Friday, July 20, 2012


Today our team got to spend some time with the kids from the all-boys orphanage CISNA, one of my favorite things to do while in El Salvador. We were blessed enough to be provided a professional baseball field this morning for them. The boys on our team taught the kids the basics of the game, complete with warm-ups. At about 11 o'clock we gave them a snack and then got an organized game going. We split the boys and team members onto two different teams and started playing, giving each boy a chance to bat. I, and most of the other girls, chose to be the cheerleaders/photographers, leaving the ball playing to the boys. You could tell they were having the time of their lives, because this was something they had never experienced before. Baseball isn't really a popular sport in El Salvador, so they got to learn something very new to them. Afterward, we had ice cream with them, and then they had to go back to CISNA. They had the biggest smiles on their faces the whole time, and were sad when they had to leave.
The team then ate lunch at Wendy's, one of the more delectable fast food restaurants El Salvador has to offer, and went to CISNA to tour the facilities and spend some more time with the kids. We saw their brand-new kitchen and cafeteria area that the Lone Oak High School Beta Club had a big part in helping make possible. It was awesome to see how our money had been put to use since the trip this past February. We also saw their game room, which consisted of two foosball tables and a little workout area. Next were their dorms, which have definitely improved the most since my first trip here in February of 2011. They have actual mattresses and pillows, the walls are clean and painted, and it just feels like a more cheery place. We also went into their art room, where they create beautiful works of art out of wood, aluminum foil, and paint. They make everything from bookmarks to crosses to little boxes. Some of them also create gorgeous paintings of landscapes. The skill that these boys have is amazing.
The boys got to show off their artistic skills when we tie dyed tshirts with them. They were all being very creative, mixing colors to create purple and green, making patterns, and twisting their tshirts all different ways. They all turned out so well. While we let their tshirts dry, we all headed out to the soccer field to play some futbol with them. Again, I did not participate, taking over the cheerleader role as I am horrible at soccer. Soccer is the sport the boys get to play the most, so they were very competitive. There were many exciting moments in the game and it was very entertaining to watch them all enjoying themselves so much. Unfortunately, we had to leave after they were done playing soccer, but we did give each boy a soccer ball to remember us by and so they'd always have something to play with and bring them joy.
We finished our day at the transition home. The transition home is for the boys that age out of the CISNA orphanage. Normally they would get put out on the street when they turn 18, but with the transition home, they will have a place to live and an opportunity to learn a trade, find a job, and be able to supoort themselves. The transition home gives these boys a chance to be successful despite the conditions they grew up in. We added some furniture to the home and touched up some paint, as no boys are living in the home yet.
There were a couple families across the street from the home that my mom, Kathy, Danielle, Melissa, one of our translators, Jenny, and I went to talk to. We gave the kids suckers, and Melissa played worship songs on her guitar. We sang in both English and Spanish. Jenny explained to them what the songs meant, and they told us that they are Catholic Christians. We asked if they had anything that they wanted us to pray with them for, and we gathered with them and prayed. We also gave them Spanish bibles, and they were so grateful.
With that, we returned to the mission house where we got cleaned up and had a delicious dinner: poppyseed chicken. Today was one of the best days thus far, but they just keep getting better and better. This week has flown by, but I can't wait to see what blessings tomorrow brings.
-Kelsey Tucker

Thursday, July 19, 2012

For I was hungry...

Excitement flooded my heart this morning knowing that today I was going to see sweet Katherine. It was going to have to wait just a little bit as we made a stop at the market this morning. After our quick stop, we headed off to Cipi. This was our second time here this week. The guys continued to work on the area outside of the teen mom section. They hauled who knows how many wheel barrels and buckets of gravel to the back patio. They definitely worked very hard to make this place a peaceful, useable area for the moms to sit with their children.

