El Salvador

El Salvador

Friday, May 31, 2013

House #9

It is with great pleasure I introduce you to the family whom we built House #11 for. This family holds a special place in my heart as we built this home in memory of my father, Louis Albert Merrick Sr, who passed away last April shortly after we returned from our 2nd trip to El Salvador.

Julio (42 yrs) and Adela (35 yrs) are the parents of 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. Jose (17 yrs), Erica (16 yrs), Julio Jr. (13 yrs), Enrique (12 yrs), Raquel (7 yrs) and Dayona (4 yrs).

Julio and Adela met nearly 20 yrs ago when he was passing through San Felipe from San Pedro, shortly afterwards they became a couple and started a family together. Julio comes from a family of 5 brothers and 3 sisters. Adela comes from a family of 4 sisters and 3 brothers. Julio’s father has passed away and his mother now lives next door. Adela’s parents have both passed away.

To support his family Julio and his son Julio Jr. work as farmers on a parcel of land that they share with another family. There is about 2 acres of land that they use to grow corn, beans and squash depending on the time of year. The average work day starts with an hour walk to the farm and then they work the land from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. six days a week (Monday to Saturday). When they harvest their crops they save some for food and sell some for money.

Adela is a stay at home mom who takes care of her husband and 6 children. A typical day starts with Adela walking about ten minutes to gather water to start her daily chores of cooking for her family in the morning, and then spending the afternoon washing her family’s clothes.

Enrique and Raquel are the only 2 children that currently attend school. Jose stopped attending school in 7th grade and currently is not working. Erica stopped attending school in grade 6 but she has a job babysitting for a local pastor who has 2 children. Erica earns about $60 a month babysitting. All of the money she earns goes towards supporting her family. Julio Jr. does not attend school as he helps his father on the farm, and Dayona is only 4 years old and is too young to attend school yet.

Julio and Adela have raised their children in the Catholic faith attending church when they can. They have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and have shared their faith with their children. Julio explained that he accepted Christ about 4 years ago when his son Enrique was very sick and almost died. Julio promised God he would follow him forever if God would save his son. God answered Julio’s prayer and Julio has kept his promise to God.

God was present in the building of this home for this family long before I met them. I had prayed that God would bless us with a large family (hopefully 6 children) as I am from a family of 6 siblings and my father had built our family home. What a great way to honour my father’s memory then to build a home for another large family. We met Julio and Adela and started our interview believing there were only 5 children (large family though so I was happy). As we started to ask about each of the children we discovered one of the children’s names were missing from our list. There were actually 6 children in this family. I was so amazed how faithful God is even to the smallest of details.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

By Jean and Ron Roessner

Thursday, May 16, 2013

House #7

At house #7, we met a mother and her son (Adilia and Anderson). Adilia was born in San Salvador. At the age of 3, her parents divorced and Adilia's mother moved with her children to San Pedro.

Adilia has 5 children, 4 of whom are married and live in San Pedro. Anderson is the youngest at 6 years old and has a different father than the other children. Adilia never married, however, the father of her first 4 children left El Salvador to go to the United States so that he could work and make a better life for his family. Unfortunately, he met another woman in the States, abandoned his family in El Salvador, and has not been heard from in over 22 years.

When Adilia became pregnant with Anderson, she went to San Salvador to try and find work. She was unsuccessful and returned to San Pedro. At that time, Anderson's father also left and has not been heard from since.

Adilia was asked what the most joyous things in her life are, and she responded immediately that her greatest joys were accepting Christ as her Saviour 7 years ago and receiving a new house. We found it very strange that she did not mention her children as being among her greatest joys. While this may have been an oversight due to the excitement of the day, it was curious nonetheless.

Adilia was asked how her life has changed since accepting Jesus as her Saviour. She said that her life has changed for the good and she now prays continually. She was quick to add that she has been praying for a house for quite some time. She went to say that she came to Christ as the result of a serious illness that almost took her life. She continues to struggle with the illness and is asking God for healing.

Our conversation turned to Anderson as we wanted to know more about this little boy who sat quietly and listened to our conversation. Anderson is in grade 1 and has a love for math. During his spare time, he plays soccer. When we asked what else he likes to do, his response was "nothing, just soccer." It gave us great joy at the key giving ceremony to present Anderson with a new soccer ball. His eyes lit up when he saw it and we were able to break away from the ceremony for a few minutes to kick the ball around with him. He guarded that ball like it was gold – the truth is, that to him, it was worth more than gold. This was a special moment. Anderson told us that when he grows up, he wants to be a fireman.

