Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Day of Reflection, an Earthquake, & A Sobering Moment (January 25th)

Our day started with an Earthquake! Not too big, only 4.7 on the Richter Scale. While all you California transplants out in blog world may be use to things like this, most of us certainly were not! The ground shook, the fridge moved back and forth a bit, and it was over.

On our way to the Volcanic Lake, we stopped by the boys orphange to deliver some more soccer balls. It was great to see the boys again, and they were very excited to see us! Most of them were still wearing the jersyes we had given them on Tuesday. Please keep these boys in your prayers, that they will be cared for and developed into Christian men.

The Lake at Ilopengo was a great time of fellowship and relaxation after an exhausting week. No need to talk too much about it, the pictures speak for themselves!

After a quick dinner, we went out to feed the homeless (sorry we don’t have pictures-while we would LOVE to show you what we experienced, we decided it would be better if we didn’t take pictures tonight). Kameron, a 17-year old American who is the son of a Missionary here, came over to lead the adventure. His family has been in El Salvador for five years, and his father also does clinics along with the homeless ministry. Kameron told us that the people could now recognize the sound of their truck from a few blocks away, and all come running. Our first stop was to a place where there are many teenagers and young adults. A majority of them are addicted to sniffing glue, a huge drug problem in El Salvador. For safety purposes, we all stayed in the van. This made it easier to distribute food, soccer jerseys, shorts, and some shoes, which we did through the windows. When they walked over to us, it almost looked like a scene out of “Night Of The Living Dead,” meaning they all had the look of zombies. It was very evident that many of them had completely killed most of their brain cells, and some smelled of fresh glue. There was even a boy there who couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, without an adult. As we continued to pray and pass everything out, it almost didn’t seem real. While everyone was extremely nice and courteous, there was just a “lost” look in their eyes and we realized they didn’t quite understand what was going on. As we were driving away, we heard one last scream of thanks. A young man had just put on a brand new pair of size 15 New Balance high tops (after a long week of distribution, this was all we had left). Keep in mind that these shoes had to be roughly 2X the size of his foot. He looked like he had just won the lottery.

Our next stop had people of all ages-including young children and babies. Once again, our hearts just broke. One man came back for more food and shorts, which is not uncommon. We were prepared to tell him that he had already received his gifts, but he told us he was getting some for his friend who was passed out on the sidewalk. We watched with delight as he walked back over to his friend, laid the shorts on his chest and placed the food under his tiny blanket. For a homeless man who lives day to day hoping for scraps of food and any type of clothes he can find, this selfless act was inspiring. While delivering everything was extremely fulfilling, it was also very frustrating and sobering. We wish we could have had 10 more vans with 10X more food and 10X more clothes to give out. It makes you really think about your own priorities in life. Please pray that the Lord will lay his hand on these individuals. Pray that they can be cured of their addictions, and that will be able to change their lives, and that the will turn to God.

So, tomorrow is the last day we will awake to a cool breeze coming through the windows with birds singing sounds of joy in the trees outside. It is the last day we will sit outside on the back porch and sip delicious El Salvadorian coffee. It is also the last day we have to put our toilet paper in the trashcan instead of the toilet :) While leaving El Salvador will be bitter sweet, our memories will last forever. Whether it was the boys in the orphanage, the patients and children in the remote villages or even the homeless teens addicted to sniffing glue, our lives have been touched. It is our prayer that we return to the United States as different people. That when we are stuck in traffic or frustrated at work, we thank God that we have a car to drive and a place of employment. We will think back to the boys in the orphanage who only have a tiny ½ size locker with barely any possessions, and to the tiny children and babies who were living on the street. The grown men and women celebrating over receiving a pair of soccer shorts, and the patients sigh of relief when receiving medicine for some ailments that have been going on for months. We will continue to thank the Lord for the blessings he has bestowed upon us, and we will continue to deliver the message of His son Jesus Christ.

We THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for sharing this journey with us, and for the continued support and prayer. Maybe one day we can share an expedition with you…

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Donde esta’ el bano? (Friday, January 24th)

Praise report! Lisa woke up feeling pretty good and was able to go with the team. While Donna was still a bit under the weather and did not make the trip today, she was feeling a lot better when we arrived home. Thanks for the prayers! On the flip side, a good portion of team went through an “oh wow I don’t feel very good all of a sudden” time this morning at the clinic. We still don’t know if it was part of the virus or the Cipro we all downed to help us fight off the virus, but we are all good now!

Today was another great day! The trip up North to Awachapan was once again filled beautiful El Salvador scenery, including some inactive volcanoes. We even drove past a field full of black ash & lava that had hardened over the years. When we arrived in the village, there were 5 camouflaged military looking guards with big shotguns. We still can’t figure out why they were there. The stone cold looks on their face made us feel a bit uneasy. However, as we drove past one, a few of us smiled and waved. It appeared as if he thought for ½ a second how to respond…then smiled and waved right back!

We were already on guard a bit ourselves for this village. Lorraine had been there twice before in the last year or two and the exchange between the missionary groups and the village was not always great. We aren’t talking about anything too crazy, just not following rules in regards to the clinic, etc. The morning seemed to be quite interesting with some of us under the weather. Also, the church was rather small, and the patients getting diagnosed were in the same room as the pharmacy as well the shoes/clothes distribution. A few children stopped by on a break from school and we had them start spreading the word about jerseys giveaways and soccer activities in the afternoon when school let out (it seems as if only the older teens go to school all day, while the children go home around lunch time). The patients were continuing to come out of the woodworks, and we didn’t even get a chance to break for a quick lunch until about 2pm.

In the afternoon, the children’s ministry got into full gear. Jerseys and shorts were passed out to all the children and some adults. With both the shoes/baby clothes and jerseys/shorts, there was a steady flow but not a madhouse like in the previous days. This gave the children the opportunity to actually PICK what type of items the received. The first thing that crossed our mind was that they will get whichever color and style we give them…but luckily we quickly reversed that mindset and realized they might never have the opportunity to pick out what they like…AKA shopping. Three sisters giggled happily as they all picked shoes that were close in style. Two amigos slapped high 5’s and immediately threw on their matching soccer jerseys, turning around for each other so they could see their entire new uniform.

Back in the clinic, patients were still trickling in, bringing the total count to a bit over 100 for the day. There was even time to minister a bit to the pastor, as he did not want to pray for a woman because she was catholic. He eventually prayed with her, but still turned down a chance to pray with another ailing man because the ailing man was a Pastor and “would be ok.” This ailing Pastor leads a church close by so there could have also been a little rivalry/jealously.
Right before leaving, we noticed that our front left tire of the bus was flat. In fact, it appeared that there would be no tools to get the tire off. When you’ve been working all day in a hot El Salvadorian village, this isn’t the greatest thing to hear! The Pastor was convinced that we were going to have to spend the night in the village. While all this was going on, it gave the children’s ministry team more time to evangelize. After a VERY long game of soccer on a field spotted with large piles of cow dung, we were able to share the message. Francisco did a fantastic job using the evangicube (a big cube with pictures that tells the story of salvation with every turn). We also did an object lesson as well as sang a really fun children’s Christian song in English that has crazy movements and dances. The kids loved it! Juaritza did a wonderful job translating. In fact, we have forgotten to tell you about our new friend! Juaritza is a 15-year-old El Salvadorian girl. She was born in LA, but moved to El Salvador when she was 5. She is such a sweet spirit with a great outgoing personality. We have all grown very attached to her, as her smile and laughter can brighten up a room!

Ok, so back to the tire…just think…if the tire didn’t go flat, we wouldn’t have had the extra time for a more in depth time to teach the story of Christ. Praise God for using the flat tire for His glory, and for making the day a huge success in His name!

