Tuesday, December 8, 2015
At our hotel the last day we (Brittany and I) were approached by a person asking what is Shelter Canada. So we tried to explain yes we build houses but more importantly we build relationships.
As I try and catch up on my sleep and readjust to life in Canada I find myself thinking were the last 9 days just a dream? The week was filled with a variety of activities, listening to testimonies, colouring, painting nails, talking to families, seeing businesses that have come about in the last few years, trying new food, climbing towers, and yes we did build homes. But as we have been reminded it isn't about the houses its about relationships. So, as I come back and think there are many things I do but life isn't about what you do but the relationships you build and that is the area I am going to try and cultivate.
So at this time of year I want to encourage you not to look at the Christmas activities as much as the relationships in your life and focus on them.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Thank you, and God Bless.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Over the course of the last 9 days our team has been part of many challenging, exciting and faith-building experiences. Some of those stories are contained in the blogposts below, I hope you take time to read through them.
However, tonight as we debriefed for the last time, in El Salvador, we returned to Luke 10, this time in verses 17-20. We were reminded through the examples of these followers of Jesus, that though we get to participate in some incredible awe-inspiring, even miraculous, experiences - we should be cautious in trying to relive or replicate those moments. Jesus says "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Our greatest sense of joy and our greatest capacity to retain some of the unique vitality that we have experienced on this trip will come from remembering that we follow the call and the example of Jesus until such a time as He returns and ushers in the fulfillment of His Kingdom! That's where our motivation and purpose come from: being known by Our Heavenly Father, whether we're in El Salvador or as we soon resume our regular lives in and around Sarnia.
Thanks for praying along with us, because we all have something to celebrate.
Matthew 11: 28-30 reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I love this verse. In fact, I love it so much that I had it tattooed on my arm. It will never leave me. That offer is there for YOU. Whether you are a farmer in ElSalvador, or an executive in Canada, you can find rest. Jesus is faithful. Don't wait any longer.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
As I return to ElSalvador for the second time, I have once again come to the conclusion that I do not have a grasp on the concept of what the word 'poor' truly means. Yesterday I sat in the home of a 'poor man'. He truly owns almost nothing. However, as he spoke, it became clear to me that he has more than most men in North America will ever have. Sitting beside his wife of 53 years, he spoke about putting God in the centre of his life. Jesus spoke of His promise to give life abundantly. Can I call a man with a bride of 53 years, 11 children and a love for His Lord poor? I think he is actually rich....
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice." Psalm 54:16-17
Today we stood on Holy ground. Today we stood in awe of Christ. Today we cried out to God to reveal himself to a small boy - Santos, just 11 years old. God knows his name, God knows his heart cry. God delivered a promise to Santos and we were there in his Holy presence, witness to the Lords awesome power and his love that reaches so far and so deep and so wide.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
We sat on a rock and prayed over a child fearing for his life. Not able to eat or sleep for fear of a gang that promised to return and take him, a gang that just months earlier murdered his 16 year old brother. How do you even wrap your head around that? You can't. I can't. We prayed and we cried out and we praised God because He can! Only God can offer that kind of promise, protection and peace.
" In this world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world." John 16:33
I urge you to pray for this child. God has shown him to us with purpose. We have looked into his eyes. The words from Gods mouth have become seeds in our hands. They have been sown in us and His works sprout through us. Pray for his protection. Pray that his faith would be greater than any fear that he faces. Pray that he would become a warrior for Christ and that as a result others would know of Gods love and gift of salvation.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015
As we finished building the house, I was once again offered to ride the horse back up the mountain. And knowing the struggle I had last year with the hike, I was very tempted to say yes. But something inside me changed. I don't know what, and I don't know why. Perhaps it was watching all the young men and women working so hard building the house, after many had already been up and down the mountain 3 or 4 times, and went to work in their field at the crack of dawn. I opted to hike back up the mountain, about an hour hike maybe a little longer. I even turned down the offer to have my back pack be carried up for me. If I was going to climb up the mountain, I was going to climb up the mountain on my own. Even if it meant taking extra stops and water breaks along the way.
I am proud of myself for pushing through, despite how exhausted I was afterward. It made the experience of building the houses so much richer. Giving my all in helping these families who spend weeks and months giving their all preparing their land is a very humbling experience.
God wanted to show me something while I am here in El Salvador, and here's what it is...
IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT ME!
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Saturday, April 25, 2015
On Sunday morning, at our first team devotion, Wayne Drudge from Listowel EMC shared from Psalm 133:
Thursday, April 23, 2015
"I am again so fortunate to be in El Salvador. I am here on the Leaders week.
Today my team built a house for a woman who has had quite a life. She has four children from 15 to 2yrs old. She is a single mom who has been through two men. The first one who gave her the two older kids left her for a different life. The second man gave her the next two kids and a beating for almost every day she was with him. He also beat his then 1 year old daughter. Unfortunately this is all too common in this country. She finally kicked him out. She works at the market selling candy. Some days she makes $3-5. Some days she makes nothing.
She broke down crying saying thank you from the bottom of my heart over and over.
This is why I come to El Salvador. To be the hands and feet. To start a new path. To begin to generate a different journey for those who cannot generate it for themselves. To wrestle with the thoughts of how a man could beat his wife and 1yr old daughter. Instead of dismissing the thought in disgust and acting towards the afflicted in warm hast to alleviate the tension in my heart I ask what are all the factors that take a man to this place. This type of evil is rarely sudden but more often compounded by environment and many other factors. I come to learn from those in the communities how to be a better father and husband. If they can do it here amidst what confronts them I can do it at home.
I come to give hope to those that need it. I come to receive hope in some of the most unlikely ways. If I am open and can see behind the obvious it is there and can have immeasurable inspiration. As much as the woman today was in a desperate place she has a strength that most do not.
Look for the inspiration behind the obvious. It exists everywhere. Maybe I am more aware of it here because I come to El Salvador looking for it. I treasure my times here because it moves me to a posture I long to possess more often than one or two weeks a year. Thank you people of El Salvador once again for your steady hand on the inner aspects of my life. You are a gift in the hand of God and you have made impact that will affect my family and their children as well."
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
There are several stories from today that will be important to share. They come from the people that we met, spent time with and listened to. If time allows over the next couple of days, I may share them in this space. If not, please feel free to ask me about the little girl with down-syndrome or the man with kidney failure.
We serve a God who continually welcomes us into His Kingdom work, sometimes in the most unlikely places...I am so thankful for that.
Monday, April 20, 2015
In the late afternoon we attended church in San Vincente. It had actually been a two or three years since I have had the opportunity to join together with these brothers and sisters on a Sunday. The message was on Numbers 6: 26-27 (I think), the benediction or blessing. Pastor Oscar gave an excellent and inspirational message - encouraged me all the more to keep up our use of benedictions.
He then transitioned into a time of giving thanks and blessing to the team leaders, 30 of us. He spoke of the importance of long term relationships and how the presence of the team leaders and the teams throughout the year give encouragement and inspiration to their church family. How it has compelled them to be more intentional in their own mission endeavours, in fact they have changed their name, from Templo Christiano, to Templo Missionaro. They want to be about mission, all the time.
The best part is the music we sing here at this church. They make a point of singing two or three songs, that Canadians know, and doing them at very high enthusiastic volume. It's actually incredibly powerful to sing songs of worship to our Lord in one Spirit, though in different languages. Today songs like: God of Wonders, Agnus Dei, Free to Live - all very powerful and all a reminder that one day we will sing these songs together in Eternity. But for now, we're given a little glimpse of what it could be like. Can you picture it?
Thanks for praying.