Friday, December 6, 2013

Family ties

This is a posting from yesterday night that got lost and has now been found...

With all the homes built I knew today was going to be a different day but I was not expecting the great gift that God was about to bestow.  We were given the privilege to visit a few houses built by previous Sarnia teams.  While all the visits were rewarding and allowed us to see the wonder of God's work, two in particular stood out for me. 

Our very first visit of the day was to the first house built by a Sarnia team back in 2009.  We arrived at the home only to find it locked with no answer.  Initially this was disappointing until I realized that having a safe/secure home they can leave to work is one the blessing we are trying to provide.  As we turned to go a 15 year old girl appeared from the field, welcomed us, and opened their home for us.  This 15year old clearly remembered the great blessing God had given 5yrs ago and remembered the faces of several of the team members that were once again present.  We were no longer strangers in her home but part of family.

After visiting with several other homes we were able to have lunch at Basilio's home.  Over the week I had learned about Basilio's conversion a few years ago and also learned how he now provides most of the structural pieces for the homes employing 6 other people in the process at a cost that allows more houses to be built.  However it was not until this lunch as we watched him build a section of a house, watched him humbly thank us the great changes in his life, and as we watched him cry on our departure that God allowed me to truly see the heart of a man changed to be a servant of his with a passion for building better homes for these people.  Again I could clearly see that Sarnia is now considered a special part of the God's family for him.

As I consider the blessing God had bestowed in these lives from past visits I could not help but wonder what blessings would occur in the lives of the eight families we are able to serve this year.


Humble Pie


At the start of the week as we left our families and said good by to loved ones. I had no idea what God had in store for myself or the team. However, his plan became more and more evident each day we have been here.

I truly believe that God allowed me to be here in El Salvador to show me humility and patience. Take last night for example. As I was getting ready to head to the church for supper. I was looking for my Brazil soccer jersey. When I couldn't find it like always I jumped to conclusions. To my amazement God was about to put me in my place. The lady that did our laundry was frantically going around to each room cause she didn't want to get in trouble for loosing a shirt. As I was standing beside her with Deve, Amanda, and the cleaning lady Matt had found my jersey behind my suitcase. I truly ate a huge  piece of humble pie. I was truly apologetic to this lady and gave her a big Canadian hug.

As I'm writing this I realize that God was teaching me patience too.  If only I would have taken the time and slowed down I would have found my jersey.

On another note Yesterday I was truly blessed to be along side the team when we went to visit the very first SEMC house the team had ever built and the houses they built 2 years ago. This experience was truly a blessing. I mean when we arrived at a house built 2 years ago. The lady recognized Deve and the team right a way and welcomed us in with open arms. She had 3 children and I fell in love with one little girl. As we left to go to another house I put my arms out to her and she ran and jumped up into them. It was like we had been friends for years. She reminded me of my sweet little girls back home Hannah and Alexis.

Like I said in my Previous blog it truly isn't about the houses. It's about the friendships we create and they way God uses them and the families to touch each others lives.

As this week comes to a close. It was my honor and privilege to part of this experience.



For those of you who have participated in or kept up to date with our journeys to El Salvador, you will be quite familiar with the name Basilio. Five years ago, when our first team came, we were introduced to a man of small El Salvadorian stature with a gentle manner and a tireless work ethic. We were privileged to see him enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Lord has kept us close ever since. 

During these years we have seen him develop into a proficient house builder, yet there was a difference. He was willing to teach others how to build houses as well. He developed a team, which we call the Fantastic Four. Together they have assisted the teams from Canada in their building projects. They have built houses with us in sunshine and rain (mostly rain, historic rain, legendary rain…until this year). Two years ago, they were able to continue building homes on their own during the rainy season, often quicker and more efficiently than our teams can. 

Then Shelter asked him to start fabricating some pieces for the homes. He did it, with excellence and an eye for innovation. He has been able to take a good thing and make it better. But again, he didn't keep it for himself. The fabricating of homes has expanded, and now he is able to provide work for another 6 people. 

A few years ago we started talking and praying about long term sustainable solutions that are birthed in the local context and are driven by local people. Basilio is one of the best examples of this. But more than anything, he is our friend, our partner in ministry. 

This week, when I asked for him to be part of our team, he came willingly and joyfully. For the three days that we worked together as he led our team. It was like picking up with an old friend, starting where we left off as though no time had elapsed. We are able to work through obstacles and find solutions together, all while enjoying the unique experience of blessing another family with a house. 

As we left today, our team surrounded Basilio, his wife Veronica and their son. Laying hands on them, we gave thanks to God for their lives and asked God to continue to provide and protect them. And then it was time to leave. The team had taken their places on the truck, which was parked inside his yard and he and I were standing at the back. I said "Are you going to open the gate?" and he said "If I open the gate, then you will leave, so I'm not going to the gate."  I looked at him, hugged him and exchanged some words of friendship that has only been possible through a relationship forged by God, held tightly by the Holy Spirit and which is united in it's desire to honour our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Some people ask, "why bother going to El Salavdor, why not just send money for the houses?"

Today was another day of confirmation that money is no substitute for relationship…you see, it's not about the houses. 

Thank you God for our friend Basilio…