Thursday, November 29, 2018


For the past 9 years I have been patiently waiting to go to El Salvador. All the amazing stories that were brought back home from each trip made me more excited to come. This year I am finally old enough to be a part of this team. Over the past 5 days I have been able to be a part of the build team and I was able to make many relationships with the kids. I quickly realized that the kids laugh at anything I do, whether it’s being really bad at frisbee or just saying things in English. 

Seeing the kids so happy and smiling all the time just made me feel so blessed to be able to come on this mission trip. Hearing the unique stories from the families receiving homes along with the kids smiles and laughter has helped me realize that God is at work everywhere. 
Shailah Allen

Empty or Full

There are promises that God makes, in the book of Isaiah, chapter 58, that at first seem hard to believe. They are hard to believe for a long list of reasons, but does it always need to be that way?

A number of years ago our family started sponsoring Compassion children who live in El Salvador. One became two, and then a couple of years ago we added a third. Does sponsorship make a difference? Does it make a difference in Jesus name?  The answer is no...kind of...Giving a monthly amount doesn't make a difference. Just about any of us can do that. 

Becoming a sponsor is a much greater honour and privilege. It's a relationship. And relationships require that you make room in your life, that you exchange thoughts, hopes and disappointments. My amazing wife, Amanda, is the one most responsible for maintaining these relationships. And the cost of time, creative energy, and finances, is very much an investment, not an expense.

In the first three days of our trip we have been spent, physically, with all the building involved under the hot Salvadoran sun. Today we were spent emotionally. We had the privilege, once again to meet and enjoy time with our sponsored children. They met us at our hotel, where we played games, shared a meal, showed photos, and got caught up on their educational progress.  In the exchange, it is just incredibly humbling to see and hear that they have treasured every piece of information that we share in the letters. They ask questions based on what they have learned through those letters and they have treasured the pictures we have sent to them by post or by email. Becoming a sponsor has allowed us to be spent emotionally (and there is a financial expense as well),..but those long hard hugs at the end of a visit, refill our emotional tanks to overflowing...God doesn't have to do that, but He is faithful to his promise. 

And then this afternoon, we had the unique privilege of sharing with the Salvadoran Shelter team about the differences that the Lord has been making in our church family over our 10 years of sending teams. Over 60 different people have made their way here, at their own expense, at the sacrifice of salary, time away from family and familiarity. Our desire in this meeting was to bless them by giving testimony to how we as individuals, as families, as a church family and as a community are being transformed in Canada, because of the strengthening of mutuality in our partnership here. Tyson summed it up well, "I don't how it happens, but we went in there to bless them, but now we're sitting here overwhelmed by what the Lord is doing with all of us."

So as I sit here tonight, so blessed to be part of a family, a church family, a mission family and sponsorship families, I am spent yet I am full...even to overflowing. 


Random Thoughts from Jason

Having spoken with Pat at great length about his experiences I felt like I was coming into this somewhat prepared.  Now having experienced the build and the emotions of helping families I realize that I was not at all prepared for how I would feel and I’m still not sure how this will impact me when it’s over.

It’s amazing to see an entire community come out and help, whether they are getting a house or not.  In a world that can seem at times a bit self centred and isolated it’s very inspiring to see neighbours rally for each other and believe that a few families getting this blessing will improve the whole community.

A roof that leaks constantly or a house that we cannot lock and feel secure in - how might our Canadian lives be if we had to be concerned about those thing? What if you helped someone get those basics? What else might they then be able to do for their families and communities? 

I was thinking before and during this trip why not just make an online donation to Shelter, go back to watching Netflix and let Salvadorenos build the houses, wouldn’t that create jobs, wouldn’t that be better? Matt, one of my roommates had the opportunity to speak to one of our great Salvadoran translators about just that topic and it turns out that it does mean a lot to the Salvadorenos that we do take the time to come down here and do this, it’s a very memorable experience for them and as a result, the experience of getting a house means that much more.

My own room, ice cold beverages, a hot shower with good water pressure, seat belts, etc - pretty much most of that is not happening here. Believing that we are here to make a difference and appreciating how the people we are helping live their lives (without most of what we take as given) gives me the perspective to live without (for now).

Pupusas are my new favourite food.

Glad Karen did not make me yelp when putting antiseptic on my cut. Thanks Karen!


Why Come Here?

This year we are the first team to build in these new villages ( which I have yet to get the names for). We were told the children had never seen white people before. It was interesting to feel and see the apprehension and excitement turn into comfortable conversations and camaraderie. I still love coming here and have been pondering why because there are many uncomfortable aspects to this trip. But I love being a small part of a bigger story and watching that story develop first hand. I really like building things and working with people. I am not a great conversationalist so the language barrier in some respects takes the pressure off and I can just work alongside them and observe the different personalities and cultural differences. 

I love seeing the familiar faces of the shelter team and seeing them develop a growing confidence in their positions. In some cases watching their roles expand. I love watching my kids here and experience the trip through their eyes. I love meeting the families in the villages and getting to know them. I love seeing the kids in the different communities and seeing the universal similarities. The shy kid, the boisterous kid, the incredibly cute troublemaker, the leader , the followers.... No matter how different we appear culturally, we all bleed red (and need a nurse😊) I love getting away from the familiarity of my life and letting myself be shaped and moulded. Sometimes not in the moment though. I love getting away from my busyness and focusing on God and his work completely. I love riding in the back of the truck observing a 360 degree view of this beautiful country. I truly love being in the sun! Some of these thoughts got me through my many trips to the bano this year and the extremely itchy ant bites...and the week is only just half over.