Friday, November 29, 2019

My One Thing (kind of)

The week is over, it was filled with laughter, smiles, tears and a lot of hand gestures. At debrief we had to come up with one thing that we really liked, enjoyed, or inspired us. It could be a person, conversation, or a moment. I struggled to come up with just one thing. There were just so many fun and fulfilling moments.
 The first day we were building at the site the kids at the start were very shy and were kind of scared. We were the first team to ever build in the community so they didn’t know what was really going on. We got out colouring and stickers. I sat beside a little boy and with my amazing hand gestures I asked him if he wanted to colour. He shook his head. So I started colouring the page by myself. I could see he was fascinated by it and wanted to do it. He was just a little nervous. Fast forward about 10 minutes and there were 5 kids all colouring. They were laughing and smiling as taijah and I put stickers on them. As all good things have to come to an end the day was over. So we packed up everything and waited for the truck. The next day we pulled up into the community. Instantly the kids were smiling and laughing. That right there was what i really liked. This moment filled my heart with joy to see the kids glowing with excitement and happiness.


I Can’t

As the week has come to an end I have compiled a list of all the things I’ve been told not to do during my time in El Salvador, some people see them as big no no’s. I see them as mere suggestions (I actually do listen to and respect the actual big no no’s just putting that out there) 

I can’t drink the water from the community 
I can’t eat the food from the community 
I can’t flush my toilet paper 
I can’t say no to accepting food that I also can’t eat because it will offend someone 
I can’t climb the trees because it’s “dangerous” 
I can’t get a good wifi connection 
I can’t ask the police to hold their guns 
I can’t go to the bathroom alone 
I can’t go anywhere alone 
I can’t leave the hotel at night or in the morning unless we all are
I can’t understand people I’m working beside 
I can’t speak Spanish 
I can’t hold back tears when hearing an emotional story 
I can’t hold back laughter 
I can’t get away from the sun 
I can’t keep up with the locals on the builds at all 
I can’t not sweat through my shirts 
I can’t always find the right words to say 

So there’s a list of some things I can’t do on this trip but here’s what I can do 

I can show up 
I can wake up 5 minutes before breakfast and still beat some people there maybe not Jason but some people
I can step out of my comfort zone 
I can bless others because I have been blessed
I can encourage people 
I can pray for someone 
I can be the hands and feet of Jesus 
I can come to El Salvador and be proof that God has not forgotten these people, to pray over them and work alongside them (at a much slower pace) and build a relationship with them blessing them with a house but more importantly letting them know that there is a church family that has been supporting our team to be in the beautiful country and has been praying for them. 
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me 

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and this team, I thank you for your prayers and I ask that you continue to pray for the families we built for. If you have never been to El Salvador and have the opportunity or ability and think that you can’t go because you aren’t young enough or strong enough or whatever your reason is, I strongly encourage you to forget those reasons and go because I guarantee it will open your eyes to what you can do through our all mighty God. 



I have been wondering what to blog about all week. The first story that comes to mind and has stuck with me all week is Delmy’s story. She was brave enough to share her pain, her fears and her uncertain future with us. I admire her authentic openness no matter the cost. This was our first time meeting these people and a first for this village. I think from past experiences here that they are told to give us the best example and impression of the El Salvadian people and culture. So for her to share her story with honesty and emotion was precious to me.
Delmy giving thanks on behalf of a group of families, at the key ceremony. 
We first heard she was a single mom with one child but as we were doing the introductions there was a very cute little girl with soft brown eyes sitting beside us.  She interrupted and said (through translation) that she was going to the United States tomorrow.

We all kind of smiled and the home owner went on to tell us her father went to the USA last year but didn’t make it stayed in Mexico and started a new family. The Mother also left when she found out he was not coming back so their 3 children are orphans being raised by their grandmother. Her beautiful eyes then began to tear up and she told us her husband had left for the USA the day before while we were meeting the families.  She expressed how fearful she was that he may do the same as the other man, or die trying to get there or hurt or killed. She was afraid she may never see him again. Her pain was so clear but yet so was her strength. How beautiful she was sharing so openly and honestly.  We were able to share the hope of Jesus with her how it was not a coincidence that her husband left yesterday and today she will have a house. That God is taking care of her He had not forgotten her and he loves her dearly.  I will never forget her.  Her authentic honesty and courage to share her pain was heartbreaking, beautiful and inspiring all at the same time.


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“Between a rock and a hard place”. It’s an English language idiom. A turn of phrase that means that someone is caught in between two difficult choices or circumstances.
For the last several years, I’ve asked our team members to sum up their week with one word. I’ll be doing the same today. This word provides a way for us to filter our thoughts and impressions of the trip in a succinct way for the purpose of engaging the “how was it?” questions that we face.

