El Salvador

El Salvador

Friday, December 21, 2012

House #2


Meeting Marta...

House #2 was to be built for a quiet, shy lady and her sickly, anemic son, Hosea Adrien (17). All seemed pretty straight forward – she lived in a shack of tarps, mud walls and various pieces of metal in the shadow of her farmer father’s large home. Yes, this lady needed a house to keep her sick son dry and give them the protection they needed and deserved. It was not an uncommon sight.

But wait. There is more. Look closer and listen for everyone has a story to tell...

Marta (36) is one of 13 children and has only a grade 3 education. She married young and birthed 3 children. Her husband never gave her a house of her own (something that is expected in their culture) and then, one day, left. Her parents helped her financially when the children were young and she managed to keep them in school until grade 8. She works in her father’s fields, as does her son when he is well enough. They have 5 chickens and get beans and corn from the fields.

One day, her husband returns and takes their healthy son, Samuel Antonio, and leaves for good. Marta does not know where her son is living or how he is doing (my heart breaks right here). Marta’s daughter, Flore Esmarelda, is married and lives in San Felipe; she sees them every few months. She is proud to have a grandson, she says.

And what of this house God is blessing you with – what does it mean to you, Marta? She promptly replies, "It will keep my son dry and safe. It will be my first house; it makes my heart so happy!" Again, that shy smile.

We ask her: "What is it that keeps you smiling?" And, she quietly replies, “I know that only God can help me.” In her situation, would I be smiling, I ask myself?

So, we ask quiet, smiling Marta what it is that she dreams for in the future. My heart swells and eyes brim as she explains through our translator: "I want my son to get married and have a family ... and that God gives me good health to see my grandson grow up." I nod a knowing smile. Here we sit, women living a world apart in time and space, but we simply want the same things for ourselves and for our families. Simple truths. A mother’s heart is the same. I reflect, whether you live in San Felipe or St. Catharines. 

There are other truths to be told of Marta’s life, but she chooses not to share those with us.  Truths about how one survives in poverty; truths about hard choices; truths about being abandoned. But a real truth was spoken – Marta knows that only God can help her. Amen, Marta.

by Karen Hooper & Shirley Francey

Friday, December 7, 2012

House #3



The family that we interviewed, House #3, was a family of four. The father's name was Amilcar Romero and he is 27, the wife's name was Paubla Aguirre, and she is 22, and the two children were Yaquelin, 7, and Stephany, 16 months.

Amilcar grew up in the area of San Felipe, where we were building. He has 8 sister and 4 brothers. Amilcar only went to school for grade 1, and we found out that he was forced to drop out because of his inappropriate behaviour. Amilcar is only able to write his name and he cannot read. He was fortunate, however, because his father taught him the value of hard work, and he did not fall into any of the local gangs as many young men do. Currently, he works as a farm hand, in the fields, only making enough to buy food for his family. He dreams of owning his own land, but he works on his father's land right now. His ultimate dream is to become a construction worker, and so he loved helping out with the building of the houses and worked at every worksite.

Amilcar met Paubla when she was 17, as she was the sister of his best friend. Paubla grew up in a village near the volcano called San Antonio Katerina. Previously, she was in a relationship with a man who abused her and finally abandoned her leaving her with Yaquelin, who was a baby. Paubla was 15 years old at that time. She returned to her parents home and they supported her. He visited her at home because of her brother, and then fell in love with her and brought her back to San Felipe. Although Amilcar calls Paubla his wife, they are not married because it cost a lot of money and you must travel to the city. The cost is $10, which doesn't sound like very much but is actually worth about 1 months supply of food. This upsets Paubla and makes it hard for her to trust Amilcar, because they are not married and she fears that he will leave her as well. She is generally an angry person who has a bad temper. They often fight, but soon makeup. She has so much pain in her heart. Amilcar is hopeful that a new home will give Paola the peace and security she craves and some stability and trust in the foundation of their family. A new home will offer protection from the weather, and safety. He is so happy to receive this house, He says “thank you” to God and to his dad for supporting him. He is sure that God will pay us (the team) back for this generosity. At this point, Kate assured him that this house was a gift from God. God is wonderful, he says and he can’t believe he’ll have a home by the end of the week! Today, one of his dreams is coming true, he knows it will be a new start for them.

