El Salvador

El Salvador

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.