My word will be: “hard”

This week has been great overall. But it has also been hard:
it was hard for our teams to be unexpectedly and unintentionally working over an hour apart on two different days.
It always hard to work in outdoor conditions of over 40 degrees.
really large boulder that needed to be removed
It was hard for some to walk up or down mountain passes  or across unknown fields to your next site.
It was often hard to dig through sticking dense clay only to find big rocks, and bigger boulders.
It always hard to step out of your comforts in order to immerse and engage.
It’s sometimes hard to submit your preferences for the good of the team and the Kingdom mission.

And after 20+ visits and 6 days of this trip, participating in what God is doing, you’d think things would get easier. But it’s still hard:

it’s hard to see the difficult circumstances that some people face, knowing that our cultural proverb: “ if you work hard enough you’ll be successful”, doesn’t translate to those who work intensely hard for a meal, a roof and a handful of clothes.
It’s hard to hear some of the stories of hurt, fear and abandonments and remain unchanged.
It’s hard to ignore the eager desire to work toward a new trajectory for life and be unmotivated in my own.
It’s hard to miss the opportunity God has given us to speak words of life into a small community and not be humbled by His enablement, and hare to believe the way we are blessed through these God appointed interactions.
It’s hard to understand that having our some of comforts, fears and emotions exposed reveals places in our lives that the Lord still wants to pour His grace into.
The Shelter team of drivers
It’s hard to believe that God could use us, knowing all our faults, insecurities and weaknesses, and extend His Kingdom through us.
It’s hard to conceive that every prayer and every small dollar donated could make such a significant difference in the lives of Salvadorans and Canadians.
It’s hard to leave, not knowing what will become of these 14 families or this community, yet trusting that Gods good work will be completed.
It’s hard to leave, our growing and vibrant Shelter family, who give and serve with increasing excellence, to the glory of God. So as we go we encourage, recommission and commit to prayer their ongoing efforts with these and other families in El Salvador.

At the end of Jesus’ most famous sermon, recorded in Matthew 7, he talks about being in a hard place, where rains come down and waters rise. He also talks about a rock, a firm foundation forged through faithfully listening to and responding to Gods truth.

Between a rock and hard place, Jesus says, a home can be built. Between the rock of faithfulness and the hard places of life, struggle and circumstance, safety can be found. We live in the now and not yet of the Unfolding Kingdom of God, between a rock and a hard place where 14 families and 14 Canadians are finding shelter in Jesus.

We were reminded in one of this week’s devotions, Psalm 9:9 (the Message):

“God’s a safe-house for the battered,
    a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
    you’re never sorry you knocked”

Welcome in, to a world between the rock and the hard place, where Jesus is at work and is inviting us to follow. The choice is ours to make.



This is my second trip to El Salvador and I’m yet again speechless of how amazing God is. I’m going to share a story that is rare to hear in El Salvador. It’s about a husband who truly loves his wife. We don’t often hear stories of men staying around. Actually most of them are  about a young woman that has multiple children and has been left by a man. But I found this story so inspiring that there are still faithful men out there. So I’m going to share his story.
Dennis is 20 years old man and has a 4 year old daughter and a wife. When he found out he was going to get a house he was thrilled but then the realization sunk in. Where are we going to build this house because we live on the side of a mountain. The thought of clearing the land to make a spot for a house almost seemed impossible. But Dennis never gave up. He had to make a flat spot but there were many large rocks and I mean very large rocks in his way. He dug out the side of the hill to help level his land. He moved rocks to form a big square around the spot that the house will be. So that it would be able to hold dirt in. He had to dig all the big rocks out before putting dirt into to make sure it was all level. Dennis would wake up at 6:00am and work till 9:00pm for a whole month.   The best part about Dennis’s story was during our interview he said I’ve seen and heard many stories of men leaving their wives and the hurt it’s brought. I’m not going to leave my beautiful wife and my beautiful daughter.
Dennis had to work so hard to be able to get a house to keep his girls safe. His story stuck out to me because no matter how much work it is or how hard things can get sometimes. It’ll all be worth it one day.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

14 Families and 14 homes

Once again our building days are done and, I am up early, with time to reflect on the week.  While many things are familiar, the hotel, the food, the heat, the rocks, the view of the volcano, and the tools,  there is always new on every trip. The families are always new and this year I was able to hear the stories from the seven which our team built for.  I was uplifted that six of the seven had fathers who were present in the lives of there families and participated in our interviews.  Three were older and had been with there wives for many years while the other three were younger.  All the families had young children or grandchildren that would be living in the new houses. 

