!

I saw little kids running in the street, with such sadness in their eyes. I saw elderly people wasting away, and in need of food and clothing.

As we drove, one thing became extremely clear to me, this is where God wants us to set up our mission. These people desperately need help, and hope, and we want to bring both to them. If we could see just one of those poor, sad, children smile, it would make living here all these year worth it! To make a difference in the lives of these people who could use all the help they can get, would mean the world to us! As sure as we are that God wants us to work in that barrio, we are also confident that He will provide us with the funds, and workers to make it happen!