Today is Friday and it is ‘Key Giving’ celebration day! It was the last ride into the countryside to the community where the 30 homes had been built and to share with the families we’d come to know and love by working side by side with them. Yesterday evening during debrief someone described the Compassion visit as Christmas Day with the opportunity to bless and share gifts, groceries and supplies with the sponsored children, their families and the Compassion Centres. If yesterday was Christmas, today, the Key Giving Celebration was Easter! What a celebration of God’s goodness, blessing and faithfulness! The celebration began under several large tents set up on a soccer pitch with the Mayor of the community sharing greetings and Stuart McAllister of Shelter opening with an exhortation from 2 Chronicles. Jenny the Shelter community liaison led everyone in several Spanish songs of praise with enthusiastic clapping! El Salvadorians know how to celebrate!
There was an opportunity for each group of Bethany team members to share a specially selected Bible verse and a short few words of encouragement for the family they interviewed before presenting them with a key and Spanish Bible. What a meaningful time! The family often took the opportunity to thank God, their Canadian sisters and brothers, the community leaders and Shelter for their new house. After the ceremony a time of prayer for the new home owners and the Canadian team was lead by Pastor Mendez. The pastor then used the ‘Bucket of Blessing’ provided to each family as a picture of what they’d received. He explained that the keys they received were not just physical keys to a house, rather an image of spiritual keys. God offers us keys, the keys to his Kingdom present and eternal. The pastor encouraged us all to open the door to God and heaven and receive the blessings he’s promised.
The broom in the Blessing Basket represented the things we all need to sweep out. There are things in our lives we need to sweep and get rid of the dust and garbage that so easily piles up. Things like anger, fighting, jealousy, wrong thinking. God wants to help cleanse us spiritually because our body is a temple. The pastor invited us to clean our physical and spiritual houses.
The Blessing Basket as a whole represented the blessings and provisions of God for each of the 30 families. God desires to fill our mouths with good things. God doesn’t just give a house. He gives life. He has control. His greatest provision for us was his son Jesus, and the gift of salvation.
Lastly, Pastor Mendez closed by focusing on the Spanish Bible each family received. The Bible he emphasized was a most precious treasure. We were encouraged to learn from the Bible because it’s a guide for life, marriage, parenting, and business. “Your word is lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word, our Lamp is meant to guide us and keep us safe. The pastor asked the crowd how light keeps us safe. One lady responded, light keeps her safe from snakes. He agreed, sin is like a snake. It bites, and kills, but the Word of God, lights our path and helps us steer clear of sin. What a clear and penetrating message for all of us to hear!
Then it was off to the courtyard for Piñatas. One for the girls and one for the boys. With great gusto the candy filled piñatas provided a great wrap up to the celebration of 30 houses for families to make into homes that would glorify God. After a delicious lunch provided by the home owners it was a bittersweet ride out of the village back to the hotel by mid afternoon.
After a quick stop at the hotel, it was off to Amapulapa Waterpark to refresh before a tour of the market in San Vicente and dinner at the McAllister’s home. Friday evening included a trip to the famous San Vicente clock tower and climbing over 190 steps to the top for an amazing view of the surrounding city and country. No trip is complete without a Texaco stop for snacks with the Shelter workers and their families and tearful good byes to our dear friends and coworkers. Debrief ends our evening trying to process and unpack the God moments and experiences of this special day and the days already experienced, anticipating with some hesitation, how to share this life changing time with those in Canada.