El Salvador

El Salvador

Monday, November 21, 2011

El Salvador - Forever in My Heart

Today is our first day back home and the thoughts and images of the people of El Salvador continue to flood my mind. It is hard to get even the smallest of tasks accomplished without stopping to think about and pray about the multitude of situations we encountered and the people that we met. I'm hoping it doesn't stop - God didn't send us there to spend a week and then put it behind us. He sent us there to change lives - both theirs and ours, and I truly believe he did that. I shed a lot of tears over the past week, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. God melted my heart through the precious people of Los Brisos, San Felipe and San Antonio Camino, as well as through his servants in San Vicente. As God used us to extend his hand to the new homeowners, he offered them the hope of a better future, and more importantly, the hope of eternal salvation. They have been blessed to be a blessing, and we saw clear evidence that that will indeed be the case.
When I signed myself and my son Caleb on for this trip, it was my hope that it would change our hearts and help us to focus on God and what he would have us do with our lives. Caleb is already talking about returning in March if God opens that door, and while I wasn't planning to do another trip for a couple of years (when Aaron turns 16), I'm not too sure that I'll be able to stay away that long either. Our hearts were definitely changed as God has began a work in both of us. All of us first-timers were shown this week why Valerie and Dennis are so in love with these people and so committed to sharing the love of God with them. If you've never been on a missions trip and have reservations about going because of age, health, a lack of confidence in terms of how you could contribute - let God worry about those things and go anyway. I went into this with all of those fears and concerns (and a cold from beginning to end, to boot), and I would go again in a heartbeat. Everyone sacrifices something to go, but it is so worth it.
Before I sign off, I want to send a special thankyou to our hosts in San Vicente who are pouring their hearts into the missions work there day in and day out - I won't mention them all by name, for fear of missing someone, but I do want to thank Phil Hartwig (our homey), Carlos and Patricia for the special friendships we forged with the three of you this week - continue the good fight - we will pray for you daily. And last, but certainly not least, thankyou to all of you here at home who supported us through your thoughts, prayers and financial contributions.

Highway To Hell

When I awoke this morning I did one of my favorite things - I listened to my heart. I found myself processing the experiences of this past week. I am sure the members of the team will be doing the same this week and the weeks to come. For some reason I was reminded of the song called Highway To Hell by ACDC. In the song the singer celebrates the fact that he is on a highway to his promised land (Hell). It is not the promised land that I am going to! When I thought about this a bit further I soon realized that the highway to Hell runs right by my house. If you check, I think that you will find that it runs right by your home as well! John 3:18 says "Whoever believes in him (God's Son) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." Unlike the singer in ACDC, not everyone on the highway to Hell is there by choice. Most don't know it. One thing is true for both. The highway is powerful. It is like the riptide that swept Patricia out to sea on Saturday. Just like Patricia was helpless and needed a physical savior, Patricia, you and I need a spiritual Savior. The people on the highway that runs by your house need one too.

John chapter 4 tells the story of Jesus' conversation with a Samaritan Woman. You might want to read it yourself to get the full effect. In summary, Jesus is tired from his journey, sits down beside a well and asks the woman for a cup of water. She is shocked by this request because Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other. Long story short, she becomes a believer. According to verse 39 many of the Samaritans from her town became believers because of her testimony. Imagine with me for a minute if the woman had decided to keep her testimony a secret like we often do. What am I doing with my testimony? What are you doing with yours? I have to admit that there have been times that I have been afraid to share what Jesus has done for me with others. If this is your experience you are not alone.

Saturday night I found Patricia outside the hotel still trying to get over the events of the day. After a while she was brave enough to share her testimony with me. It is amazing!!!! I hope you get to hear it someday. I could tell you some of it, but I don't want to rob her the joy of telling it. What I will tell you is that she has been in God's hands her whole life. I believe God has amazing plans to use her for His Glory! I tried to encourage her to share her story with her fellow Salvadorians. I think she will.

In closing, I want to share with you the words of a song by MercyMe. The song is called Here Am I.