The ladies got to spend some quality time with the teenage girls today, mostly by tie dying t-shirts. When I walked into the room where the teenage girls hang out, I got tackled with the best hug from behind. As I turned around, I saw this little face looking up at me with the biggest smile on her face. It was Katherine. We both can recognize a few words that each other speaks, but when you have this little girl wrapped around your waist with a smile that stretches ear to ear is enough to capture your heart. Or so I thought. Then those words left her mouth and entered my ears. "I love you." Yep. I had to hold it together. All I could do was to hang on to her a little bit longer. We may not have understood everything that came out of each other's mouths, but we sure did love being around each other. She invited me to sit with her at lunch, where there was much laughter. She followed me until she had to leave.
As we finished up t-shirts, I grabbed my guitar to worship. As soon as I opened my case, I had a young lady next to me. She asked me if she could sing with me. "Yes, please!" As we sat there and found songs she knew, I was able to share with her how much God wanted to be her Father that will embrace her and love on her. I got to tell her that He longs to have such an intimate relationship with her that she could sit in His lap and hear Him breathe. Jenny, Lilly, and Virginia had taken my song list and found some songs that the girls would know in Spanish. So, they gathered some girls around and we sang to the Lord. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.
I feel so blessed to be in this place. A place where I get to encourage, feed, pray, and love on His children. Each place we have been, we have gotten the chance to pray for His children. Ones that are hurting, sick, lonely, depressed, the list goes on. I'm truly honored that God choose me to be a part of these people's lives.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."
Matthew 26:35-40

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

“It made a big difference to that one.”

I am sitting in living room and hoping that the power will stay on long enough for me to record the events that occurred today. It is storming and thundering outside and the power has already gone out twice.
Today was a big day in our stay here: we fed the community of Suchitoto, and finished the house for the Herndanez family. After eating a wonderful breakfast (I am continually impressed by their hospitality down here at the mission house), we loaded up the buses and set out.
After a long bus ride, we arrived at the school where we would feed the community. There were a bunch of kids there, and many of them immediately put their new soccer balls to use (thanks, all of you who helped pay for those). While we had fun with the kids, the more responsible adults grilled hot dogs, and soon it was time to eat lunch. All of the people seemed pretty excited by the food; and it was special to play a part in feeding them, especially knowing that some would not get a meal like this very often. Soon, however, we had to leave the festivities and head back to the work site.
The work at the house was easier for most of us today, although some of us (particularly Bennett and Kurt) still worked very hard. After a few hours, the house was finished; and it was time for what was undoubtedly the most memorable part of the whole experience: the presentation of the house to Rosa, Maria, and Marta.
We all gathered around the house, and Kurt told the family how it was God that had provided them with their new home, and that we just were humbled to be able to be involved. We prayed over the house and thanked God for blessing us throughout the whole process. Then Laura (Mama Starfish) presented Rosa, the mother, with the keys, and they saw the inside of their new house for the first time.
I would make mention of how they cried with joy upon entering the house, and shrieked with excitement as we showed them their new beds; but unfortunately, I wasn’t inside when they went in; so I don’t exactly know what their response was. But regardless, after seeing their house on Monday morning, and comparing it now, I know that God has done a mighty work these past two days. On Monday, they lived in a shack with a leaky roof and a rusty rain barrel filled with amoebic creatures. Tonight, they have a door, windows, three new beds, and clean linens. As I hear the rain outside, I know that they aren’t getting wet, and instead the rain is dripping off into their new (plastic) water barrel.
Still, as I look back, I can’t help but feel a little sad as well. How much easier we have it here, sitting in an air conditioned house, complaining about the “unreliable” electricity in the storm, and writing on laptop computers. I know that even though we have helped the Hernandez family, there are tons of others who have it just as bad and worse. Feeding the homeless on Sunday night revealed that to me in a very real way.
And yet, at the end of the day, I am reminded of the story for which this ministry is named. The morning after a terrible storm, a young boy walks along the beach and sees a multitude of starfish that washed ashore overnight. Knowing that they will die if they are left alone, he begins to fling them back into the ocean, one by one. An old man who is also walking the shore that morning approaches the boy, telling the boy the folly of his plan. “There are thousands of starfish on this shore,” he reasons, “you won’t be able to make any difference.” The boy thinks for a while, and then flings another starfish into the sea. He then replies to the old man, “It made a big difference to that one.”
These past few days, God has worked through us all in a very big way in the life of three of these starfish. It has been awesome to be along for the ride and watch Him at work.
Seth Trammell, on behalf of Starfish Orphan Ministry, 7-17-2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More than we gave!

