Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday, A Firm Foundation

A firm foundation

Today is Tuesday, which means we've already been here for three days. During our commute to build the house, we drove through a beautiful country side which exhibited a vast land covered in forests, mountains, and animals. Regardless of a language barrier and a lack of experience, the house was up and painted within six hours. Putting our trust in God and pushing past any hurdles that might hinder our desire to work for his kingdom is exactly the foundation we should have in our life. Just like a house needs a foundation to be stable and strong. What a great feeling to know that with His help, we could provide this home to a family who needed it and in turn, give all the glory to God.

Monday, Special Needs & Pure Hearts

My name is Lexie Myers and I am a 20 year old PTA student. This is my third trip to Elsalvador and I just can’t get enough of the blessings I receive from here. Today we went to 2 special needs orphanages called San Martin and Guirola.
San Martin is a special needs orphanage for adults and Guirola is for children. San Martin is filled with the most wonderful, pure, and innocent adults with the hearts and minds of children. We spent our time dancing with them and painting faces and laughing. We are sent there to make their day a little bit better but they always make me feel more blessed than I did before I came. Something about the smiles on their faces and the purity of their simplicity and innocence gives my heart so much strength.
After we left San Martin we ate lunch at the states diner which is owned by sus hijos, the missionary organization in Elsalvador. Their workers are all teenagers from transition homes. They put them in a program so that they can learn a trade and job dependability for the future. After the diner we went to Guirola, which is the special needs orphanage for children. We played with them until supper time and got to feed the bed bound children.
I was blessed enough to get to feed a special needs toddler, he was completely bed bound and extremely crippled. He had no verbal communication and severe mental deficits. Feeding him is a very big challenge for the workers because he can not sit up, his muscles have spasms, and he has a hard time swallowing.
It was such a heart breaking experience to see such a small child that needs so much medical attention living in a bed in an orphanage because he wasn’t wanted and because his medical expenses would cost to much. Having the opportunity this week to share God’s love and to work through him to help where we can is such a blessing in my life. Starfish and sus hijos spread hope locally and abroad and to be apart of such a selfless group of people is something I will forever cherish.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Sunday, Everyone has a father!

Today was an incredible experience. We visited a church, an orphanage, and we fed the homeless. Today challenged us to get outside of our comfort zone as we had to sing in front of a congregation in a language they didn’t even understand.
While we were at the boy’s orphanage we gave a soccer ball to each kid, fed them pizza, and we also had a water balloon fight. It was a nice way to cool down on a hot day. Since all of our team members have been to El Salvador at least once, a couple of us got to see friends at the orphanage that we had made in the past.
On the bus ride back to the mission house the younger group members were all quiet while reflecting on the day we spent.
Later on in the day we went out with Kurt and fed the homeless aka “His peeps.” It gave
 us a chance to realize how blessed by God we truly are.
Father’s Day is a day to honor all the great dads out there that do so much for their children. There’s one father that we should be honoring in our everyday lives; our Heavenly Father. We should look to Him in times of trouble and in times of need. Shouldn’t every day be Father’s Day? - Maggie

Psalms 68:5
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Day Five... Beauty in the Aftermath

(Photography was not aallowed inside the facilities the team served in today.)

Today our team visited two very special places. We spent the morning at the girls corrective detention center and the afternoon at St. Vincente de Paul (the orphanage for teen moms and their babies). 
I first came to El Salvador three years ago. As soon as I heard about the opportunity to spend time with girls in the corrective detention center, my heart has longed to spend time with them and speak to them. You see if I have learned anything as a Christian it is that there is power in spoken testimony. Today I finally had a chance to share how Christ transformed my heart and allowed me to overcome my past mistakes. I was able to share the power of redemption. I was able to share that the God I serve is a God of 2nd chances. I was able to share that the ugliness of my past did not determine my future, and the their past mistakes do not have to determine their future. I was able to tell each girl how much Christ fiercely loves them. 
I'm grateful God used someone like me to speak to these beautiful young women. I could see God moving in their hearts. Several of them accepted Christ. Several of them asked questions and were curious. Our team was able pray with them. To share the love we have for Christ with them. Even one of our translators was able to share her personal testimony for the first time as the Holy Spirit touched her heart as well. 
In the three years I have come to El Salvador this day may top them all. As Christians we are not perfect. We are simply forgiven by the grace of God. My heart aches for the girls in that center and the mistakes they have made. The guilt they hold onto. The unworthiness they feel. And as it aches my prayer tonight is that through the power of my testimony and the messiness of my life, some seeds were planted. I pray lives were changed. Hearts were transformed. I pray they receive and believe that their lives were created for a specific plan and purpose. I pray that long after our team leaves, these girls will remember that with God there is always beauty in the aftermath. 

