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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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!

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!

What’s Going On

Can’t believe it has been a whole month since I have written anything! I think that’s a record! It’s not because nothing has been going on, in fact, it’s the just the opposite. There have been so many exciting things happening, that it has been hard to find time to write!

The first great thing is how blessed we were in all of our fundraising. When we were planning the fundraisers we’d do in America, I tried to estimate how much we could make at each event. I had hopes that we would raise about $1,500. Well, we took in over double that, making $4000, between fundraisers and donations! This was in less than 3 months! We were thrilled about all the money we raised, because we knew that it meant we would be able to help lots of people. There were other reasons it was so exciting, too. Taking in so much money, in such a short amount of time, really showed us how many people want to support us in what we are starting in El Salvador. It was great to see how many people, even strangers, wanted to help us out! Of corse we could never have raised this money without the help of our church family in West Sayville, or the prayers and support of so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It was also great for us to raise so much more than we planned on, because it made it clear that this is what God wants us to do. Before I went to New York, I prayed that God would bless our fundraising, and basically said, “If this is what you want us to do Lord, I know you will bless our efforts!” Well, He blessed us so far above and beyond what we expected, that we feel very strongly, that we are doing what God has planned for us.

The past weeks since I have returned to El Salvador have been busy. This summer we have 2 groups coming for mission trips. One in July, and one in August. We are looking forward to both, because we have so many exciting things planned. Most people don’t realize how much actually goes into these mission trips, aside from actually serving the people here. There are so many things to plan ahead as far as meals, transportation, scheduling, etc. I’m not trying to complain though, I like planning it all out. I love to cook and figure out all the meals. I also love trying to figure out the schedule, though it can be stressful trying to figure everything in!

The first group is coming in 4 days, so we have been really busy doing all the preparations for the group. A couple of days from now, we will welcome the group of 12 who will be staying with us for 10 days. Some members of this group were here last summer, and some have never been to El Salvador. The big projects this group is working on will be painting at a church, and cleaning up some land.

In August, the group that is coming is much smaller, only 4 girls. They might be a small group, but we still have plenty of things planned to do. Our main focus with this group will be leading a VBS program at a nearby church who has never had one. We are looking forward to working with kids and getting them excited to learn about Jesus!

There has been lots going on for Hope and a Future Missions during the past month, and lots more to come! Please keep the mission teams in your prayers as the travel and work with us over the next few weeks. I look forward to writing and sharing about the trips in the days to come!

Late Bloomer

There was a Pastor who came to my church in America, many years ago, who would always talk about, “blooming where you are planted.” It basically means, that wherever God “plants” you, or brings you in life, to “bloom” and do His will there. I admit, that is often easier said than done. It is no secret that I did not willingly choose to move to El Salvador. Through many difficult events, God brought me here. The first few years were very hard for me. Adjusting to life in another country, far away from everything I had ever know, was very not easy. I did not see being here as an adventure, or an oppurtunity, like some might. To be quite honest, it felt more like a punishment. I spent a lot of time wondering why God had brought me here, and struggling to figure out what His plan was for me. A couple of years ago, my mom painted this mural on the wall in my yard.

The words have been a constant reminder to me, to seek God’s will and let Him use me no matter where I am. It wasn’t until I began to ask God what His purpose for me here was, that I really began to “bloom”. In time, it became clear that God wanted us start this mission, and help people in our community. Suddenly it stopped being about me, and all the reasons I didn’t want to be here, and became about God, and why He brought me here. El Salvador may not be where I had hoped to be “planted” but God has helped me to “bloom” here, by doing this mission work.

Missions Trip ~ Summer 2011 ~ Big Projects

The two main projects the group worked on were painting at a house, and building a new house for a family.

The Mission's Team with Lita, the homeowner

The group painted the outside and most of the inside of a house for a widow named, Lita. She hadn’t had her house painted in about 10 years, so it was long over due! She really appreciated all the hard work, and was thrilled with the way her house looked!

Clato, the new home owner, stands infront of the house that's being built for his family

Clato, the man who we built the house for is sick. His family has been living in a house made of sticks and plastic garbage bags. They have holes in the roof, tears in the “walls” and dirt for a floor. I think everyone was shocked when they saw the way that he and his family were living. When we had the idea to built a house, we had no idea what we were in for! It proved to be very challenging and time consuming, but in the end it was worth it! Since the trip was only a week long, the missions group did not have time to finish the whole house. However, they had raised some extra money and left us with enough to pay a worker to finish the project after they left! The progress of the house has moved somewhat slowly over the past few months, but little by little things are getting done. Clato and his family are very thankful for the work the group did, and are anxious to move into their new home!