Monday, January 25, 2010

It's about the Children.

Woke up this morning to a beautiful day in Manzini, Swaziland. We all had an early breakfast and sat down for our daily devotions. Plagues and our Lord’s suffering. Both stories of defeat redeemed by God’s victorious desire (Exodus 6-8, Luke 23).

Our prayer this morning was that we might really see what God sees in the children we will be meeting. The two Care Points we were to visit are primarily serving orphans who have lost both parents to AIDS. HIV-AIDS is pandemic in Swaziland infecting over half of the adult population. Very sad.

We took off from the hotel and headed southeast to Big Bend. The Care Point was some 10 kilometers out of town in an area surrounded by sugar cane. Pastor Temba established this Care Point to minister to 150+ children. Let me tell you it was smoking hot … both in temp and compassion.

The children were so beautiful and friendly. We spent quite some time playing and hanging out with them. One of the highlights was a young blind boy who zeroed in on Ron’s singing. He came and sat right next to him to listen. What an amazing scene to watch him listening to Ron and to see Ron and Ann Marie reach over to pray for him. So much prayer needed everywhere we look. We have some amazing video of Ron helping him throw a football to a hilarious group of children. They were all laughing and running and clapping. It was sad to leave them but we had a long drive to the next Care Point.

Care Point number two was one of Care Points that ‘feed under a tree’. No buildings, no play area, no electricity and no water. They carry the water from a stream over two kilometers away. Two amazing saints of God feed 80+ children at this developing Care Point. What beautiful women that love Jesus and orphans. They all sang us a song in SaSwati. The words were something close to:

We are your children Jesus

And we can do nothing with your intervention

We are in need of you everyday

It is so true that everyone needs the intervening hand of Jesus. No one person any more than another … though the need here is startling. The Go-Go’s (grandmother in SaSwati) and children sang and prayed before their only meal of the day. After giving thanks they lined the children up under the trees and feed them out of a big black pot suspended over a wood fire.

There are so many stories we could tell but our day is coming to a close. When we return we will share the pictures and videos we are shooting. Four videos today of the children playing catch and singing – about 1200 photos of beautiful smiling faces. Ha, I guess if you aren’t traveling with us that last statement sounds like a bad evening at Uncle Bennie’s and Aunt Gertie’s house watching movies of their vacation to Iowa … well, maybe a bit better.

Good night friends in the America!

Friday, January 22, 2010

We are connected

For multiple reasons, we have not been able to blog but we are now powered and connected. 
We were blessed to have Marcia help check us in at RDU.  As many of you heard, Steve’s Mom had some medical issues. Praise God she is doing well and he was able to join us yesterday (Wednesday), more on that latter.

We arrived Tuesday evening, 5:30 South African time, checked into our hotel by candle and lantern light. The following morning we took care of some unexpected business before visiting a World Orphan Children’s Home, Temba South Africa, north of Jo-burg.

First order of business was to get a larger vehicle to handle the luggage. Thanks to all you provided, we had 12 checked bags.  Ron and Bill went back to the airport and were able to get an 8 person “bus”. They call vans, busses. Second order of business was to get travel documents for me (Ann Marie) to re-enter the US. Thirty minutes before Ron and I left for the airport, Ron was making copies of my new Canadian passport and realized my green card expired 11/09. Monday was a holiday so Ron had to call the Johannesburg US Consulate for the solution.  This morning we downloaded an application then e-mailed it with supporting documents to the Consulate. The plan is to pick up a "re-entry" travel document on the way to the airport. I will update my status ASAP after our return!

Mid-day we were able to make our way to Temba to visit with a World Orphan Children’s Home. One of the purposes of our trip is to learn about different models of care for orphans.  The World Orphan Children’s Home gave a good example of a local Church establisihing "homes" on church property to reach the orphans in their community.

