Friday, January 6, 2017
This week, we have heard many stories of personal struggles. We have seen houses made of mud and sticks. Mud, which will wash away in the rainy season. We have listened as people we work with each day tell us stories of working in the market at seven years old, or selling food in dangerous areas, because they were desperate to feed their families.
Yesterday, I stood in the home of a grandmother, who taught showed us how to make tortillas. She described being a child and having to walk all of the neighboring villages until she sold all of the tortillas, because if she came home without selling them all she would be beaten.
Yesterday, I sat on the remains of a demolished bridge, listening to two men describe a civil war that completely wrecked an entire country. Listening to one of those men say that he thinks it is more dangerous in El Salvador today than it was in the middle of the civil war.
In all of this, through all of these stories, they have been content. They have smiled. They have laughed. They have praised God in their circumstances. They have thanked Him for what they have.
After building a home for one family, the father said to us, "We were happy before this house. I think it is important you know we were happy before. But we will be happier now."
Others have already spoken of how this week helps us to see God's Word come alive. Every time I listen to their stories, I can hear the words in my heart:
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles." Phil 4:11-13
I am thankful to see this verse in action. I am thankful to have these stories to inspire me to give more, to love more, to be more. I am thankful for the reminder that I am blessed with many comforts, but that the blessing of God's love should be more important to me than all of those things.
Today is the official key ceremony. Please pray for us that we may communicate to these families how much doing this with them has meant to us, that they may know how important they are, how worthy they are.
As always, thanks for following our journey!
I've been trying all week to think of something worth blogging about, something that will be worth your time to read. I've been staring at a blank screen for at least fifteen minutes now and it's getting late (at least to me) so here goes nothing!! My hesitance to blog isn't for lack of things to blog about, in fact, maybe it's the opposite. Too many things, too little time to describe them in a way that will accurately represent my experiences?? I'll go with that.
This week has been everything I've been hoping for since my parents started coming down eight years ago. While this is my fifth trip, this is my first one with constant activity. No sitting through meetings or doing homework this time around! I've loved being able to use the building experience I have to work alongside those who are here for their first time. There's something so special about watching everyone experience being here for the first time. It's refreshing, they notice things that perhaps I've gotten used to.
As I go through each day, whether it be picking my way through breakfast or using my limited Spanish class knowledge to make conversation, I can't help but think that this is it. This is what I am supposed to be doing. Helping the helpless. Fighting for justice. Listening to not only the stories of those we are building for, but also the locals and those we interact with each day here only solidify that. The difference that is made and shown in their lives makes it impossible to think of doing anything else (I would describe some of the stories we have heard but I will leave it for some of the other team members as they can share much better than I can. ) I look at the kids and listen as they share their dreams. Dreams that haven't been tainted by the dark and dangerous place they live. They deserve every chance to accomplish those dreams and I want to be apart of making that happen.
I guess maybe this post isn't really about this week as much as it is about the future. I can't wait for the day where this is my career. It must be close to an hour of me trying to write now so thank you for toughing out this painful read! Maybe I'll try again another day....
If you're following along with the posts from the last few days, you'll have read about the trip to the volcano and the excitement and exhilaration of the climb. About the stamina and determination of making it to the top and overcoming obstacles to get there. But for me, the story was a little different. Hiking with steep elevations has proved to be very difficult for me and I find myself getting very short of breath. This hike was no different and after maybe 20 minutes I knew I wouldn't be able to continue. I felt humiliated, frustrated, small. But I knew I would have to turn back. And in doing so would have to take people back with me. So my dear friend Donald, one of our translators Patricia and a lady from the mayor's office offered to head back down with me. I watched as Deve and the last of the remaining volunteers headed up and out of sight...
Back we went. To the spot where our truck was parked. When the tears were flowing and I wished for what I couldn't do. Because sometimes things in life just don't go the way we'd hoped - no matter how hard we try. And then God gave me an unexpected gift right when I needed it most.
The truck was parked at the home of a past El Salvadorian president. Up on the volcano in the middle of his coffee plantation. So while we ate our lunch I casually asked if there might be someone around who could tell us a little bit about the coffee and how it's grown. No one really knew, but a little while later I was introduced to a lovely elderly gentleman who had worked there for 60 years from the age of 13.
He had so much to tell and it was so fascinating. And then, to my companions' surprise, he did something that apparently just doesn't happen... He opened a gate and led us into the president's gardens. Centuries old walkways and stairways. Manicured lawns and stunning floral gardens. All looking out to the valleys and hills around us. It was so beautiful and so unexpected and so lovely. I was thankful beyond what I could express. To our kind and generous guide, but mostly to Our God (my true Guide) - The One who is always there to show us the way. Even when it was not the way we had planned.