Tuesday, September 14, 2010

i like pictures.

So something that i failed to mention earlier was that besides going to El Salvador, I was also able to go back to Nicaragua for about 2 weeks. It was great! I helped lead a team with one of my most favorite people in the whole world. Joe Carter. One of the things i enjoyed most, besides hanging out with his awesome team, was running next door and seeing my favorite children again. They have gotten so big! Here are a few pictures from my time in Nicaragua.

That's joe carter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

follow up.

Normally, when I return home from a trip I write a thank you/follow up note to my supporters. When I started writing this one, after the introduction, I was a little stuck, I didnt know what to say. This trip was different, and I didnt want to just write about all the nice happy times that I played with kids. I just wanted to share this with you, maybe to give some insight as to what I was processing through throughout the trip.

Dearest Friends and Family,

I will start this note with the same greeting as the past one, “I hope this finds you and your loved ones doing well, basking in the light of the Lord. I am excited to hear the stories of what He is doing in your life, and am excited to share my own.” I am very excited to hear how the Lord has been moving in each of your lives and I continue to pray that the Lord rains down blessings on you and your loved ones.

My time in El Salvador was…This is where I draw a blank. I do not know if I could find the words to describe my time in El Salvador. I wish I could just gush about how wonderful it was and how God’s grace was abundant. Instead, I am still learning what it means to be taught by God. My time in El Salvador was tougher than I thought it would be. Many days I had to really seek what the Lord’s calling for me was that day and press to see it through. I am still learning about what it means to be a servant, doing something for the Kingdom despite it being hard, even if you see no gratification from it. Joy should not come from being able to count the “Thank you’s” or to be praised, but to know, in your heart, that you are doing God’s will. Anything else is just an added gift.

Albeit my time was not always easy, I grew. Every day I can see the impact in ways great and small. One of the ministries that had the greatest effect on me was a nearby community called “Bendicion de Dios” or Blessing of God. This community is located in one of the more dangerous parts of San Salvador. It is much improvised and there is a lot of spiritual darkness that presents itself in the attitudes and home lives of the people who live there (left). Three days a week I would go to this community to teach English. I loved my time there. More than teaching English we were there to encourage the youth of the community: ask them about their days, listen to what they have to say, and encourage them. Slowly over time, I realized that maybe teaching English was not the most important thing I could do for these young people, but more just to love them, push them to think bigger than their lives and their community.

Despite their situation, this community was, to me, an example of hope. I was continually inspired by the potential that dwelled in this place. Hope for something better, hope for something more. I am daily praying for this community, and I invite you to join me. Pray that the children can understand how precious and wonderfully made they are. That they can choose not to be like their parents, and I pray that they continue to seek this hope and see just what the power of Christ can do for them, to bring them out of this darkness and oppression.

I look back over the past few months and see that the Lord was moving in my own life, as well as the lives of those around me. I want to thank you, truly, for how you have impacted my life. Thank you for seeking the plans that have been laid on your life, and following through with courage and boldness. I am constantly encouraged my each one of you.

I want to close with a quote from a devotional I have been working through. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young states, “The vast ocean of Love cannot be measured or explained, but it can be experienced.” I hope that we can continue to learn from each moment in our lives, and desire to seek the love and grace of the Lord.

May you be covered in the dust of our Savior,

The Spirit and the bride say, “come!” And let him who hears say, “come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A thought from a book

I found this really old blog that i had written back in July. I feel it is still applicable so here it is.

I am reading the book More Than Equals by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice. This book focuses a lot on racial reconciliation, specifically between blacks and whites and how Christianity in American has been affected by the issue of race. It frequently states how the issue is a “we’ve come so far” or a “not yet” issue. Either praised for its comparison to the past or the realization that the gorge has yet to be crossed, in that we still have such a long way to go in such examples as “why are most institutions, for example the church, still predominately separated into black or white communities?”

One of the focal points of the book is the backbone to the Christian faith, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” The following section is passage from the book: (p 65-66)

“but in this story [the story of the Good Samaritan] Jesus says that our neighbors are especially those people who ignore us, those people who separate themselves from us, those people who are afraid of us, those people we have the most difficulty loving and those people we feel don’t love us.”

“And who is my neighbor?”

“The question has much to say about the priority we place on loving people who are different from ourselves, especially as it relates to our eternal future. It doesn’t take much imagination for each of us to figure out who Jesus would use as an example of ‘neighbor’ in our towns and cities.
For an Israeli, how about a Palestinian?
For an Arab, how about a Jew?
For a rich white, how about a black welfare mother?
For a poor white, how about a middle-class black who go where he is through affirmative action?
For a black male, how about a white male-better yet, a pickup-driving, gunrack-toting, tobacco-chewing, baseball-cap-wearing white man who still refers to a black man as ‘boy’?
For a feminist, how about an insensitive, domineering male chauvinist?
For a suburban white family, how about the new black or Hispanic family that moved in down the street?
For all of us, how about the unmotivated, undisciplined, uneducated poor? Or an AIDS victim who contracted HIV not through a transfusion but through homosexual activity or intravenous drug use?”

