Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dance Unto the Lord

Hi! My name is Chelsea and I'm writing the blog from El Salvador for today. Today was really special for a lot of reasons. It was our last full day here in El Salvador, so although it was bittersweet, I think we were all really trying to make the very most of it. Another reason today was so awesome was that we got to hang out with adults with special needs at San Martin. They were so full of joy and kindness and life, it was absolutely infectious. I couldn't help but smile just getting to be around them. We started our day with them by having a dance party outside.

Let me be clear, I am not the best dancer. It's not something I do a lot because it's pretty difficult to get me out of my shell. But as soon as they started the music, a bunch of the kids at the center started dancing, and I just had to join in. It was a blast to spend that time with them and just have fun. We then took them to Pizza Hut, and after that we took them to the children's museum. 

The tour guides at the museum were wonderful. 

They were super interactive with the kids. It was so great to see them having such a good time. I'm so grateful and blessed to be a part of that experience. 

Today was most definitely one of my favorite days here!

Psalm 149:3 "Let them praise his name in dance; strike up the band and make great music!"

Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Awesome God!

Hello, My name is Jana Everette. I am a nursing student at WKCTC. This trip... where do I start. Every single day I am more and more humbled and blessed. When I heard about this trip I was so excited to come here. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted to make a difference. Today is day 6 of our adventures. Today we took the orphanage teenagers to hike up to the top of the Santa Ana volcano.
There was one child that stuck with me in my heart. We nicknamed him Apple because of course none of us could remember his full name. 

This kid... Let me just say before this trip I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I'm so glad I took a leap of faith and decided to come. Not to mention the rest of this week but this kid has melted my heart. I don't keep my emotions easily accessable but this kid brought out my love for kids. Let's just say I wasn't the first to the top of the volcano but when I finally made it he looked at me and gave me a thumbs up.. if he only knew how many times I wanted to stop. I am so extremely out of shape and this definitely pushed me to my limits. I told myself multiple times I'll never make it up this volcano. There were countless times that I felt like I couldn't breathe and that my heart was going to beat out of my chest. Bianca and myself did a ton of motivational talks on the way up. Without her and God I never would've made it up this volcano. At the top of the volcano it was absolutely breath taking. There are not enough words in the world to describe the sites we saw today. Our God is an Awesome and perfect God.

Going back down the volcano  was not an easy task for me I often trip over my own feet on flat ground. There were several times I lost my footing a few times Cameron reached down and grabbed my backpack to pull me back to my feet. Apple would jump ahead to stand there and help us down the rocks. Our team work as a whole was awesome. We were all going to make it up that volcano and we were all going to make it down in one piece.
When we said goodbye I couldn't help but to get a picture with Apple he was such a sweet boy and he definitely made a significant impression on my life. Just before I jumped on the bus one of the adults that brought them ran over and asked if I would take a picture with him.
I made a small impact on his life but he made a huge impact on mine. All in all it was another great day in El Salvador with many more lives touched. 

Dedication Day

Hello! My name is Haley Williams and I am a nursing student at WKCTC. I will be telling you about my experience of today in El Salvador! 
The day started out nice and early with a trip to Walmart. If you have been following the blog, you know that we are in the process of building and furnishing a house for a homeless family. On our journey in Walmart, we purchased many items for both the family and the house itself. Clothes for all of the children and mother, food, furniture, shoes, cleaning supplies, toys, and some other necessary items were the things we purchased for the family this morning. The Walmart here in El Salvador resembles the ones we have in the United States, but there are definitely some differences. For example, the mother that will be living in the house that we built makes $6/day and works 5 days per week. That's a total of $30/week and items in Walmart here cost the same as in the United States. Therefore, for example, 1/3 of her pay would be going to a shirt that costs $10. It's definitely upsetting seeing how much they make here and then seeing what they can afford. 
After Walmart, we headed out to the site of the house which is about 2 hours away from where we are staying in the Mission House. Whenever we got there, we began unloading the furniture and goods that we brought. We formed teams to assemble furniture and even had a competition to see who could do it the fastest! That definitely produced a lot of laughs from the group. Next we started loading furniture, decorations, food, and toys into the house. Personally, I found so much enjoyment and gratitude in playing with the children the past two days that we have been there. Little Sophia stole my heart for sure. Both days we played soccer and frisbee and even though the language barrier is thick and our verbal communication is limited, I connected with her and found so much enjoyment in the interaction that we shared these past couple of days. Seeing her smile when we were dancing and hearing that sweet little laugh while throwing the frisbee was a reminder to me that being richly blessed does not come in materialistic things. 
The dedication of the house was next on our game-plan. The whole team, translators, and family that was receiving the house gathered around the house and it was then that we dedicated the house, spoke to the family, and thanked them for this opportunity. We then loaded up onto the bus and went to our next mission; feeding and interacting with the families of San Martin. 
When we arrived, we split into small groups and went house to house delivering meals of rice and beans and also items for the kids of the house. There was one family in particular that was incredibly memorable and amazing. The household consisted of a father, mother, 19 year old boy, a 21 year old girl, a 15 year old girl, a 13 year old girl, and a 6 year old boy. My translator described to me how it is unusual to see a house this full of children because they are usually out on the street/homeless by this time in their lives. They graciously welcomed us into their home and we talked with them for a while. After we left this town, we went back to the Mission House where we ate dinner, played some card games, and also fed the homeless for the last time this week. 
Feeding the homeless has been an experience that I'm not sure how to describe in words. We assembled about 140 meals consisting of a sandwich, chips, cookies, and a drink. You would be amazed at how grateful these people are to receive that amount of food. I personally could never imagine having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. 
Whenever I am at home, I never realize how blessed that I truly am. To have a house, food, a bed, electricity, water (and hot water at that), transportation, shoes, clothes, and much much more. This trip has truly opened my eyes to the world and how marvelous our God is with everything he has blessed me with non-materialistically. 
¡Dios te bendiga! (God Bless)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Amazing Day

