Sunday, June 24, 2018

Friday, Empty Chairs...

I’ve been to El Salvador more times than I can count (more than fifty). One would think that the experience would loose its luster after a while. 

Lamitations 3:22-24 tells us that “His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning”.  That’s how my love for serving God in El Salvador is, he grants me new experiences and I learn new attributes of Him every time I come here.

Today we took 27 children from an orphanage to the beach. That may sound fun and easy, but these were all children that happened to have special needs, which made it a little more challenging. This was a very small team for Starfish, and we were greatly outnumbered, even counting our translators, and the six workers that the orphanage sent along to help. 
These children were afflicted with everything from being HIV Positive, to some being blind, others autistic, and other various special needs, including 8 children in wheel chairs.

Day after day these children sit in their orphanage.  Some of them probably dream about running and playing like other kids do. I am sure that they dream of being released from their wheel chairs. Some may wish that they had a friend that focused on them, for a whole day, maybe not even to speak, because some of them are deaf, but maybe they’ve longed for someone to take them by the hand and go wherever they wanted to go, even if that was in circles.

If that is what these Twenty-seven children were thinking of or hoping for, then today was the day!

We had the gift of getting to provide this kind of day for these children!  It was such an honor to deliver this gift from God to them!  The Starfish Orphan Ministry and Sus Hijos teams were able to take these children out of their wheel chairs, throw down walking sticks, hold the hands of others, and provide a wonderful day at the beach for these children.    
Some of the kids preferred the sand between their toes, or to sit at the surfs edge, while others perfected the swimming pool. Both teams worked together to give these children the experience they’ve dreamed of!  The kids had such a great time and so did our teams. 
I looked around at one point and there were empty wheel chairs all around.  What a beautiful sight! All I kept hearing in my head was “my chains are gone”!
One young Man yelled “hey Lilly” to our teams leader.  “You should get in the water, because it takes all your troubles away”! I had to fight back tears! I wished I could tell him “this is only a glimpse of what Heaven is like, Cezar, only a tiny glimpse! One day there will be no need for wheel chairs like yours!”
While we were all a little nervous about taking so many children that had very severe needs, it was not difficult when we saw the smiles and heard the squeals of pure joy, then it wasn’t even an effort!

I don’t know that I’ve had a more satisfying day in El Salvador.  I don’t want anyone to read this and say “that’s a great thing you all did”. I want people to read this and say “look what God did, and allowed you guys to be a part of”. I think everyone who was helping would agree with that. We were the ones most blessed!  God is so good to allow us this experience! His mercies ARE new every morning!

If you are interested in going on a trip like this with Starfish Orphan Ministry, or if you want to help with local needs in the Paducah, KY area, please call 270-519-7340

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thursday, Unlikely friendships...

Today was a day full of adventures and connections through Christ. This country has a program called "cambia tu vida," which translates to "change your life." Part of this program houses teen mothers with their babies. Today, we took six of them to hike a volcano near San Salvador, and we saw beautiful sights. Well, we got to see the crater, because everything else was covered in fog. I had the opportunity to connect with one of the mothers on the bus, she was 14. I knew we didn't have many similar things in our lives to talk about, so I decided to play it safe and ask her what part of El Salvador she was from. To my surprise, she said "I don't know." This was really sad to me, because I figured she would at least know that.
The air at the top of the volcano had a refreshing chill to it, which was a nice change from the hot and humid climate of most of El Salvador. We probably walked half a mile to the top, and took many pictures. After minutes of having fun and adoring the sights, we really got the opportunity to connect through Christ music. Mrs. Kenia played the guitar for the group, and we did a message and prayer. For lunch, we took the girls to the States Diner, and they absolutely loved the hamburgers and fries.
That afternoon, we went to El Feminino, the prison for teenage girls. As Kurt put it, even though the girls in this prison made big mistakes, they are still teenagers and we should treat them with kindness just like Jesus would. We started our service with the song "Reckless Love," led by Jonathan Roberts in guitar. Mrs. Kenia played about 4 songs in Spanish afterwards, and everyone joined in with singing and clapping. For the main part of our service, Lexi Myers gave a very touching testimony. After the service, we handed out clothes and had an intense soccer match between Sus Hijos and the girls. Each side claimed they won, but we all know it was Sus Hijos who won!!!!!
- Zack Forrester
(To protect the identities of the young ladies in the prison, no cameras are allowed.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday, The Gift of Love

Today was a great day. We packed up the bus and headed back out to the community. When we arrived, the furniture has already been delivered. A few of us team members finished painting the house   while the others carried the furniture into the home.
The home was decorated so nicely with new mattresses, sheets, pillows, table, chair and floor mats. 
Finally, the family gathered around with the team. 
We prayed over the family and home and handed the mother her new house keys. They thanked God and the team and with smiles on their faces, they entered their new home. She was also thankful for a new roof to keep them dry as the previous day we all were building and painting in the rain. 
We took a short break to eat lunch and the reset the tables with donations and food for 32 families. Our team was separated into 5 groups and with a translator, we prayed over each one of these 32 families receiving food. 
Some opened up with specific prayers about asking for healing and justice. Lastly, we asked any of the community members if they were in need of eye glasses. The line formed and about 50 pairs of reading glasses were passed out to the young and old.
It was amazing was see smiles on their faces and new glasses as well. God was so present in that village today. His hands were all over the new house and all the families that we were able to serve. As we drove away today, so many hearts were full of God’s love. - Susan Zidlicky 

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.