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!

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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!

4-Week Mission Trip~The Second Two Weeks

The second two weeks of our four-week mission trip went even better then the first two!IMG_7209We were able to bring a bunch of grooming items to the River community. The people there are so friendly, and it was great to be able to do something for this area, since it is the only location where we work, where we are not doing any children’s activities this summer. In addition to the items we gave each family, we also brought little bags we made up for the kids in the neighborhood!IMG_7235We also continued our Vacation Bible School with kids in a different location. We were able to share the stories of Daniel (above) and Jonah (below) with the kids. They loved listening to the stories and especially enjoyed the crafts! IMG_7276

On the final day of VBS we handed out flip-flops to all the kids who were there, and any parents who had stayed. All together we gave out about 20-25 pairs. The kids were especially excited, and many of them were really in need of a new pair!IMG_7279

One day during the second two weeks, we had the opportunity to go into town and hand out some little bags to kids in the park. Each bag had a small toy that had been donated to us, a coloring page and crayons, some cookies or candies, and a witnessing bracelet and card that explained what each color represents. It was great to watch the kids light up as we handed out the bags. We are praying that each of them will read the card, and learn about God’s love for them. 391338_364351640299640_1000104169_n[1]

We also continued our soccer camp. It was a great spending time with the kids, and trying to teach them to play with a Christ-like attitude. IMG_7315

At the end of each day we would handout awards to the two kids who showed the best attitude, and worked the best with their teammates. This little girl was so excited to get an award!IMG_7264

We had a great four weeks working with our missionary, Lisa. We are so thankful for her willingness to come and help us serve Christ, as we work and minister to people in our community! God has opened so many doors for us over the past four weeks, and we are so thankful for the opportunities He has given us to help those in need!IMG_7330

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

Mission Work with Family

Just over a week ago we went and handed out some items in all three of the locations where we work. It was a special day for us, because my family from New York had come to visit, and would be helping us, and seeing where we work. One of my sisters has been here multiple times for mission trips, but for the rest of the family, it was a real eye opener.

While driving through one neighborhood my nine year-old brother saw what he though was a neat fort for kids to play in. When we explained that it was actually a house where a whole family lived, he was both shocked and sad.

246544_10200805365962124_956562345_n[1]At the first location, we handed out Easter goody bags for kids, and tote bags filled with food, like rice and soup, for each family. The people were so thankful for the food. Many of them struggle to feed their families, so they are very happy when they see us coming!

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In another area, we brought grooming kits for each family, and some more goody bags for the kids. The kids in this area were especially excited to see us coming, because they knew we’d have something special for them!

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In the last area where we went, we brought dozens of flip-flops. We knew these would be a big hit, especially for the children in this area, because many are usually barefoot. When we arrived in the neighborhood, several of the kids were playing soccer, some were playing with no shoes on. When they saw the flip-flops they were very excited.

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It was great experience to see these kids walking home with shoes on their feet. For many of them it has been a while since they have owned any.

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We are so thankful, not only for all the donationed items we were able to handout, but that we could share the experience with family. They were able to see first hand what Hope and a Future Missions does, and feel the joy of being able to help these families who are in need.

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!

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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!