El Salvador

El Salvador

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Day of Celebration

    What an amazing day to end off our time in Rio Frio! Today was the day of the celebration celebrating 400 homes built by the shelter organization. The turnout was incredible with over 1 500 people. It was so amazing to see familiar faces from the build sites and community. The excitement in their faces was really special to see as they came running up to us to give a big hug. We couldn't understand what we were saying to each other but the friendships and impacts we made were obvious in our communications.

      The event was jammed packed with fun activities that the people definitely enjoyed. Face painting and balloon animals were a huge hit with the kids. They would crowd around us waiting with anticipation for their ballon animal or painting to be finished. The joy in their eyes when they saw the final product was priceless. Another really special thing about today was that the gospel was preached. What an amazing opportunity for so many people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ at once!

    Some members of the team also performed a couple of worship songs. God's presence was very evident during this time. It was wonderful!!! Next we performed a drama put together by Elaina. Everbody was so captivated but this performance, they crowded around the stage and were so attentive.

    The celebration was so special for not only us, but the people of San Salvador. It was great to see all the people that have been impacted by this mission. These people have the biggest hearts we've ever seen.They are so thankful and hardworking throughout their hardships. Therefore it was amazing to see them relax and have some fun. God is truly great!

    On the way home from the celebration, we got caught in a huge storm. Standing up in a truck with garbage bags on our heads while the rain poured down was truly a testament to the struggles the people of El Salvador face. It gave us a whole new appreciation of how these homes will help these people. Thankfully God protected us and we arrived safely.

    God has really opened our eyes during this week. We are so thankful for our team, the leaders, the families we have met and the opportunities to serve our God.

- Kiara, Rachel and Renee

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Good day, great day, had a good time. - Brandon Vellekoop

Hey now, where do I start? What can you say when you're speechless? This is my third trip to El Salvador, and easily my favourite so far. Today was our Compassion visit, and it was fantastic. It was our third time seeing two of our sponsor children, and it was like we'd never left. However this was our first time seeing our new boy, Oscar. We had a slow start, but soon gained his trust and it was a who new world. The laughter of a three year old as he opens presents is one of the most amazing things I've ever heard. The whole day can be summed up by the joy he had while looking at a monkey. I already miss seeing our children and I'm anticipating next years trip when I'll be able to see them again.

Key Giving Ceremony

It is not very often that you get to be part of an event that can impact your life and others in such a meaningful way. Often when we go on mission trips, we are the ones who want to be able to shine God's love and bless those around us. Incredibly, it is often we who walk away feeling so blessed.
This afternoon, after completing the final two homes, we met with all of the families for a key giving ceremony. The ceremony started off with some praise and worship. With a band consisting of keyboard, bass guitar, electric guitar and drums, the songs were uplifting and soulful. The pastor then shared a full gospel message devotional which was clear about God's unconditional love and desire to have a relationship with everyone. An invitation was given to make a commitment to follow the Lord and many of the families chose to become believers!

After praying for these families,  we moved into handing out the keys and Bible's to each family. We each prepared a few sentences and shared a scripture. Some of the families shared a few words back to our El Salvador team. Happiness, joy and pride were clearly evident as the keys and Bibles were put into the hands of the new home owners. 12 new homes had been completed in two and a half days...how incredibly awesome for these families.

Walking away from this event today had me pondering about many things. It made me think of how many blessings I have at home and take for granted. How many times do I walk into my home and not thank the Lord that I have roof over my head and walls to protect me from the elements. How many times do I complain about having to cook another meal, when  some of these families can hardly make ends meet.

 It was clearly evident that the small home was a new beginning for some, a form of protection for all and health for those who were living in environments no one should be living in. They were clearly touched by all the efforts made by everyone involved. Even though we have been able to bless these families with homes, I am also walking away blessed. I am walking away with a whole new appreciation for the blessings God has given me...and with a whole new desire to not take things for granted.

What a great day for all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Building day 2

Today was the second day of building. Instead of 4 houses however, we planned to build 6. 3 houses in the morning and 3 in the afternoon meant splitting up the team to divide and conquer. The challenge was readily accepted, and with the locals who jump right in and work so hard, the 6 houses were built just as quick!

