Hola a todos!
What an incredible first month I have had on the mission field! Of course it feels like I just got here, but I also feel like I’ve done way more than should be able to fit into one month.
Praise! I got my residency card!
When I first arrived here, I entered the country on a 90-day tourist visa. This meant I had to apply for residency before that visa expires. Ashley, another Reliant missionary here in El Salvador, went through the residency process a few months ago, and it took her over a month to finally get all of her documents approved. Knowing this, I wanted to get started right away. There was added pressure because my friend Claudia, who was the lawyer who helped me with everything, is 9 months pregnant and we had to fit everything in before she has her baby!
That being said, it took over two weeks, a 4 and half hour wait at the police station to get a background check, three trips to the notary’s office, four trips to immigration, and over a dozen documents to get my residency card. Even with all of that, Claudia said to me as we left victorious from the immigration office, “Que rápido lo hicimos!” (“We did it so quickly!”).
This was a glimpse into how tedious and time consuming it can be to get something done with the Salvadoran government. My friends here have tried to explain this to me before, but now I feel like I understand that lesson much more deeply. Quite the cultural experience! A special shoutout goes to the handful of co-workers and friends that stuck with me and helped me out with different aspects of the process.
Thank you, Kennebec and Bay Area!
We’ve also hosted two mission teams this month. The first came from a new partner church, Kennebec Community Church in Maine! Because this was Kennebec’s first team with us, it was so fun to host a team of strangers (now new friends) and learn more about their church. This team was full of teenagers, who brought an added shot of energy to our local team here! Kennebec also painted two beautiful murals at our Guayabo Center that have brought so much joy to our compound. Thank you, Kennebec, and we hope to see you next year!
The second team we hosted this month came from Bay Area Community Church in Maryland. Bay Area has been a longtime partner with our church in San Salvador, so it was super fun getting to see old friends and meet some new faces from their church. I personally knew four people from this team that came on trips last year while I was serving here for a couple months. Being our last team for the year, Bay Area and our local team served with all we had, and we are so thankful for all that God did in and through them that week.
Adjusting to a new life
With the move to El Salvador, almost everything in my life has drastically changed: my living situation, my daily language, my job, my church family, and lots more! Each day presents its own set of challenges, and it will probably take years to fully adjust to being in a new culture, but it is such an amazing experience.
Side note: You can read about my experience learning Spanish so far by clicking here.
Please continue to pray for me as I strive to face these changes with an open heart and mind, with the hopes of winning some for Christ!
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone,to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
// 1 Corinthians 19-23 (NIV)
Thank you for your continued love, support, and encouragement. It would not be possible for me to do what I am doing without your obedience to God’s pulling in being a part of my team!
- For me as I continue to adjust to my new life here in El Salvador.
- For the youth of our church that are raising funds to attend the annual GCLA youth conference, Infinito. Infinito will be held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Siguatepeque, Honduras this year December 27-29. I’m super excited to be able to attend this year!
- For our local staff here as we plan for the coming year at our Children’s Centers and with mission teams.
- For the children at both of our Children’s Centers, who have a break from school until February. Pray that they will be safe and enjoy their time off!
Facebook // facebook.com/ali.howard.52