Adilia was asked about her dreams for the future. Her response was to get to know God better and to have a greater knowledge of the bible. She indicated that she would like to be a missionary. As we spoke, we suggested that she can be an effective missionary within her own community and make an impact for God right where she lives.

As we continued to talk with Adilia, she was told that she was a very special person and that we were blessed to spend time with her. She began to cry and appeared overwhelmed by this statement as if she had never been told or considered that she could be a blessing to someone else. We asked her how we could pray for her and her family. She indicated that her disease is getting worse and she needs healing. She also asked for prayer for one of her sons who drinks excessively and for 2 family members who are not Christians.

In the midst of all that Adilia is dealing with in this poverty-stricken country, her prayers are very similar to the prayers of many that we come in contact with every day. This is a reminder to us that we are the same as people with similar struggles, needs and heartaches. It doesn't matter where we live. It doesn't matter what our income levels are. God is as present in the lives of these dear people as He is in our lives.

As we neared the end of our interview, we learned something very special. You see, this same day that Adilia was receiving a new house was also her 42nd birthday. We gathered around her and sang happy birthday to her. What a birthday present for her from God!

Please pray for Adilia as she sees the hand of God moving in her life. Let's reflect on the many blessings that God has provided to us and let's pour ourselves into those who are less fortunate than we are. God created us to serve Him and to be a blessing to others. Please keep Adilia and Anderson in your prayers as God continues to surround them with His love.

by Dave Morris & Del Arseneau

Friday, May 10, 2013

House #6

With excitement and anticipation we met and shared with a family of six on day two of building. The father, Jose Alvaro Escamilla Amaya, and mother, Mario de los Angeles Ruiz are not married, but have been together for seventeen years. They are both from the village of San Pedro and met at the corn milling machine in the town. They became friends and their relationship blossomed from there. Their oldest child, a son Jose Alvaro, is thirteen years old and helps on the family farming plot. The one acre plot is rented and shared with another farmer. Their parcel of land is about a twenty minute walk away from the family home; They plant and harvest beans and corn from the land. There are three daughters in the family who help their Mom with household chores. The oldest girl is eleven year old Fatima Yesenia. Next are eight year old Jasmin Esmeralda, and little six year old Lorena del Carmen. The baby boy, Jairo is 1 ½ years old.

The family was very shy and quite reserved upon our first meeting during the house building day. The mother nursed her youngest to keep him somewhat quiet during our short time together.

When asked how Jose Alvaro knew God, he shared that his grandfather and father were Christians and had taught him about God. The family attends church.

The children go to the local school which is about a fifteen minute walk each way. School is half days from January through November. The government assigns which students go in the morning and which attend in the afternoon. The oldest two in this family attended school in the afternoon, and the youngest daughters go in the morning. The oldest children enjoy math including adding and multiplication, while Kindergarten for Lorena is all about learning letters.

Joel was interested in what they did during their free time. Gathering extra wood and water is often the tasks they focus on when extra time is available. The distance to get water is about a 30 minute walk.

We asked how we might pray for their family and they responded that their prayers for a safe and dry home had been answered by God. With this new house they were receiving, they needed nothing more.

At Wednesday evening’s church service in St. Vicente, the father attended the service which included Stephanie’s testimony of moving from grief to joy. That evening’s message and testimony seemed to soften the relationship with this precious family. The following afternoon at the Thursday key giving ceremony, the family was more open and receptive. After the service started, they sat and waited patiently for their turn to receive the key to their new home, a Bible, a hamper of food, toiletries, cleaning supplies and clothes and footwear. We were able to share with them again that God was the giver of this safe and new earthly home. However, more importantly, Jesus was preparing an eternal home for them as well. We encouraged them to leave a legacy of faith in Jesus for their precious children, just as Hosea had received the same legacy from his father and grandfather. The family was overwhelmed with God’s goodness and providence in their lives. We prayed for God’s hand of protection over them and the light of Jesus to shine from their hearts and their home.

After the celebrations of piƱatas, our family rode with us on the team truck back to their new house.  The two youngest girls were treated to riding with Stephanie and Dennis in the cab. They clung to her and didn’t want to let go, but farewells were necessary and sad. Their new, safe and secure house waited, to be made a home of memories to God’s glory. May they always proclaim, “. . . as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

by Ron, Stephanie and Joel Giesbrecht