Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The story continues!

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

Hard transition

I returned to work this morning a little tired from our journey and had a very busy and satisfing day in a job that God has given me here.  But as I reflect, even though I love the job the satisfaction cannot compare with each day we had in El Salvador where you get to work not only with our great team but with translators and builders whose lives have been changed by the love of God.  Surrounded by people who love God with almost every action having the purpose of spreading God's love always produces some of the most satisfing days I have experienced.

Some would say that going into this rugged environment is hard but the reality is that coming back to a daily environment that does not have the support of the team or the satisfaction of seeing lives changed daily is the harder transition for me make.  

Thank you for your prayers for our team!  Please don't stop just yet. 


Thank You

It's 5:12 AM Monday mornin' and like much of the team,  I am just getting to bed after a long flight and foggy drive home. Before I close my eyes, this is just a quick thanks to those of you who have been praying for us and who otherwise made this trip possible for us through your sacrifices.

Thank you, and God Bless.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Something to Celebrate

In many ways it seems like we've been here a long time. And in other ways time has passed too quickly. It has been a privilege to serve on this team with these 14 other people. The Lord has taught me much through them. When we started on this journey we read Luke 10:1-9, where Jesus sends out seventy two disciples and gives them instructions about how they are to interact as strangers in unfamiliar places.

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.


Come to Me

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

Still Fun

Today we built our last two houses. It was a nice relaxed build, nice hot sunny day, we sat around and ate lunch together with those that had helped us all week feeling a sense of accomplishment and to top it off we played soccer with one of our first friends in El Salvador, Basilio. Definitely a good day😀

December 3

This week has been an eye opener for me for sure. Coming into the trip i was not expecting some of the conditions these people live through every day. People told me about how it was but nobody can truly explain how rough they   actually have it! For me personally I am the kind of guy that would give someone my things if they needed it more then I do but we were told not to and it took me a while to understand why, it would totally throw them out of whack to get a bunch of nice things or a hand full of pocket change. 

For me I really love playing with the kids! Its hard because of the language barrier but it is super cool that we can get past that and have tons of fun! I want to scoop them all up and take them home! 

We definitely aren't just here to build houses and I definitely realize that now! 


More than hammers and screws

This is my first time on a missions trip and even my first time being south of Tennessee. About a year ago or so pastor Deve mentioned to me about this missions trip that he leads every year down to El Salvador to build houses. Instantly my ears perked up with the mention of building things. I thought, boy we are building houses and they are even made out of sheet metal. This is my forte, I should be going. 

As Deve and I met, again and again the missions trip kept coming into conversation and I felt a stronger and stronger need to go. I had no idea what to expect exactly. I figured a team of 8 tradesmen will go down for a week and hammer out as many houses as we can stand. But when we first started having preparation meetings I became very confused. When I looked around the room at the faces of my teammates and got to know them, none of them were tradesmen, some of them didn't even seem comfortable with an impact driver. What kind of team are we assembling if we are going to build houses and half the people can't use an impact? I thought well maybe the houses aren't that hard to put together and we will be okay. 

Within the first build day everything came to light. I quickly realized that even though not everyone was a builder we all had very strong gifts and skills to bring to make this team whole. By the end of the first day, we had needed the skills of a mechanic to change a flat on the truck, the skills of a nurse to patch up some cuts, and the compassion of mothers to communicate hope and love to the women of the community. I can plug a thousand screws into any building but I would have never been able to connect to theses families like my teammates can. 

I realized that God has given us a beautiful and dynamic tool box full of tools to do his work. It is evident that every person on this team has a role to play, that no one else on the team can do as well. This diversity makes our team so strong; and gives us the ability to spread so much love and hope that it is overwhelming. 

This is so much more than just building houses.


Welcome back Hosea

Two days ago as we made a brief stop to drop of tools at the community we were to build at the next day I saw a familiar face.  Hosea was a young man who's family had received a home last year and who had been a great worker on all the homes built last year.  When he saw us his great smile lit up his face.  I wondered if he would be helping us build this year but assumed that since he would be farming and his family was not receiving a home that he would likely not be available.  

But Yesterday even though not required he was there. We talked a little as we dug the holes but as soon as that was done he found a translator to say to me "I want a impact driver". Again the huge smile lit up his face as he took the tool and rushed to start building scaling the house like a monkey. He continue this pace right to the end even searching for extra work to do before reluctantly giving up the tool.  The impact we had on the man last year was clearly evident.  I imagine waiting an entire year for dreaming of when you can have the opportunity to use a skill that you believe is God given and that you enjoy. 

I hope I see Hosea again today even though we have moved to another community. 


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

'The Poor'

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....


The end of an era

Perhaps it had to happen. Some say it was inevitable. After 12 trips to El Salvador and having held me together as about 100 families have received new homes. After many hills and valleys walked. After holding dozens of pounds of trail mix in that dirt filled right pocket. After being inspired by an endless number of faith inspiring stories, then time has come...to say goodbye to my favourite pair of shorts. 
Early in the day yesterday, as I reached down into a post hole to remove a rock I heard the sound that broke my heart even as it ripped through the faded green material. 

Goodbye faded-green-el Salvador-house building-shorts. Thanks for always being there....until you weren't. Because of your faithfulness over many years I was not embarrassed to walk around the rest of the day knowing laughter was generated as I walked by. I will miss the comfort you bring. 



"As for me, I call to God, and The Lord saves me.
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.


God's presence

Today was a very emotional day.  Let me tell you one families story.  This family was not getting a house but their sister was.  We had just finished painting the girls nail and started talking to them about what life was like.  The mom shared that her husband was working in the U.S.  She also shared that one of here sons had been killed by the gangs in the last few months.  She went on to tell us the gang had approached  her younger son to work for them.  He had refused and they threatened to kill him.  The child had a lot of fear because of this .  Our team was able to share that God would honour this commitment and that God knows what is happening him. They were able to share Jeremiah 29:11.For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans  to prosper you and not harm you plans to give you hope and a future.  When he was afraid he could call out to God and he would hear him. It was amazing to see and feel God's presence as we prayed for God to protect this boy and his family.  Let's all lift up this family to God.  We serve a mighty God.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1st

I've only been here for 4 days now and words cant even describe this experience. You wonder and ask yourself.. Why would these people go to these places? Why would they go to one of the most dangerous places in the world and leave their lives behind to build families homes. Well.. I can officially say I know. It takes a brave and courageous human being to do such a thing and I am lucky enough to have 14 right here beside me. Changing somebodies life is breathtaking and knowing what these people do day to day just to survive is absolutely astonishing. No matter what lies infront of you there is always an answer.  


Children of El Salvador

Today we were at a village building a home for a family of 5  A single mother and 4 children.   It was the oldest child probably 12 years old that touched my heart.  She asked her mother if when the people from Canada come will they build us a home and the mother said no they won't I have been too sinful but the little girl began to pray every night.  Then the mother said 2 weeks ago we were contacted and told we were going to receive a house. When asked the mother says she now believes. We told her once you believe in Jesus nothing you can do can make God love you more and nothing you can do can make God love you less God forgives your sins do you beleive this and she said yes she did.  Then the mother told us the little girl (Emily is her name) stayed up until midnight every night clearing off the land so that we could build the house.  A child of faith in that home a child of El Salvador such a precious little girl with the faith of a giant.  It was a rewarding day today thank you Father God for this opportunity .