Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wednesday 

Rain, rain go away! Finally sunshine after days of downpours and just in time for our day out in a community. The two hour trip could have easily extended due to the washed out roads but luckily we didn’t get stuck. We didn’t waste anytime once we got there. Face painting, balloon animals, piñatas and snacks made for a fun day for all. Of course it wouldn’t have been party without dancing! Before we left we passed out a new shirt, treat bag and bible to each kid. Looking around was like many movie scenes of poverty stricken areas, but it is their reality. Up until this point we had been in the city and orphanages which are more developed. 

Tonight’s special treat for the girls in transition house was going to the movies. It’s been a privilege to give them each a night to show them how truly special they are. We take so much for granted and the smallest gestures can make an impact. We tell them each night that it is not us but God that has provided the ability to take them.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tuesday 

(For the privacy & protection of the children in the facilities visited today, no photos could be taken.)

This morning we woke up to more rain. Classes were canceled in many of the schools, and some people even had the day off from work. Since our team landed here in El Salvador, it has RAINED. It’s grey, cloudy, and unseasonably cool. Even the mood in the centers we visit has been affected. Everywhere we go, people are talking about the weather. One of the kids that used to be in the transition program said to one of our group “please pray for the people of my country that do not have houses. They are really suffering right now.” This was a good reminder how very fortunate we are to have a warm and dry place to sleep.

After a pancake breakfast with our team, we headed out to our first center. We sat and made necklaces with the girls there. After, we had a chance to talk about our favorite bible verses and why we like them. It was great to share, but even better to hear from Sus Hijos staff and the other missionaries. 

We had lunch at States Diner. It’s so nice to have a good meal cooked and served by a great staff. We went shopping after lunch, and bought some treats for the second center. In the second center, the children are very well cared for. They are clean, organized, and they make their beds each morning. Each child is her accountable for their studies. At this center, we heard the dreams of the teenage girls there. Each one shared her goals for her life, and we were continually encouraged by their words. Nearly every girl spoke of how she wanted to keep moving forward so that she could help others: her family, other orphans, her community. We then talked with them about how grand of plans that God has for them. We love their hearts to help others, but if they take the hand of God and keep moving forward they will accomplish things they can’t even imagine now.

Part of our team went outside with one of the caretakers. Someone inquired about the plant she was cooking, and her face lit up! She wanted to show us the garden. We went outside and she pointed out coffee, cocoa, coconuts, bananas, plantains, cinnamon, and dozens of other fruits and vegetables that we don’t have in the United States. She was so kind and enthusiastic with showing the plants and explaining how she prepares the food for the girls. Before we left, we shared treats for her children and the children of her assistant.

For dinner, we went out to eat with two of the transition house girls. We ate Mexican food and just spent time chatting. We went back to the mission house to spend more time with them, and we planned to divide our team. Some were going to pack and get ready for our ministry tomorrow, and the other spend time with the girls making crafts and just hanging out. Instead, the girls offered to help us. They were such great help and had a great attitude. It was fun to spend time with them!


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Celebration Monday 

I’ve been to El Salvador many times. Monday is always my favorite day because that’s the day that we work with the most peipywirg special needs.

We are a very small team this week, and we invited another team that’s in El Salvador to join us. They are with the World Race. They have been in like 7 countries in the last 9 months, and will visit 2 more before heading home to their prospective homes in the US. They are a great group of 7 people and we work well together. 

This was a typical Monday, except for the rain. It seemed never ending. Our outdoor dance party was confined to a small, dark breezeway, but even the rain could not dampen our spirits, nor that of our friends! 


While we were waiting for our friends to make their way to the alternate dance party site, we asked to go visit the "kids at the houses where their disabilities are so severe that the party would not even be possible. 


The people in the more severe areas seem to rarely gett visitors. We held hands with them and sang to them. Some of these precious ones live behind bars because they are dangerous to themselves or others. Some are tied to chairs or windows because they run off otherwise, and some have their arms tied to their wheel chairs for a variety of reasons.

While it may sound cruel to tie them up, or to keep innocent handicapped adults behind bars, the workers don’t have much choice, because they often have one worker in a building alone with 7or 8 people with very complicated special needs. We talked when we left about how difficult those workers jobs must be! God must create very special people for their kind of job!


We hated saying "bye" to our friends at San Martin, but our hiosys try to keep us on a schedule ( even though time and traffic signs are mere suggestions here)!