We left Temba to make our way back to the airport to pick up Steve, missed our turn, toured Jo-burg for over an hour. Bill says google maps works as well in Jo-burg as it does in Raleigh.  After several attempts using google maps, we got directions from three people before finding our way to the airport.  (Thanks to Sheem who drove 12 hrs with Steve from Missouri to Atlanta to catch his flight then drove home to Apex.) We are all so glad Steve was able to make it afterall.

One of our blog issues was not having the right adaptor for the step down transformer. Wednesday evening we got powered up. 

Everyone present and accounted for, we made our way to Swaziland this morning (5 hr drive). Met up with, Dennis, our guide for the week and visited four Care Points.

Swaziland does not have orphanages. To support children who are orphaned or vulnerable, Children's Hope Chest and AIM (Adventures in Missions) have partnered to develope Care Points (CPs); Places set up in varrious communities where basic orphan needs can be met (food, water, some medical attention and discipleship). The vision for a Care Point is to grow to include educational opportunties, micro-financing etc. 

CPs are in varrious stages of development and support. Thus far we have seen the two most developed CPs and two lesser developed ones. The goal for our time is to gather information and seek His direction for Hope Chapel involvement. 

We have lots of photos but am running out of battery so need to post. Thank you so much for your prayers. More soon. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Swaziland Mission Begins!

The Swaziland team has arrived safely. Steve Estes was also able to join the team, a little late, but with no known mishaps. Thank God for everyone's safe arrival.

They have already begun working. Pastor Bill Gross has reported that they were able to visit an orphanage/church in Tembo with 22 beautiful children and a pastor with a big vision. They were quite inspired and look forward to meeting more of the people of Swaziland.

The purpose of the team is to find the right partnership for Hope Chapel in our long-term vision of reaching out to the orphans of Africa.

The Swaziland team is
  • Ron & Ann Marie Elmore
  • Steve Estes
  • Pastor Bill Gross
Please keep them in your prayers for: Health, safety during travel, wisdom and discernment, team unity, and favor with those whom they meet.

Please post comments to the team to encourage them and let them know your prayers are with them.

More to come! Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Suficiente es Tu Gracia!


(Your Grace is Enough by songwriter Chris Tomlin)

Great is our faithfulness oh God

You wrestle with the sinner’s heart

You lead us by waters into mercy

And nothing can keep us apart

The lyrics of this song bring back so many wonderful memories of this past week in El Salvador. Our team of ten (10) individuals are from a much different social-economic part of the world and we had much to reflect on as we prepare for our departure.
Our original sights on what we thought could accomplish were far-exceeded by what God's plans were.  In the end, we realized that what we had to offer cannot be measured by the many gallons of paint we put on the walls, nor the many boxes of hygienic and dental supplies we distributed, not even the many drinks and sandwiches.  One quickly realizes it not the material things that allows one to substain life (although they are greatly appreciate), but instead– it is grace that originates from God.  Charles gave us an image to keep in our mind:  that we were like the tip of an arrow and that this week we were fortunate to directly touch people lives-- a point that extends back to our families and friends back home and ultimately back to God.   We must remember that our ultimate calling is to spread God’s grace (His word). 

Great is our faithfulness oh God

You use the weak to lead the strong

You Lead us in the song of Your Salvation

And all your people sing along

Our Day 7 was another unique for the Hope Chapel Missions team in San Salvador.  Dr. Mike Tyner and I, along with Lori our translator, headed to the local Children’s hospital to perform surgery while the rest of the team went to San Marcos.

Driving through the street of San Salvador it brought back fond memories of my previous visits here. I had been in San Salvador last year with our Hope Chapel Missions trip … and then many years ago when we brought Michael our son home.  Unique this time was my visit to Bloom Hospital, a local public children’s hospital to witness a team of doctors perform surgery on a 10-year old child.  I was on a separate purpose to get an understanding of the I/T (information technology) infrastructure within the hospital and see how I could possibly help them out.  I was able to talk with the head of their I/T department only to find out how under-staffed and under-funded they were (not a unique problem), but there is only very limited use of technology to run a major hospital. Imagine trying to go through a typical hospital here in the US without interacting with someone behind a computer (Admissions, patient history, lab testing, patient monitoring).  There is none here in San Salvador --I now know much they could use that old monitor and old printer that’s collecting dust in my closet.  