I always come here to give and in return I always receive more. I will never forget some of the eyes I looked into today. We come with our own agenda and God always, always shows up exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ever imagine. 
I'm in awe of my God. I'm in awe of His power, His mercy, His forgiveness, and the way He orchestrates all things for His good. 

With a humbled heart, 

Day Four... Community

I have seen true community yesterday and today. This is what Paul says in Romans 13:8 - Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.

Today we finished a beautiful house for Fatima de Carmen Hernandez and her children Jose Ricardo, Allison Gabriela and Alexis Eduardo. As we worked on this house, community showed up to play, watch the “gringos” work and to celebrate with their neighbors.  We furnished the house and prayed over this sweet family, then handed them the keys to their home!

After that, we were able to show love to the community and pray specific prayers over each family. Then, we handed out food, t-shirts, pillowcase dresses, flip flops and Bibles.

Thanks to many of you for your prayers and donations, Fatima and her family are safe and dry. They have warm beds, clean clothes, and food on their shelves. Tonight, a sweet momma has many less worries on her heart and her prayers have been answered. Tonight a community remembers Jesus loves them and so do a bunch of  “gringos”.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Romans 12:9-16
- Lori

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Day Three, They had been with Jesus

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:3
Today we had the task of trying to build a house for a family with 3 small children.  Our goal was to accomplish this feat in one day.  We were told this could be done.

However what happened next was that our crew took longer than expected to get there. Road construction made our trip around 2 hours out to the home site.  Then upon arrival the tools we needed to begin the foundation were missing.  We’re sure that the community people were wondering how all these gringos were planning to build a house with no tools, let alone try to complete it in one day.
By the end of the day, the community people were standing around looking at a completed house ready to be moved into.  Our hope is that they looked at these gringos and realized that we have been with Jesus.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Day Two, Friendly Faces

Today was an exciting & exhausting day. We had the opportunity to spend the morning at San Martín, dancing our hearts out, and the afternoon at Guirola, loving and feeding the kids. God blessed this day immensely and presented us with so many opportunities to be His hands and feet.
We started the day at the Sus Hijos warehouse, where the construction team had built the panels and floors to the house we will be building tomorrow. As Kurt told us that morning, it doesn’t matter if you think you’re capable of lifting anything heavy, we’re gonna be like 50 ants carrying a leaf together- there’s room for everyone. And just like that, as a team we got everything loaded and we headed off to San Martín. 
San Martín is an adults special needs orphanage and there are so many unique and special things about this place. Simply, it is the happiest place on earth. We began by getting a tour of some of the little houses around the orphanage, because not everyone would be able to join us at the dance party we would hold shortly after, so we got the opportunity to spend time with them and see the orphanage. We sang songs, held, touched, and prayed over those we met. I loved being able to visit with them and speak to them, whether or not they could respond.
After that, the dance party began. Give these people a speaker & some music you’ve got pure joy. We got the privilege of being able to dance & sing alongside these sweet Salvadorans for a few hours, as well as painting faces and nails! We finished it off with a bible story about David and Goliath, and getting the opportunity to feed them cookies and juice.
I have been to San Martín many times before, but each time I am taken aback and in awe of the joy these people exude at the simple opportunity to dance
God is so present at this place, I see it in the tias that work so hard, day in and day out, to care for these kids, in Sus Hijos for continuously coming back to serve and love on these people, and for the teams, all of us gringos for stepping out of our comfort zones, dancing freely, and loving without bounds. 
We stopped for lunch at States Diner, where we got to see how Sus Hijos is employing and teaching kids who have been in orphanages or on streets their whole lives how to maintain a job and make a living. 

We finished the day off at Guirola, a government owned orphanage that houses mostly special needs children. This place is significantly different from San Martín in a couple ways. It is more well kept and clean, and the kids are taken even more careful care of. We got to push kids in wheelchairs all around the orphanage, dance with them, make balloon animals, and sing songs. I love being there because we get to focus on spending time with them. Whether that’s just holding their hand for an hour, or wheeling them around, or smiling and laughing with them, you can see their appreciation in their smiles and motions. These kids are so much fun, but they aren’t easy. These tías work harder than I could ever imagine. We were blessed to have the opportunity to feed them their dinner, but it was no easy task. Knowing the tías do this three times a day, for multiple kids is not only impressive, but only possible through the strength, grace, and patience of God alone. 

My prayer for today is that the people we touched and loved on and fed, will not only be full physically but also spiritually. And that they heard us say “Dios te bendiga” and “Jesús te ama” (God bless you and Jesus loves you), and understand how much our Lord and Savior truly does care for them and love them so deeply. 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord in not in vain.” 
1 Corinthians 15:58