Thursday, December 4, 2014

Deceptively Rich

Ok, first blog. Whew. Pressure is on. Here we go...
El Salvador... wow. Where do I start? I could talk about the almost vertical mountain path to the two houses we built... Or I could mention the animals: The pigs/piglets that wandered the different communities, as if they owned the place. The chickens that proved looks are not everything, every chicken is equally delicious on the inside. (Even though there were some potential "Ugly chicken contest" winners) The Cows who lazily graze and walk about, not caring if a truck carrying two tons of weight is traveling towards it. Finally the dogs, the starving dogs that were abused and hungry, however could walk with an upturned nose away from a fallen tortilla. (Guess they don't like those).  Nonetheless, I'm not going to dwell on the lives of these creatures. It's the people, the locals that show El Salvador's character. The poorest communities are sometimes the richest in their faith. With more hardships than any of us can ever imagine, these people still worship God with their whole being. Today, was the key ceremony. To start the event, the band played some Spanish worship music. The songs were incredible beautifully, especially in Spanish. However, as I looked around me I saw an old man. A man, who in his many years as an El Salvadorian, must have faced many, many hardships. Problems with his home, his family, his neighbors. Problems with farming, transportation, and safety. This man must have spent a good 60 years of his life, slaving over unfavorable farmland, and struggling to provide for his family. Although there was something that stuck out to me. It was the way he worshipped  God. He had his eyes closed. A raised hand in the air. And a raspy voice that spit out the Spanish melody. He worshipped God, to the best of his ability, and that is most important. These people, are fooled into thinking that your financial status is what defines you and I think that the same can be said for a lot of people. Nonetheless, the locals are rich where it counts: In their faith, and its here that we can see how deceptively rich they really are. I belive that there is a lot to learn from them. And the strength of their faith is something to be recognized.

Some thoughts...

As we have handed the keys to each family today for their new homes, I was listening to their kind words of appreciation. I also heard them speak of their new homes as answers to long-held prayers for God to rescue them. And of this tangible recognition that God had not forgotten them. It was humbling and inspiring to play a small part in all of that.

But as awesome as this has been for these families, I can't help but think of all those other families in these tiny mountain communities that did not receive homes this week. What does their faith look like tonight? Do they believe that God HAS forgotten them? Do the nights spent pleading with God to bring relief and hope to them ring hollow? Will they find the strength to believe even if their earthly circumstances don't ever change?

I am personally challenged by this as I think of my own dark nights pleading with God for change or rescue. Can I be content if He chooses never to change my circumstance? Will I trust Him anyway?Can I learn to be content in all things?

These are tough questions that all of us wrestle with. My hope and prayer for the families in the mountains around Rio Frio is that they will hold tight to their faith and trust their God no matter what the future holds. I pray that for all of us.


Prayer for Thursday

We appreciate the many people who follow this blog and pray for us. Today is the "Key Ceremony" day. For those who have been here before, yes it's a day earlier.
After the last four days of working with these people in these remote villages we ask that you would pray for this occasion which happens around 11:00 EST.  Please pray that the Gospel will be heard and seen clearly; that decades of mistrust would begin to crumble; that true community would begin and that hope for the future, inspired by God, would imbed itself in the hearts of those we have worked among.  Pray for the widows, abandoned women and the elderly to be cared for and for the children to be protected. Pray for marriages to remain intact. And ultimately for God's Kingdom to grow as a result. Thanks for joining us in this prayer. 


I'm blogging early this year!  Sorry it's taken me so long.  Apparently, all I need is several cups of Pepsi to finally transfer some thoughts to the blog!

Here's some of my thoughts after finishing the 10 houses this week:
- The incredible views and beautiful scenery in this country will never get old. God's creation here is breathtaking.
- Although the truck rides have been hard, trekking through the mountains of El Salvador with tools has been awesome.  We've been fully spent at the end of each day, but does it ever feel good to "labour for The Lord".
- During our hike to the last house today, I was following a 65 year old man who lives in one of the first houses we built this week, at the peak of the mountain.  He was incredibly spry.  The resiliency of these people is amazing, this man in particular stood out to me today.
- Similar to last year, I feel like this trip reminds me how important it is to be a good father and husband.  It's tough to hear the struggles of all the fatherless/husbandless families.  We know this isn't just a problem for the poor in El Salvador.  I was struggling this week; just craving for a story of a family this week that could provide an example of a dedicated father, breaking what seems to be the norm these days.  Tonight Stan told us about one of the men that we've been working alongside this week.  He has taken on the role of father and husband and provider for a widowed mother and her three daughters.  What a blessing it was to hear this story!  We pray that he can become an example to others of a Godly man, a leader in his community.
- I have to admit, I have really enjoyed the fact that we are working in a rural area.  Most of the families we have talked to rent and farm 1 hectare plots of land, producing corn, beans, and sorghum.  (And we've seen plenty of pigs, chickens, cows, and horses roaming the hills!)
- I've really enjoyed getting to know all of our team better through the week.  I enjoy all the late night conversations we get to have, working through this experience with them, having a unique discussions on furthering God's work here in El Salvador.

I hope I've been coherent enough tonight to make some sense!  Time to sleep!


Breaking new ground

Even though we had several unexpected challenges in the last three days we have completed the building of the 10 homes and yet the work is just beginning. These 10 houses are the actually breaking new ground as we worked in 6 remote villages that have never received homes in the past. While I am deeply moved by the love many of these people have for God even though living in extreme poverty, the sense of community spirit and caring for others outside their family appears to only be starting in these villages.  There is much more needed to continue to encourage the communities to grow in God's love and we leave this work to the local Pastors that have been working with us.  Let us pray for the messages that will be given tomorrow and the ongoing work of these men that this will only be the beginning of a good work in these villages.

It has been a great joy for me to again participate in mission and especially to watch these young men learn and build confidence working with these tools.  On day 1 I had to try repeated times to get one of the men to take the impact driver. The next day every time he saw Tiffany pick up the driver he would immediately take it and complete the work (sorry Tiffany).


Love- a small word with so much power

I read a phrase before I left that seemed to stick with me and I mulled it around for a while without much meaning until we got here. "Dreams inspired by God (italics are mine), driven by hope, empowered by love, change lives forever." These people have very few if any dreams and very little hope, neither of which I can do anything about, nor can I change lives, but I can love. I felt like God was telling me that these people needed us to show his love to them. I have felt strongly that these people know God loves them, but they needed something tangible. Our presence and the houses are proof to them that God has not forgotten them and does love them. I feel so privileged to be here, Thank you to all who have made it possible for me to come.