Friday, October 13, 2017

His love is endless...

Serving here in El Salvador has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I cannot begin to explain how each time I enter this country that God begins to reshape and mold my heart even more. This time, being my 5th time to visit this country, God continues to do the same. 

We began our day by going to Cambia Tu Vida, a center that aims to help kids that are at risk of violence and sexual abuse. 
We spent the morning talking, playing soccer, painting faces, and loving on the kids there. After leaving the center, we had lunch and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  
Yep, the mid week slump hit me. I was exhausted! I just wanted to go back to the mission house and go to sleep. The entire way to Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, a private run orphanage, all I could think about was how ready I was to rest and be in the safeties of the mission house.  God knows how whiny I can be at times. I am honestly surprised that He hasn’t gotten fed up with me already, but instead He chooses to love me, imperfections and all. 

I know this because the very second I stepped out of the bus I was engulfed in His love. A sweet little boy that I met the first time I was at this center came running up to me and wrapped his arms around me. He gave me the biggest hug and smiled at me with big brown eyes that melted away every bit of exhaustion. For the next couple of hours this little boy was my best friend. He gave me the job of holding his popcorn while he jumped on the inflatables. He gave me the job of holding his popcorn while he ran to get the two of us snow cones. He gave me the job of holding his popcorn when he went to get more popcorn.  Today, I was the official popcorn holder, but I was perfectly fine with that.  
With my broken Spanish skills I learned that he loves school, but not math. He likes cats better than dogs. He is 11 and his birthday is in May. I learned the name of his younger brother, I learned that Steve is his favorite person, and I learned that he really likes popcorn!  I received a lot of sweaty little boy hugs and when he offered me some of his popcorn, I replied, “No. Gracias!” However he looked at me with those brown eyes, giggled, held up the popcorn, and I opened my mouth and ate the popcorn. 

Later his older brother who is now 16 and will soon age out of the system shared with me that their mother had died. He said “I don’t have a dad”. Then pointing to one of the translators of sus hijos, he said “They are my dad now”.  As I fought back the tears I couldn’t help but think about how I hoped he also knew that he had a Heavenly Father that loved him more than anything. 

When our time at NPH was over, my sweet little popcorn loving friend continued to hug me tight. I told him that I hoped to see him soon and that I loved him. His reply was that he loved me too.  He then said in English, “I miss you”.  

Today God placed me in the middle of El Salvador to hold popcorn, share laughs, and hold hands with a precious little orphan. He placed me there to talk with his 16 year old brother. But most importantly He placed me there to remind me that no matter who we are, He loves us. He loves us so, so much.... We are all orphans, but it is only through His love, His goodness, and His grace that we are His children. Because of that, it is our job as Christians to give that same love to others.  (Today my job just happened to be popcorn holder). 

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” -John 14:18

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Home Sweet Home

We began this morning by making our way back to the community where we were building the house. Today we were bringing in the furniture and doing all the finishing touches on the house. 
After we completed the house, it was time to present the house to the family. It was amazing to see how the mother’s face lit up as she received the keys to her new house. All her kids went in and excitedly examined their new beds and dinner table. The whole family was overwhelmed and grateful for what God had just provided them. 
Next, we headed up to the community’s common area to prepare to feed the community. Not only did we get to provide them with beans, rice, and a Bible, but we also got to have a fiesta with the children. We had a piñata and cake and balloons for all the kids. We even got to celebrate Jacob’s birthday a day early!
It was such a blessing to be able to pour out God’s love onto these families. Please continue to pray that God will shine through us during the rest of our trip!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More than a house...