"On the other side of the world / She stands on the ocean shore / Gazing at the heavens she wonders / Is there something more / Never been told the name of Jesus / She turns and walks away / What a shame. Just across the street in your hometown / Leaving from his nine to five / Gazing down the road he wonders / Is this all there is to life / Never been told the name of Jesus / He continues on his way / What a shame. Chorus: Whom shall I send / Who will go for me / To the ends of the earth / Who will rise up for the King / Here am I send me / Here am I send me. Whether foreign land or neighbors / Everyone's the same / Searching for the answers / That lie within your name / I want to proclaim the love of Jesus / In all I do and say / Unashamed. Chorus. Bridge: How Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news / Proclaiming peace and your salvation / Chorus.

Will you join us in shining your light for the whole world to see?

For the glory of the risen King!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adios

We are at our hotel in San Salvador and we are leaving today. We have to say adios to all our friends old and new that we have bonded with this week.The team truly had an incredible week with lots of God moments. Our hearts are still processing all we have seen and felt. It really is a lot to take in emotionally in a week. We have seen poverty up close and personal. We have heard the stories of the incredible suffering that the people of El Salvador have to endure every day. We have looked into the eyes of the children who have seen more than they should at their age.

On Friday we held the key giving ceremony. It is always so bittersweet. The familes are receiving the blessing of a new home but we are having to say our goodbye`s. I have made many close friendships with some young teen`s in the village of San Felipe as we have built homes there for a few years. Two of my close friends Adonai and Hennry were at the key giving ceremony so I asked them if they wanted to come with us to hand out the food that we had purchased to give out in San Antonio Camino. They said they would love to come. I loved hanging out with them and walking through the village of San Antonio sharing this friendship that God blessed us with. I asked them if they had been to the village previously and Adonai had not been before. When you live in poverty you cannot afford to travel or see your own country. He had never been there and it is only about 30 minutes from his own village. I am counting the days when I will see my special friends again. I told them that there will be some day that I will not be able to return to El Salvador (when I get too old)but that I will never forget them. They are in my heart and there is not a day that goes by that I don`t think and pray for my amazing friends in San Felipe. They said they felt the same way. May God use these special young men to impact the world for His kingdom.

The first year Dennis and I were in in El Salvador we built a home for Yanira and her family. As many people know Yanira was raped and murdered last year. Her daughter Esmeralda was 18 years when her mother was murdered and she is now the main caregiver of her 4 younger brothers. She also has a son of her own named Kevin. Through Trent and Stuart and their wives Dennis and I have been able to connect with them again. They are living in the house the Bethany team built. We were able to visit them and in Las Brisas and bring them pictures of their mom that I had taken. We were also blessed to have the family come spend the day at the beach with us. I can`t explain the joy I had reconnecting and having fun together at the beach with this special family whom I love so much. I was devestated when Yanira was killed and when I was told that the family had moved away it my heart broke. I prayed that God would look after them and that they would come to know him as their personal Saviour. He heard the cries of my heart and answered my prayers. They are attending the church in San Vicente and they are being cared for. God is so faithful.

Well this is a sad day for me. I have to say adios to this amazing country that God has called me to serve in and has given me a burden for. I am counting the days until I return. Dennis and I have had the honour of serving alongside this amazing group of people on the Bathany team. Please know that we have seen a lot. Be patient with us as we process it all. It is not easy coming back to the land of plenty and seeing the abundance we have when we just left a country where people are suffering. November is especially hard as back home every one is beginning the preperations for Christmas. May God work on our hearts and may we never forget what we saw or experienced this week. May we never go back to life as normal!!!! May we use our time, resourses and gifts to help the poor and suffering.Jesus said to whom much is given much is expected. We have been given so much.Now He expects us to give much back.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trip to San Salvador

So the reason I didn´t post yesterday was because I ended up in the private hospital in San Salvador about an hour away from where I´m staying. Here´s the whole story.
   I was getting in the truck and decided to climb up and sit on top of the cab because I´ve been doing it all week. The spare tire is what I always use as a step but the problem is, when you get on the tire, you´re facing where you want to sit. So you have to turn around. This time i didn´t move my feet, only my legs and the rest of  me... Then my knee popped out of it´s place and  I just started screaming because it hurt so badly. Finally someone noticed my knee was sticking way too far out to be normal and moved me into Trent and Stuart´s van so I could go see their friend Doctor Carlos. When we got there, he was in San Salvador and said he could try to come back. In the mean time I had to get a needle (those are my worst fear) and Karrie Lyn tried to keep me calm in the back with my dad. After the needle, we found out that traffic back to San Vicente was too  bad and that we had to drive to San Salvador to see the doctor and go get it popped back in. So we dropped off the people who didn´t need to go and Karrie tried to keep me distracted from looking at it and the pain. A little over an hour later, my knee had kind of slid back but not much and we met Carlos in front of this Costo type place. He took us to the private hospital and used his connections to get us in the ´Doctors only´ parking lot and a gurney bed thingy and stuff. In the car he popped it back in and didn´t tell me he was going to and it was the worst feeling ever. The pain didn´t really go away. I do have pills though, they´re really strong because I can only take 1 every 8 hours and it actually works.
   So that´s what happened yesterday. Today was just a bunch of sappy goodbyes that I don´t really need to explain. Good night!

