The deep emotions shared by this team today & this evening as we prayed together and said our good-byes are a result of a Great Love. Over the course of this week we have shared stories, dreams, miracles, hurts, fears, and victories. We have built friendships and relationships with people we just met for a very short time or worked with for the entire week, yet those connections are for eternity. And not one of the Canadian team members will return tomorrow unchanged. For God has done a mighty work in each of our lives, and the lives of hundreds of children & Compassion workers in this beautiful country of El Salvador.
So how do we say thank you to those who have made this trip so memorable? How do we say good-bye to little faces with tears streaming down their cheeks, arms clinging in an embrace that could last a lifetime? How do we challenge those mothers, grandmothers, fathers and other family members to keep a strong faith in God during the storms of life? How do we encourage the people who tirelessly sacrifice their lives to the service of God for the sake of these little ones and their families? My only answer: Never Let Go. Our prayers for these dearly loved people must continue as we bring them daily before the Throne of Grace to present their needs before an Almighty, Loving, Sovereign God. Prayers for employment, for roofs to not leak, for enough food to feed their families, for safety from gang violence, for freedom from the cycle of broken families and absentee fathers, for strength and resources to run programs, for workers with hearts broken for God & His children, for church leaders with integrity. And those are just the general prayers, not the specific pleas from each individual. We can never let go to the enduring Promises of God, as He proves Himself faithful day after day.
Never letting go also means we need to set apart time to really demonstrate love to our sponsored children by writing to them as often as possible. The joy of receiving a letter, in contrast to the sadness of being forgotten, is indescribable. The children need to hear we love them. They love to receive prayer requests so they can pray for us, and share their own requests more freely. And they need to be told they are special & that God has a plan for their lives. We can encourage them to become strong leaders for a better future for their families and their country.
We will never forget the blessings this trip has brought. I know, too, that we will not easily forget the lessons we've learned...those moments of epiphany where God has clearly guided our thoughts as He directs us in His path for the future. Most of all, I pray we will be bold to declare His goodness wherever we go... to share those stories of healing & redemption, power & peace with those we return to, as well as invite them to share in the joy of discovering God's deep love. Because God's love endures forever. And without a doubt, throughout each moment of this trip we saw first hand that Jesus makes all the difference.
Thank you for your prayers. We know we could not have experienced the blessings afforded us in this trip without them. And thank you to those who sacrificed so we could be your representatives in this country of beauty, pain & promise.
To close I'd like to share my favourite Spanish word, "esperanza". (I didn't know what it meant, but it is a wonderful sounding word which reminds me of a fizzy clear drink, spritzing up from a glass. Last night I finally learned its meaning: HOPE. Thank you, Lord, for bringing Hope to so many people through your Son, Jesus!