We asked Amilcar about his relationship with Yaquelin and how he feels about her. Before the translator could tell us what he said, we already knew that he loved her by the way that he spoke about her, and how he smiled when he talked about her. Even though she is not his daughter, he still loves and accepts her as part of their family and treats her equally to his biological daughter, Stephany. As he put it: “if you love the chicken, you gotta love the chicks!”

Paubla wouldn't speak with us personally; we think she was jealous of our outgoing translator, who happened to be the same age as her. This told us that she is very insecure in her relationship with Amilcar, and that she is very troubled in her heart and struggles with anger.

When we asked Amilcar about his faith, he told us that he grew up Catholic. Unfortunately, it's a very long walk to church, and so they rarely go. He didn't quite understand when we asked him if we could pray for him, saying that we could pray for him when we were at church.

As part of the housewarming gifts we gave this family, there was a Spanish Bible. Amilcar cannot read but Paubla can. It is our prayer that she reads it and learns to accept Jesus as her Saviour. It is truly the only way she will ever experience true peace and acceptance.

by Jayne Duldner & Kate Duldner

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Compassion

We are at the end of our journey. The team has been sharing that it is hard to believe we are heading home today. Friday we visited a Compassion Centre. The children lined the pathway of the centre as we were walking in waving Canadian and El Salvadorian flags. We recieved such a warm welcome. They then presented us with a program of singing and dancing before we toured the centre. I was amazed! The centre has computer classes, pinata classes, sewing classes, hair dressing classes. These are all skills that the children can use later in life. The Compassion Program is a holistic program where they look after the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the children. After the tour we went on 3 home visits of children who are at the Compassion centre.
At our last debrief we had to share our thoughts on compassion. The word compassion means "with suffering". We are to suffer with our brothers and sisters. In 1 John 3:17 it says" If you have material possesions and see your brother in need and have no pity on him than how can the love of God be in you". These are powerful words. I love the words of Francis Chan and he says that at the end of our life all that will matter is how we love God and how we love each other. May we be filled with compassion!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Celebration

Today we are celebrating. Celebrating the completion of the 10 houses. We are also celebrating God 's faithfulness to these people. He has not forgotten them. He has not abandoned them. Throughout the word it talks about God's heart for the poor, the outcast, the widows, the orphans. He hear their cries. I know God has heard the cries of these people. I am so thankful for the team members who heard the cry of the poor. They stepped out of their comfort zone to come and serve those who are suffering.

We are celebrating God! We are celebrating His love! We are celebrating His faithfulness!

Is there hope?

    Is there hope?  Looking around at the poverty, the garbage strewn compounds, the crumbling infrastructure, I can´t help wonder if there is really any hope.  Corruption is rampant, gangs are powerful, can we really make a difference here?
    But then I see the people, their smiling faces the friendly greetings.  In their humble conditions they have many smiles and laughs to share with us.  They are happy in their situation.  Sure, they want better for themselves and for their families, so do we all.
    And I am reminded that God does not need infrastructure, governments, law and order.  Jesus was a radical and he hung out with the people, not the establishment.  He reached out to those in need, the sick, the destitute, the outcast.  Then he built his church and changed the world using ordinary people, just like those on our team, just like Hector, Noe, Oscar and other believers in El Salvadore that have a heart for the people. 
    Is there hope?  Of course there is.  There is hope in the person of Christ Jesus.  To change a nation?  Perhaps, but it starts with the people.  He has called everyday people to be his hands and feet, to be salt and light, to reach .... people.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

