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.”

 

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!

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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When God Says Wait…

It’s no secret that it was never my plan to live in El Salvador. I never planned to start a mission, in fact, I never even thought about going on a mission trip, but here I am.

I said, “Lord, please don’t send me.”

God said, “Trust Me, I have a plan.”

That was five years ago.

In the beginning, the days dragged on, and I basically just tried to pass the time, all the while dreaming of when my American dream would come true. Fast forward five years, and I am a part of Hope and a Future Missions, hosting mission trips, sharing the Good News, and helping out the needy in our community.

I came here with no plan, but God brought me here because of His plan.

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I love what we are doing. Sharing God’s Word, and bringing hope to the hurting, has been such a blessing to me. I am confident that this is where God wants us right now. I’d be lying though, if I said this is where we want to be forever. There are daily struggles, and hardships that we face, and our children will face, because of where we are. I am content right now, but I still dream of what life would be like if we didn’t have to worry about some of the dangers that we face every day.

I said, “Lord, please send me home.”

Today God said, “Wait. I’m not done with you here, trust Me.”

So, I am trusting Him, and you know what? I agree. I do feel like we have work that still needs to be done here. Hope and a Future Missions, is just getting started, and I am excited to see how God will continue to use us here.

God said, “wait” and today, I am at peace with that…because He didn’t say, “No”.

Child-like Faith

Yesterday in church the pastor read, Mark 10:15. It says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” and hearing it made me smile. It reminded me of my son, Chito, and his three-year-old faith. I am always telling him Bible stories, and teaching him about Jesus, and he just listens and takes it all in. There are times I think he might not even be listening, but days later, I’ll hear him telling his little brother about “a guy who brought lots and lots of animals on a grande barco” (big boat) while they are playing with their toy animals. His faith is so pure. He never questions how it could be real, or why God would do things, he just listens and believes.

A few weeks ago, I had been explaining to him how Jesus is in our hearts and even though we can’t see God, He is here with us. A few days later I heard him talking as he played in a fort he made. I asked him who he was talking to, and he told me, “I’m talking to Jesús, because he is my amigo, and sometimes I like to tell him, hola Jesús!” I was laughing at the way he spoke to Jesus, it was the same way that I would talk to my “invisible friends” as a kid. Even though he doesn’t understand exactly the way it all works, he knows better than many adults, what it means to talk with Jesus, and spend time with Him.

With 2 boys, things in our house can get a little rowdy. It’s not uncommon for there to be fighting, and sometimes those fights end with the “desired toy” breaking. A few days ago there was a big fight over a toy guitar that they had just gotten for Christmas. Well between the mix of a good-sized 2 year-old and the cheap quality of the toys here, the poor guitar did not stand a chance when my little guy fell and landed on it. Less than 24 hours after Christmas the thing was in pieces. That night while the boys were in bed, my husband glued it all back together, and it actually looked great. The next morning the boys were so happy to see that it played music again, and Chito started shouting, “yay, Papi fixed!”

In our house there is nothing that Papi cannot fix. ANYTHING that breaks, Chito says, “Don’t worry, Papi will fix!” He has full faith that Papi can repair anything…clogged sinks, broken toys, a burned out lightbulb…”Papi fix”!

Chito has a similar mindset about Jesus. Whenever he gets a “boo-boo”, or an “ouchie” he has me give it a kiss, and then says, “it’s ok Mami, Jesus will fix!” It’s that simple. There is nothing that Jesus cannot fix. A broken leg, a scraped elbow, a bitemark on his cheek that his brother gave him…”Don’t worry, Jesus fix!”

A couple of days ago, a handle on a toy animal broke. Chito picked it up and looked at it for a minute. With a confused look on his face he asked me, “Mami, who will fix this, Papi or Jesus?” I laughed because I could tell he was really thinking about it. He didn’t know whether to call for his Papi or say a quick prayer. Papi fixes toys, but Jesus heals animals…this was a tough one for him!

I could share a million little child-like stories about his thoughts on Jesus, or his version of David and Goliath. He may be only three, but he is teaching me every day. It’s no wonder why Jesus himself said that we need to “come like a child”. Kid’s get excited when they learn about Jesus. Kid’s don’t second guess, they just hear God’s word and believe it. Kid’s aren’t embarrassed to say, “Hola Jesús, you’re my amigo” and not care what anyone will say.

Hope and a Future, has done a bunch of work with kids over the past year, and God-willing we will be doing a bunch more this year. People might wonder why we spend time doing things like VBS, or why we “waste” so much time putting together little bags with Bible verses in them for kids. Some people might think that our main focus should be the parents, but I disagree. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to share God’s word with adults, or try to help the parents out with things, it certainly is. However, I think it is equally important to be teaching kids about Jesus. These kids just see us and smile. It is so easy to reach them!

Most of these kids have rough roads ahead of them. They won’t have enough money, and will steal to feed their families.Girls will have children while they are still children, because they were promised they’d be loved. They will turn to gangs to be their family, because they have no one else. It’s sad, but this is the reality for so many of these children.

We want to teach them that it doesn’t have to be this way. We want the Bible stories that they have heard from us as a child, to be ringing in their ears years from now. We want them to see that even though they may find themselves in some difficult circumstances, their future doesn’t have to be this way. In order for these kids to make better choices for their futures, they need to be hearing God’s word now, while they are still kids. That’s why we have done several children’s ministries. So that these kid’s might come to have a child-like faith now, that will be with them as they grow.

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Hope and a Future Helpers

This has been an exciting week for us! Our friend, Colleen, has come to stay with us for the next six weeks, and do mission work with us. She has been here the past two summers on mission trips, and could not wait until next July to come back! We have a bunch of things planned for the next few weeks, and we are certain that God will open doors for us that we never even imagined!

One thing that Adan and I worried about when we started our mission, was being able to find people to help us with the work we have started. Since it is only the two of us, we weren’t sure how it would work out, but God has provided! We’ve been blessed, not only with servants like Colleen, and the mission teams coming to help us, but God has brought two special helpers, Esther and Angel, into our lives. They have both been a huge blessing to our mission.

Esther and Angel are two friends of ours who have played a huge roll in starting, and running our mission. Both of them have spent some time in America, and are now back in El Salvador. Like myself, they are praying for the day that they will be able to go back and live in the United States, but we all agree, that God has brought us here for a reason. I personally believe that part of the reason that the three of us are here, is to help the needy around us, and carry out the mission work that we have been doing.

Having Esther and Angel, who are both bilingual, has been a huge blessing to us. I will be the first to admit that my spanish is not great, so having more than just Adan doing all the translating has been a big help to us. 20121003-214419.jpg

In July, Esther helped us communicate, and share with the people that there is God who loves them, and that Jesus died for them. Without her help, we would not have been able to share this message with as many people as we did during the trip. She also translated for us in church twice, so the group could understand what was being said by the pastor.20121003-214922.jpg

During our July trip, Angel, was a big help during our soccer outreach, playing with the kids and helping to translate. He also worked side by side with the group as they painted at the church. (Which he attends.) He was excited to be able to give back to his church, and help the group.20121003-215620.jpg

In August, they both helped us out again. This time Esther and her husband, Stephen, helped the group hand out a bunch of clothes. With such a small group the extra sets of hands were a huge help to us. Angel helped us hand out food in a village, translating and explaining why we were there. For safety reasons, it was a real blessing to have another male helping out with the group of girls.

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Esther, Angel, and I may not have planned to be in El Salvador at this point in our lives, but God is sure using us here. Adan and I, are so grateful for their willingness to help us serve. We know that God will continue to use us all while we are here. I am so thankful that God has placed these Christian friends in our lives!