El Salvador

El Salvador

Thursday, January 24, 2013

House #7

House #7 belongs to Edgar, his wife Blanca, and their three children; one daughter, and two sons Emmerson and Louis. Our interview started out different from most. We first noticed that Edgar and Blanca didn’t look very happy or excited about their new house. It was obvious that they were saddened about something. We asked them what was wrong and they expressed their concern about the placement of their new house. Then they went on to explain the reasoning for this. The community in which Edgar and Blanca live is down a hill from the main street. The small road that leads to their community has 2 white locked gates that are owned by a rich man that lives on the hill. He will be referred to with the alias of John. John is very protective of this road and gets angry when the people of the community use it, as they do not pay for the up keep of the road. Also, he claims it is a private road, when the community claims it is a city road. Whatever the answer is, John has gained control. Even when our Bethany team was going down the hill to go and build, John wouldn’t let us drive past the gate. We got out and walked down the hill. Edgar has tried being friendly with John, but he is repaid with hateful comments and insults. Edgar’s mother, who is also a part of the community, is looking into getting a lawyer to sort out the problem. We asked Edgar why they wouldn’t go to the police and he said that it can be very dangerous. If John heard of this, Edgar and his family would be at risk for violence and even death. Edgar and Blanca are worried about their new house being at the bottom of the hill, because Edgar is a farmer. How will he get all of his crops up the hill to sell when he has no route of transportation?

As we were hearing this story it was very discouraging. We were wondering why we were still building the house and questioning if it was all a big mistake. Then the Holy Spirit suddenly entered the conversation, “I am in charge of this situation, I know what I am doing, you need to trust in Me, I have blessed this house!”  God picked this land, in this community for Edgar and Blanca. We may not understand how God will work now, but God doesn’t make mistakes. This house is His house. Edgar and Blanca 100% agreed and shared with us that they pray for John, that God would soften his heart. What an amazing example of praying for your enemies. The battle is not over for Edgar and Blanca, but they have put their trust in the almighty God, Leader of the winning team!

by Janine Heinrichs and Becky Shantz

Friday, January 18, 2013

House #6

The family receiving house #6 was that of Jose Erasmo Alfero and his wife Yenny. They have 4 children; two of them, Fernando (8 yrs) and Yaquelen (5 yrs) are in school, Jose (3 yrs) and Daniel (9 mths) are still at home. The couple met at her brother’s birthday party; Jose was a friend of Yenny’s brother. They have been together for 10 years but have only been married for the last 3 years. They did not have the $10 required to purchase the marriage licence right away so were only able to afford it 3 years ago. They were both born in San Philipe and were raised as Roman Catholics.

Jose is a day labourer on a nearby farm. He helps to grow beans and corn. They hope that their children can finish school and that their daughter can become a teacher and their son a doctor. Jose hopes, personally, to have better opportunities in his own life.

This house will bring joy and happiness and security to the family. They thank God for sending the Canadians to help them build their new home. The home is close to Jose’s parents and the whole family is very close.

They go to the Catholic Church when they are able to attend.

by Sid & Chris Frere

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

House #5

This story is the life story of Santo and Marina El Saville.

Santo is 41 years old and Marina is 45 years old. They met in another community where Marina grew up. She was in school and Santo was visiting a friend when he saw Marina and fell in love. She was in grade 9. Santo grew up in San Felipe and after they married he brought her back to live in San Felipe. She only finished grade 9 because she got pregnant and so they were married.

They have 10 children. They have 8 sons and 2 daughters. They lost one child, a son, when he was 20 months old due to pneumonia. He died 17 years ago. Only one of their children go to school because the older children are farming to help with the family. The children cannot read or write other then their names.

Their youngest son is Armando. He is 5. When he was 10 months old he pulled down a pot of beans that were cooking on the fire and burned his chest and the side of his face. He was in a coma for 3 weeks and the Doctors did not think he would come out of it. They prayed as a family and he did. They call him their miracle child. He has had skin grafts to repair his chest.

They shared that they are so thankful to God for the new house. It will help them in the rainy season because the house they had did not keep them dry during the rainy season and they were always sick. Marina said she is so thankful that God sent this Canadian team to build her the new home.

They dream of  a better future for their children. They want to send them to school but cannot afford it as the government only pays to grade 9.

Santo was in the military during the civil war. He fought against the Gorilla's. He stopped fighting in 1990 and the war ended in 1992. He was injured many times and he showed us all his scars from the war. He shared that he probably killed 300 men during the civil war. Marina is so thankful that he is alive as she was so afraid that he would be killed during the war. He fought for 4 years.