After our long ride home, Brian gave a great devotion about patience (1 Corinthians). We also spent some time debriefing the day and sharing some stories about how we feel we have been changed on this short trip. The dialogue was wonderful, and it was very eye opening for some of our team members.

Tomorrow, we are attempting to go to a volcanic lake. While we still aren’t quite sure what it is, we have heard that it is one of the “Wonders of El Salvador.” After that, we will head back to downtown San Salvador where we will feed the homeless. We have recently learned that El Salvador has the highest gang rate in the world (might be gang/population), almost two times more than the second highest. With that being said, we have felt extremely safe the whole time, especially since there are armed guards with shotguns in front of restaurants and stores. We tell you this not to freak you out, but we imagine there might be former gang members we will be feeding tomorrow night. Please pray that we will be able to minister to them and that God will would prevail.

Hasta Luego!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gloria de Dios! (Thursday, January 22nd)

We considered just blogging “Glory to God,” throwing on some pics and calling it a day since we are so tired :) But, we know that our family and friends anxiously await the daily update, so here goes…

Dr. Tyner, with his lovely assistants Christina and Teri, completed a successful laparoscopic gallbladder removal! Unfortunately, the hernia operation was not able to happen due to unforeseen circumstances with the patient. Please pray that this will be able to be completed soon. Along with the operation, Dr. Tyner was able to teach many El Salvadorian doctors. He was even able to show them a video on his laptop of a previous surgery he had done. Their chemistry was wonderful, and the doctors and nurses at the hospital were able to learn many new things. It is obvious Dr. Tyner, Christina and Teri have been an amazing blessing on the hospital staff.

The trip to San Marco was filled with beautiful snapshots of the country of El Salvador. The business of the city was slowly fading away and the picturesque mountains in the distance became smaller and smaller. Roadside stands selling papusa’s and fruit lined both sides of the road. The road eventually turned into gravel/dirt and we continued into the middle of nowhere. We began to slowly descend on the village, leaving the huge sugar cane fields behind us. Dogs lazily slept in the middle of the road, and a few people were taking siestas on hammocks in front of their shacks. Like yesterday, people were already lined up waiting for us as we pulled up at the church.

The pastor of the church, Mirana, is a sweet thirty something with a servant heart. She has a beat up pick-up truck and a warm smile that makes you feel like you’ve known here forever. She feels led to serve in this impoverished area, commuting from 45 minutes away. Like most pastors here, she not only teaches the Word at her church, but she is also the cleaning crew, chair setter upper, and anything/everything you can think of! The great thing about missions trips is not only are you able to minister to people, but you get ministered to. This was not only made evident by the hard work of the pastor, but from the members of the community. Immediately after stepping off the bus, they were offering us homemade food they had just cooked in a hut (cant remember the name, but they looked like empanadas but had potatoes and chicken inside…FANTASTIC!). These people barely have anything, and here they were giving away food that they really couldn’t afford to do. Yes, old widow throwing in two pennies comes to mind…

The clinic and youth ministry was once again extremely effective. We saw over 80 patients, including a 97-year-old woman. The stories were once again sad and joyous-one elderly woman could not even walk and we had to carry her around…and one woman shared her amazing testimony about how she came to find Jesus. In children’s ministry, there were roughly 100 children throughout the day. Along with soccer, we were once again able to just love on the children. Many of us spent most of the day holding hands, hugging, carrying on shoulders, and laughing with the kids. Towards the end of the day, we luckily still had tons of soccer jerseys, shorts, shoes, and baby clothes, to pass out. Words cant describe the feeling a person gets when they look into the eyes of a child receiving an oversized soccer jersey or half worn shoes. Los Abuelas were getting pumped up as well to receive these soccer jerseys! They were even joking around that one was the Goalie, one scored the goals, etc. Just think…70 year old women truly happy by receiving a jersey. It really puts our own lives into perspective.