The highlight of my afternoon was observing and interacting with the team of doctors that performed a 6-hour removal of spleen the size of Rhoad Island. I was able to stand just arm’s length away from the operating table and as much as I hate the sight of blood, I was fascinated by the delicate procedure. At the end, I came away with the feeling that these doctors and nurses are truly dedicated to improving the health of their patients. The Glory goes to God for gifting these talented individuals.

The other part of our team went to San Marcos, a small remote village about 2 hours outside San Salvador.  This remote village is a small coastal community with little modern conveniences.  Wabha led worship and afterwards there was a hygiene and dental care clinic.  Our team prayed over the village with special prayers for physical and spiritual healing.

So Remember Your People

Remember your Children

Remember your Promise, Oh God

So we conclude our mission visit to El Salvador...I much changed, transformed, and renewed.
I witnessed Greg (our resident chef/Caterer) share a missionary that could pray over men suffering from alcohol, Mike (a doctor) become a soccer/basketball player that was able to put his arms around and hug young delinquent boys,  Stacy, a mother, become a “sister” to young troubled girls and Sheila, a home-maker, became a singer and pianist of Christian Music…just to name a few.   We are all tired from this week's but so excited about the plans that God has for us.

We are so thankful to those who made this trip possible.  Our thanks first to God, and then to all of you who prayed and supported us.

Your Grace is Enough,    
Brian Wong

Friday, January 15, 2010

A day at the Park

It's Day 6 of our trip and God has opened a new door for us. We knew when we came to El Salvador we had to have willing hearts and be ready to accept the challenges that God gave us. We knew God would put doors in front of us for us to walk through  (in faith ), and when we got to the other side we would see the work he had for us. Today was no different.
  8 of us went into a park in downtown San Salvador to do an outreach. We sang songs in Spanish, performed a skit, presented Jesus to those who did know him, and help those who did know him understand him better. Wahba gave a hygiene lesson and we had 21 people accept Christ! We passed out toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and some cookies and juice for everyone. It was a great expereince!
  I was brought to tears when God showed me one of the many reasons he brought me here. Two men came to us early in the event in obvious need of help. They were suffering from alcoholism and we were able to pray for them, with them, and be with them as they accepted Jesus. Later we taught one of them to pray for his friend who needed help and explained how now that he had Jesus in his heart he could also pray for healing for others. We introduced them to the local pastor who will welcome them into his church and help them in anyway he can. It was an amazing experience for me to see these 2 men where I once was, and be able to stand there and tell them that Jesus is how I was able to over come my own addiction to alcohol and be forgiven for my sins... and all they had to do was to have faith and give it all to Jesus. Our God is a forgiving God and without him I would surely still be suffering.  I would ask for all of you to pray for them as it will not be an easy road for them as well as everyone who accepted Jesus this week.

Romans 3:22-24 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”

  Dr. Michael and Jackie Tyner were able to work at the hospital today and work with the local surgeons and assist in an operation while showing the local doctors some new equipment and techniques. They will return tomorrow to work with them more in the surgical department. This is a great blessing as the doctors here are eager to learn and see more of what can be offered.
After our outreach we were blessed with a trip to the beach through a friend of Hanna’s hands. We walked the beach and swam in the ocean and pool of the Laughing Pelican House. We watched all of Gods glory as the sun set over the pacific before we headed back to the city for dinner.