House #1

   We called it House #1, a number, but there are real people behind that number.  Real names, real faces, real stories & real hopes.
   Yesterday we had the privilege of working together with many El Salvador men and women to build House #1 for Gil (pronounced Hill) Rosalio Ardona and Ziola Ensparanze Lopez Argueta.  They have 3 children: Josue Eli (17), Anderson Isaac (8), and Santiago Ismaal (2).
   Gil (45) grew up in the area of San Phillipe, but moved to San Salvadore at 16.  He joined the armay and faught in the civil was for 5 years.  One day his sqaudron of 7 men were attacked and he was on of only 2 men to survive.  But this was not without sever injuries. His arms, face and scalp were hit with shrapnel from the bomb and he remains heavily scarred.  Upn release from the hospital, he was discharged from the army and he became certified in veterinary science.  However, his injuries inhibited him from working in the field.  He returned to the village of Santa Tecula to try to find work.  It was there that he met Ziola Ensparanza.  
   Ziola (29) grew up in the area of Santa Tecula.  She met Gil when he came around asking for food (as he had no family in the area).  He started coming around often and he eventually asked her father for permission to marry Zoila.
   Gil and Zoila have been together for 10 years, though they are not married. It s very expensive to get married and many need that money for food.  Gil and Zoila moved to San Phillipe about 3 years ago, to live with his mother.  Gil farms about half a hectare that he rents, and their 2 older children go to school.
   The reality of many in El Salvador, which is tre of Gil and Zoila, is that they make just enough money to feed and clothe their family.  Purchasing the materials and building a new home is just not an option they have.  Gil and Zoila are very pragmatic about this reaity and recognize that despite his hard work a new home is out of their reach.  A house means so much to them - security, a dry place during the rains and better life for the family.
   Gil and Zoila expressed that they have a knowledge of God and they know that salvation comes through Christ Jesus.  But they don´t go to church often.  The struggles of life and the trials for survival make it challenging to go to church.  Despite the struggles and hardships he has had, Gil was able to reflect on the good things that has happened to him; his partner Zoila, his children and now his new home. 
   What a privilege it was for us to work together with Gil, Zoila and many others from the community to uild House #1 for them.  Though it was not easy to put into words, the gratitude and joy was so evident in their expressions.
   Please keep Gil, Zoila and their family in your prayers. Pray that Gods gift of this new house will strengthen the family unit and enable them to find the time to go to church.  Also, pray that their knowledge of God and His gift of salvation will be translated into a personal relationship. 
   

Greater Things

Today was really emotional as we heard stories of painful situations that the families that we have built for have and are going through. Miscarriages, adultery, death of children, surviving earthquakes and fighting in the civil war. Broken lives, broken hearts and betrayal. It is everywhere...in El Salvador as well as Canada. I think of Jesus and where he spent His time. He was with the poor, the brokenhearted, the forgotten. As I listen to these stories I am thankful. Thankful that they trusted us to share their lives but most importantly that God has given us an opportunity to offer these people hope. Hope in our Savior's love and grace that is free to receive. Our God is the God of miracles and I know that He is going to not abandon these precious people who have had to endure so much heartache and trials. May God reveal Himself this week and may the people that we meet be open to His love and amazing grace.
As we were landing in El Salvador on Saturday I was listening to the song by Chris Tomlin God of This City. Chris sings greater things have yet to come...greater things are still to be done in this city. I believe that for this country. Greater things have yet to come. I believe Lord!

Love the Children

Yesterday was the first building day, and the first three families recieved their new homes. It was so incredible how they interacted with the team and were just so thankful, because this is a dream come true for them. My mom and I interviewed the third family. Their names were Amilcar, Paola, and their two little girls, Jackaline and Stephanie. Their whole story I don´t have with me at the moment, as I type in the commons area of the hotel, but I hope to post it later on in the week - It was just so amazing, and it struck home with both me and my mom.
Also yesterday was the day that we met most of the children, and they´re the ones who touched my heart and made me realize that it´s more about helping and building friendships with the people and the children rather than building the houses. Yes, the houses are important, but taking off a few hours to love and play with the younger ones who pull you away from the work is important too. Me and the other teenage girls went and played soccer with them, and boy, they are funny! One little boy was barely five and he was running and chasing and kicking along with the other boys. We all realized that they just need our friendship, and God´s love through us is what they´re searching for.
That´s all for now, but I just wanted to say that I´m so happy to be here, connecting with the people and shining God´s light for them. Praise the Lord for all He has done!!

