Friday, June 20, 2014


Hi! My name is Colton Fremont and I have had the greatest chance to work with Starfish this year! I am writing for the Thursday of our trip so let's begin!

We began the day off with a trip over to the adults special needs orphanage, San Martin. They gave us a tour of the facility and rooms that the kids (they are technically adults but they perform at child's level so its easiest to refer to them as children) stayed in. It was difficult to see because they were staying nine kids to a house with one person overseeing all nine of them. Most houses (large living spaces really) were not tidy or smelled good at all. Its hard to think about these kids living in this space for the rest of their lives. BUT the kids were so happy! You literally could not see one person in the entire facility without a smile on their face. It was so encouraging because as Americans we couldn't imagine living somewhere like that, but God has blessed them through their problems with a pure joy. It was so encouraging to see a happiness in them that no matter they seemed to always be happy! After we visited the facility we got to have a massive dance party with all of the kids and it was a blast! Every kid was so excited to be able to hear the music and to dance along with us. It was such a blast! San Martin showed me a happiness that we should see and feel every time we think of God's love and mercy and grace. It was a great refresher!

After San Martin we went over and had lunch with the AIDs orphanage and painted shirts with them. It was fun to see smiles come to their face as we painted their shirts and made them balloon animals. The worse part of being there was that we found out earlier in the week that the organization that runs this orphanage is shutting down because it is “unfair and discriminating to the children” and so they are dispersing the children to different orphanages where they won't have the nurses to be able to take care of them and the disease they had. I know that God will provide no matter what the situation turns out to be and that His will be done and that is what we have to keep the focus on-that God will provide for his kids.

As we got to our last stop of the day, CISNA the all boys orphanage, we had trouble getting into the orphanage due to the fact that the women's correctional facility next door was having a riot and it was unsafe for us to enter, but it was a complete God thing because we decided to go visit a family that Starfish had built a house for back in March. It was a a grandmother and her fifteen year old grandson who weighed no more than twenty pounds. Doctors don't know whats wrong with him and it was so hard to see him because in that moment there is nothing you can do. He couldn't move, talk, or even communicate. All we could do was pray for him and let him and his grandmother know we are here to support them. God meant for us to see that family and we were blessed to meet them and pray for them.

At the end of the day we got to feed the homeless for the last time this week and it was a brutal thing. It is the lowest point for someone to be at in their life and they come so quick for a simple sandwich and chips. It is heartbreaking to see these people beg for just one more bag of food but we don't have it. It is heartbreaking to hear their cries and thank you's because we could only give them a simple meal. God's plan will always prevail where his glory will always shine through. In every situation God gets glory and I know He gets it even from people without homes to live in. Today God received all glory and I pray He will receive it tomorrow. I thank Christ for giving his life to give these people life. I ask that you pray for those we fed tonight that they find Christ if they don't know him and that God will provide in every way possible. Thank you all for reading!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

God Moments

Wednesday in El Salvador brought with it some seriously amazing God moments. Before heading to the village where we had constructed the house yesterday, we had the opportunity to head to the souvenir market to purchase a variety of items the shopkeepers had for sale. After spending an hour or so at the market, we loaded back into the bus (some of us had more trouble with this then others) and and headed towards the village. As we pulled off the main road and into the village, the excitement inside the bus was palpable and the closer we drove to the location of the house – a bumpy drive as last nights rain eroded much of the dirt road – the more children gathered around the bus to welcome us. It felt like I was coming home. Because most of the house had been finished the previous day, we only had to put on the finishing touches including the gutters and moving in the furniture (due to arrive in the afternoon). While some of us worked on those finishing touches, others gathered the children and families at the soccer field to tell the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. The children giggled as the boys acted out Joseph's plight from Egyptian slave to Pharaoh’s second in command, illustrating how God uses trying situations to bring good for his people and glory to Himself. Once the boys finished their drama, we broke into groups and loved on the children – helping with tattoos and painting faces and nails for the boys and girls. Before long, it was time to leave for lunch.