At the end of the day, we were able to share more of the gospel with the children and some adults who decided to look on. We related the gifts we had just given them to the gift that God gave to us with His son Jesus Christ. The message was well received, with the children repeating our prayer at the end. Although we have gone to a few churches, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all the patients and the children attend that church. If fact, that’s the entire goal of these churches-outreach to the community (once again, learning so much from the Pastor’s here!) When the locals here that Gringos are coming to town with medicine and supplies, they come running. It is our prayer that the individuals who have come to the churches these last two days have had seeds planted and will come to know Jesus if they don’t already.

Which reminds us…our translators have been phenomenal this week! They have ranged from recent college graduates with time to kill because they don’t have a job to well off individuals who just want to “give back.” They have all gotten hooked up through the ministry by Pam’s (the US missionary) networking. We have come to find out that many of these translators may not be saved. However, each one has expressed interest in returning to serve (and they all turned down their small payment). Many of them were in disbelief in all the great things this Ministry is doing, and want to learn more. Please pray that they too have had seeds planted!

Tomorrow we go 1 ½ hours north to another village. Pray that we will have strength and enthusiasm, as this is our last full day of clinics and youth ministry. (Saturday is a mix of serving and fun) Also, please pray for Lisa and Donna. They have both come down with a virus that put them out of commission today. Pray that they will be healed so that they can continue to do the Lords work.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Tome dos tabletas antes a dormir o si necisita..." (Wednesday, January 21st)

Sometimes the medical treatment of patients can only go so far, but prayer and love can go a lot further…

Our team split up today in the morning to make the most efficient use of our short time here. Dr. Tyner, Christina, Teri and Michael W. were able to go to the National El Salvador Hospital. If you can imagine what a hospital looked like in 1935, this would b it. We’ll spare you most of the details, but a great example is that in the entire hospital there is only 1 cardiac monitor. To put that into perspective, a hospital back home has roughly 1 cardiac monitor for every two beds. After the initial shock of the conditions, the team made rounds and toured the children’s pediatric unit. Some of the most impressionable moments were seeing the very young children with gun shot wounds and the burn unit. They were also able to deliver gifts to the children. Most of these gifts were supposed to be given to the children at Christmas Time, but for some reason this was not done. After the hospital, Dr. Tyner, Christina, Teri and Michael W. headed back to the orphanage. Dr. Tyner performed a minor shoulder surgery, and the team was able to pass out some brand new tennis shoes. Between the hospital gifts and the shoes, praise God that we were able to help bring this joy!

On the other side of town, Iglesia Christina Monte Calvario is tucked away off busy San Salvador streets located halfway up a steep hill. When we arrived, there were already 30 people patiently waiting in the courtyard. The medical team had been a little concerned due to the fact that we were would not be at full strength in the clinic. However, our God is a God of answered prayers and solving problems! We received word at the last minute that most of the children would be arriving in the afternoon. This gave our children’s ministry team a chance to serve in the clinic. Lorraine, Adam, Jackie and Lisa saw patients, with Charles translating. Donna, Mike K and Nick worked in the pharmacy along with our translator Alex. Brian (after building some fantastic shelves at Lorraine’s house) had a chance interact with all the patients waiting to be served while Francisco got all their information. Timmy spent his time ministering to the few children who where there with balloon animals and infectious smiles and laughter. Pastor Jon was able to dialogue with the Pastor of Monte Calvario, as well as spend time praying around the church grounds.

We wish we had time to tell you each and every tear-jerking as well as joyous stories we encountered today. Of course, there were a few funny stories as well. Lisa shared with us that one father was concerned that his little boy would eat nothing but frijoles y queso (beans and cheese). He was baffled and had no idea what the problem was, and being a single father he had no other help. Was it medical? Was something wrong with him? After a few minutes of questioning, Lisa figured out the dreaded diagnosis…this chico just REALLY liked frijoles y queso and was being stubborn and almost starving himself unless he got it! While Lisa had a nice chuckle, she was also able to give parental advice to this father on how to help his son get through this typical childhood action.

