Thursday, April 5, 2012

greetings from el salvador,

we have just completed our leaders team meetings down here and are preparing for a return home to canada... it will likely be a very busy next couple weeks as well as a tough couple weeks saying good-bye. i just wanted to update you on a couple people to keep you in the loop on the things we are up to. if it all interests you, read it all. if only parts interest you, skip the rest. all good with me ;-)

first, carlos. he is doing really well these days! i had the honor of baptizing him in a river near san antonio. i also had the honor of dunking steve & april campos! it was a great day. there must have been over 100 people there on the river bank watching and cheering... it was a pretty cool day. they shared their faith stories at the key ceremony before we all headed out to the river. we know the road is never easy, but it feels like carlos has made some significant leaps and bounds in the last little while. during the leaders meetings we chatted about and decided to build a house for carlos here around san vicente. we are hoping that it works out to build right beside the goat farm in san antonio, but we will sit down with the land owner and make sure it will be okay. we told him last night at supper and he was pumped! overwhelmed and speechless. thanks to all those who have given so much towards this house. it means the world to him as it does to so many others...

julio. also known as 'coolio'. he's a guy all four of us have spent time chatting with on the street corner. he's usually intoxicated, but we all see a good heart deep in there somewhere. carlos has also chatted with him a fair bit and we have encouraged him to go to rehab... he spent years in the states and has a family there, but got deported some time ago... he is so sad and so frustrated with his life's events. a few weeks back, we told him that whenever he was ready, we were here to take him in to rehab in san salvador and one night around 8pm he showed up at the door with a gunny sack of belongings and was ready to go. stu, steve campos and myself drove him in along with carlos that night. we had carlos check in with him and he was doing really well. he stayed for about a week and then we saw him back on the street here in san vicente. a couple days after that his mom passed away. stu and i came walking by one morning and he told us about his mom. we went to the funeral home with him to see his mothers casket and encourage him a bit. it was good to just be there with him for a short while. we continue to talk and he knows we care and want the best for him. he knows God loves him dearly and has a much better plan in mind for him. he know we are willing to truly help him at a moments notice. i know he will be restored one day.

got goat? the farm is operational!! we have had goats for just over a week now and the group is loving it! they are so excited and see the potential. they have been selling upwards of $15 per day worth of milk. we will be having a meeting with armando tomorrow afternoon along with the members in the co op to discuss and lay out the business plan going forward. thus far, they have been banking all the income. they are anxious to share in a bit of the profits, but are remaining patient. we will also lay out the plans to bless others through this operation by way of giving milk to the community, giving offspring to other co op's, and a portion of the income to help others in need. we want to give the first fruits to the one who provides everything we have...

sewing center. things are hopping! we had 13 quilt orders from the final team that was here. we have an order for 100 quilts from a generous home builder in canada (stepper homes). they are all set to start producing their own t-shirts with graphics. there are 9 ladies and one grandpa working at the center. some are single moms, some from the village, and all seem to really be enjoying their jobs. kerrie-lynn and carie have done an exceptional job with all of this... the other day, three of the ladies worked from 4am to 10pm on their own accord to finish the last of the quilt order so the canadians could take them home with them at the end of the week. they love to do their best and it's fun to watch.

adrial. tomasita's boy is doing great! kerrie-lynn and carie took her in to san salvador for his appointment and the doc gave him a clean bill of health! he said his heart is okay!! wow. what an overwhelming answer to the prayers of so many. tomasita couldn't believe it!! we need things like this to help our faith become what it is for so many living here in poverty - deep & strong.

kerrie-lynn's friend esmeralda has had quite a journey over her 20 years of life. many of you know her story. for those of you who don't, her parents are both gone and she, along with her husband, are raising her 4 younger brothers and her own son! an orphan who became the mom of other orphans. we love her dearly and have had the opportunity to help with some simple things like school and food, but the last while kerrie-lynn has been taking her in once a week to san salvador for some counselling at a church we partner with here. it has been great and the conversations that kerrie-lynn is able to have with her, due in part to the things stirred up by the counselling process, are amazing! i don't know how she does it, but my wife without even trying, becomes a mom to young women here in el salvador. it is a gift that very few have. they have a pretty special friendship...

shelter (refugio in spanish). we are starting the slow process of branching off from emcc to focus more on the work of short term teams in el salvador. the name will be shelter and i'll post a logo that we are thinking about using for now. a good friend of ours, neil has created a number of logo options for us for. he does a great job! we like this one as it looks like a roof, points up to the one who gives us all we have, is a bit off kilter which reminds us all that this work is not easy, safe or simple. the word 'shelter' has a wonderful double meaning. first, we believe the kingdom of heaven, that we have been given the charge to bring to earth, would be a place where families live in safe, clean, secure, dry homes. thus, we provide them. second, it points us to our place with God. that he is our shelter and our refuge. that He is the one who holds us in His hands. psalms 91...

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.

that seems like a quick hodgepodge of some of the important things we have been up to. when i look at my day timer, it only scratches the surface as we journey with so many down here... walking, building, talking, laughing, joking, praying, discussing and crying. the other day, one of the goat guys in the co-op asked me out of the blue. "why are some people prone to get angry and other not" we chatted for a bit and he said, "i think more often than not, the rich people with lots of stuff and money have so much to worry about that their stress is high, thus it bursts out in anger..." he went on to say, "for me, i completely content to be poor if that's what wealth would bring me... i don't want all that trouble for me and my family" well, we only have another 20 years here to be completely healed of our north american problems!! we are learning every day and little by little, we are changing because of our friends here in and around san vicente. thank goodness we have them as friends!

so we thank you again for your thoughts, calls, notes, encouragements, prayers, and support. we would not be here if it were not for you our friends. believe me when i say this, our family needs support on every single level and we would fall flat on our faces if we didn't have you holding us up. thank you so much.

from the berstads