God Bless all of you and may you see God in all of his amazing glory daily.
Greg Lewis

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hope at the Hope House

Hope at the Hope House

Matthew 25:34-40 

Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom   prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  I was in prison and you visited me...'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?"  And the King will tell them, "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"

 Today the team divided into three groups to accomplish more.  The largest of these went to the Hope House, a home for orphaned young ladies age 14 to 18.  We took on the task of house maintenance and painting with an emphasis on including the girls.  The girls were able to choose colors for their rooms.  We aided them in the actual painting using that time to get to know the girls.  The men on the team repaired ceilings, the roof, plumbing and tile floors.  Brian and Greg were even able to install two devices in the showers to give the ladies warm water for their showers!  A blessing for sure!
Though we were with the girls for a day, we pray that our connection with them and Lorraine's ongoing work will have an enduring benefit in their lives.   

John Wahba and Sheila went on a separate mission to the Faith House, a similar home for orphan boys ages 14 to 18.  The focus of the visit was to share the gospel through music.  This included music lessons on the guitar and electric keyboard.  The boys were able to complete a song together, "This Is My Desire" using three boys on guitars, two boys on a keyboard and one on vocal.  John and Sheila thought it sounded great.
 Ana, the interpreter, helped John and Sheila lead several youth to Christ with Praise, Worship and Prayer.

 Michael and Charles went to the Bloom National Pediatric Hospital to reestablish ties with the pediatric surgeons.  Through God's help, Charles was able to bridge a communication divide and focus on the needs of the hospital and Michael background in laparoscopic surgery.  Discussions were initiated for providing access for further training of their staff members in North Carolina.  Today we were able to start the process with an educational series on laparoscopic suturing techniques.  Tomorrow,we were invited to participate in several surgeries using laparoscopic approaches.  More surgery is anticipated on Friday.  We look for God to Bless the surgeons and the patients in these endeavors. We seek your prayer to help this program to grow in the future.

  It's late now and we need to rest up. God has blessed our efforts. Thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life-changing opportunities await you!!

We were warned about culture shock. 

What a drastic difference between my own "good Christian home" growing up, and the daily life experience of the boys we were blessed to spend time with this morning!  About 45 guys ranging from 12 to 18 years old are living in a concrete and steel-barred compound because they have nowhere else to go.  These boys are not prisoners - like the girls we visited yesterday.  They are here for a variety of reasons, that can best be summed up in one of the boys own words:  "I am here because no one loves me."

Imagine your life being in danger from your own family, or a gang.  Imagine being dropped off at the orphanage because your parent(s) did not want you, or perhaps being picked up off of the street because you have no known family at all.  No where to live except the sidewalk, or the gutter, or under some cardboard.  Now imagine that this is your life, and somehow you made it to age twelve.  In this new place, you share a concrete room with 12 - 20 other boys, most of them bigger and older than you.  The wind blows through the window openings all year round.  Even if the day is hot in the sunshine, the sparse concrete and steel room can stay cold.  Privacy for personal hygiene or any other purpose is an unknown luxury.  The guards or staff cannot be everywhere.  You are afraid.  You must adapt in order to survive. 

With this mindset, consider the events of today from this boy's perspective.
A van-load of people came to visit today.  There were people from the Estados Unidos along with Salvadorians also.  They smile and laugh, and talk to the staff people.  They set up sound equipment and wave at us.  Some of them are talking to some of the other boys here.  These are the people one of my roommates met yesterday.  He said they were nice.  I can understand the language of some of them but not all of them can speak my language.  We are told they are going to have music and a drama for us.  Meanwhile some of the visitors join a game of futbol, and others of them begin to come over to talk to me.