It is hard to believe that a three hour plane flight can take you to a place so inspiring, challenging and motivating.  Day 2 proved to be all of those things.  We began the day with an hour ride into a remote village located in a part of El Salvador that presented a very different group of people than we met yesterday.  Our mission today was to build a home for a beautiful family of three who had lost their father and was now very poor and in danger of being separated due to their poor living conditions.  The first task was to remove the current home which consisted of tin and sticks.  The floor was dirt and they were cooking over fire inside the home.  Soot covered the walls and the primitive furniture.  The entire family slept in a mattress infested with cockroaches on the dirt floor.  The eldest sister greeted us at the door and she was frail and obviously frightened of the gringos that had come to take away her home.  Maria invited us in and shared a picture of her family with Marilyn and I.  She talked of her father’s death and the loss of her grandmother.  It was clear that it took a lot of faith for her to trust us to give her a new shelter and some safety. 

The men worked tirelessly for hours in the hot and humid conditions.  There was a lot of physical labor involved yet they were in good spirits and worked so well together.  Chemistry is a funny thing and it determines so much when a group comes together.  The chemistry among our group is just great.  We all encourage one another and it helps jobs get done faster and better. 

While the men were busy building, the girls went to the school to meet and entertain the 50 or so students in their very rustic schoolhouse.  We spent the morning tiedying t-shirts with the kids.  They were thrilled and so were we.  They were covered in dye and so were we.  It is so much fun to experience things through the eyes of someone who is experiencing them for the first time. 

Maddie, Laura, Danielle, Jude and a few wonderful translators helped to treat the children for lice.  This was an unfortunate major problem for this school.  These girls worked meticulously for a long time to help these children.  The children were so precious that it was just a blessing to be able to help them.  Again sometimes challenging conditions yield humble spirits when we are allowed to realize exactly how blessed we are.

Several  things stood out to me today.  First physical exhaustion can be a good thing.  This group became bonded today through these challenges.  Second God equips us to do things we didn’t know we could when we leave our comfort zone.  Finally when we set out to bless someone else we receive more than we gave.    I love this place.  J))

Monday, July 16, 2012

The lowest point of their lives. . .

We arrived last night to the mission house around 10p.m. after a
quick meeting to get acquainted, learn our schedule, and prayer circle
we called it a night. This morning when we woke we traveled to a local
church. We sang spirituals that included both Spanish and English
lyrics. We also got a little educated on our Spanish speaking skills
when we performed a play for the Sunday school in Spanish (with
scripts of course.) Which was very interesting being that 3 of our
cast members had never learned a word of Spanish before. Never the
less we pulled it off and the kids enjoyed themselves. After that we
sampled “local cuisine” at Pollo Campero. It was very interesting, the
boys didn’t seem to favor flan. We then went to visit our first
center, CIPI. They boys spent most of their day creating a garden area
for the teen moms, including a play set for their children. It was
great to see some of the kids enjoying the set before we left. I liked
spending time with the teenagers and getting to know their stories
while doing their nails and making paper flowers. Following dinner we
began to make meals for the homeless. We prepared nearly 150 meals and
sent the first group off to deliver the food. Overall it was a great
first day, we got a lot accomplished and are looking forward to
building a home for a family in need tomorrow.

Callie Smith