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

4-Week Mission Trip~The First Two Weeks

Two weeks ago a young lady named, Lisa, came down to El Salvador to help us work for four weeks. Over the past few weeks we have been able to do several things together to help people in our town.

The first week that Lisa was here, we started our second Vacation Bible School of the summer. This time we were working in a different neighborhood. These kids have never been to VBS, so they didn’t know what to expect, but they were excited! We taught them some songs, and they heard the story of Noah. The kids also did a fun ark craft, and had some Noah’s Ark animal crackers for snack! 1016222_489066944494775_1970377473_n[2]A few days later, we started our five-week soccer camp, in another community. We have done several activities in this location in the past, so the kids were very enthusiastic about us returning to do soccer camp. Each week of camp has a theme, and a verse to go along with the theme. The first week our theme was “Encouragement.” We taught the kids that even when a teammate misses a shot, we can still cheer them on, and encourage them. At the end the kids got a coloring page with the verse of the week on it.1016222_489066954494774_1155485270_n[1]We also spent some time handing out toys and stuffed animals at the free hospital in our town. Most of the children in this hospital come from lower-income homes, so they were very excited about the toys and things we were able to bring them! We were also able to give each child a tract teaching the kid’s about God’s love for them.382524_490559604345509_1765840560_n[1]Our second week of VBS we taught the kids about David and Goliath. They had fun singing the songs again, and enjoyed craft and snack time. IMG_7125When we led soccer camp the second week, our theme was “Teamwork.” We tried to teach the kids that it’s important to pass the ball, and work together, instead of just shooting, or hogging the ball. IMG_7185So far our four-week trip has gone really smoothly. We are so thankful for all the opportunities God has provided for us to share His word, and help out some people in our town!

 

Week-Long Mission Trip-June 2013

Last week we had the opportunity to host our first mission trip of the summer. The mission team was made up of two amazing girls, who have a real heart for missions. We spent the week doing several activities in our town, starting with a four-day Vacation Bible School.

When we arrived in the community, the kids were very happy to see us. They were also excited to see that we had tables and chairs to use this summer, because last year they had to sit on the ground on a sheet. We explained to them that West Sayville Christian School, in New York had been taking offerings for four weeks to collect the money for our mission to buy the tables and chairs. The kids were grateful and they even made a short video thanking the school for their generosity.1017320_485519491516187_1625599880_n[2]The first day our theme was the story of Noah. We were able to listen to the Bible story, and sing the songs, but halfway through our cute ark craft, it started pouring! The kids all took off before we got to have snack, or play games, but they still had a great time.10644_484682204933249_1736326137_n[1]

The second day our theme was, “David and Goliath.” The kids started catching on to the songs, and we took turns having a few kids at a time come up to help lead the singing, and do hand motions. They had lots of fun, and thankfully the rain held off until after snack time!1044793_485049748229828_640196581_n[1]

Day three our theme was, “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” The kids had a wonderful time making their lion masks, and pretending to be lions! We were excited to be able to have VBS from start to finish with no rain that day! 1011136_485050181563118_358483505_n[1]
Our fourth, and final day, the theme was, “Jonah.” We listened to a story, sang songs, made a whale craft, and had some whale crackers for snack! After we finished, we spent about an hour playing with the kids. Most of the boys played soccer, while the girls and younger kids did jump rope, and played some other games.1044595_485511011517035_1722211109_n[1]

Saying goodbye is always difficult. The kids told the girls how much they will be missed. The girls told the kids that they would never forget them, and that they will be praying for them. They also reminded the kids how special each of them is to God, and how much He loves them!11487_485510844850385_1047677714_n[1]

On Sunday, we went to church, and then spent some time sorting through clothes that we would be handing out on Monday. We also put together some goody bags for kids. The next morning we headed to two areas to hand out some things to the people there.

In one location we brought food to all the families in the community, and small toys for all the kids.IMG_7082

In the other community we brought the clothes to the families, and gave out the goody bags for the kids.IMG_7086

Monday afternoon, we ate lunch at a place near the water. That evening, we spent some time together shopping in town, and cooling off at the park. IMG_7070

God blessed us with a wonderful time together, and a great mission trip. We are so thankful for the girls who came to help us serve, and for God’s guidance and protection throughout the trip.

Marathon of Mission Trips

Last year, we were blessed with the opportunity to host three mission trips. This year one of our goals was to be able to host at least three trips, and maybe even throw in a fourth!  As of now we have met that goal, and currently have three mission trips planned for this summer.(We’d still love to host a fourth, if anyone is looking for something to do this fall?) It’s gonna be a little crazy, because each trip is one after another, but we are up for the challenge!

In a few weeks, we will welcome our first group. It’s a small group with only two girls, but we are confident that we will be able to accomplish all the work we have planned. During the week-long trip, we will be returning to the same community where we did a lot of work last summer, and once again, lead a VBS there. We will also be bringing clothes and supplies into two other neighborhoods that are in need. This trip is coming up soon, and we are very excited to see how God uses our mission in the lives of these children.IMG_3938

The day they leave, our next mission trip begins. This will be a four-week long trip with one young lady. Together, we will be running a kid’s soccer camp, and leading a VBS program for children in a different community. We also plan to do work in three communities, bringing them food, and other items that they are in need of. In addition, we will be going to be visit a local hospital and bring stuffed animals to the sick kids who are there. We have many things planned for this month-long trip, and are eager to start the projects we will be doing during those four weeks!IMG_1520

The final trip of the summer starts just three days after our four-week trip ends. This week and a half-long trip has a larger mission team than the others. The group of ten is a mix of people, some who are new-comers, and others who are returning for their second and third summers in a row! This group will be focusing on doing construction work, but they will also be doing handouts of supplies in 2 neighborhoods, and running the last week of our five-week soccer camp. (Started during the four-week mission trip.) We are looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, and getting to know the newest additions to this mission team!

This summer is going to be busy, with our “Marathon of Mission Trips”, but we are very thankful for all who are willing to come and work with our misson. We have some exciting things planned, and we know that God will use each and every one who comes on these mission trips, to be a blessing in our community!

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.