One of the older men had gone blind 7 years ago so his oldest son (9 at the time) had to take over supporting the family. I cannot imagine the hardships of being blind living on the side of a Rocky Mountain in a house with mud floors and I cannot imagine being nine and having the responsibility of feeding my family, and yet here they were and both had the ability to sit with us and even smile and laugh (especially when talking about their new house).   

Two of the younger fathers (Alberto and Dennis) were the hardest workers on our team and I was able to share many moments on the build sites with them. Dennis touched us all as during the interview he declared his devotion to his family and how he had seen other fathers leave, that the children were always most affected, and that he would not do this to his family.  Both of these young families thanked and gave praise to God for their new homes. 

There were many other differences and difficulties on this trip but none will be remembered outside of these families which have blessed our lives by sharing themselves with us. 


Morning Thoughts

My morning “routine” in El Salvador starts with getting up about an hour before my roommates (not hard to rise before your roommate when it’s Quinn), grab a coffee and head to the upper meeting room. 

I look at one of Gods’ wonders that is the San Vincente volcano and the cloud hat it wears in the morning get slowly burned off by the sun and think it’s going to be another beautiful and hot day in the making, just perfect for outside work!

I watch the pupusa stand across the street open for business, I wonder could I ever be able to crank out pupusas as fast as she can (probably not), I wish I could walk across the street and ask her to show me, maybe even try one? (Sure to make me sick) I wonder about the family that runs it, I assume they are just trying to do the best for their family and what are their hopes and dreams?

I love observing the weekday in San Vicente come to life - motorcycles buzzing, trucks & cars honking, city buses sort of like ours only much more decorated & beat up, then there are these pickup trucks with the backs caged in (like we ride out to the builds) that are packed with people, people hanging off the back, people of all stripes. On the way to the builds as we wind our way through town I watch people working roadside stands selling food, opening up stores that often also house their homes in the back, taking their kids to school, taking a pickup truck full of goats somewhere? They are just people trying to make a living, to do the best for their families and future, with hopes and dreams, just like us. 

Sure, there’s a few not so great things to see as well but it’s completely overwhelmed by the beauty that is El Salvador and it’s the many small beauties that I try to take in and appreciate.

After all this pondering and observing it is off to the builds where there will be more opportunities to see God at work .


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Day 3 Complete

We’ve officially competed day 3 of building and I feel like I can speak for most of us when I say it was a long, hot, and a tiring day but I also think that those feelings aside at the end of the day we enjoyed every minute of it. We talked at the beginning of the week about some of the complaints we had about being here in El Salvador. I think at the beginning it was hard for us to grasp on and figure out how to answer the question considering it was an odd thing to try and talk about, except Tyson he did a great job being the first one to answer. Eventually we got the conversation moving. Some people didn’t like the weather, some people didn’t like not being able to flush toilet paper or the amount of garage filling the El Salvador environment, and someone people struggle with watching the young children drink multiple cans of pop (aka me...). The conversation was quite funny but through out the week it had me thinking about all the different things that are out there that we experience and witness in El Salvador that we could all have a negative outlook on but we chose to overlook all of those things because of the seed that God has planted in our hearts it allows us to admire the things that others would turn away from. We’re able to acknowledge the love and work of God that is happening in El Salvador to make us want to come back over and over again. Like I said before there’s a lot we could complain about during our week here but I believe the feeling we get knowing we’re serving the Lord and being the hands and feet of Jesus, is far better than any feelings we could have against the piles of garbage or the cans of pop. 

All being said I’m sure I’ll be excited when it comes home time and the adjustment back to normal life. But for now I’m much more excited about all the seeds God has been planting here in this place we love so much and the experience we have while being able to be a part of His plan.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

My blog list of observations...

ElSalvador is more than I expected.
I like digging holes.
Driving in the back of a truck on bumpy roads was worth the wait.
I like when Lori buys me Pepsi because she feels guilty for having hogged it all -haha.

I’m not a fan of ElSalvadorian breakfast but the suppers are good.
It’s hot and I stink real bad by the end of the day.
The babies here are adorable.
I’ve learned some apparently useless Spanish, “donde esta la biblioteca?”
I can’t wait to get some knock off merchandise like “Roy Boy” and “Oakey” sunglasses, and a pair of “fans” sneakers.
You can actually pet the dogs even tho you’re not supposed to.
I’ve got it pretty good at home. 
Elsalvadorians are some of the hardest working people I’ve met.
Working together is fun.
Even the people that aren’t getting a house are good to help the ones that are.
A young guy asked us to pray for him and it was cool that we could. 
Even tho it’s sad to hear some the stories and see how hard their lives can be I am happy that we can share about Gods love for them.


