The theme verses for Shelter are found in the Old Testament book of Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, mortal, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Over the last four days we have been working together with some wonderful people in two different remote communities in El Salvador (El Zaite and San Jose Los Almendros). Together we have built homes for 14 families, over these three days! It has been two years since the leaders of this community first connected with Shelter. In that time they have been working at preparing their community to receive a team of well meaning Canadians, who come with a great measure of enthusiasm that outweighs their expertise.
The Lord, over time, has been helping us to better understand the importance of mutuality in this amazing development work of which we are simply, one part. It’s when all the parts come together that it becomes something almost indescribable in which to be caught up.
We rise early (6:00am), at least for me. Breakfast at 6:30. Trucks and vans come for us at 7:30 and we’re off on our 1:15 commute along the highway, then into San Felipe, and then along some dusty, rocky, winding roads in the mountains. We are met by an enthusiastic posse from the community and then we split into two teams to build the houses, under the hot sun and soaring temperatures. A brief stop for lunch and then more building. Our build day ends close to 4, and then we make the commute back; a quick shower and change; and we’re off to a well prepared dinner that awaits our arrival. After dinner we might make a quick stop for a little treat, and then it’s back to the hotel for a debrief time. Finally, it’s off to bed to get ready to do it again.
It can be intense and tiring. There’s a sensory overload that takes place but it’s all the conversations that take place during the long day that makes each trip worthwhile. Conversations, with limited words, but warm smiles and good natured laughter as attempt to forge a common understanding between strangers with different languages. Conversations and laughter with our teammates. Conversations and laughter with our Shelter team here in El Salvador. Through all those relationships the Lord is at work, rekindling hope, reigniting faith, and restoring brokenness, in us and in them. Justice brings hope, mercy inspires faith and brokenness is mended in humility. It’s hard to describe what happens when you get caught up into the reality of these virtues coming to life. All I know is that you’re never the same when you allow the Lord to lead you into the middle of it.
May God continue to do his good work with us, among us, through us and toward us.