Celebration Day

Friday is another sunny,blue day. Today we present the keys to the home owners and pray with them then a celebration follows. Then off to another village to hand out the bags we prepared ahead of time to the villagers. The honk has honked so we must leave for breakfast. God is working.
Chris Frere
I am filled with anticipation and excitement today! The team will be going to be doing the key giving ceremonies for each of the 6 families. What a blessing. I cannot even imagine what it will be like for the families and the team. The key giving ceremony means it's times to say goodbye but I just can't bear it, instead it will be until we meet again. Please pray for us all as we continue to share God's love.

Medicine and Soccer

Yesterday we had a really incredible day as a team in San Felipe. We arrived to Bacilios house to set up the medical clinic. There were hundreds of people there waiting for us. After a crazy time getting everything set up we were ready. We had 4 Dr from the local community who volunteered their time. We saw 306 patients yesterday and we were able to provide medication for everyone. God is so good.

A few of us women stayed behind to clean up after the clinic while the rest of the team went to play soccer with the people in the village. I heard it was an amazing time of bonding as they kicked the soccer ball around the field. Canada vs El Salvador! I am sure it surprises no one that El Salvador whooped our butts. We held our own and the final score was 10-9. This is what missions trips are about. Working alongside the local people, building houses, handing out medication to sick, hanging out with the poor, the downtrodden. I can see why Jesus did this. I know why this is how He spent His time on earth hanging out with the poor, It is amazing and it is the greatest gift He has given my life.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wow another amazing day here in El Salvador! Yesterday I was sick and was unable to be with the rest of the team. I'm still not sure which was worse feeling sick or being confined to my room.
Every day here has been so different than the day before. Today we went to San Filipe to do a medical clinic. So many people came and once we were able to get everything organized the day went smoothly and over 300 people were served. Two doctors came and the team was able to dispense the medications that were needed. I can't imagine my child having a fever and not being having access to something as simple as tylenol can you? The people here are amazing...I think I'm in love!!! There was a soccer game El Salvador against Canada. Canada lost it was so fun to watch everyone playing ( sheer joy!) It had rained the night before so it was a little muddy and a few of the kids lost their shoes in the mud, way too funny, It is such a blessing to be here serving and sharing the love of Jesus. Can't wait till tomorrow!

Heavy Heart

We are all rejoicing last night as we finished the homes yesterday as well as got all the food sorted out and the house warming gifts organized. I am truly blessed every time I come to El Salvador as I love working alongside my friends from Bethany church. We are all incredibly hard workers.

I must share with you though that my heart was heavy last night. My heart breaks for people living in extreme poverty. I hate that people have to suffer so much. At the worksite yesterday there was a disabled women carrying cement up to the house to finish the floor of one of the houses we built. She has a really difficult time walking and she had to carry the bucket of cement on her head. She also had a huge burn down her leg. There are children who are with us at the worksite all day who never have anything to eat or drink. If they did I know they would go home to get eat. We rented a truck so the people in San Felipe can come to church with us. It poured buckets of rain last night yet they came to church. It is a 30 minute drive from San Felipe to the church. They had to get soaken wet to attend church and only because we rented a truck to get them there. Poverty makes me mad! I pray that I will never forget what I saw yesterday. May God never lift this burden from my heart for the poor and hungry. May I challenge myself to do more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God is FAITHFUL!!

