Leaning In and Letting Go // March 2017 Update

Hola a todos!

And just like that, we’re done with the first quarter of the year, and I’ve been living in El Salvador for over five months now. As a church, Iglesia Gran Comisión is reading through the book of Isaiah for our daily devotional. I recently came across this verse, and it reminded me of the incredible privilege I have to be doing what I am doing here:

I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, “You are my servant”; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. // Isaiah 41:9 (NIV)

Despite the daily rush of preparing classes, serving with mission teams and trying to keep up with my friends and family back in the States, I am overwhelmed with joy thinking about how God specifically chose me to fulfill this work here. This has nothing to do with how special I am, but instead it is all about how merciful and loving He is.

Here’s an overview of what happened in March:

The English Program at our Volcano Center is still going strong. This month, the oldest children learned how to talk about fruits and vegetables, colors and shapes, and numbers. We’ve also had some special visits to class from missionaries who have come with mission teams from the States (more on that below).

[ checking on René’s assignment during English class ]

Missions season is in full swing here in El Salvador! This month, we had visits from City Church in West Virginia, Bay Area Community Church in Maryland, and Rock City Church (my home church!) in Ohio. I served with them as a translator and in helping Adriana (our Missions Team Coordinator) with hosting the teams.

The team from City Church brought two people (Karen and Maddi), which is smaller than we are used to but allowed us to do a lot of fun extra activities with them! They spent the week teaching all of our children about the story of Paul and Silas when they were imprisoned for their beliefs and used that experience to be a light to all those around them. They also stayed with us in the Turcios home, and it was so great getting to hang out with them during downtime!

[ our small but mighty visit from City Church ]
Bay Area sent a team from the US Naval Academy, and it was such a fun and youthful group to work with. They did a lot of construction work for us at our Volcano Center (hence the dirt-covered picture below), and got all the work planned for 2-3 weeks in about 3 days. This is a huge help because now we don’t have to pay for local laborers to complete the work they’ve done while serving here. Thank you, Bay Area!

[ the Bay Area team in front of the beautiful mural they painted at our Volcano Center! ]
It was so great receiving our first Rock City team of the year, especially because they brought along some familiar faces I’ve known for years from my time serving with Rock City before I moved here. What a wonderful time hearing about how everyone’s doing back home and working together here in El Salvador. They also threw a Shoe Give at both Centers where every child received a brand new pair of shoes!

[ the Rock City team with our local team ]

This month’s cultural lesson has been a frustrating one. Despite thinking I received my one-year residency card back in November (which is a story in itself), the Salvadoran government is now requesting a bunch of other documents before they will issue me my one-year card. After hearing basically nothing for a couple months (despite several phone calls), I learned last week that my case was finally assigned and that I need to fulfill all of these requirements ASAP. Although it has been stressful trying to get everything together under pressure, I feel an overall sense of relief that something is finally moving with the process. I have heard from several friends here that this sort of thing is typical from the government here due to the lack of infrastructure and organization that I’m used to in the States. Please pray for everything to come into place to see a successful end to this five-month process!

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!


Prayer Requests:

  • For my one-year residency card to be approved as quickly as possible.
  • For myself and the over 25 other members of our San Salvador church that will be traveling to San Pedro Sula, Honduras on April 12 for GCLA’s annual Semana Santa (Holy Week) Conference. Pray for safe travels and open hearts to learn all that God wants to over the three-day event.
  • For a mission team visiting us for a few days from New Life Church in Michigan (April 1-4). That logistics would go smoothly and we would collaborate well for the Gospel during their trip!


Stay in touch!
Email // ali.howard@reliant.org
Facebook // facebook.com/ali.howard.52
Let me know if you’d like my phone number (add me on WhatsApp!) or my mailing address.  

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