Hey! My name is Emily Strasser. I'm a freshman at WKCTC and decided to write the blog tonight!

Day 4 began as every other-- woke up early and ate an amazing breakfast prepared by John! His food is amazing! Once we got in the van though, I knew it was going to be different. We loaded into the van and headed out on our two hour trek to the building site. We stopped on our way at a gas station and got some drinks and snacks. As we continued on towards the building site, we passed by such amazing scenery! There was a mountain looming in the distance across the vast, green, and beautiful valley. It was absolutely breathtaking. We arrived at the building site and were honored to meet the family for whom we were building the house.

At this point, I must take a break to explain this family to you. The family consists of a single mother who is caring for two of her boys. She has another two sons, however, one whom lives in foster care and another who perished in a fire a couple years ago. The mother and two sons, ages 13 and 3, currently reside in the mother's mother's house (the children's grandmother.) Our building of a house for the family to reside in will allow the mother's son who is in foster care to return to his family.

With the knowledge of these circumstances, I believed I was prepared for the day. However, this was not the case. As we met the family, prayed with the mother, and began laying the foundation, I realized that this was gong to be a far more humbling and rewarding experience than I initially supposed.

The foundation took a while to lay. We had to place cinder blocks and ensure they were level and squared up in order to lay the floor. The ground we were building on was not very level, so it took a while. We had to use shovels and pick axes since the ground was hard. When the cinder blocks were laid, we poured cement inside of them and let them cure briefly. We then laid the floor which had been painted underneath with a strong bug repellent. When we finished laying the floor, we took a break for lunch and then went back to work!
Next, we set the walls. It took a while since they were not entirely squared up, but Don Jose used his expertise and made them fit together perfectly. When we finished setting the walls, some of the boys and a number of the translators began placing the roof. The rest of us began painting the exterior of the house a beautiful green! Painting was such a blast--even if it made a mess everywhere. When we finished laying the roof and painting the house, we painted the Sus Hijos symbol with the year's date on the front of the house. It looked so beautiful and left all of us with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

While we were building, anyone who was not busy would play with the children there, the 13 year old son and his two cousins. We played frisbee and soccer! We also took endless amounts of pictures of the children, the translators, and ourselves. Watching 
the other team members interacting with the children was such a beautiful experience. They all made sure to let the children know that they were loved and cared for.
When we finished the house, we all took pictures in front of it and the one son joined us too! You could tell that all of the children were so intrigued by the idea of there being a new house! The son also loved learning English words and was asking us about all sorts of things!
Today was amazing. I have never sweat so much in a day, but it was worth it--so worth it! Even though we were only able to meet the mother briefly before she left for work, I know we shall see her tomorrow at the dedication ceremony. I know it will be a wonderful ceremony and I know the mother's gratefulness when she sees the house will impact our whole team in ways we never imagined possible. I also know that this act will impact her life and that of her family. God has been doing amazing things this week and I know He will continue to do so!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Precious Moments

My name is Lexie and I'm a PTA student at WKCTC. I heard about this trip from a teacher in my class and I had never been on a mission trip, but wanted to start. Today is day 3 in El Salvador for me and so far, the most humbling. 