What a blessing to be back on my feet and at the work site today!! Thank you SO much to all those who prayed! I definately felt the amazing power of prayer. It was really hard being sick yesterday and having to be at the hotel in bed all day but God has healed me and I was able to get back to the worksite today. It{s so good to be back. I{m learning so much here, very different things than I did last year. I got to interview the family that is recieving the first house we built, Esmerelda and her daughter Gabriella. We talked about so many things with her because we had an interpreter with us. She told us about how she met her husband and I told her how I met my fiancee Ryder and Nicole told her how she met her husband. We had some awesome girl talk talking about the amazing men in our lives. It also struck me how recieving this new house for her is like winning the lottery. When I asked her what it meant to her to have this house, she could barely describe it, I{m not sure she even knows yet what this house means. I also asked her what her hopes and dreams were, thinking she would say something like: "I wish I could leave San Felipe" or "I wish I could live somewhere better". But she simply said she is very happy where she is and content with her life, and doesn{t even feel like she deserves this house. She has so little but to her, she has the world, because she has God. Amazing faith.

We went to church in the evening and encountered a LARGE amount of rain during the service. 140 people crammed into the church to keep away from the rain. And when it was time to leave the people who had taken the open air truck from San Felipe to come to church had to drive back in the pouring rain. I pray that we could put this kind of importance on our faith and the opportunity to go to church. It{s overwhelming. Well I{m going to leave it at that. Thanks to everyone for your prayers, God is definately doing amazing things, as he always does.

FINISHED THE HOUSES!!!!

We finished all the houses this morning before lunch and got to eat in Phil´s house. We used the afternoon to pack for the key giving ceremony and other things. It was a pretty good day.
   Kaitlyn, Dana and I went on a trek to find Carlos our translator today. We couldn´t figure out what one lady wanted and they followed us for the whole kilometer we had to hike. We went through mud and at least 3 different job sites to find him at the top of the hill... Turns out that she wanted us to draw flowers on her tablecloth. Yeah...
   Well, that was all that happened today. Tomorrow we have the medical clinic and a soccer game. Wish us luck.

Avon and the Gospel

This year we wanted to begin a new outreach on the missions trip. We hired a female translator so the women in our group could have an oppurtuninty to go visit women in San Felipe where we are building the homes. Yesterday as I was working at site 4 a lady that we had built a home for came and invited me to come to her home that afternoon. We got Phil Hartwig...yes you heard that right to drive us to her home. Three women in the group plus our female translator went to visit her. She sells Avon in the community and as we sat in her new home she showed us some products from Avon. We all bought a perfume from her called Latino women. We were all laughing about that together. Karlta our translator also gave her a manicure. While she was getting her manicure finished I asked her if she attends church. She explained that she goes to the local church up the road from her in San Felipe. I then asked her if she knew Christ. She said she had never accepted Christ into her heart. We told Karlita today is the day. Karlita gave her the gospel message and we had the blessing of leading this women to Christ. God uses everything to share the gospel..... even an Avon party with women in a tiny village in El Salvador.

Oh by the way Phil¨s new name is Felipe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bibles.

Today I gave out my spanish book (Max Lucado) and the spanish bible to two of the most amazing people I´ve met here. Their names are Veronica and Juan Miguel. They´re married and are recieving one of the last houses in the works. Veronica goes to church every day and lives very far away from all her family. Miguel has 12 brothers and sisters and their both just trying to raise their daughter Brenda. Miguel wants her to be a doctor when she grows up. I gave Veronica the book because she has a bible and goes to church EVERY DAY, but Miguel doesn´t consider himself a christian anymore. The more we talked to him (through Patricia, one of our translators) the more he opened up to the idea of going back to church. When we asked him if he had a bible he said no so I pulled it out of my bag and gave it to him. He kept on asking if it´s his and if he could keep it and we kept saying yes. It was such a simple gesture, giving him a book but it meant so much to him.
   Also, Darlene is a lot better. She´s almost completely fine and will be joining us again tomorrow.
   By the way, we only have an hour of work left on the houses for tomorrow morning and then we get to go to Phil´s house.
Love,
Amanda

Fourth Day at San Vincente

Just returned from the team debriefing and all members had great stories of the days events, some doing children´s ministry, some meeting with the local women and others working with the villagers building the homes. The homes are almost completed then on to several other planned events the the remaining days.
Presently the rain is pouring down in buckets. This is a good thing for the farmers and it should not hinder us from completing our work tomorrow. Everyone is exhausted after a day of hot sun and physical labour but the people are amazing and it is great to be able to spend time with them and hear about their lives and stories. Looking forward to what God has in store for us tomorrow.
Chris Frere

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Friends

Today we started building the houses... Sure we expected to finish maybe one, or one and a half, but no. We finished two, one is mostly done and started on another. It`ll insanely hot here but at least it´s not snowing! I got to play with all the children today with Dana, Jen and Kaitlyn. We made them bead bracelets and they looked like it made their day. It was so cool to see. We also got to spend a lot of time talking with our one translator Patricia. She´s super sweet and very caring and She´s one of my best new friends down here. I loved hearing her story and how happy she is because God is in her life.
   Also, please pray for Darlene, she´s really sick at the moment and we hope it´s heat stroke. Thanks everyone!