We had lunch at the States Diner, which is the brain child of Kurt Ackermann. The diner was designed and runs for the purposes of giving kids who are fresh out of orphanages, a place to earn money, and even more importantly, learn a trade that will get them a better paying job in the future.

Next we went to a children’s orphanage for kids with special needs and perfectly normal (if there is such a thing) teens who are HIV positive and have Some of the kids are blind, some have Downs Syndrome, some are deaf or are in wheel chairs. Some of the kids have severe mental delays or afflictions. 

We celebrated "Day of the Child" with these children. This is a day that typically parents celebrate their children. Most of these children were either separated from their parents by death or by parents choice, therefore no one to celebrate them. We had a clown, cake, a dancing party (which included wheel chair dancing) and we played lots of games. It was great seeing the two teams come together with so many diverse gifts and quickly find children who needed those gifts that day!

Despite the rain, we had a great day, and those of us visiting (even for the 56th time) learned more and take more away more from today than those who we were here to serve!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sunday! 


Today started at church with the community. None of us were particularly excited about standing up in front of the group to talk but we had the chance to introduce ourselves. After worship we took the children and had class. The kids listened attentively then came the fun of crafts and games. 


This evening we had bible study with the boys and girls transition home along with people in the World Race. Before it began, everyone took their phones from their pockets and purses, and put them in a basket on the coffee table. It was great that everyone was physically present and giving their attention. We all shared what we are doing for God now, and what we hope we will be doing in 5 years. Even with a language barrier our worship time was powerful! 


After bible class we sat together and ate pupusas. We came together to prepare for our next mission after dinner. We started an assembly line to make bags filled with sandwiches, chips, apples, cookies and juice. We all piled into the back of a truck to drive around and pass these out to the homeless. The people would come running to the truck and one little boy tried to trick us by hiding his under his shirt so he could get another. It’s so hard to people desperate for their next meal, and we were so blessed to be able to share with them.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

A small team with a big purpose! 


Today we jumped right in to serving! We had no major issues in traveling, and we immediately got to spend time with some of the girls in the transition house.

There are so many things we want to accomplish this week, but our plan is to really take some time to pour into the kids in the transition house program. These are kids who had to leave their orphanage home when they turned 18, and Sus Hijos is able to offer them an option for moving forward. Not only do they get food and shelter, but also help with finding a job, spiritual guidance, and mentors. 

Today we spent time with two of the girls. One of them has been in the program for a while, and one for only a few days. The newest arrival is still in a bit of culture shock. No one is telling her when to eat, what to wear, how to act, or when to sleep. We went to dinner, and were able to visit and chat. Everyone had a good time and we spent time getting to know each other better.


After dinner, we went to browse the mall. The newest girl was staring at the hand dryer in the bathroom. She said “what’s that?” and pointed. The transition house leader responded by explaining the hand dryer and demonstrating how it worked. We waited a little longer for the bathroom, and the same girl spotted a mop that the janitorial staff had left behind. She walked up, grabbed the mop, and started cleaning like it was the most natural thing in the world. She spent so much time in the orphanage cleaning and helping out, she didn’t think twice about it. This same girl also LOVED to play on the escalator and moving sidewalk in the mall. It was really a delight to see how much fun she had, and how much we take for granted.

We got back to the mission house and started planning for tomorrow. We are SO excited to see what God has in store for us this week.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday, Reflecting on the Week 

Wow! Words cannot describe the week we’ve had. We started out last weekend as more or less strangers to our fellow team members and for most of us, complete strangers to the AMO team and people of the favelas. That was to be short lived, however. By Monday, we had all become dear friends with our teammates and with the AMO team, and several of the children who visited the AMO campus and church services. By Tuesday, I was already planning my next trip to São Paulo.

The people of Brazil 🇧🇷 are so warm and open-hearted. Even those with almost nothing offer hospitality, whether it be a cup of coffee or a cookie or a warm embrace, as if you are a long lost family member.

The children light up when receiving a ziplock bag with candy, crackers and a happy meal toy, as if it were a gift 🎁 on Christmas 🎄 morning! For some, it is the only toy they have, yet there is no fighting or arguing over who got what. Instead, they all share! 

