Today was honestly one of my proudest moments in life. It is also my single most proudest moment as a teacher. Although I was very proud of the work that my team and I did, I would like to take a few minutes to explain the events leading up to the construction of this home.
I came to El Salvador for the first time this past July. The minute I set foot on U.S. soil, I felt God tugging at my heart and telling me that He wanted me to go back. I tried to fight it and rationalize it by telling myself that it was just my emotions talking, and not really God calling me back so quickly after being there in July. Even though I knew in my heart that coming back was what God wanted, I had no idea why he wanted me to come back. However, each time I began to struggle with the questions, I would become overwhelmed with emotions thinking about all of the faces I met in the village of Nahuizalco, the faces of all of the orphans, and the homeless living on the streets.
One night through the amazing use of technology, I asked one of the Salvadoran translators, Josue’, “How do the homeless get food when there are not teams of ‘gringos’ there to go out on the streets and feed them?” His reply was, “Good question.” When I asked what he meant, he replied, “There is no food for them when there are no teams. There just isn't enough money. So unless we get donations to go out and feed them, they don't eat.” I think I already knew the answer, but hearing those words were like a dagger to the heart. Neither of us realized at the time, but that one conversation would cause a chain reaction of events.
I am a public school teacher… let me rephrase. I am someone that has been called to missions that also happens to be a public school teacher. I cannot openly talk about my faith with my students. However, I wanted to share about my experiences with them and expose them to the culture that this beautiful country holds. My students have heard many stories since the beginning of the school year. One of the stories that I told them was the one about that my friend Josue’ had told me about the homeless. To my shock, it that brought several of them to tears.
One month ago, I met with a group of leadership students at school to decide on a yearlong project. The project had to be one that showed the use of technology, leadership skills, and made an impact. After discussing several project options with the students, they decided on one that met all of the criteria and then some. The students decided to adopt the country of El Salvador and try to raise money various ways to help with orphanages, the homeless, and those in extreme poverty. As the students began to set their goals for the project, I will not lie… I tried to discourage them. The kids wanted to build a home for a family in need and feed the homeless once a month. I am sure most of you can imagine the money required for this was not something that could be raised in a bake sale. I was afraid to even let them pursue this HUGE goal, because I didn't want them to be disappointed with the outcome.
Let me just say, do NOT ever discount someone or their ideas because of their age. In less than 3 weeks time, sixteen 10-12 year old kids raised enough money to feed the homeless once meeting their short term goal. However, they also met their long term goal and raised $2200 to build a house for a family. I cannot express in words, how overwhelmed with emotion I was to hand the keys of the home today to a mom of three young girls who recently lost her husband.
“Dont let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” - 1 Timothy 4:12
As I mentioned earlier I am a public school teacher, and I have to abide by certain rules and laws. And although, I cannot openly talk about my faith in Jesus Christ with my students, I don't think that anyone can deny that God’s hands were all the construction of this home. Let me explain…
1- This small team of 5 people were not even going to build a home. We were going to be visiting orphanages and helping the children celebrate “The day of the child”. Steve, the logistic manager already had the entire week planned. However, we all know that our plans are not always God’s plans.
2- When the students set their goal, we were trying to shoot for having the money raised by the end of the school year. I cannot tell you how many times I sat at my computer looking at the spreadsheet of numbers as it grew each day. Again, God decided that May was not what He wanted to happen. He wanted it to happen now!
3- In July, I took a photograph of a beautiful baby girl after giving her a dress. She had the most solemn, yet beautiful look on her face as her grandfather held her in his arms. To my shock, we returned to the village of Nahuizalco to build where I first met her. That beautiful baby girl, her two sisters, and mother would be the recipient of the home.
I know that God’s fingerprints are all over the construction of this home the past 2 days. From my willingness to follow God’s call, to the conversation with my friend Josue’ weeks ago, to the every single child that is in my leadership group, to each translator & Sus Hijos worker that labored over this house, to each team member that came to serve, to the students in the school I teach, God had it planned all along. However, for me the one thing that stands out is that kids built this house. Yes, it was adults that did the physical labor, but children are the ones that paved the way for a family to have a roof over their heads tonight…those same children that I doubted and tried to discourage are the ones that diligently pursued their goal. Children! Just let that set in for a minute.
We as adults should be the ones guiding and showing our children how to serve others, how to show love, and how to show compassion. We as Christians should be the ones teaching them how to be the hands and feet of Jesus…however today, it was the children that taught me.
We as Americans have so much compared to other countries. However, we always seem to find an excuse not to give…not to serve… not to go. However, God doesn't say He has called just a few of us to serve or share His love with others. He called us all. I am not saying that everyone should go to a third world country as a missionary. However, we can all do something. If a small school of less than 250 students can singlehanded raise the money to build a home and feed the homeless, think about how much we as a Christian people could do if we just followed their example. So what is your excuse? Maybe you can spare $10 a month to send to Sus Hijos to help with their efforts of showing the love of Jesus. Maybe you can donate your time at Starfish. Maybe you can give a week and spend with the people of this beautiful nation of El Salvador. Or maybe you still have an excuse.
I now know why God wanted me on this trip. I cannot begin to explain how thankful I am that I said yes instead of making excuses.
As I sit here on the couch on the porch of the mission house getting ready to head out to feed the homeless, I know I will come home with tears and a broken heart. However, tonight my cup runneth over.