We started out our morning going to a hospital. We split into two groups, one going to the general hospital, and the other to an annex with burn victims and cancer patients. I went to the general hospital to see the children there. We were able to stay on each floor only a few minutes but it was more than enough to impact my heart for forever. Our job was to pass out blankets, goodie bags, and stuffed animals. Some sections had new borns with serious medical problems. And although the incubator kept us and the mother from getting close we left a blanket for the mothers to give to them one day when they can be held lord willing. The most precious moment was when I gave a little girl a stuffed monkey. She lit up like we were at Christmas. To be so lonely and scared is something I have never experienced, but to make that go away if even for a moment is a blessing that God allowed me to have today. 

After that we toured the lions club clinic and learned about all the doctors they had working for them. They provide these services for the very poor in San Salvador and out of the kindness of their heart. These people showed me what a true light our God can shine through individuals.

Our last stop of the day was at a children's special needs home. This was where a piece of my heart was left with Roberto. These children were left abandoned because of their disabilities. Nevertheless I thank God that they were saved for me to meet them.  Many of the children were wheelchair bound, but that didn't stop our dance party. I have never danced in front of people before because of my lack of rhythm, but today I danced like no one was watching! The smiles and the joy I got to experience in those few hours was enough to fuel me for a lifetime. Then we got to feed them and I met Roberto. My teammate Nathan and I were assigned to help feed Roberto, he was unable to move his entire body but could open and close his mouth, and move his eyes slightly. He was precious, with big brown eyes, and I will never forget him. We fed him a spoonful at a time and he would make a noise when he was ready for more. He laughed a few times and then in the very end when we had to leave, he made no noise, but shed one tear. Just one. I will always remember those deep brown eyes, that little laugh he made and the one tear he shed. Why? Because he made me feel loved and I thought that was supposed to be my job. He gave me a purpose and a reason to continue mission. I believe special needs children are a gift from God not a burden. These are pure souls that will always be pure, and they have a light that is contagious to any person around. 

These children and this place will change my life forever. They have so little, but they showed me how to be happy without any material things. Moments make happiness, and faith in God gives hope. These children are the essence of that. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

On a Mission to Serve

Today's post is from Nate 

The past two days here in El Salvador have been absolutely amazing.  It has been filled with many emotions, and I have loved every second of it.  So far I have seen some things that I never experienced before in my life.  Both days impacted me in different ways, and I cannot wait for the rest of the week.
The first day I was so excited to get off that plane and start doing something.  Most of the day consisted of settling in and meeting some amazing people who are behind the whole mission.  The best part was getting to prepare food for the homeless and riding in the back of a truck through the streets of San Salvador that night.  This was a very humbling experience for me, and also made me think about how blessed I am for never having to worry about getting food.  Watching the homeless, which consisted of both young kids and adults, running to the back of the truck just for a sack of some food made me so sad.  I have thought about that over and over today, thinking about how the only time I ever run for food is when mom says that dinner is ready.  That may seem like I am trying to be funny, but I do not mean it that way at all. It just made me think that these homeless people are running to the food because they are desperate and in need, and I run to food without even questioning if I will actually have food to eat.  I have never had to worry about food, and seeing the people here just tears me apart.  It was a quick slap in the face from God that I take so much for granted, and it opened my eyes to how much God has blessed me.

Day two here in El Salvador was even better than the first.  Today we went to church, and I did something that I thought I would never do. Now if you know me, I am not much of a public speaker.  However, today was the day I got up in front of the church along, with my fellow mission team, to speak about how thankful and anxious we were to work with the kids.  During Sunday school we got to spend time with the kids at the church.  We told the story of Jonah and the whale, played Simon says, and we even had a puppet skit.

Later today we went to a boys orphanage, which definitely had a big impact on me.  It was sad that these kids had no home, but praise God they are off the streets and with great people.  It felt so good playing soccer with the boys because seeing how joyful they were from us being there made me so happy.  If I could take all the orphanage boys home I would, and it kills me on the inside that I can't.  But I am so thankful for serving a God that provides for these kids at the orphanage through the workers there.  I could really tell the workers there had a heart for the boys and serving God, and that made my day.  I honestly did not want to leave, I would have played soccer all day with the kids.
El Salvador is already having a special spot in my heart, and it is only the second day.  I am so thankful God put me on this trip. I was not sure what to expect but it has already left a huge impact on me.  I cannot wait for the week ahead. I know it'll be hard and tiring at times, but I know God will give us strength.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Safe arrival & already working!

The WKCTC team arrived safely this afternoon and got settled in at the mission house. 

After the entire group packed meals & new t-shirts, a portion of the team went out to feed the homeless tonight. Tomorrow they will be working in an all boys orphanage. Please be in prayer for their continued safety and that they will be used to greatly impact the lives of orphaned children!