What Lasts

Dennis and I have been told that the Galvaneesa houses should last 40 years. They are made of medal and have steel posts so there is nothing on them that can be eaten by turmites or wood that can rot. These families have been given such a blessing from God in having a house provided to them. I know there there is a greater blessing that we are giving and receiving from the people in the village. That is the blessing of friendship. As we are building the houses, praying with the local people or making a craft with the children we are building relationships. Relationships that last long after the houses have crumbled. Sharing the love of Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation with the amazing people of El Salvador is what we came here for. This is a free gift that they can recieve and no one can take away nor can it ever be destroyed. This is what lasts. This is what goes into eternity. Relationships!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Showers and Babies.

Today was day 2 of our trip and we got to sleep in (sort of) for probably the last time for the next week. Anyways, we did the tour of the work sites and met all the wonderful families we´re building for. I even got one of the missionary kids and dennis to eat some super hot peppers >:D That`s beside the point.
   After that we got home to change and get ready for church and I decided to take a shower... Was that ever a bad idea. I`m assuming a lot of other people did the same thing as the water pressure was just gravity. I realised how much I take real showers at home for granted and how most people here don`t even have this. Even if at one point the water totally stopped at the most inopportune moment. It was just a really important epiphany of my day.
   The second best was hearing everyone at church pray for this dying little baby boy. His heart is growing too fast for him and he`s going to die because he`s still too small for surgery. The pastor/leader asked everyone to pray for him (we only knew this thanks to Carlita) and everyone just sort of talked loudly in spanish and tried to comfort the mother and just pray with everything they had. It was so cool to watch especially because we didn`t even have to know what they were saying, it was all in the tone and the passion. Anyways that was another really cool part of my day! I`ll be back tomorrow.
Love,
Amanda

Sunday in El Salvadore

Praise God! Sunday was amazing, from the rooster crowing at 4am, the sun rising at 5pm and the coffee already by 6pm. Quiet time was spent in the Word and just soaking up the early morning sounds before the team headed off for breakfast and then to visit the outlying villages. First those who received their homes on previous trips, meeting families and children of all ages. Hard to describe the lushness of the land yet the poor conditions these friendly people live in. They are truly grateful for what the teams are doing and many recognize that these teams are here only by the Grace of God. After lunch(peanut butter sandwiches, watermelon and banana) we headed off to meet the 6 families who we will be building homes for. You can't imagine how hard they have worked to tear down their old shacks and prepare the land for the new metal homes being erected this week. We will be challenged this week since many are on higher ground and rugged climbing. Off to Church now and experiencing everything for the first time. An amazing team which is guided only through Christ Jesus.
Chris Frere
Wow what a beautiful morning! We woke up to a rooster crowing this morning! When we landed at the airport we were greeted by warm friendly people, beautiful coconut trees and birds I have never seen before. On our way to our hotel we saw so many things, cattle and horses walking alongside the roads grazing, random dogs, fields of sugar cane, stands where people are selling drinks and piles and piles of fresh coconuts! I saw my first volcano so amazing. The other missionary teams that are here and local people have been awesome. I'm so excited to go to the village today to meet the families whose homes we will be building!!!

Roosters Crowing

At home in Canada I wake up to an alarm clock. Here in El Salvador it is to the rooster crowing. He starts at about 4 am. I love waking up to that sound. It makes me know that I am back in El Salvador. I am essentially back home. I truly love this country. When I go home to Canada I always say I leave my heart here in El Salvador.
Today we are going to the village of Las Brisas. This is where Canadian teams built 123 homes. Two of Bethany teams built in the village. All the homes are complete now. Each family has a home. We want to make sure that even though the homes are complete we have not forgotten them or abandoned them. They are still in our hearts. We still want to minister to them.

