For many children children who grow up in orphanages around the world, they rarely see or experience much outside the facility walls. For several years, Starfish teams had been visiting a center where there were murals of the ocean painted on the walls. We realized that while they had grown up very close to the ocean, many of the children had never experienced the beauty of God's work and had no idea what the painting was! Today the team had the privilege of taking more than fifty children to play in the ocean!
"God is at work in San Salvador. The vastness of His ocean was seen by over 50 orphans today and some for the first time. God's grandeur is rarely seen as plainly as in looking into the eyes of a smiling, joyous and loving 9 year old boy. His name is J**, and as his tiny hand clutched mine, I was filled with a peace. How could this little boy, without any family to love and take care of him, smile so big! From every shell he picked up to each crashing wave, J** smiled and laughed. We serve an inscrutable, immeasurable, incredible God, and although this little boy may never have loving parents, today he had 25, and God certainly has a plan for him."---Josh Hancock
"I had a really great day in El Salvador! We got the opportunity to take the CIPI teen girls, teen moms with their babies, and the children to the beach. It was such a neat experience because, for most of the girls and children, it was their first time seeing the beach. One of my favorite parts of the day was helping the teen girls and moms find the perfect swimsuit. Before we left for El Salvador, we were able to round up swimsuits from various people and stores so we could bring them for the girls. Well, when we got to the beach we dumped out a suitcase full of all the bathing suits we had collected. We then helped the girls find one they liked and fit. They loved this! They would find one and run into the bathroom to put it on. They would come running out of the stall, giggling, and saying "ooh and ahh" at each others swimsuits. What was so special about this is that we got to see the girls act like regular teenage girls. They put down their walls and barriers and opened up. We were able to see past their tear stains. They really had a great day. My prayer is that God will watch over them, and that they will know that they may not have parents that care about them or love them, but at least they have a Heavenly Father to look to. That they will know that their Heavenly Father will never leave them or forsake them. That His love is unconditional."------Maddie Morris (thank you to those who donated swimsuits!!)
"Today was a wonderful release from the difficult situations and suffering we have been ministering to. We loaded sixty kids and staff from CIPI on buses and headed to the beach! When we arrived at the beach house, Shannon W. asked if I would take pictures. When the kids and the mission team first went for a swim in the pool, it was a true blessing to capture photos of the laughter and smiles and splashing! It was also a blessing to watch those, who for whatever reasons, were reluctant to participate at first begin to soften and ease in and eventually blossom and smile! After a great fried chicken lunch, I was ready for the surf, and was privileged to accompany beautiful eight year old C**. We held hands and waded into the ocean, and at eight years old she was fearless in the surf! She laughed jumping the small waves and dove under the big ones. She did not want to return to shore until they finally called us all in for the day! I will sleep well tonight! Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."---Steve Bloemer
"Johnny has been telling us all week to get out of our comfort zones. After loving on those with special needs, trying to get past language barriers, and listening to all of the incredibly sad stories of children while trying to smile instead of cry in front of them, I thought I really had gotten out of mine. Today, God showed me otherwise. I noticed that one of the translators, Abby, had been talking to one of the teen girls for a long time, so I felt the need to go sit with them. Although I couldn't understand what was being said, I continued to hear "Jesus" in Spanish and the translator, Abby pointing to her heart. My own heart jumped when I saw the girl say "Si". Despite the language, I knew that she had just admitted that she needed to receive Christ into her heart. Abby asked me to be the one to help her pray and ask Jesus to be her Savior. I was very nervous because I've never done that before although I've witnessed it many times. I was so glad that Abby was there, because I was so overwhelmed that is was hard to put all of my thoughts into the prayer. It was one of the biggest blessings I have ever received. I thank Jesus for using me, an undeserving sinner, to bring honor and glory to His name. It is so exciting to take part in furthering the kingdom of God!"---Mandie Hodges
Sisters Carrying Sisters!
Please continue to pray for the team as they continue throughout the rest of the week. On Thursday, they will be serving more than 700 residents at a squatter's camp.
What an honor to organize a Bible School for the children and serve meals to the entire community! Please pray that God's love will be shown to these families who are living in daily desperation. Pray for open hearts, open minds, and much healing!