Out of the 75 patients we saw today, at least 5 had to go to the hospital immediately. Some of the diagnosis’s included; hypertensive crisis, asthmatic crisis, pneumonia, tonsillitis, and loss of vision. One lady who came for care had not been to see a doctor in 7 years and was in desperate need of a visit to the hospital.

When patients are being accessed, it gives us a great time to evangelize. Charles, Adam and Francisco took this calling to another level. They would pray with each patient before they went to the Pharmacy. One woman had cataracts, glaucoma, no glasses and no money. After several minutes of prayer asking for God’s blessing, the woman was in tears and told them that she felt that the Lord was going to bless her in many ways! This happened as well for a woman who asked for reconciliation with her estranged husband. All in all, many lives were changed today!

We stayed at the church for their Wednesday night service, and many of the patients came back to worship. The Pastor was very excited we were there, and offered up some inspiring opening words. Jahaziel led worship, and Nick took a leap of faith and hopped behind the drum set at the request of Lorraine and Jahaziel. While Nick won’t be on a worship team at Hope Chapel in the near future, it was pretty neat to see what the Holy Spirit can do for a first timer. Pastor Jon then gave a powerful message spoken from the Book of Matthew. (Matthew 16:13-18). His sincere and inspiring words blessed the congregation, and he thanked the church body for showing the love of Jesus in their community by offering clinics and doing outreaches. Pastor Jon also depicted the power and uniqueness of our Lord, and reiterated how He alone is the only way for salvation. After the message, we were able to pray over the Pastors of the church and that they will continue to receive bountiful blessings.

Tomorrow, Dr. Tyner, Teri and Christina will head to the hospital to perform an umbilical hernia surgery on a five year old girl, as well as a gall bladder surgery on an 11 year old girl (at the request of the US Embassy) The rest of us will venture to a primitive village located relatively close to the Pacific Ocean. It is roughly 1 ½ hours away from the mission base, and only accessible by a cow path that has been designated as a road. We are told that the weather might be a scorcher, but should be able to refresh with the coconuts from the trees surrounding the village :) After the clinic and children’s ministry, we will then adventure to the beach for an evening cookout!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Estamos Muy Cansada! (Tuesday, January 20th)

Today has been such a roller coaster of emotions that we quite don’t know where to start. With that being said, it might be good to start at the beginning…

It was an early rise to get some quick breakfast and head out to ensure we arrived at the orphanage on time. Some translators met us at the house to catch a ride (Francisco, Alex, Sandra, Claudia, Paola and Debra). Francisco & Alex are seminary students who have both taken medical classes. Sandra is a nurse and also Alex’s mom, and she has been serving in this capacity for many years. This is the first time Claudia & Paola have helped. Claudia was born in the states after her parents fled the Civil War in the early 1980’s. She returned in her early teenage years, and apart from attending college at Tulane, has been in El Salvador ever since. Paola is a friend of Claudia’s from high school, and they had heard about Lorraine and Hannah’s Hand through Pam (American Missionary, see earlier blog entry if confused-but praise God for the connections the Lord can make!). Debra has been a translator with Lorraine for about five years. Anyways…the reason we tell you this is that there is tremendous hope for El Salvador through these five young adults. Francisco and Alex have a huge love for Jesus and serving others through medicine. Claudia and Paola are extremely passionate about human rights and child education, while Debra is in law school. Please pray for these individuals and that the Lord will lead them to do great things for El Salvador!

Anyways, on to our impactful day at the orphanage. As we rolled through the towering walls with intimidating barbwire on top, we were greeted with excitement and hope in the children’s eyes. As we waited for our instructions, a little chico named Guillermo hopped on the bus. He must have been 9 or 10 years old, and immediately started hugging us and patting us on our bellies (a show of affection) while rapidly speaking Spanish. He also got the attention of some of our nurses to show them a substantial size cut on his hand that had not properly healed. With this cheerful welcoming, we knew we were in for an incredible day!