We are also going to San Felipe to meet the famlies we will be building for. This year I felt that we as women on the team should go and meet and visit with some of the local women in the village. We have hired a female transator to spend the mornings with us so we can have an opportuinty to visit and pray with the women. We want to hear their stories. We want to be Christ hand extended and pray with these women who have had to endure so much. May we have open hearts to be used by God in this new ministry. May God be glorified in all we say and do.

Valerie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I hate spanish keyboards.

So, after a morning that started too eearly to be acceptable, we managed to board the plane, get off safely, see Phil´s smiling face and get through customs with a ton of medication and arrive at the hotel safely. We (meaning young women) bonded over songs in the backseat while Caleb sat there awkwardly and made friends with each other.
   I´m really glad to have met Kaitlyn, Dana and Jen and room with Darlene and I feel like we have a very special week ahead of us. Even now as Caleb and I try to figure out how to make the other computer work... Which it probably won´t because there´s only one functioning internet cable. And don´t even get me started on the spanish keyboards!
   I feel like I´m finally really meant to be here with everyone even though we didn´t really do much today other than meet a lot of people like the other missionaries here. It´s like god really wants me to experience this to the fullest. I miss eveyone at home and I´ll try to blog tomorrow! No promises though.
Love,
Amanda

What Are You Good For?

Morning came a little earlier today than it usually does. Having to meet at the church at 5:45 AM meant that I had to get out of bed by 4:45 AM to do some last minute packing (Relax Grace), take a shower and eat some breakfast. I decided to make a bowl of oatmeal which is my usual routine. Everything was going according to plan until I added the last ingredient. The second I shook the container over my bowl I knew something was wrong! Who left the garlic powder on the table where the cinnamon usually sits??? In a flash I had memories of a famous cheesecake I made a few years ago where I mistakenly used salt instead of white sugar. Not willing to accept defeat I ran to the kitchen and, using the largest spoon I could find, proceeded to remove the mountain of garlic powder from my bowl of oatmeal. After removing as much as I could afford, what remained in my bowl was a little less than a serving. In spite of my removal efforts and plenty of brown sugar, my oatmeal had a distinct and unusual ¨garlic toast¨ flavour. You should try it in a pinch. You might like it. The experince reminded me of Jesus´teaching in Matthew 5 . ¨You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.¨ What I learned this morning is that a little garlic powder goes a long way when it is unexpected. Wearing our yellow T-shirts with El Salvdor 2011 on them gave several of us opportunities to share our faith and mission with airport workers and fellow passengers on our flight. One person even asked how they could get their hands on some Spanish bibles to start a bible study with other flight attendants. Tonight we went to the church for supper where some of us were able to see old friends. The rest of us were able to make new ones. Thanks for a great meal ladies of the church. On our way home we stopped for ice cream at the local Texico gas station. Tomorrow we are going to visit the people we are going to be building the houses for. I think we all agree that building the houses will be rewarding, but building relationships with people is more important and lasts longer. May we never lose our saltiness!!!

NO MORE SLEEPS!

WEŔE HERE!! It is such a blessing to be back in El Salvador. We met so many wonderful people today and had so many opportunities to share about why God has brought us here. Many of us said that the building of homes is definately part of our reason to be here, but more than anything itś the relationships we are building with the people of El Salvador. El Salvador truly is the "small country with a big heart." Although they are constantly mentioning the blessing we are to them, they are such a blessing to us.

It is my prayer this week that even though it is my second time to El Salvador that I will not be content just being comfortable with the familiar, but be stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone. I pray that God will challenge me, that I will not be content with complacency, but embracing what he needs to teach me here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heading South in the morning

Well, first thing tomorrow morning I head to the airport to begin my mission trip to El Salvador.
Thanks for everyone's support. We were able to buy 8 goats and two quilts!
Please continue to pray for our team

Christine

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Armchair Woodworker...Armchair Christian