We started the day with a two hour bus ride to the community where we are to build a house. This is a home for a lady and her 6 kids. Her husband has been imprisioned four years. Their current living conditions are not acceptable. 
Through donations received, we have the money to build this family a home. It will stand out in her community as a sign God loves and He provides for us. 
We began in mud as it is rainy season and has rained EVERY day for the past 17 days. The situation got worse!  It came a down pour. Roads flooded, mud became like soup. 
We went and had lunch with some people from the community and provided lunch for the family. It quit raining while we ate and we were able to complete the house. 
When God designs something to happen, there may be storms that come. However he will see you through them. 
We ended building day with a two hour trip back that was much quieter   

This family wouldn’t have this blessing if someone hadn’t donated the money for the house, if someone hadn’t went on the trip to do the work, and most of all if someone hadn’t prayed.  

If you feel God calling you to something this might be your opportunity to grow.  Please continue to pray for our team as we serve this week. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Count it All Joy

Our day began after breakfast with heading over to the warehouse. As a group we loaded pre-cut walls, floors, and windows, cement blocks, and bags of gravel and sand onto a truck that we will bring to a village with us Tuesday and Wednesday to build a house. This was lots of lifting and the team definitely worked hard to get everything onto the truck.  
Next we headed over to one of my personal favorite places in the world, San Martin (center for disabled adults). We had a dance party, made slime, painted nails, ate snacks and broke a piñata with these sweet men and women. They enjoyed picking up and eating the candy or “las dulces.” They also absolutely loved the fake mustaches, hats, and sunglasses that we gifted them. Singing and dancing to the music is one of their favorite things to do, one even taught me how to salsa! Saying goodbye to this precious group was very hard and their excitement and joy will be missed.
We loaded up and headed to States Diner for lunch. We were all pretty hungry by this time, so the cheeseburgers and ice cream was very satisfying. Seeing States Diner again and the new bakery added was a reminder of the work God is doing through Sus Hijos, and was very encouraging. 

Next, we went over to Guirola. This is a center for special needs boys and girls. We gathered the children (not able to attend Day of the Child on Friday) in a large room, played music, gave out stuffed animals, and enjoyed showing them the love and care that they don’t often receive. Later on we got to help the “tias” feed the children dinner. This consisted of beans, cheese, bread, and eggs. Some children that struggled with mouth and tongue control took a long time to feed, whereas others downed their food in just a couple minutes!
It was then time to head back to the mission house to pack food for the homeless and eat supper. We ate what we later gave out to the homeless which consisted of hot dogs, chips, apples, and cookies. 

It’s been incredible to see God work through our team and through this day. There has been so much joy! Continue to pray that we will do God’s will, have the right words and actions, and impact these people in the most effective way.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Let’s have CHURCH

We started our day of serving by worshiping with the local church. We serve a Mighty God that knows no language barriers. To enjoy His prescience with others is amazing. 
One of our our team members had planned to sing, but didn't have the necessary CD player. Instead of letting this setback prevent us worshipping with our new friends, the teenager stood in front of total strangers and loved on God and the congregation, and sang a cappella. When we worship out of love rather than duty or regulation, The Holy Spirit can do amazing work through us!

Another of our team preached using a translator, and those in attendance said it was well received. The rest of the group taught children's church.
We did a story of The Son asking The Father for his Bride!  The son and father talked about whether the bride was good enough. One of our girls wore a bridal gown to make it more memorable!
We finished with telling how none of us, the bride is good enough with out Jesus. And we have to be ready for the bride to be called

Then we had a “hit”! A piñata! Of course the kids loved getting candy!
Next, we had lunch at a local restaurant before heading to an orphanage.
Our next destination was not just an orphanage, but also had a small school for teen boys. The entire place is surrounded by block walls with fence and barbed wire above that. We played sports, gave Pizza, gave snacks, gave treat bags, gave Pizza! But most of al we gave some love of the Father.  I enjoyed seeing smiles on the faces of those who are hurting. Seeing smiles or getting hugs from these kids that have no one makes anything we might endure worth the inconvenience. 

The piñata was again a BIG HIT!
As we celebrate the “ Day of The Child” here all week, we hope to show some of our Father's love to those that might feel forgotten.