Yesterday

Yesterday was an incredible day. We divided into three teams and was able to finish the 3 houses.  In the middle of the day we got thunder and heavy rains which became a little challenging. Muddy slippery worksites! My heart was heavy as I listened to some women share their stories. What they have to endure everyday to survive is overwhelming. A couple of days before we left I was praying that we could show the women Christ love and I asked God for a simple way to do that. It came to me to get items to give pedicures. I ran to the dollar store and the beauty store to get the supplies. Yesterday we had a line up of women waiting to get their pedicures. We set up our "spa" in a home made of plastics and sticks. What a blessing it was to be able to wash these womens feet and to paint their toes. Jesus showed us how to serve. He was the ultimate example of sacrifice. I must share that as we gave these women a little pampering there was no greater blessing. May we be Christ hands and feet and maythese people see the heart of Jesus.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Friendships

Yesterday was really incredible. Meeting the families that we will be building with was so emotional. We prayed for each family and they shared how thankful they were for us and that God had blessed them with a house. We are really looking forward to building friendships with these amazing people. They have had years of suffering and we are going to rejoice this week for the house that God has provided them. We are off to dig! Hope to post again tonight.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

10 Families

This morning we will be going to meet the ten families that will be receiving their new homes this week. The team started meeting in April to prepare for this trip. We have prayed, fundraised, collected shoes and clothes and had our team commisioning. We can prepare all of these things but I am never prepared to see the horrific conditions these families have been living in. I pray I never become complacent in seeing suffering. I pray that I will always be affected by poverty. I don't ever want to grow cold to the needs of people suffering. As Christian we are called to have His heart. All throughout scripture we see Jesus heart of compassion for those who are suffering, those who were sick, those who were hungry and thirsty. We are here because we are wanting to help those who are suffering. May God be glorified this week. May we be changed this week.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Were Home!

We have arrived and are at the hotel. We are all settling into our rooms and we will be soon leaving for dinner. We will be eating tonight at Pastor Jorge and Maritza´s.

I can only speak for myself but when the plane lands I feel like I am home. This place has captured my heart from the first missions trip when I came with Dennis and Daniel. It says in the bible that God will give you the desires of your heart. He honored my heart´s desire by having us share this experience with both Brian and Daniel. Daniel has been here before but this will be the first for Brian.

We are excited and anticipating what God has for the team this week. I pray that we will be His hands and feet and that His name will be glorified in all that we say and do. I am so thankful that these 22 people were obedient to the call that God had placed on their hearts. They were open to be used to serve people living in extreme poverty. I am so thankful that they stepped out of their confort zone. God wants us to have that open heart to follow Him wherever He calls us. When we have that heart God takes us on a great adventure. If we just follow Him.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Milestones


There is a relatively new restaurant in the City of Niagara Falls called Milestones. It sits at the top of one of the taller hotels in the City. Perhaps you have been to it if you live in the Niagara Region. I haven’t been to it yet, but I have been to another one in another part of the Province. Have you been? If you go to their web site, they have a place where you can find out about their culture. We have been talking about our culture at our church over the last twelve months or so. What is our culture? What do we want our culture to be? How do we get there? Not that I want to advertise for Milestones, but according to the web site they are about inspired food created by inspired people, familiar food with a twist, a stylish, inviting and welcoming atmosphere for all occasions, genuine and uniquely different service, and people that possess what they call the”H-Gene”- hospitality. Sounds like a church I would like to attend! How about you?