Monday, November 25, 2019

It’s a mess

(Please note that wifi availability isn’t good this week - our blogposts May be infrequent)

On Sunday night at our team debrief we opened with a round of complaining- on purpose. There are things that make us uncomfortable, that are inconvenient and that just don’t seem right, just or good.  Sometimes we try to bury those thoughts and say something nice instead. We threw all our training out the window for one short moment in time!

The reason we did this was so that we could all agree that we are in a mess. We feel personal aspects of disorder and we see, hear and smell so many other messy realities while we’re here, working in the poorest of the poor communities. And then...

We were reminded that Jesus enters into the mess to proclaim His Kingdom! The mess isn’t a sign that Jesus isn’t there. It’s the indication that He is already at work.

And then came today.
We experienced a lot of personal inconvenience: our work sites ended up being too far apart; our two way radios died, our cell phone didn’t have reception, one team ran out of water, one team didn’t have first aid kits, and on and on. It was a logistical mess. Being reminded that Jesus works in the mess was timely and we certainly saw the Lord bring order from disorder: 4 families received homes that will change their lives. Their mess was and is greater. They needed to know that Jesus is present and He would care for them.

In the midst of the mess we saw the Kingdom of Jesus settle in and wrap around some families. One lady, Dalmi, needs you to talk to Jesus on her behalf. Yesterday her husband left, leaving her to raise two young children. He was going to try to make it to the US. Many don’t make it. Most don’t come back for or send for their families. She was fearful that she would be left, and we couldn’t say anything that would counter those thoughts.

Instead we committed to sharing her story so that others would pray to God on her behalf. We reminded her that God holds the broken-hearted close and that He promises to provide for the fatherless. We reminded her that God was already providing- with a house and we encouraged her to meet each day with gratitude and expectation that God still had good days ahead for her and her children.

People sometimes ask why we don’t just send money. Why? Because a cheque can’t drive an hour into a remote country village and climb 20 minutes up a steep mountain pass and sit across from a despairing woman to listen to her painful mess and commit her to the love and mercy of Jesus. She’s knows God has not forgotten her because God sent us to her. We know God has not forgotten her because he provided for us to get there.

Pray for Delmi. She’s in a mess but Jesus is with her and because of your partnership she now knows that.

Meeting the families

Sunday mornings are always anticipated because it’s the first chance we get to meet the families that will be receiving homes. Admittedly, the excitement in meeting them has, in previous years, been dampened by the fact that a few barriers exist. You may think it’s the language barrier, but that’s not it. The language barrier has always been closed by the excellent work of our interpreters. It’s the awkward barrier. The awkwardness of us Canadians being seated in the front row. The awkwardness of having families paraded in front of us and them having to answer questions in front of a group of strangers. There was plenty of awkwardness to go around.

But, something new has been done in recognition of that awkwardness while trying to forge a bond between two groups of strangers. The solution: fun, plain silly fun!!  Circle game laughter-relay game running-balloon passing-water being dumped on your head kind of fun! It’s a small change that acknowledges the awkwardness everyone feels and using that to show how similar we are in our initial apprehension and our ability to laugh at ourselves.

Today we played those games with 14 families. We will be working alongside them, as a first time recipient community.

Tomorrow we start to build...relationships and homes.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Year 11 - Ready to roll!

Hey everyone, just a quick update to let you know that we have arrived safely to our home away from home in San Vicente, El Salvador. It was a beautiful and smooth drive into the airport and a smooth flight down here.  We were greeted warmly by our Shelter staff and checked into our rooms. Months of preparation and prayer have brought us to this place. As always, The Lord will have some things for each of us to discover. Even more, He will undoubtedly reveal Himself to us in new ways. It’s one of the joys of joining Him on mission whether we’re local or global - God is working in and through people!  Thanks for your encouragement, support and prayer.

Friday, April 12, 2019


Saying "Thanks!" at times seems like it doesn't convey enough..but in the limitations of my small grasp of the English language, it's all of I've got. So, I'll give you my all: Thanks!! A whole bunch!! Over the last several years, the Governing Board of our home church, the Sarnia EMC, has given me the freedom to spend two weeks away on Global Mission. It's a gift that continues to provide tremendous encouragement, refreshment and energy. Serving on the Shelter Canada Board of Directors is a tremendous privilege.   It has allowed me to see the Lord making a transformative difference in the lives of thousands of Salvadorans, and hundreds of Canadians, every year.

