Hola a todos!
It feels so weird to be sending out the first update of 2017, but here we are! I hope everyone had a refreshing and joyful holiday season. Here in El Salvador, all of us on our team have been working on setting goals and expectations for this year, looking ahead to all of the projects we will be starting up and/or continuing.
My biggest responsibility for this year is the English program at our Children’s Development Center at the volcano (Guayabo community). Our Center didn’t have English classes before I moved here, so I’ve been working on this project from scratch! This has included (so far): choosing themes of study, coordinating with our Center Director, Silvia and our teachers to decide on a class schedule, and LOTS of lesson planning. I’ve also starting working on how mission teams can collaborate with us in this program, ways to get local volunteers from our church involved, and a fundraising strategy that will allow the program to grow! In less than two weeks, I will start teaching three days a week and will spend two days a week planning for classes and keeping up with my other responsibilities.
If you are interested in providing for any of the needs we have with our English program (monetary or otherwise), please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will provide more information.
After Christmas, I traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras with about 40 other youth from our local churches for the GCLA annual youth conference called Infinito. Despite the 2+ hour wait at the Honduran border and the over 10 hours in a bus on the way there, this conference was so worth it! It was so cool being with hundreds of other young people from all across Central America, worshipping together and coming together for the purpose of learning more about the Lord and about our role in the Great Commission. My favorite teaching was given by Pastor Dennis Chavarría from the GCLA church in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He shared how, as christians, we are called to live a cultural revolution based on Jesus’ cultural values, rather than conforming to the ways of our world.
As promised, here’s a couple more fun facts about Salvadoran culture:
- The national dish in El Salvador is called a pupusa. A pupusa is a thick tortilla stuffed with cheese and beans, pork, or several other fillings. Pupusas are served with a tomato sauce and curtido (pickled cabbage mixture), and you HAVE to eat them with your hands. I’ve never seen passion for a particular food item quite like the passion Salvadorans have for pupusas! I usually eat pupusas about 2-3 times a week.
- The slang word for “cool” in El Salvador is “chivo”, and it is used all the time. When directly translated, chivo is the word for “goat”. This is something that is strictly Salvadoran, as I’m learning that youth in different countries in Central America all have their own version of the word “cool”.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. // Philippians 2:3-7 (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 the English program at our Children’s Center at the volcano. First day of classes is February 7!
- For my one year residency to go through. I thought I was fully approved, but about a month after receiving my temporary card, the Salvadoran government asked for more documents and I’ve been waiting for several weeks for them to process everything and grant my one year residency card.
- For my continued Spanish learning. That I wouldn’t plateau in my learning or lose motivation to keep challenging myself in this area.
- For our first missions team of the year, a medical team from the organization Total Health, who arrives on February 18! That preparations would go smoothly and the team would have safe travels and our work together would be fruitful for the Kingdom.
- For my homesickness. The locals here treat me so well, but lately I’ve been craving hugs from my nephew, girls’ night with my friends, and all the other familiar things I left back in Ohio. Please pray for my heart in this time as I am learning that it is both a blessing and a challenge to have two places to call home in this world.
Facebook // facebook.com/ali.howard.52