I found this whole section very enlightening as I was reading through. I originally thought about the children and the people I minister here in El Salvador, those are the ones that I consider my neighbor. The ones abandoned and fallen to the wayside. But then I thought again, about how easy it was for me to love those people and how much I enjoy helping and serving and building relation with them. Then I decided to honestly try to answer the question, and the response that I came up with was those perceived “snotty rich kids that have never had to work a day in their lives” kids.
Who would Jesus use as the neighbor if he were speaking to you?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

still around!

O goodness, I have not blogged in such a long time.

So I reached Nicaragua yesterday. It was a struggle but I was about the take the bus 13 hours through central america, 3 countries, sola. But i met some really wonderful people and God really blessed what i would was a bad situation about to turn south. But that is another story.

In El Salvador, I was asked to write a bio about the lady that I stayed with. I thought I would also post it here.

I stayed with a wonderful woman named Maria Lusia Sura:

Maria Luisa lives by herself in her beautiful house, which is located in the neighborhood of Soyapango, a part of San Salvador. She is a 4th grade teacher at the school Siloe, where she has worked for 2 years. She says that she loves working with the children. She received her degree from a university here in San Salvador, and has 4 certificates in different areas of education. She worked as an elementary school teacher for over 35 years before retiring but then deciding to return to teaching after 5 years. She has 3 children, 2 daughters and 1 son, all of which have grown up and are married, and has 4 grandchildren. Two of her children live in the United States, her daughter lives in Richmond, VA and her son in Los Angeles, CA. Although Maria Luisa does not speak English, she is always very patient with others who are learning Spanish. During her free time she enjoys gardening, listening to worship music, cooking and playing with her grandson who lives in San Salvador, Josito who is 4 ½. Her favorite books of the bible are Romans, Ephesians, and Philippians.

I asked her what else she would like people to know about her and she said: “My house is very relaxing, I like to lie in my hammock and look at the sky. My favorite food is fruit, I eat a lot of fruit. It is such a blessing to have people come and stay at my house, and I think that it is a way that I can serve the Lord.”

Maria Luisa is always a teacher, when I showed her what I had written about her, she told me to double space it so it looks nicer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I pick fights

written: July 15, 2010

So my father used to always tell me that I was bullheaded.
And I picked fights with the bigger girls.

There is another team here this week and I am working with them as a translator. They are a nice group and I am enjoying the people that I am working with. We do a VBS in the morning at the school Siloe (where I have been working…did I mention that I am working at a school?) and then in the afternoons we do another VBS with the kids in the community. My job is to translate crafts and then just in general help out where needed. It is really just a lot of telling kids to sit down, be quiet and pay attention. However, I would like to share this story:

One thing a lot of the kids struggle with is self confidence, they come from homes where no one takes an interest in their day or praises them for their good works. Instead, they are told they are dumb, we are poor and you are going to end up just like us. This breaks my heart. I see so many wonderful kids here, and you can read the sadness in some of their faces all the time.
All that being said, I think it is important that the kids have some sort of expectations, some challenges to prove to themselves that they can succeed.

The other day I was working in crafts and one of the adults that I was working with was doing the project for a little girl who was about 8 years old. It was a simple craft and she could have done it by herself, she just needed a little help getting started. So I went over and said, “I think that all she needs is a little help, maybe you could hold it and she could tie the string.” He then looked back at me and said, “ no she is too young to do it, she can’t do it.” In very quick snappy Spanish replied to him, “did you let her try?” This is when I became furious because he said that she was too young and would not be able to do it and this was just quicker. My father’s bullheadedness showed up in that moment as I took the project from him and said, “I will show you, she can do it!” A few of the girls around said that she couldn’t do it either, and I looked at them and told them that she could do it. By this point I was determined to prove all of them wrong, and show that the little girl with the huge brown eyes and a quiet sadness could do it. I coached her through every step of the project, and 10 minutes later we had finished it. If I didn’t want that man to lose all respect for me, since I had already taken it away from him and told him that I would prove him wrong, I would have stuck out my tongue as a nice little “I told you so.”

I think from this quick experience, I learned that, A) I need to be more respectful of adults. But B) that even if given the chance, I believe that children can succeed if they are provided with the tools to do so. It is very important to allow kids to do some things for themselves. It doesn’t matter if they do it wrong, or it is not perfect. The point is to allow them to try.

