Thursday, July 18, 2013

All things new...

                                                 “And he who was seated on the throne 
                                     ‘Behold I am making all things new.’ And he also said,
                                 ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
                                                                   -Revelation 21:5

This verse was repeating over and over again in my head today as I walked through Guirola, a special needs orphanage. This place is full of kids of all ages with various disabilities. Unlike most government run orphanages, this one was spotless. There was no stench in the air and the kids were clean. They were loved on by their caretakers and seen as human beings, not part of a job description that had to be tended to. This facility offers several different therapy programs to help the kids improve in their various conditions whether mental or physical. The programs and care these kids are experiencing is unbelievable in light of where they have come from. Due to a series of events in the El Salvadorian government, many of them have just been recently moved from other very poorly run government orphanages where their health was quickly declining to this new facility where their health is improving rapidly. For years, many of us who had seen the heartbreaking situation these kids were in had been praying that God would implement new authority and provide resources to improve the facilities. He answered. It was an answer far greater than anything we could’ve imagined. These kids have been moved to one central, clean location where they are finally receiving the proper care for their conditions. It was a breath of fresh air to see all the progress and the familiar smiles of those precious kids. God is making things new here in El Salvador. He is bringing newness to the staff and administration of these orphanages, He is renewing kids’ handicaps, and He is answering the prayers of many in a fresh, new way. Thank you God that your words are trustworthy and true. I can’t wait until the day when ALL things are made new.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What a wonderful way to live!

Today we finished the house! How amazing that we can change every day of this family's life from here on out just by working for a day and a half. A few hours. A few hundred dollars. Such a small sacrifice for abundant blessings! 
After the completion of the house, we delivered food to the surrounding community. The people were so gracious and humble to receive our gift. We offered to pray for them and they didn't hesitate to accept our prayers and share their needs. 
It's easy to think about our own virtues when we're giving; our love, our selflessness,  our compassion. But what about the virtues of those who receive? These people were so humble to accept our prayers and our help. If someone came to my door and asked to pray for me, my first reaction would be to think that I don't  need their prayers. I have my stuff, my health, and my family. Its troubling to think I wouldn't eagerly accept a prayer but it is honest. My new prayer is that I will never be too self-sufficient for the grace of God. When it comes down to it,  we are all here for the very same reason: to glorify God. Whether rich or poor, we must seek to honor Him with our actions, lifestyle, possessions, and work. I don't know why God gave me what seems to be easier circumstances, and the people here  harder ones, but I DO know that we are each responsible for using those circumstances for His glory. I am no better or worse because of my circumstances. I'm simply called to be obedient. That's what we're all called to do, whether we're on a dirt floor in El Salvador, or a clean, carpeted one in America. The beautiful thing is that we are able to fulfill the purpose of glorifying God together. We unite from different situations and lives to give and receive and mutually bless one another. What a wonderful way to live! - Nicki


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Not Forgotten...

Another early start to the day.   We left to go get supplies to fill the house we built yesterday.  When we arrived at the house we had some finishing touches to do.  There was a door to fix, stairs to be built, and a house to be furnished.  There was a bustle among the team.  Sounds of hammering, sawing, laughter, and children playing quickly filled the air.  

Two beds were placed inside with a table and benches, 2 rocking chairs, and some kitchen supplies.  It was simple.  It was home.  

It amazes me that this house and the things we place in this house overwhelm the people receiving it.  

They are so appreciative of something so simple.  Something that seems like not enough to the average American, but adequate for two people who have been living in a house made of sticks, dried leaves, and plastic.  

Now they have 4 walls, a metal roof, and they each have a bed.  They have a home.  They were neglected by their family.  

They are still fully accepted and by God.  They have not been forgotten.  ~ Melissa

A house in a day?

Starfish and Sus Hijos have joined to build many homes for many needy people, but never before have we done a home in a day!  Both organizations primarily help children in need. We often partner to build homes  for children that are at risk to be taken from their families because of such extreme poverty (malnutrition, starvation, neglect because of no  place to sleep). On Monday we joined to build a home for an old man and woman that were living in extreme poverty, the couple literally would have had no where to sleep if we had taken more than a day to build their new house!