Today we continued various work projects around the property, and for lunch we treated the AMO team to an American meal consisting of cheeseburgers 🍔 and 🌭 hot dogs, Cole slaw, potato salad, Coca Cola 🥤followed by ice cream 🍦 sundaes for dessert. (They were very pleased)

In the afternoon we went into another favela that does not yet have a church. It is the favela where team members Daniela and Robson grew up. They are now married, and have been ministering to the people for five years, building trust, friendship and relationships along the way. It is their dream to build a church ⛪ there one day and, for Daniela (a gifted singer), to start a church choir to praise Jesus with song and provide a positive extracurricular activity for the children there.

Along our walk this afternoon, Robson delivered water filtration systems to multiple families, explaining to them, that just as the filter cleanses the dirt and toxic chemicals from the water, so Jesus cleanses the sin from our souls. Just as our physical bodies require clean water to survive, our souls need Christ to have everlasting life.

Since there is no church in that favela, we invited those we encountered to meet us on the soccer ⚽️ field, where Tim amazed yet another captive audience with his painting (met with enthusiastic applause)and Daniela, Nate and Julianna sang for us. Many people whom were not invited drifted in after hearing the singing on the PA system, in time to hear Tim and Pete’s message. All of them stayed.

After the message, we once again distributed reading glasses 👓 to those in need. Over the two evenings of doing so, we have blessed 104 individuals with clearer eyesight. Several tears of appreciation were shed, both by those receiving and those giving. (It truly is a bigger blessing to give than to receive!) The AMO team still has 102 more pairs to distribute at the two favelas we did not already bless, so more lives will be impacted for the better. 

Reflecting tonight on this amazing week we’ve had, I have so many beautiful memories. Some sad, some tragic, some hopeful, some funny (my name translated into Portuguese is Gianna, the same as Diana. So, every day at least one child called me Wonder Woman, whose alter ego was Diana Prince). I think I can speak for the whole team in saying that we were the ones blessed the most by this mission and all the glory belongs to God alone. We are all humbled to have been His hands and feet here on earth and look forward to returning to do it all again! 

Good night and God bless you! ~ DeeAnna

Thursday: Gardens, Walls, Blocks, Meat and Worship!

Our week continued with a beautiful day. We are in a setting where you can see God's handy work whether the country side or people.  The AMO vision to address the spiritual and physical needs of the people they are reaching out to is amazing. Included in their vision is a building for vocational training. A building to move their current equipment into from the church building. It may take a while to complete but God is providing.

Yesterday we planted. Today we water. Watering freshly planted vegetables, spreading compost on dirt rows for more planting tomorrow of beets and peppers. Oh yeah, sweet potatoes too! Much of what will be grown will be given to those desperately needing it in the favelas. Food... physical and spiritual spread by people who deeply love the Lord that rescued them.

Part of the garden success is compost for organic gardening. Here Nate, Washington, and Tim are mixing the compost - leaves and chicken poo. I got to throw some chicken poo too!Some of the Starfish team continued prepping walls at one house for painting. Sanding was the order of the morning. Another team member, John, continued laying block. He may have started a new career direction!  

Lunch today was a treat although it is really hard to beat the meals prepared on the AMO ranch. Different, yeah, that's the word for today at the Grill Sul. Different. Skewers of meat, so many kinds I cannot remember, brought to your table and cut for your plate. Delicious! No supper for me tonight!

The Starfish team of Kimberly and Laura grocery shopped and then began the preparation of a big meal American style for the AMO staff. Starfish doing the cooking one time. We will have to see how all that turns out tomorrow.


Thursday nights for the AMO team is worship and classes. Anderson, my Brazilian brother, asked if I would like to ride with him to pick up those needing a ride to the ranch. Turned out to be a van load of kids and adults. Beautiful friendly smiling faces. What a blessing to ride along with Anderson and here his story. Wow! Amazing. Two words that come to mind. He shared his journey to Christ...love of Jesus, struggles, and his very passionate commitment to the Lord. "I don't want to just be a believer. I want to be a disciple," he said. His love of Jesus, God, changed everything for him. He passionately shares the gospel because he believes it can change wrecked lives like his. He loves teaching and mentoring the teens.


Worshipping here is moving and special. It may be in a language foreign to me but I recognize the songs, some of them anyway. I closed my eyes and just listened to the voices. Tears. Young or older voices with enthusiasm and love. The promise to Abraham being realized in worship together.


Tim brought the lesson with Nate of AMO translating for our friends here. Naham from II Kings was his core text. What great relaxed spirit Tim showed along with his passion to encourage to be faithful.


On now to Friday to see what blessings the Lord has in His plans for us.