My father occasionally jokes that I am an armchair woodworker - a theorist more than a practical woodworker. You see, I spend a lot more time reading woodworking magazines and articles on-line than actually picking up a saw, plane and a piece of wood and making something. It is not that I don't want to do the real thing, it is just a lot easier sitting in a comfortable chair, looking at pictures and admiring someone else's hard work than getting up and doing it myself. Sometimes I wonder if my Heavenly Father thinks that my Christian life resembles my woodworking life. I read a lot of good books on the Christian life that inspire me to live better or differently, but do I really change my life or habits in response to these writers? Most days I try to read my Bible. Sometimes I read things that challenge me to live very differently than I am. Often it is easier to close the book and to think about something else (like woodworking) than to think about what I have read and to figure out how I am going to live differently or more obediently. I was recently reading in the book of James. Chapter 2 vs. 14-17 says, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him or her, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his or her physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. This trip to El Salvador that we are about to embark on is an opportunity for our faith and actions to work together. It is hard, no impossible, to go on this trip with only faith or only action. I think this trip will help our faith to become more complete in one way or another. I don't want to be just an armchair Christian. I think this trip is going to help me overcome this in more ways than one!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

9 SLEEPS TILL EL SALVADOR!!

WE'RE IN THE SINGLE DIGITS!! I am so blessed to be able to say I get to visit the beautiful country of El Salvador for a second time! God is so good! It's so important that everything we do on this trip be for His glory and not our own. May we reflect who Christ is to everyone we meet.

Every year teams mention how much they learn from the people of El Salvador, and similarly, they taught our team so much last year because of the unconditional joy they have in the midst of poverty. Sometimes I struggle with the fact that we have so much here in Canada and they have so little, but I believe we have been blessed to be a blessing to others. My prayer is that we could be intentional about shining the love of Christ so clearly that there is no question about who we are there to represent.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

God's Plans




As I sit at the computer my heart is filled with excitement and my stomach has butterflies. In 3 weeks we will be sitting on a plane destined for El Salvador. The little country with a big heart.

The team of 15 have been planning and working hard for the last 6 months to prepare for this missions trip. We will be going to El Salvador from November 12-20th.


  • We have held fundraisers to get the money for the 6 houses we will be building in San Felipe.

  • Fundraised to purchase food to hand out in the village of San Antonio Camino.

  • Collected hundreds of shoes from the "Hearts and Soles for El Salvador" program.

  • Made up 100 care packages to give away to children in San Antonio Camino.

  • Prepared for a medical clinic we will be holding in the village of San Felipe.

  • Organized the children's ministry program.

  • Got soccer equipment and nets to begin an "Upward Soccer" program for the children in El Salvador. Thank you Tim Tulloch! He brought this idea forward and made it happen.


I write all this to share that no matter how prepared we go we really don't know what our week will hold. No missions trip is ever the same. Each person will have different experiences. Each of us will be used by God in different ways. He wants to use our unique gifts and talents to share His love. Time is short and there are so many people who need to hear the amazing message of God's love and grace. We don't know what the week holds... but our Savior does! He has a plan. A plan bigger than we can imagine or prepare for. May we have open hearts and minds and be obedient to follow the plans He has prepared for us to impact the amazing people of El Salvador for His Kingdom. Most importantly may He receive all the praise and glory.

Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord himself will go before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.


THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO GAVE TO THE EL SALVADOR MISSION TRIP.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Market & Beach

It's our day of rest. We are being picked up to go to the local market here in San Vicente and then on to the beach. It has been an incredible week filled with a lot of different emotions. One thing for sure it has been life changing for all of us. God is moving in incredible ways in El Salvador and what an amazing gift to have witnessed it this week.

See you soon in Canada!

Valerie

Friday, March 18, 2011

Poverty

Today was a different day. We slept in a little. We were able to sleep until 7 am instead of 5:30. We did not build homes but instead we handed out food in the village of San Antonio. San Antonio is a village where families who were displaced after the civil war and the earthquakes of 2000 and 2001 have settled. They are having to live beside abandoned railroad tracks. They are living in extreme poverty. Their houses consist of sticks and plastic. It is sometimes very hard to see and emotionally take it all in. As I walked in the village I question why we in Canada continue to live in such luxury and work so hard to continue buying and accumulating "things". Then we work just as hard to pay off and insure all the things we bought. If we listen to financial advisers we should have 6 months to a year saved in case of an emergency. We are taught that if we are wise we could and should have a couple of million in RRSP to be able to retire comfortably. I seen men, women and children living in shacks without proper food or provision. Isn't that an emergency? These people will never have emergency funds or RRSP or even three meals a day. Most do not have one meal a day. Our North American lifestyle that we have bought into isn't what Jesus taught. It is not the message he gave us. He commanded us to look after the poor and suffering in this world. To look after the widows and orphans. He called us to live like him. May we listen to His command and live differently in Canada to have more resources to help the poor living in extreme poverty.