The little girl left with a smile on her face, and I asked her what she was going to do with her project, and she said that she was going to go and show it to her mom when she got home.

Friday, July 9, 2010


written: June 29, 2010

One quick thing I wanted to write about was the parents that come to our children programs. So everyday our programs start with songs with JosuĂ© the translator. The songs are about frogs, that involving jumping, songs about baby Jesus, with a pregnant belly, and finally, the team favorite, “la Conga,” which involves doing a little shimming at the end. Needless to say, they are very much to get the kids excited about the program. However, we normally have a few parents that hang around to watch. So every day we do the same songs, and normally do the same silly things, like trying to get the adults to do the conga. But I think that it is great that every time they think it is the funniest thing. I can just imagine them saying to one another, “we are so silly for doing this little shimmy.” And I love how when we get coaches or pastors to do it, they just about die with laughter. I love their joy and their ability to just laugh.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


San Salvador

Coconut milk and Josue the Translator

typical meal?


the kids next door on the island.

the Island we traveled to.


english class students at La Comunidad

the view from my room

kids at the soccer camp question Jake about the world cup.

island adventures

written: July 3, 2010

From June 20-29th we had a short term here. It was really fun to have a group here to see the group in action. I have worked with groups in the past and this was defiantly one of the most passionate groups. They were always very willing to give to the community and form genuine bonds with people. Not like a get in, get the job done, and leave. I loved that about them. One of the outreaches that we did that we did was a visit to a nearby island called Isla Calsada. This island is located 1.5 hours by car and then a 50 minute ride in a lancha (speed boat type thing).

Upon arriving to the island we were greeting by running children, pigs and lots and lots of crabs. We walked to the church where we would be staying and set up. It was a 1 roomed building probably 50’ by 30’. We talked with the wife of the pastor and she told us that 1500 people live on this island, 300 on this little part. But it is very rural; there really is not a town or city central, paved roads or stores. People just live and do what they can with they can. Houses were made of mud and sticks and indoor plumbing is a thing of myths, and many of the people that we talked with said they had never left the island.

At the island we were working with the church to reach out to some of the people on the island. Even though there are 1500-2000 people there are only 7 churches and 3 schools. They said that their normal church attended was fairly low. The schools are also very interesting because they only go to 9th grade. So if the children want to continue their education they have to leave the island. However, most people cannot afford the commute of 2 dollars a day to take the lancha. So they are forced to stop school.

Throughout our 2 days there, we did a vacation bible school with the youth, a movie night for families and then had a teen time for the other kids. However, possibly my favorite thing that we did was breakfast. The breakfast was supposed to be for the teens that came to the gathering and then for our team. So we set up, and since we were 10 “gringos” and maybe 15 more Salvadorians, we attracted a little attention. People started walking by and peaking in, so we started to invite them in. We invited in a man we saw working in the field the day before, sat him down and gave him a plate of food and all the cereal he could eat.

Later a very old man with a cane walked in. He told us that his family doesn’t take care of him and he has no money to pay us, but would like some food. We pulled out a chair for him and told him to come and eat. He said that he was 70. I guessed him at about 85 years old, you could tell by his face that he had not had an easy life. He told us about how he did not have a wife or children, so he was living with his sister’s daughter and that they only gave him a little food and don’t help him with other things. He said he would like to go to a nursing home and asked if we could help him. This really touched me. I already love the elderly so I ask that you pray for him and for us that we can find some way to help him get the assistance that he needs.

Additionally, we had made friends with the children that lived in the house next door. They live in a tiny little one room house with their mother. There are 4 children and we think that the mother might be pregnant. We invited them to come and eat with us. The youngest boy even went and put on pants for the occasion. I loved watching them giggle as they ate their chocolate frosted flakes, wondering if they had ever had cereal before, yet instantly took to the custom of fighting over who got to read the back of the cereal box. Later, we took a few pictures of them over to the mother, and she just laughed at how silly her children were, hamming it up for the camera. This is the part of ministry that I love, being able to share in something together. Christ created us to be in fellowship and community with one another and I am so thankful that we got to exemplify that on the little island.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

la comunidad

written: June 16, 2010

I was given the chance to explore some other possible ministries. Christ for the City has been really awesome about working with me, and letting me try all the ministries and then choosing the one I felt most connected to. Today we went to “la comunidad.” This is a newer ministry that CFCI is starting, and I am excited to be a part of it. It is an improvised community in the Altavista sublet of San Salvador. They are trying to set up English classes and guitar classes there so that the children have the opportunity to do something else. Only some of the children attend school, and the rest feel destined to follow in the family’s footsteps of unemployment, illegitimate children, and poverty. We are trying to give them the chance to see outside this. If they can learn a trade or even English they could be destined for something better and rise out of poverty.