Milestones are also are also one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road or boundary at internals of one mile or occasionally, parts of a mile. They are typically located at the side of the road or in a median. They are alternatively known as mile markers, mileposts or mile posts. Mileage is the distance along the road from a fixed commencement point. While we have milestones that mark our progress when we travel down the road, we don’t really have them for our spiritual lives. Unless you want to count our conversion and then, for most of us anabaptists, our baptism, we really don’t have spiritual milestones, do we?

Many of you who know me, know that a year ago I went on a missions trip to El Salvador to build houses for the poor. We were told that we would be doing more than just building houses, but I must have daydreaming that moment because I don’t remember. I know I am not like everyone else. I get affected by stuff faster than most. At least that is how I see it. Anyway, I don’t think I have been the same person since I went on that trip. Just ask my wife Grace. I think she would confirm it.

While we were in El Salvador our group was given an opportunity to give testimonies at the Wednesday evening church service. They meet on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Anyway, I didn’t want to do it, but then for a reason unknown to me I just said yes. Shortly after that I was overcome by fear. I wondered what I would say? What could I say? What did I have to say? Was there anything worth saying? Did I have any spiritual milestones worth telling? Thankfully I could remember a few basic ones like when I accepted Christ as my Saviour, when I asked to be baptised, when I asked Christ to be the Lord of my life, and when God saved my marriage.

So here I sit at a milestone of sorts. It is two weeks to a year since I came back from El Salvador. So what gives Ken, what have you learned, how have you grown? Well, if you have read any of my posts on Facebook you already know. If you haven’t I have tried to compile a list of a few that come to mind.

1. God loves me with an unbelievable, unconditional love.

2. God wants me to love his children the same way.

3. God wants me to love my neighbour and strangers that I meet (even if they are in the middle of the ocean- Right Patricia?)

4. God wants an active relationship with me. He wants to talk with and to me every day. He wants me to listen for his voice and to stop when I hear it.

5. God wants me to become more and more like his one and only son, Jesus.

6. God has a specific spiritual gift for me that he wants me to use to build his Kingdom. He has one for you too!

7 God wants me to love mercy, act justly and to walk humbly with him.

God wrote a love letter to us many years ago. It is called the Bible. Do you want to be loved. Feel loved? Then read it. I know that sometimes it is hard to be motivated to read it. But if it has been a while since you did, try again. You won’t be disappointed. I rarely am.

I’ve got to go and pack my bags for another trip to El Salvador. See you at the next milestone!

Bro ken

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New homes...renewed hope.


It is hard to understand the conditions that families are living in before we build them their new homes. I thought I would post a before and after picture of a home a family was living in before we built them their new home. I wanted to give you a glimpse of what we see as we go to El Salvador to build the homes that God has provided for them. These new homes not only offer them shelter but it gives them renewed hope. Hope that the future will be better for themselves and their children, hope that the world does care. I know it shows them that God has not forgotten them and that He loves them and cares for them.

Psalm 140:12“I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Isaiah 6:8 "Here am I. Send me!"

It is hard to believe that in a few weeks we will be leaving to serve the people of El Salvador. We will be there from November 3-11th. This team of 22 people are so excited to share the love of Christ and be used by God for His purposes and for His glory. God has provided enough funds to build 10 houses. We will also be handing out food and holding a childrens minstry. Our plans also involve visiting a Compassion Centre in San Vicente. Pray for us as we need the Lord to direct our steps and the strength to complete the tasks He has prepared for us. I think of the verse in Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” We have said "Here am I send me". May God  use us mightly to spread the gospel and may many come to know Christ.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not The End But The Beginning

We had an amazing day at the beach. A down day and a time to reflect on our week.

As we come to the end of our missions trip it really isn´t the end but the beginning. The beginning of a life changing experience for the team. For the people who have never been here before God has used this trip to open their eyes to what families living in poverty have to endure everyday. For people who returned God confirmed in our hearts that we must continue to make life changes to do what Jesus commanded us to do. Help the poor, the downtrodden, the widows and orphans. To go out and share the gospel of Jesus and be his hands and feet. May all that we have seen and experienced this week as a team begin in us a passion to make a difference. May we not go back to our comfortable North American lifestyle. May the images we have seen and the stories we heard continue to move us to action. May this not be the end but the beginning to God calling us to step out of the boat and use our resourses, our gifts and our talents to serve the poor.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Celebration!

