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!

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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!

 

A Refuge for the Oppressed

Today in church, we had some special music. When I heard the music start, I looked up and saw a man playing the guitar and singing. At first I was confused, because I knew I heard two people singing, but only saw one man. I looked around, trying to figure out where the other voice was coming from, and that’s when I spotted him. There was an older man, singing along. I hadn’t seen him at first because he was in a wheel chair, and it was hard to see him from my seat.

Just looking at him you could see he had been through some hard times. He face was worn, and his left leg was removed from the knee down. He had to hold his guitar differently because of his wheel chair, but it didn’t affect the way he played at all.

I began to think about this guy, and what his life must be like. I’m sure he can’t work because of his injury, and there are not many wheel chair-friendly places here. The streets are crowed with people walking and pushing, I can’t imagine how he gets around.

I wondered how I would feel to be in that position. I think I’d be frustrated, maybe even angry at times, but not this guy. He had the biggest smile, and the loudest voice as he sang praises to God. I may not have understood every single word he sang, but I didn’t need to. His attitude spoke to me more than anything he could have said in that song!

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It’s really easy to get bitter, and question God when things don’t go our way. Sometimes it’s difficult to praise God in hard times, but it’s important to remember He is with us even in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)

Next time you are facing a hardship, remember that it is important that you still give thanks to God, you never know who may be watching, or what lives you may touch when you do!

Don’t Worry

Have you ever felt like you future was resting in the hands of someone else?

Your freedom, in the hands of a judge. Your promotion, in the hands of your boss. Your health, in the hands of a doctor.

It’s hard enough not knowing what will happen in the future, but knowing that one decision, one wrong call, or one slip of a surgeon’s hands, and your entire future could be changed forever, is just plain scary. Maybe that is why there are so many verses in the Bible reminding us not to be anxious.(Phil. 4:6) God knew this world would not be easy for us. In fact, it says in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Think about that for a minute. God has not promised us a care-free Christian life. He has told us pointblank, YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE! Isn’t it a blessing though, to know that in the face of all the troubles we may have, we can bring each one of those problems, every heartache, to the One who has overcome this world. In the end, our future is ultimately in God’s hands, and “It is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Prov. 19:21)

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Everytime I feel like life is spinning out of control, and my burdens are too much to bear, I cast off my anxiety, and cling to the promise, in Rev. 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

A few days my sister told me something that I have thinking about a lot over the past few days, she said, “I used to worry about a lot of things…and then I’d think of Heaven, and how I would be with Jesus, and nothing from the earth would even matter anymore, and I wouldn’t be able to feel worried or sad anymore…”

She’s just 10 years old, but she’s right, there is nothing to worry about, because in the end, it’s all under control…God’s control.

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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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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