We must admit, the orphanage was in a bit better shape than we imagined, but still heartbreaking. The smell of burning trash filled the air, evident by the many piles that littered the outside. The old, open air concrete style buildings coincided with the broken wire fences that attempted to create a few walking trails throughout the grounds. There are four “houses,” to separate the age groups, but are really just buildings connecting to one another. Each one looks the same; hard concrete floors with 2 rooms wall to wall with bunk beds on the left and a tiny common area along with bathrooms/wash area on the right. The ceilings are very high, and there is a “cage” material that covers the ceiling, the windows, and the open-air area above the walls of the room. The bathrooms are also tough to imagine, also an open area with roughly a four-foot wall surrounding it. There are no showers per say, just buckets of water for the children to wash with. Outside are 2 concrete basketball courts adorned with soccer goals beneath the basketball goals. There is a hill with a few trees that the children like to play on, although a good portion of it is covered with burning trash. The only sign of toys were 2 or 3 beat up soccer balls that had lost all the stitching, and a rusty old wheel barrel. They actually even have a swimming pool. One of the caretakers admitted it “need a few chemicals.” We can be honest in saying that many of us thought it may actually be a pool for waste run off before they told us it was for swimming. While the water was not brown, it had a green tint sort of like a lake and there was zero visibility past the surface.

As evident in our first interaction with Guillermo, it was obvious that these boys were starving for attention. As you can imagine, the most fulfilling appeared to be from the men, as they were yearning for father figures. This was confirmed as we began to pick up that they were calling us, “Tio,” or uncle in English. Thus, much of our children’s ministry today was to LOVE. In God’s word Jesus tells us the two most important commandments, to love the Lord with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Love God. Love Others. In short, this is how the children’s ministry went-Soccer, lovin on kids, more soccer, more hugs, more soccer, tag games, even more soccer, more affection, yes-still soccer, balloon animals, taking turns holding the children and throwing them up in the air, and of course…soccer! (did we mention that all soccer is played on concrete?! It’s a good thing we have a doctor and nurses staying with us for all the old folk) The love continued throughout the day, even when the children disassembled their balloon animals in favor of homemade water balloons. Not too many of us managed to stay dry, and the highlight of the water fight was Pastor Jon taking a hard shot to the Cabeza! As he stood there soaking wet and wiped off his glasses, the look on his face said it all…LOVE :)

Over in the clinic, our awesome medical team was able to see 50 patients! This included the orphans, some girls from the prison, and even the staff at the orphanage. While some of the children had physical issues, others had psychological abuse. Many of the children confessed to have been physically and sexually abused by their peers. This abuse has caused anything from stomachaches to major stress issues. Please pray for the heath and safety of these orphans. They do not receive any type of consistent medical care, and what they do receive is very sporadic.

Through generous donations, we were able to give every boy a soccer jersey and pair of shorts. Plus, each “house” was given a soccer ball! As we went to leave, we noticed that many of the children had already begun to disengage with us. The good news is that this orphanage is used to having groups come in to care for them. The bad news is that they realize the harsh truth-that at the end of the day, the people who gave them an entire day of attention will be leaving, most likely never to return ever again. While this made our goodbye’s a tad bit easier at the time, the feeling we had knowing that we could only do so much will stay with us for a good while.

After such a long and draining day, we were treated to a true El Salvadorian dinner. The food and environment was absolutely fantastic, but since this post has been so long we will have to give you the details later! As you can imagine, we had a great debriefing session after dinner. Donna spoke an inspiring word about El Salvador through Isaiah 51. There were also many emotions and reflecting. While it would be too tough to try to communicate it in great detail, here a few quotes from our team members:

-“I was just sad all day by what we saw.”
-“My heart went out…I felt like I was putting a band aid on a broken bone”
-“The children and staff were so gracious and accepting.”
-“I’m thankful for what I/we have…”
-“I’m thankful these children are in an orphanage and not in the streets of San Salvador.”