Incredible day!

We had an incredible day yesterday. We completed the 8th home and held the key giving ceremony. As always it is bittersweet. We celebrate because 8 families now have shelter to protect them from the elements and doors that lock. They no longer have to sweep a dirt floor but will have a clean, cold concrete floor. How faithful is our God to his children.
The bitter part is where we have to say goodbye to our amazing friends. The people of San Felipe are so welcoming, so full of love for God and their community. They welcome us always with open arms and hearts. We need to learn from them and practice this at home in our own community. The energy that comes from love is incredible and we felt it full blown yesterday in the key giving ceremony.

Today we are handing out food in the village of San Antonio as well as visiting the orphanage. May we continue to see these amazing people through the eyes of Christ and may we never grow weary from serving the poor and sharing the gospel. After all that is what Christ commanded us to do.

Valerie

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Faithful

God is so faithful. After such a discouraging day Monday we had an incredible day yesterday. We continued dealing with the rocks from site #1 but with the Lord's help we completed 3 homes. Praise God! We are planning on completing house #5 and #6 today. We have to leave the work siites early as we have church tonight.
Yesterday I shared in the morning devotion 1 Corithians 12:12-31. Paul speaks here of the body being many parts and how God uses each of the parts. If one is missing it is not a complete body. I see this everyday as we are working at the jobsite. We are each a part but working together we are a whole body. He also says in verse 26 that if one part suffers , every part suffers with it: if one part is honoured every part rejoices with it. I am so thankful that I see this evident in our team. Once again Dennis and I are truly hnoured to serve among this amazing group of people from Bethany.

Valerie

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rocks

Today we arrived at site # 1 with an incredible amount of enthusiasm to begin the building. We had planned and fundraised for 6 months. Finally after all the planning and preperation the day had arrived where we could start.

We were not prepared for what was waiting. Rocks! Not little ones. Were talking huge boulders. After 2.5 hours of digging we were exhausted and just a little frustrated. We talked to Pastor Jorge and he knew a man who had the tools to drill into the boulders. We hired him to use his tools to remove them. We then went to site two and three. Site #2 was the same where we hit the rocks. Very frustrating. It was a LONG day! The dig team as well as some local men prepared and leveled the 2 sites. We got the house completed on site 2. Yeeeeh. We are rejoicing that with all the obstacles we faced we were able to complete one house and get two sites levelled. "We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us" Even in the midst of these frustrations we still had some amazing God moments interacting with the amazing people of El Salvador.

Chelsey made bracelets with children and visited with the local women in the village. The teen guys had water fights with the local people who helped us on the worksite. Myself, Linda, Jean and Polly visited some of my amigo's families. After many visits to San Felipe I was able to fulfill a wish and visit my friends homes and meet their families. One of my friends in the village is Henri. His mom and dad live in the U.S and his grandparents raise him. When we visited him his grandfather told me his grandmother was in the hospital. He was so upset and crying. We all gathered around and prayed for them and that God would touch her as she layed in the hospital and heal her. We are planning to go back in the morning to visit with Henri and his grandfather. Erin knows Spanish so she is able to comunicate with the local people. She is amazing with the people. Kristen and and Katie set up a "spa" and painted girls nails. The men worked like tanks to get the 1st house completed. We all have gifts and talents and God is using each of them to impact the people of El Salvador for His kingdom.

Tomorrow is a new day. We don't know what it will hold but God does.... Will we face more giant boulders? Work in exteme heat like today (Yes)? Encounter more obstacles? Whatever it holds we will face it as a team and with the Lord's strength. I will keep you posted. In everything we do may God be glorified and people come to know His saving grace.

Goood night friends.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blessings from God


We went to San Felipe today. This is a home that a family is living in. They are a wonderful couple who have 2 sons. Aged 1 and 4. By the end of the week God will have provided them with the blessing of a new home. It truly is a blessing to have the priveledge to work alongide this amazing family. God is so good and so faithful!
Valerie

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Safe arrival

The team arrived safely and we have just finished an amazing meal at the hotel. It took awhile to get through customs. All the team members bags arrived.
Tomorrow we are going to the village of San Felipe to visit the 8 families we will be building homes for. At 3 is church.

Gotta run as we are soon to start our first team debreifing!

Valerie