It was my first time at La Comunidad and I was very excited but a little nervous. When we first arrived I was surprised by how small the area actually was. It was only 2 rows of houses on one side of the street that has a small dirt path that runs between the two rows, which is only 3-4 blocks long. We have it set up so that we teach a class in the morning and a class in the afternoon. This morning, during the guitar class, I took the time to meet some of the children. They are wonderful children who just spend their day playing out in the sun in the small patch of dirt in front of one of the area we have set up to house classes, which is really just a makeshift tent made from tarps with some old chairs. It was a wonderful morning of running and playing and trying to remember the children’s names while trying to understand the games. We played some form of hide and seek and ran all thought the neighborhood.
When we returned in the afternoon for English class, I was excited to explore their little village more. I ran into some of the kids from the morning and we continued to play the games and talk about “futbol” and what we should name their tiny plastic horse. We decided on Lousia el caballito, (Louise the baby horse).

This community has already started to affect me, and I want to help them more. One of the interesting things going on here is that they got a grant or some sort of help to build 2 pelas, or wells. This will be very beneficial to the community because currently they only have 1, and I believe that it is leaking or is in poor condition. So the construction of these wells is not done by hired help, the supplies were just kind of dumped and the whole community is working together to build it. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to talk to a few of the adults who were carrying the supplies to the site. They weave their way through the tiny crocked sidewalk, avoiding puddles and dogs, carrying bricks or other supplies on their heads. I just kind of walked up to one of the ladies and started talking to her. Her name was Doris and she had lived here for 5 years. She told me that the whole community pitches in so that the work can get done quicker and then afterwards it benefits the whole community. It makes sense and I was impressed with the team work. I asked another woman and walked with her while she carried her bricks to the site, 4 blocks away. (I may mention that this was probably not the smartest idea to just wander back into the houses with newly met strangers…) She told me the same thing, if we work together the job gets done quicker and we all benefit.

Additionally, I made a new friend, her name is Ceci and she is 15 years old. I don’t believe that she is going to school, even though there is one very close. I asked her what she thought about living here and if she could show me around her neighborhood. She agreed, but said it had to be quick because she needed to help finish the work. An interesting side note about the work being done was that the majority of the workers were the women of the community. There were few men to be found. She showed me where the pelas were being built and where they had to carry the supplies from, the local “store,” which really only had garlic, tang, and bananas, the new litter of puppies, and finally her house. Her house was built with metal roofing and the door was held closed with wire. When we entered the house I was surprised to see how much stuff was there. There were piles of stuff covering the only table and couch in this tiny 15’ by 15’ foot house. It was mostly garbage, bags and newspapers, a few clothes and a basket. They had a tiny table stove and 1 bed that she shared with the rest of her family: her mother, 2 brothers and possibly a cousin. After a brief tour, she returned to working, carrying the supplies back and forth, and I had to go. I was both excited and overwhelmed by what was going on in the community. I am excited to start really getting to know the residents of this small suburb and am excited to see what the Lord has in store.

I ask that you pray for this community and the people who live there. That they can be lifted out of oppression and see the joy of the Lord, despite their worldly conditions. They are such a lovely and welcoming group, and I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to get to know them.

bus adventures

So these are the blogs that i have been writing but have been unable to post. there are a few

written: June 15, 2010
So every morning I get up at 4:30 (yes…4:30AM) so that Maria Lousia and I can ride the bus to school and be there at 6:00am. However, I would like to share that by this time I am a bus badass. I know that I have to get on the bus, motion with my lips that the woman behind me is going to pay and make my way to the back, as far as I can go, because we don’t want to get stuck and not be able to get off the bus at the correct stop. It takes about 30 minutes every morning to ride the bus into school. My love for public transportation still remains. I love watching the people go by, and those who get on and I use this time to get a good look at the city that I live in. Even though technically I live in San Salvador, the part I live in is called Soyapango. Two syllables “soya-pango” NOT soy-a-pango. I have been corrected more times than I can count. Even though Soyapango is just a sublet of San Salvador, it houses 1 million of the 2 million population of the city, and is where 1/6th of the total population lives.

Favorite bus sightings today: The drunk guy that was leaning against the door so when it opened it hit him in the head as he stumbled out. The man that paid the fare (20 cents) with a bag of Doritos instead. And finally, the bus doorbell, it is located above the back exit door of the bus and you push it when you want let off. However, today it was broken, so it was my pleasure to listen to what people decided was appropriate to yell all the way to the front of the bus to get let off. Some yelled names, places, and one gentleman just hit the door repeatedly until it opened.