Santo and Marina are Catholic and used to go to church very often.

by Brian & Daniel Nikkel

Friday, January 4, 2013

House #4

Our family received house #4; a family that taught us that the love of God is the love we have for each other – not just words, but actions; "love is having nothing but each other” they both explained. This is a family with a lot of love, compassion, care and humbleness. Also, a family that has been through a lot but still recognizes that God is essential in our daily life. A family that believes the love of God is the purpose of our lives. Noe Ramirez Hernandez, 37 years of age, is the patriarch of this family, Ana Silvia Carrillo, 36 years old, is his partner. They have five beautiful children, Noe Leonardo, 13; Maria Fernanda, 11; Ivette Abigail, 10; Diana Nohemi, 7; and "the baby" as they call him, Diego Alexander, who is just 2 years old.

Noe and Silvia met at a funeral. They are both from San Vicente. Noe is from "El Canton San Jacinto", Ana Silvia from "San Felipe". Noe was paralyzed at a very young age. He thinks it was because his mom was under no condition to pay for the required vaccination. His mother was told that her boy was never going to walk again but, she has always being a strong believer and, she would always hope for a miracle. "She would kneel down every night, to pray" he said with teary eyes and a broken voice. He is a very humble man. His mother would always encourage him to walk by himself. It would be a challenge every day because he would get up thinking he could walk but, he would see no difference. It was when he was maybe 12 or 13 he says, "I started feeling some tingling on my legs and from that day on I would start believing what my mother had always told me. I would start slowly walking a bit at a time", he recalls. No family member could explain what had happened, but his mother knew that it was the grace of God! Regarding his education, he said that he would feel ashamed to go to school being paralyzed so, he would rather stay home and help his mother in anything he could. Besides, he says, "Being paralyzed, it does not give me the choice to do much.” He did not learn to write or to read. Once he was able to walk again, he felt it was too late to go back to school; besides his dad would force him to help prepare the land. This is how he became involved in agriculture himself. And so, being a teenager, he now gave up the idea of going to school. "I would resent my dad for not letting me go to school, but also, I am very thankful for him teaching me to work the land and be such a hard worker.”

Ana Silvia, on the other hand, went to school. She finished Grade 9. "Going forward and finishing High School was too expensive", she said.  So, she stayed home to help mom with the house chores, as well as her dad to work the land to provide for her family. “It is a big family and we all pitched in somehow to have food on the table", she said. One day, she attended a funeral. She met Noe at this funeral. After a while, he moved in with her. Her dad had given them a piece of his land to work and start a family. They wanted to get married but they could not afford it, as it was and still is as they described," too expensive to do so."

One of her biggest dreams is they want to provide the best education for their children. Noe mentioned that he wants for his children what he could not have himself, a better education. "It is still very expensive to finish secondary school", Noe said. In order to provide for his family he has to rent one acre of land on which he pays the landowner $10/month. "Some days are good, some days are really bad", he said about collecting money to put aside for his children's education. Seeking a better life for his children's education, Noe has attempted to flee the country with the help of his brother in law, who lives in North Carolina, and his sister who lives in Los Angeles but, declined the idea for the love of his children, as they are the ones asking him not to go. Noe and Ana occasionally get monetary help from his relatives in the United States, but this is just “once in a while" he said.

They dream of sending all of their children to school to pursue a university degree but, they are aware of how expensive this can be. So, he continues with the idea of fleeing the country to go and work in "the States", as he said, with a sad look on his eyes. We ask Noe, to stay with his family, to forget the idea of leaving them. He said, "I want to do it for my children, but I do want them to become someone better than me. I am torn."
In general, they are very thankful for what they have. Ana is Catholic; Noe, was raised Christian but, "He is the same God" he said in his own words. They are both strong believers. They sometimes can't go to church because they have to walk long distances but, they strongly believe in God. "Having this house is another miracle from Him", they shared.

A message he wanted to share with Canadians goes as follows: "We are very thankful for what you have done for us. May God bless you all always. We love Valerie and her people very much and also, appreciate what you have, even when we have nothing; we have to be very happy with God. Living unhappy is a choice we make, we become stronger with the grace of God. Money will never replace the relationship with each other."

At the key giving ceremony, they promised to share the word of God through the Bible we had given them. Ana Silvia promised they would sit at least 5 minutes every day as an act of appreciation to God for getting a house which, "it will shelter us from the rain most of all" she said.

by Roxanna Serpas and Raquel Rodriguez-Serpas