One highlight from our meetings has been the recognition that in this past season, 2018/2019, Shelter Canada has built 464 homes for 464 families in El Salvador. This past season 313 team members, in response to God's commissioning call, made their way from Canada to El Salvador. As a result 1,527 people were moved into new homes that provide safety, security and shelter!! 1,527!!  That means that every team member had a Kingdom influence on five Salvadorans. Each one of those people the 313 + 1527, were enfolded within the work of confronting injustice and demonstrating mercy. The result, we pray, is that many are being transformed to make their life decisions in ways that honour God. Our theme verse for Shelter comes from Micah 6:8.

As we get the chance to connect with other leaders from across our country, we are humbled by the stories they tell of their personal transformation as well as how the lives of their team members are being transformed by the grace and truth of Jesus!

There is more to tell...always there is...but for now, I'll leave at this: Thanks! For your support, your prayer, your encouragement and your interest.

If you'd like to join one of our teams, let's talk about it!


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Meet me at the Meeting

Well first, let me apologize for the lack of blogging here this week. There are three main reasons for this: 

First,  we have 54 Canadians staying at the hotel (an amazing number, as there are a number of prospective new team leaders). This means that there are 54 people vying for wifi all at the same times. 

The second reason for the lack of blogging has been the number of meetings that are part of Leader's week. We have our general meetings, workshops, and special speakers. This year our guest speaker has been comedian Phil Callaway. He has brought great levity and also some very insightful teaching on leadership and communication. In addition to our general meetings, I also have board meetings to attend. Our Shelter board, to this point, only meets face to face twice a year. As the Lord increases our capacity, the policies and preparations that we need to make as a board increase and require more time, discussion, debate and resolution. 

Ephesians 4:3-7 "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

The beginning of these verses are so important, "Make every effort". This is the hard work of ensuring that we are pulling in the same direction, as we follow Jesus in this ministry. Meetings are not my favourite thing (surprise, self disclosure...haha), however, the common effort to seek the unity of the Spirit is always very compelling. 

Having gone through these last four long days and nights with meetings, I am thankful for your prayer support and encouragement. We celebrate 464 families receiving homes and entering into discipleship relationships through Shelter. We celebrate the growing capacity of our El Salvador team. We celebrate the enthusiasm of new team leaders. And I celebrate more chances to share the story of our home team, the Sarnia EMC!

I did mention that there were three reasons for the lack of blogging...the third reason: I'm travelling with Tyson :)  He's a great ambassador for the Lord, and for the SEMC, but he's no blogger!!

Thursday, 12 families will be receiving the keys to their homes. Tyson helped to build two of those homes, out in the warm (hot) sun, while I was in meetings. It's going to be a great time celebrating with this community. 

Thanks so much for your prayer, 


Monday, April 8, 2019


Well, Tyson and I arrived on time in El Salvador on Saturday night. I say that because it's easy to get used to smooth travel without incidence. We can take it for granted that we can travel thousands of kilometres through the air, as easy as a walk down the hall.

We left from Sarnia and flew to Toronto. Enjoyed a nice breakfast and boarded our next flight to Houston. All was well. We settled into our seats, went through the safety demonstration and the plane started to back out. All was well...and then it wasn't. The plane stopped. The pilot came on and informed us that we need to pull back into the gate because some trash had flown into one of the engines. Not to worry, he said, as it should only take a few minutes to deal with and then we'd be on our way. A few minutes turned into an hour, and then almost two. We then deplaned and got in line to begin making alternate arrangements, when they called us back on board. We were ready to go. While many would miss their connections in Houston, we still had a shot at making ours...did I mention that the South East of the U.S. was experiencing some bad storms?  Well they were. The turbulence lasted for at least an hour - it was  the drinks--sent-flying-people-bonked-their-head-kids-thinking-they-were-on-a-rolle-coaster kind of turbulence.

Somehow we made it into Houston. Thankfully our arrival gate was switched to the same terminal as our connecting flight and we managed to walk right into the end of the line just before the last call.

So we made it on time, as scheduled...with great anticipation for what the Lord will teach us and prepare us for next.

We are together with 54 other people from across Canada. Each person represents existing teams or potential new teams. There's anticipation. 7 years ago when we started these leaders meetings there were 13 of us. We met with anticipation then...and are humbled by what the Lord has done with us, through us and among us in that time.

In addition to our meetings, we will also be building homes for 12 families in need. A community will be enfolded within the Kingdom of God, as the Gospel lovingly goes out in word and deed.

What will He do next?  We're excited to find out. Thanks for talking to Jesus about us and on our behalf this week...