Haven't posted the last day because the internet at the hotel was down.

We completed the houses yesterday and dispensed medicine to over 250 patients at the clinic. It is heart wrenching to see mom's waiting all day to get medicine for their children. I can't imagine what it would be like to wait all day in the heat to have your sick child see a Dr and then wait for hrs to get medicine. All without food and water. It is hard when I return after doing a medical clinic and having people complain about our health system. We are so blessed in Canada. I am reminded of the Israelites grumbling in the dessert because of their circumstances. God had provided food and all that they needed and yet they still grumbled against God.

Today was the key giving ceremony. What a blessing it is to hand the keys to the families for their new homes. What a celebration of God's provision. 1o familes now have homes to shelter them from the elements.

One of the women we built a home for had asked God to someday bless her with a home. She told us that the dirt floor that she kneels and prays on is very hard on her knees and legs and she has a hard time getting up. She had prayed that God would provide her with a home that has cement floors so she could kneel and pray in comfort. God had told her He was going to give her a new home. She was patient and God honored the desires of her heart.

We also visited the goat farm in San Antonio Camino. Goats to provide fresh milk to babies and children. The men their milked a goat and we were able to try fresh goats milk. Delicilous! I got lots of photos to show our Bethany youth who raised almost $3000 for the goat farm. What a life changing thing for a family to have fresh milk for their children. To be able to have proper nutrients is huge for children.

Tomorrow is market day and the beach. Please pray for the team as a lot of us are fighting a bad head cold.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hot!

Wow was it hot today. We had anticipated finishing the homes today but with the intense heat and the rocks that kept getting in the way of leveling the sites we are having to complete the homes tomorrow. I think it was over 40 today. HOT!!!! We are learning to always be FAT. Flexible, adaptable, and teachable.
This afternoon while the men were working at the job sites us women bagged up the rice, corn, beans and powdered milk. We will be giving the bags of food to the familes who come to the clinic.
Tonight was an amazing church service. Chelsey, Michelle and Erica shared their testimonies. Becky, Leah and Erica also sang 4 songs for the congregation. What a moving service. Throughout the testimonies it was apparant of God's incredible love for each of us. We can never hide from Him and He is always drawing us to Himself. What an incredible God we serve. It was also a goodbye service for Phil. He has had an amazing impact on the people of El Salvador. Lots of tears!
I am excited to see how God will use the team tomorrow as we hold the medical clinic and finish ten houses. May He receive the glory in all that we say and do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Make An Impact

My son, Ryan, and I have been planning our trip to El Salvador for two years, so when the time finally arrived, it felt a little surreal.  We were excited and admittedly a little nervous about what this adventure might have in store. And rightly so. When we arrived in San Vicente on Saturday, we stopped at the home of Stuart and his young family, who are here working with the church.  We met him on the corner outside his home, a house like the rest of the houses sporting rolls of barbed wire all around and bars on the windows.  He mentioned that our current location has the highest per capita murder rate in the world, gave us a few safety tips, warned us not to go anywhere alone, and then brightened to say, ¨"Welcome to El Salvador!"

With the formalities behind us, however, we have found the people to be some of the warmest, most welcoming people in the world.  As we drove down one city street, 22 of us crammed into the box of a small Toyota pick-up, another truck just as full chased us down. They had recognized Valerie and the middle of the street was suddenly filled with hugs and laughter.

The next morning we set out to tour the sites where we would be building and to meet the "familias".   We encountered story after story of husbands and wives who were taking care of their children the best that they could.  But when working in the corn, bean and sugar cane fields pays $5 per day (that´s $700 a year), one can quickly see how the shackles of poverty keep them trapped.  To buy even the simple kind of housing we are helping to provide, on their own, is an impossible dream.  Nevertheless, story after story often concluded with sentiments such as Leyna´s:  "My husband and I work hard but there is very little wood that is good for building.  We have our eight children, and with each one, I do not regret a thing.  I am content.  We are happy.  Now, to receive a new house," she said with a grin, "I´m not complaining!  Thank you!"