The task seemed Impossible, to tear down one, build another, and move them in, all within the light of one day!  When we found the rockiest ground imaginable, and it was 3:00 in the afternoon, the auger bit was broken,  we were still using shovels, picks and our hands to dig the holes for the posts that the house sits on, it seemed an insurmountable task!  Praise God, the rest of the project went pretty smooth' and at dusk, the woman (who says she is in her 90s, but can't remember for sure exactly how old she is) was carried into her newly completed home! 

Monday was a long, hard, but VERY rewarding day!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Where is God?

"It's not fair!" you shout when you're eight and your sister gets to go out and play but you have to stay in to do do chores. "It's not fair," you mutter under your breath when you're fourteen and the guy who had a crush on starts dating someone else. "It's not fair," you think when you're nineteen and sitting in a truck bed at 10 o'clock at night, racing through the streets of El Salvador, stopping only to hand out bag meals and t-shirts to children, men, and women of various ages, states of health, levels of sobriety, and dispositions who all share one thing- the lack of a home.
In a place where I can barely travel a few miles without seeing the words "Dios" (God), "Gloria" (Glory), or "Jesús" (this one is pretty clear-cut) in one combination or another plastered or artfully sprayed on a wall, it seems hard to imagine thinking "Where is God?" Yet, regardless of the past nineteen years I have spent growing closer and closer to Him, I found myself asking this question. Where is God when you see a man trying to cope with his seemingly hopeless situation of being homeless by attempting to get high off of the same glue my six to nine year olds use in Arts and Crafts day camp to stick glitter on their Starry Night coloring pages? Where is God when you watch your friend trying to console a crying infant suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, living in a home with dozens of other orphans awaiting transfer to yet another orphanage? Where is God when you're struggling to understand the best way to show His love to all around you?
When Moses encountered The Lord in the burning bush, he asked two questions after God told him what he was to do: 1. Who am I? and 2. Who are you? In answer to the "Who am I?" question, God simply replied, "I will be with you." (Ex. 3:12a) in answer to the "Who are you?" question, God declared, "I AM WHO I AM." Both os these answers are so perfectly complete. God could give no other answer. God IS, and He is with us.
So where is God? God is found in the small church building with the beautiful scrolled metal- covered windows, filled with raised hands and praises ringing out in the rich Romance language of Spanish on Sunday morning. God is found in the gleeful laughter of the young ones as they are squirted with water during a Broadway-worthy performance of the story of Jonah. God is found in the smiles and excitement of young girls and boys clamoring for your attention so you can paint their nails bubble-gum pink or paint their face to look like Spider-Man. God is found in the hands, hugs, and tears shared between Starfish team members and teen girls who have been abandoned by earthly fathers but desire to know their Heavenly Father. God is found in the exchange of "Gracias" (Thank you) and "De nada. Dios te Bendiga." (You're welcome. May God bless you.) after a homeless man receives his meal. And "Dios" is found spray-painted on the side of a building as we speed by on our way back to the mission house for showers and sleep.

Day One...Wonderful Love

This was our first full day in El Salvador. We spent the first half of our day worshiping Christ in a local church. There is no language barrier when the spirit starts to move. We all worship and sang the songs to the best of our ability. God was present and moving. On of the team, Melissa, played a song for the church and also gave her testimony.  We then traveled to CIPI.  The beautiful children are so full of energy. From the boys rambunctious tendencies to the most innocent laugh of the babies. Sometimes it seems that the children just need a simple hug or to be held. These are all things that we take for granted daily, commons everyday love. It isn't so common though.. and there are so many that miss out of this wonderful love. These child are so full of laughter but also very full of heart break. Thinking about each of the things the children were facing just led me to being overwhelmed. However, God showed me again today that I cannot make it day to day without completely leaning on Him. So that's where I am right now, and where this group is in general. We are taking this week day by day and giving it all to Him. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Good Night El Salvador

The team has made it safely to El Salvador! Please pray for all of the precious children laying their heads down tonight without a mommy or daddy to tuck them in and say their prayers...

Ready for take off...

The team is on their way to El Salvador... Ready to serve His children...

Please pray for safety, guidance and cohesiveness for the group. Pray for the children and adults they will work with and that they will be God's light wherever they are.

Check back soon for photos, updates and prayer requests from the team!