Tomorrow most of will go to Jazaviel's fathers church to continue the medical clinics and children’s ministry. Dr. Tyner, Terri and Christina will actually head to the local hospital to do some pre-op for an operation later in the week, as well as go back to the orphanage to conduct a minor shoulder surgery. We will all meet back up at the church for an evening service where Pastor Jon will be brining the Word. Please continue to pray for health, safety, and energy! Also, we LOVE to read your comments at the end of a hard day, they are very inspiring. Please keep them coming!

***this last pic is one of “Tent City.” Another story for another time, but basically people bought a plot of land they were promised. The eventual phony salesman of the land went into hiding, and the current owner of the land said it was a, “no-go.” So, everyone stormed the land, set up a place, and now there is, “Tent City.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Somos Listos! (Monday, Jan 19th)

So you all must be sitting on pins and needles to hear the conclusion of the elections…

But first, can we say how jealous we are about the snow in NC! I guess that’s what we get for the earlier comment about how lovely the temperature is here :). Please save us some snow for when we get back!

The gossip we heard last night was mostly correct. The Arena Party won a majority of the elections, including for the Mayor position of San Salvador. While we wish we could share more, we can’t…because everybody else is asleep and yours truly cant remember a lot of the details! However, many people we have spoken with have said that while the results of the elections were not 100% ideal, it is very positive for the country, including American missionaries living here. AMEN!

While we were once again eager to get out into the field today, it was a needed day of preparation. The medical team (Dr. Mike, Jackie, Christina, Teri, Lisa, Adam and Donna) spent the day getting the meds ready for tomorrow, which included strategic planning, taking inventory and organizing for the Pharmacy. The soccer/vbs team (Pastor Jon, Charles, Michael W, Timmy and Nick) pumped up soccer balls and organized 100’s of soccer jerseys, shorts, and tennis shoes. Due to the fact we will be in a different area each day, we had to make sure there are sufficient items to give away in each place we visit. While all of this organizing was going on, it gave the Manly Men team (Mike K and Brian) time to fix part of the roof in Lorraine’s house. Mix in a few quick trips to some stores and all in all, it was a very productive day!

Jahaziel & Brenda came by again for fellowship and dinner. Dr. Tyner & Jackie gave a very inspiring devotion, teaching from Acts and talking about Barnabus. They challenged us to take a closer look at individuals and try to find ways to offer encouragement and find the best in people, as Barnabus shows with John Mark in Acts. (we forgot to tell you yesterday that Christina offered an awesome devotion on David!)
After dinner, Charles used his clown skills (insert easy joke here) to teach us how to make balloon animals for the children. Jahaziel & Brenda did the best job!

Tomorrow is going to be a great day…we will all rise at 6am and head to a boys orphanage! There are 135 boys, ages 8-18. From what Lorraine tells us, these boys are extremely in need of love and affection. As you can imagine, their hearts have been hardened a bit due to life circumstances. Please pray for these boys to not only be receptive, but that we will be able to speak into their lives by showing God’s love. There is also a girls prison right down the road where the women will be going at lunch time. God is getting ready to do some amazing things!

Well, off to bed…we have an early start!

Hasta Luego!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trabajamos Mucho! (Sunday, Jan 18th)After a much-needed night of rest with a cool breeze blowing through our windows, we awoke to a beautiful morning with the sun shining bright in the sky. (yes, just rubbing it in a bit to all our of cold NC families and friends!) After breakfast, we all began our morning work, which included doing work around Lorraine’s house (aka the Mission Base). The guys fixed the showerhead, scraped paint, & repainted, while the gals helped with the laundry, cleaning, and other odds and ends.

While we were not advised to leave the house today, we decided to venture out for a quick trip to the grocery store around the corner. On our walk we noticed busloads of people flying flags in support of their political party, some even chanting as they went by. Luckily, the store was open, as a majority of the stores and shops were closed today due to the elections. In the parking lot, we met a nice man name Raphael who asked if we were missionaries. He told us that he was a Christian as well, and that he would be praying for us during our trip here. How inspiring!