So it was a real honour yesterday to come alongside these people with a strong work ethic (the only difference is we happen to have been born in Canada and they happen to have been born into poor families in El Salvador) and begin to build.  We completed three houses and began two more yesterday. And we were amazed at the progress.  Today was a little tougher, especially in the morning when we hit solid rock where we needed to to dig footings, and things were slowed a little longer due to a flat tire on our truck.  The upside was that this gave us more opportunity to connect with the people - like the family in whose laneway we parked to repair the tire.  And the teens, when they were not swinging a pick-axe, spent time with the children, painting their nails or making balloon animals.

This morning in our team devotional, Dave Morris challenged us to have an impact in One life today.  And by day´s end, at our team debriefing we discovered that that is exactly what happened for many of us.  Erica got to cook torillas with the women in one of the old mud-brick homes and to befriend them.  Dennis caught the look of joyful anticipation in a new homeowner´s eyes with each new stage as his house went up.  Del and I both were pleased with the friendship that we made with Eduardo and Pedro, who were surprised that we even remembered their names from yesterday.  And Katie was moved when the children and teens said Thank You for coming back again this year.  Ziggy found it was an honour to hold one woman´s arthritic hands while she painted her nails.  And she shared  God´s love with one of the wives we are building for.  She was particularly reserved, somewhat awkward.  So Ziggy struggled past the language barrier, took her by the hands and looked into her face. In a nutshell, she said, "You are beautiful and God loves you inside and out. He will never forsake you, and he will carry you through to the end."    Dick was working at site #7, where he noticed not just the usual onlookers of friends and family, but also a man with a bandage on his neck.  Dick went over to talk with him. "What happened?" he asked.  Velio responded by removing part of the bandage to show him, and said, "I have cancer and I am going to the hospital tomorrow."  Dick wanted to help in some way, when he remembered the Spanish Bibles we have with us.  He gave one to Velio to take with him to the hospital, and then he and Valerie prayed over him, for healing and that God would work in his life.  Ron was struck by another mother whose four children have aspirations to be a lawyer, a police officer, a teacher and an accountant.  Mom has faith and peace and the children have learned from her sweet spirit.  And she loves them and prays for them and wants them to be OK, just like WE love, pray and yearn for our children.

It struck me today that THIS is what Jesus calls us to do.  Not sit through some dry church service, shake a few hands and go home feeling righteous.  But to reach out, connect and share with people who are less fortunate - at least materially.  Our interactions with the people here make me wonder who should really be seen as the  "disadvantaged":  these poor people who find contentment in living one day at time, as Jesus recommended, or we in the "developed nations" who are stressed as never before in our pursuit to be more, get more, impress more?  

Tomorrow we will go out and do it all over again. Our goal is to finish the last three houses, so that we can do the medical clinic on Thursday, as well as visit another village to see how we can connect with and help the people there.  Dave, may we take your challenge not only today, but all week - and into our lives back home.   Jesus knows what he´s talking about.

Houses and Food

There were a few challenges with the worksites today. We ran into some BIG rocks at two of the sites this afternoon. We completes two homes in the morning and have about 1 hr left on the other two. Oh it was so hard to pack up the tools when we so wanted to finish the other two. God is teaching us that there is always tomorrow to finish the task that we started. Tomorrow we should get the other 3 houses built. In the afternoon we are dividing the team up. While some of the team continue to work on the remaining homes the rest of the team will divide up the food that we have purchased to hand out. Thursday we will be going to a new village named Rio Frio to hold the medical clinic. I have never been there before so I am excited to see it and meet some new people. We will hand out the food there.