The team invited the family we had constructed the house for to join us for lunch and, once we had finished, we returned to the village just as the trucks were arriving with the furniture. In all, we helped move two sets of new bunk beds, a table, rocking chair, and new cutlery into the home. Outside of the house, a few team members worked together to sort the rice, beans and bibles into bags to be delivered to the families of the community. Dividing into six groups, the team moved through the village and up into the mountain passing out the packages, talking with the families, and praying for their needs which included family health and safety. God led us to families in need and guided each team member who felt led to pray for each family.

When we had run out of packages for the families of the village, we gathered again as a group to dedicate the house and pray again for the family. Scripture was read and prayers were said before the matriarch of the home opened the door to the newly build and furnished home. To be called to work as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ by ministering to his children is a truly humbling experience. We thank God today that he provided the means for each of us to work here in El Salvador so as to bring glory to Him. We prayed continuously throughout the day, and ask our family back home to pray, that our work here bring glory to God, not to us – that the people we are serving see Jesus working in their lives through us and that their faith in the Lord is strengthened. We are excited for the opportunities the Lord will provide for us to serve Him and bring glory to Him tomorrow!

One Nail At A Time

Sorry for delay in this post from Tuesday June 17th.  It is rainy season in El Salvador and we had many storms that knocked out power so we were unable to post last night.

My sister and I are on out third week here in El Salvador and time has flown by unbelievably fast.  The longer I'm here the deeper I fall in love with the country, the people, and the work Jesus is doing here.  Everything we get the opportunity to do here is so special in its own way, but house building is a crazy thing to be a part of.  Paraphrasing Kurt, we may not be saving the world, but this family's life is radically changed.  Instead of being sheltered by a celling with holes and walls made of fabric, they will have a house.  A real, wooden, sturdy, safe house; that's radical.  And although I admittedly am not a vital member of the house building crew, I am a vital member of the loving on the village crew.
As soon as we arrived in the community this morning, kids came running to greet us, recognizing the missionaries who work in the community often.  And not just the kids who we are building for, all up and down the street they pop in and out to sneak a peak at the commotion.  I spent my day playing, joking, and tickling.  In more or less words, today was perfect.
Things I will never grow tired of:
-Big brown eyes and sweet smiles
-"Clara, Clara, Clara!" followed by a hug big enough to fill my heart.
-Hearing kids tell me they already know Jesus loves them.
-Little girls that sit in my lap and give me kisses on the cheek and tell me they love me.
-Playing soccer...well that's not entirely accurate, that wears me out.
-Mama's that willingly let me cuddle with their babies.
-Giving out candy to kids who turn around and share it with me,
-Tickles that lead to big belly laughs.
I hate poverty. I hate that kids are hungry.  I hate that abuse exists, that people live in fear, that my friends suffer.  But I love El Salvador.  I love speaking my far from perfect Spanish.  I love snotty nosed little kids and orphans and widows and prostitutes and ex gang members.  I love the Ackermanns and their hearts that take in so much pain and turn it to love.  I love our Jesus that has blessed me beyond measure and takes care of his children.  I love that no matter what this life brings, we are promised a perfect eternity. And I love that this is the hope I get to share.

We changed things up today, and put our hands to work. Everyone loaded the buses bright and early after having some yummy, and much needed, french toast Mrs. Judy made us for breakfast as we had a long day ahead of us. Today's task was to build a house for a very sweet family. Our first stop after leaving the mission house was to the office to load up the pieces of the house and all of the supplies. Then we headed to the village to get to work. As soon as we got there everyone pulled together as a team, and began tearing down the old house and putting up the new one. While we worked the family watched anxiously, and those of us not working on the house got to play with the loving children who lived in the neighboring houses. All of the people who lived there were so welcoming and gracious. They truly brought joy to everyone working, and made being there so enjoyable. We wanted so badly to get the house done for the family that we even stayed at the work site to eat lunch. By the end of the day the house had been completed and the rain even held off for us. It was so amazing to see things come together and how nice the new house turned out. The family no longer has to live on dirt floors, will now have beds to sleep on, and walls without holes. Seeing how the village people are living and are still so happy really opened all of our eyes. It was a quiet ride back to the mission house since everyone was exhausted after a long days work. When we got back there was a hot and delicious, as always, dinner waiting for us. Everyone will be sleeping well to the sound of the rain tonight with full stomachs and worn out bodies. Tomorrow we get to go back to the house to put the final touches on and visit with all the families in the village. We are all so excited to get to go back!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Thing About Missionaries