I recognize one or two of the ladies.  They are nice and have been here before!  The men seem to be nice too.  They are laughing and joking with us.  The concert meeting is starting now and we have to go inside and sit together across the room from their musical equipment.  There is a man playing guitar and a woman playing an electric piano.  There is a man using a big container like a conga drum!  The songs talk about God being powerful and loving too.  We have fun singing with these nice people.  They translate the words or sing the songs in my language so I can sing also.  The drama is about a man with two sons.  One son takes his part of the father's money and joins a gang.  They throw him out after his money is gone.  He is feeding pigs and is so hungry is wants to eat the pig's food.  Three of the people are pretending to be the pigs!  They are funny!  At the end of the drama a Salvadorian lady tells us to think about the story and how the father who should have been angry with his son, loved him, forgave him, and had a fiesta when he came home.  She said God is a father like the father in the story, and that if we will come to him, he will love us like the son in the story.  I want a real father like that.  I've never had one.  I am crying and I cannot stop.  The conga-drumming man is hugging me and crying too.  Another man and woman are speaking to many of us now, and saying we can know this God who loves us right now, and be his children.  I ask this God to love me and help me.  The man hugging me is talking to God about me.  I know this because someone is translating what he is saying so I can understand.  I hug him tighter and he hugs me tighter too!  We cry for a long time.  The people give me a booklet and a book.  I begin to read some of the pages with the man, and understand he is saying I should keep the book and read it.  Another man tells us we can talk to God about things and this Father-God will help me.  We get lots of hugs from the people and most of us are smiling.  The motor-scooter delivery people from Pizza Hut are here!  They are bringing us food!  I am glad the people came to visit us today!

This is only one of many many stories from today.  About 20 of the 45 boys living in this Boys Home asked Jesus to forgive them and for God to be their Father.  Our team was so humble and so loving!  We are a team of doctors, nurses, and business people; moms, dads, sons, and daughters; we had translators who are ministers themselves, and translators that are just here to help us.  What we did today did not require years of training or special skills.  We simply made ourselves available to show love to those who need it.

Thank you for supporting us with your prayers!  God is working here, and the need is unfathomably huge.  Child abuse is common.  Poverty is rampant.  The government and local churches here have limited resources.  Please pray that our loving God will touch more people's hearts to take time to work in His harvest field (read Matthew 9: 35 - 38).  Consider and pray about joining Lorraine here in El Salvador on a short-term mission trip (see  Our team can tell you, come once and you will never be the same!

Curtis S.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Spirit Moves in Mighty Way in Girls Prison

The Spirit moved in mighty ways in El Salvador today!  We had an incredible time in the girls prison today.  The girls are between the ages of 15 - 18 years old.  Our morning session was with the girls who are serving out their sentences.  When we walked in, some of the girls immediately came running over to hug and talk to us.  We worshiped for a while in English & Spanish, then performed a short drama about the prodigal "daughter".  Several of the girls accepted Christ, praise God!  I had such a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit there from the moment we started to worship.  As awesome as that time was, the afternoon session was even more so.  We were warned before we went in not to expect the same from the next group of girls, that the atmosphere would be much cooler and more aloof.  These girls had only been in the prison a short time, and were awaiting their sentencing.  Most were involved in gangs before they were arrested for that activity, and they have caused many problems since arriving at the prison.  There have been riots, and they set fires and burned all the chairs there.  They aren't allowed to leave the dormitory room they are confined to, so we had to go in and set up for our program there.  Well, God had certainly gone before us there today.  When we walked in, they were even more receptive than the morning group.  They welcomed us, and we all talked, laughed and had fun while we were setting up.  God's presence was almost tangible in the room when we finished and issued an invitation for them to accept Christ.  There was hardly a dry eye in the room as almost all of them (approx. 20!) prayed for Christ to come into their lives.  My heart weeps for these girls who have such a hard life here.  Many are assaulted by family members or kicked out of their homes by the time they are teenagers.  Several of the girls asked us to pray for the children or spouses (remember, they are age 15-18!).  That prayer time was so touching as we invited the girls to pray for each other.  We emphasized now that Christ lives in them, their prayers are just as powerful as ours.  I felt such power from God in the prayer of the girl nearest me.  Even though I couldn't understand her words, the fervency with which she prayed so touched me since she had just accepted Christ moments before.  So please keep all of these girls in your prayers as they begin their walk of faith.  Pray that God strengthens and protects their new faith from those around them who will seek to deter them.