At the first build site, I was involved in the kids ministry. Pretty quickly we had smiling faces poking out of doorways and skipping down the street to come play. It was so special to be able to connect with each of the kids, whether it was giggling over bubbles with the little ones, or helplessly chasing after the older ones in a match of soccer.  All it took was learning their names to become the best of friends. When you can call each other by name, it feels as though nothing makes us different. We may not be able to understand anything, but by simply repeating our names to each other again and again we confirmed our friendship. In talking to the families and watching the comings and goings of the children, I see that they grow up pretty fast. They might go to school for part of the day, but when they are home they are helping around the house, or taking care of the young ones. At moments during the morning I felt as though they were allowed to be kids again, without having to worry about of be responsible for other things. The joy in their eyes was priceless, and I felt so blessed to be spending time with these children that God loves so dearly. 

During the afternoon I was able to be a part of an interview for a mother and her two children who were receiving a house. Though it started as one of our formal "interviews", we continued to talk and talk (through our translator) long after we had finished asking our questions. She continued to tell us about the landmarks around us, and it seemed easy to keep chatting. This woman lived in a house with 13 other people, and many of them would come and go, stopping to join in the conversation.  When we finally decided go back to the front of the property where they were building, we were met with a nearly completed house. We had no idea we'd been talking for so long. I was so grateful to be able to connect in that way with this woman and the others who lived in the house. After our time together, we truly felt like friends.

 Today I was reminded how important relationships are, and why these trips to El Salvador are so valuable. There may be so many things about our lives that are different from those who live in El Salvador, but when we come together during these weeks we are firstly, and most importantly, brothers and sisters in Christ. 

-Elaina Mohr

Monday, November 7, 2016

Building Day 1- by Julia Loewen

It’s day 2 in El Salvador and already we have four houses up and finished. This is my fifth time on this trip but it’s always amazing to me how fast everything gets done. The week goes by so quickly, but the relationships built and connections made also grow quickly. We may have only met some of these people yesterday, and we may not speak their language, but somehow these hardly feel like barriers at all.

That ‘somehow’ could only be God, and today I felt very humbled that He has allowed me to be a part of this. I’m not at all a great builder, I speak hardly any Spanish, yet while I am seemingly so underqualified, God has allowed me to be on this team. How could that be??

I got to do some building today, which I love to do, but there are a few times where I’m really not sure of how to help. During one of those times, there was another group of ladies (from El Salvador), kind of just doing the same thing as me: standing around a little awkwardly, unsure of what to do. But then one of our translators came over and started showing us what we could do, and this whole group of women just came alive! There was so much laughter and joking (most of which I didn’t understand of course), but I realized that these women were just like me! So excited to be a part of this, but feeling a little underqualified.

But as the day went on, I started to understand what “qualified” me for this trip. The people here are hurting. They feel broken. Hopeless. Abandoned. Forgotten. But I know that I am loved by God. He never abandons me. He has not cast me aside, but he lives in me, and he works in me, and he works through me! God has qualified me in the best way possible, through nothing I could have done on my own! He has given me love, and hope, and joy, to share with these people. To share with the excited team of women I got to build with. To share with the families receiving homes, the church we work with, and even the team that I came here with. Because God has not forgotten these people, and he is using this team to do so much more than build houses- he is using us to bring love, and hope, and joy to a people in desperate need of all of those things
And I am so thankful to be a part of it.   

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Fresh Start

Our team got on the back of a pick-up truck this morning and headed out to the village of Rio Frio to meet the 12 families that we are building homes for this week.  It's about an hour long ride which gives us the opportunity to see the beautiful landscape, the volcanoes in the distance, and so much still green from rain season that has just ended.
Although we just got a brief introduction today, there was such a warmth and friendliness as we greeted the families. Amongst the new home owners are construction workers, farmers, a seamstress, a waitress, homemakers and others who sell goods. These are people who work hard and are trying to provide for their families, all of whom have young children.  But the harsh reality is that as hard as they work, they are not able to attain a house on their own.
It's exciting for us to be a part of something where people are given a lift up. This is a new start on life that can give them better health because they have a roof that keeps them dry and floors that get them out of the mud; better security because they can lock their doors and keep their family safe.
We are looking forward to working alongside these families this week to give them that fresh start.  Our prayer is that people are pointed to God as He pours out His great love on the families and on our team as we work together!