Today we spent our morning at a special needs orphanage, which is always quite an experience. This certain orphanage is very well kept and the kids are extremely well behaved, well fed, and always clean. It is so different from the other orphanages we go to! The kids are so easy to play with because most of them are so sweet. As soon as we arrive we took all the kids to one area where we got to play with them for hours! 
After playing with them we offered to help feed the kids lunch. In this orphanage there are typically about 2 caretakers for 5 or 6 kids. That means the nurses will feed one kid while the others wait. So we were able to brighten their days even the tiniest bit by letting them eat earlier than they usually do! And to see that these kids were able to live in such a nice facility, with such loving nurses, was just one more reason to praise God!

We went to lunch and then took stuffed animals to pass out at the children’s hospital. This was yet another heart wrenching experience. To see children who know they are going to pass away, and who will never get to experience life, is the hardest thing. But I know God wants to bring them home. He has a reason for choosing to take them home so early, and we may never understand that reason. But the point is that it does not matter if we understand or not. The God over all things knows what they kids are feeling, He loves them more than even their own parents, and He is the only one in control.

On tougher days like that it is simply nice to remember that we are able to serve an awesome God who will not forsake any of us. I just have to keep that in mind! The thing about missionaries is that as badly as we want to understand things, as badly as we want to know the plan, as badly as we want to just save every life, in the end we know that none of this is worth anything without God. None of it would be done without God. All things are done by Him and for Him. We are just lucky enough to be His hands and feet!

The Sun Shone Bright on El Salvador

The sun shone bright on El Salvador today as we kickstarted our week. Before we could jump in to the activities we had planned, everyone had to overcome the obstacle of sleep deprivation from the late arrival to the mission house the previous night. Tired but in good spirits we sat on the patio and were briefed about what was in store the following week while birds chirped melodically in the background. Just a little behind schedule we headed off to church.

By the time we arrived, the service had already begun, but that did not prevent us jumping head first into the worship as we joined with our El Salvadorian brothers and sisters in praising the Lord. The songs died down as the pastor came to speak. He walked in from the right side with a bible in hand and an oxygen tank rolling in behind him. As he talks he recounts his near death experience, declaring the Lord's intervention in what should've been the end of his life. What he said, though it was relayed to most of the team by translator, was moving and slightly eye-opening to the reality of death.
After the message we were dismissed to go to sunday school. The boys of the group did a dramatic retelling of the story of Joseph and afterwards enjoyed entertaining the kids with fairly poor balloon renditions of fishes and swords. 

After church the team headed to Pollo Campero for a gourmet lunch. The team finished eating then quickly hurried to the mission house to change before heading to the ISNA center to play a competitive game of softball with the residing kids. Roy Hodges was the MVP with a home run, and several outs. During the game, a few of the members of the team set out on a quest to build a magnificent trampoline. The project, which was expected to take 45 minutes at most, lasted for a solid 2 ½ hours, but in the end it was finished.

The team returned to the mission house for a wonderful dinner. Afterwards we fixed food bags for the homeless. In the pouring rain, we headed out onto the streets of El Salvador in the back of a pick-up truck, handing out bags to the people in need we came across. Seeing people living in these conditions was heart-wrenching, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that it breaks my heart to see that I can't help every one of them.
More wet than dry, the team returned home to deflate, reflect on the day, and to prepare for tomorrow.