Stacy B.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

His mission

It's 6pm Sunday evening.  I'm sitting on the back patio at Lorraine's house. It is 73° and breezy. I can hear faint Latin rhythms from a neighbor, thumping over the windchimes - that and occasional loud bangs that I'm convincing myself are fireworks. 

Today we visited an Hispanic iglesia and took some teen orphan boys out for ice cream. On the way to iglesia this morning, our driver confused our destination; we were 20 minutes late for service. Worship had started already and I still had never met or played with the worship leader. My El Salvador worship leading debut was not looking good....

Almost two hours later I was still sitting in my seat in the back of the church, realizing I probably wouldn't get to lead the Spanish worship songs I'd learned for my trip.  I got pretty discouraged. The El Salvador government is already restricting my medical priveleges. Now it looked as though I wouldn't be leading worship either. I felt myself ask, "So why am I even here?"

Then in the middle of church, a clear Voice answered my question with bigger questions: "Who are you here for? And who is this all about anyway?"

Zing! So busted. So convicted. I promised God at that moment that this was about serving Him the ways HE wants me to, not the ways I'd been picturing it in my head.

In the end, God did give me the chance to lead worship with this group of fervent believers - and it was a fun, un-rehearsed mess of Spanglish celebration & praise. I also had a blast later, leading worship outside in the park with the boys from the orphanage.

But I served from a new place. On His terms, not mine.  His scene, not my mental picture.

Thanks for the prayers. We love you and miss you!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Hello all!

We arrived safely in San Salvador today. :) It was really hot but had a nice breeze to it. It is beautiful out here. The mountains and everything. The ride over here (all day) was quite a trip :) it was relaxing and stressful at the same time. The plane rides were ok and they played movies for us. Everyone got a good nap on the plane (I think) I know my dad and I did. I am really looking forward to this trip! I am very excited and nervous at the same time, but I know God is going to help me get through this :). Tomorrow we are going to the Church in the morning then some shopping, then taking the boys from the orphanage out to ice cream.

I am looking forward to this trip and hope everything goes very well!!!

God Bless~~~

Ari ~* <3 *~
and the team!

Monday, January 4, 2010

El Salvador Team - January 2010

We're ready for our next journey to the people of El Salvador.

This year we have a new team going, so let's introduce them:

  • Brian Wong - This is his 2nd time on the trip.
  • Charles Balan - Just a friendly guy helping out with the Spanish.
  • Stacy Boxell - Works with Latinos locally and her 1st time in El Salvador.
  • Greg Lewis - We're hoping that he'll bring his culinary skills with him to El Salvador.
  • Arianna Lewis - She's expanding her vision of the world at the tender age of 13.
  • Jackie Tyner - Her 2nd trip to El Salvador and she's loving it.
  • Mike Tyner - His 2nd trip to El Salvador as well.
  • Curtis Smith -1st time bringing his wisdom to El Salvador.
  • Sheila Smith -She's stretching her faith on this 1st time to El Salvador.
  • John Wahba - 1st time to El Salvador and ready to rock the country.

Please keep us all in your prayers. We'll be serving Hannah's Hands and the people of El Salvador. Pray for our travel and our entry into El Salvador. Recent events have shown that it is becoming more difficult to enter into the country to serve the people there with our medical expertise.

How to pray for the team:
  1. Effortless travel through customs and immigration lines and safety on all vehicles upon which we travel.
  2. Protection from accidents, crime, natural and man-made disasters.
  3. Protection from sickness and disease.
  4. That the team will demonstrate humility, boldness, patience, and love for each other and the local people.
  5. That God would be glorified through them.
Stay tuned to this space to follow us as we go to work in the places God is moving.

Your 2010 El Salvador Team