We had a little down time in the afternoon. A few of us headed out once again to try and find a propane tank. We eventually found one from a gentleman who seemed to be selling them out of his house. Back at the house, everyone else was trying to brush up on our Spanish speaking skills. The medical team was even able to practice learning the parts of the body in Spanish on a mannequin. We were also able to meet Ken & Pam, American Missionaries living here. Ken is a commander in the US Navy and works with the US Embassy. Their insight and information about El Salvador will surely prove to be extremely valuable for us in the days to come.

After dinner, Jahaziel & Brenda stopped by. They are an El Salvadorian couple with a huge love for Jesus. Jahaziel leads worship and works in youth ministry at his church, where his father is the Pastor. We are pumped we get to visit the church on Wednesday night and worship with them! Brenda is a schoolteacher and has endured major persecution at her school over the past few days. Please lift up this amazing couple in your prayers-that the Lord will guide their steps not only in ministry, but that He will lead Brenda to another school.

During their visit, they led an amazing time of worship out on the back porch. Out in the night, there were sounds of small explosions (don’t worry, we think they were fireworks), car alarms, barking dogs, and excited voices eagerly awaiting the election results. We felt honored to be able to contribute to the above-mentioned sounds by singing praises to our Lord. We don’t feel it is a coincidence that we are down here during this historic event for El Salvador. What better way to help serve a country than with prayer and worship echoing into the open air on an election night?!

We continue to anxiously wait our time to go and serve the people of El Salvador!

***Just as we were done writing…This just in! We have just received word from some neighbors that the Arena Political Party (Democratic) has a huge lead over the FMLN Party (Communist) in the elections. These elections were for the Mayors and other important government positions all over the country, and the Arena party is said to have 85% of the country won. This is amazing news, as reports as early as today said that the FMLN party was leading by 10%-15%. We’ll see how tomorrow will turn out, but the FMLN Party is already accusing the Arena Party of foul play…

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Estamos Aqui! (Saturday, Jan 17th)

We have arrived safely in El Salvador! Besides an early 4:30am start at RDU, our travel was pretty seamless. Well-almost…as many of you know, we brought 8 bags of shoes & medical supplies into the country for the orphans and the people in the villages outside of San Salvador. While 12 of us were told to “salida” without any questions at customs, 2 of our team members were taken aside for questioning and had their bags thoroughly searched. Of course, these were two of our “newbie” world travelers who had never been out of the country OR experienced customs. On top of that, they had ALL the medicine, some of the shoes, and “no hablan espanol!” But the Lord prevailed as always and we were on our way.

With the elections tomorrow, our plans to immediately minister had to be altered. So, we
were able to take a quick scenic detour to Volcan San Salvador, a nearby volcanic park.
This volcano has not been active since the 1940’s, and had breathtaking views. Along
the way, we were able to wind through the busy streets and get a feel for the community
we would soon be serving. It’s truly amazing how far a smile can go. While passing
through the tiny villages, smiles and waves were warmly accepted and reciprocated with
joy. This act alone (along with the enticing smell of the popusas from the roadside
vendors) made us extremely excited and pumped up to do God’s work!

After a quick shopping trip and a journey to 6 different stores for a propane tank to cook
dinner (without any luck), we finished our night with great worship & prayer. With that,
as we begin to start our week, we have some prayer requests:

-Please pray for the country of El Salvador during the elections this Sunday, Jan. 18th.
The city of San Salvador is awash with fliers, signs and flags for both major parties, Communist & Democratic.
-Please pray for our health and safety, and that we will serve the Lord with enthusiasm each and every day.
-Please pray for our families and loved ones at home.
-Please pray for us, that we stay nice to each other all week long while living in very small quarters and taking cold showers :)

Hasta Manana Amigos!