God is doing amazing things! Using the people of Bethany to impact people for His kingdom and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each team member has 2 Spanish bibles to give to people they meet who do not own bibles. Today I had the blessing of being able to give the word of God to a teenager in the village. I also had a Max Lucado book titled He Chose The Nails that I gave her. I pray that God's amazing love letter to us will draw her to himself and change her life through salvation. God is working in the village of San Felipe and we are incredibley blessed to witness and be a part of what He is doing in peoples lives. May His name be glorified.

Plese continue to pray for us. There are a few team members that are sick with colds. May God give us the strength to complete the tasks that He has set before us to do.

Good Night!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Building Homes~Building Relationships

Today was a day for building. Building homes but most importantly building relationships. We completed 3 homes and started digging the sites for houses 4 & 5. As we worked in the intense heat alongside the people in the village we were building relationships. Whether it is digging holes, cutting metal or holding each other's ladders we are building strong bonds with the people here. It doesn't get any better than this. Being Christ hand extended to the people of El Salvador. It truly is a blessing that is hard to put into words. It is life changing!

This morning I gave the midwife in the village some baby hats that Jayne Duldner had knit. Later I was blessed to be invited into the midwife's home as she cared for one of the pregnant women in the village. The women's baby is the wrong way.The midwife explained that she needed to turn the baby before she gives birth. She gently massaged and manipulated the baby to turn. It was an amazing experience to see. As I watched I thought of all the children and teenagers that this amazing women has helped to enter into this world and what a blessing she is to the women in the village. They and there unborn children are in experienced hands and I am so thankful that she is there to care for them. I read of so many women who die in childbirth because they do not have proper help.

As I sit typing at the computer I can hear the teens playing a card game and laughing. Not only are we building strong relationships with the people of El Salvador but also with each other. I am so thankful that the young people at Bethany have obedient hearts and listen to the call that God has on their lives to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. It really isn't about building houses but building relationships. After all that is what goes with us into eternity. Our relationship with God and with others.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy & Content

I am always learning when I come on missions trips. The people of El Salvador teach me so much. I realize after living in Canada that I have much to learn. As we visited the families today that we will be building the houses for Carlos (our translator) would ask them how they are. They all replied the same.....happy and content. That is hard for us Canadians to grasp. Happy and content? Happy and content while living on dirt floors? Happy and content as they struggle to have food for the day? Happy and content when there is over 70% unemployment rate and they cannot find work? Yes happy and content! They are happy and content despite their circumstances. That is what they teach me! Everytime I come here they teach me this great lesson. A message we as Canadians don't get. Paul also gave us this message when he wrote in Philippians 4:11-13
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
May I never forget the message that has been given by Paul and the people who's homes we are going to build this week. May I be happy and content despite my circumstances. God help me to live this out in my everyday life.

Jesus Friend Of Sinners

Daniel and Joanna had given me the new Casting Crowns cd for Christmas. One of the songs is Jesus Friend of Sinners. My favourite on the cd. The words are so powerful and have been on my heart the last 2 weeks as I prepared to come to El Salvador.

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.

This week may I see the people through Jesus eyes. When I look at childrens swolen bellies because of malnutrition, people living in mud huts, moms who have no food to prepare for their familes. May I have Christ heart. A heart that is filled with mercy. May my heart break for this as it is breaking Jesus heart. May I never grow so comfortable in my abundance that I harden my heart to plight of the poor and needy. This week may my heart break!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Smooth Trip

We are here! We are so thankful that God has given us an uneventful trip. We are at the hotel in San Vicente. We will be heading to dinner in about 20 minutes. It is hot here as always but amazing! This is my second home and I am so blessed to be here serving the people of El Salvador. May God receive the glory this week and may we be forever changed! May we become more like Him and spread the gospel to whomever God puts in our path this week. Adios for now!

Friday, February 17, 2012

We are ready! After the planning, fundraising and team meetings the team is as prepared as we will ever be. We have open hearts to be used by God to share the love of Jesus with the people of El Salvador. We are excited for the plans that God has for the team. May everything we do and say bring glory to God!