Celebrating Year One // October 2017 Update

We’ve made it, team! On October 25th, I celebrated my one-year anniversary of moving to serve in El Salvador. I want to share some of my reflections on my first year. But first, a quick update on what happened in the ministry this month…

Thank you, Bay Area!

From October 7th-15th, we hosted our twelfth and final mission team of the year. This was the sixth team sent by Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis, Maryland. This was a special team for us because it was led by Jorge and Sarah Solorzano. They were both on staff with our church, Sarah serving as a missionary for almost ten years, before they moved to Maryland last year to reach the Latino population there. It was so great catching up with them and their daughter, Sophie!

The Bay Area team spent the week at our Children’s Development Centers, teaching Bible stories, giving Bible studies to parents, cooking in the kitchen, and helping out in our health clinics. We had a great week with them and a great finish to the mission team season of 2017! 

[ the Bay Area team with our local volunteers and staff ]
[ translating for Eymi as she thanked the missionaries for their visit to our Soyapango Center ]
[ the first-ever mission team visit to the English Academy, thank you for your service! ]

English Course finished in the Volcano!

I am beyond proud of the 25 students from the Volcano that successfully completed the English course for the oldest section of 2017! They’ve worked hard since February taking on this course on top of their regular studies in school. After receiving their certificates, we celebrated together with pizza and soda. I pray that this year would be just the beginning of their journey to learn English and use it to get safe, quality jobs that will provide a better future for them and their families. 

[ some of my students with their certificates ]
[ This is Nelly, one of the two students given special honors for the best grades in the course. Nelly has shown a special interest to learn, and I pray to see her one day speaking confidently in English! ]

Reflections on Year One

To be honest, this past year has been full of some of the most joyful and yet challenging moments of my life. 

Living abroad is hard. I’ve missed milestone moments in the lives of my family and close friends, having to celebrate or cry with them from thousands of miles away. And not to mention that when some of the best things in my life happen to me, my people back in Ohio aren’t here to share it with me either. On top of that, doing life in a culture different from your own is enlightening but often frustrating. All of those quirks about El Salvador that I found charming at the beginning can now become everyday annoyances that I don’t have any control over.

But, I praise God that the days I am able to recognize the grace He sheds over me largely outnumber the days I feel like giving up. And you know what? My job is amazing—I really couldn’t describe in any other way. I get to be an ambassador for so many donors in the States that love our children from afar with their resources. I get to see their smiles and receive their hugs every day. I get to be one of the people they talk to about their joys and worries—all the way from getting A’s to mourning absent fathers.
At the end of the day, my frustrations and insecurities are met every time with God’s promises. When I miss home, He tells me that I will be rewarded for my heartache (Matthew 17:25-27, 19:29). When I feel like I don’t belong in my position here, He reminds me that all that matters is that I belong to Him (John 1:12). When I feel that I’m not meeting others’ expectations, He promises me that my only duty is to His calling (Galatians 1:10).

[ This is David. He started off life being abandoned by his father and spending his days locked up in his bedroom while his mother left him alone to go to work. When his mother abandoned him he was left in the care of his aunts, who brought him to our Volcano Center where he was immediately enrolled in our program. He was severely deprived of social experiences, causing him to be in constant fear while surrounded by new people at the Center. But, little by little, God worked on His heart and he now loves coming and spending time with all of his friends. He has shown amazing improvements in other areas of his health as well. This is why we are doing this. We have seen the things God has done in David’s life and we wait with anticipation to see what He will continue to do in the future. We do this to see David and the other 150 children in our program grow up to make the change in El Salvador, and that they would do it all for His glory. ]

I’ve been studying the book of Philippians again over the past couple of weeks, and in it Paul talks a lot about finding joy in the midst of affliction. His attitude in the following passage hit me like a train yesterday morning:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)

At the heart of it all, this is my goal each day as I go to work for His glory—to find Him and be found in Him. Nothing less and nothing more. I took some time to pray over you guys as a group and that this Truth would motivate and encourage you as well.

I don’t take it lightly when I say that God has used you to make this first year of ministry possible! Here’s to year two!


Prayer Requests

  • Praise for God’s protection and provision during my first year on the field. Please pray that His goodness would continue in abundance in year two. 
  • For the English Workshop that I will giving to students at our Volcano Center in November. I’ve selected 7 of my best students from the regular course this year to be involved. Pray that they would be motivated and encouraged by the workshop to continue their English education in the future. 
  • For the English Academy, as November marks the last month of classes for this year. Please pray that the connections we’ve made with our students would be maintained even outside of class and that they would be encouraged to enroll in classes next year and get involved in our local church. 
  • For all the staff in our ministry as we start looking ahead to 2018. That we would be able to make honest and thoughtful reflections about the work done in 2017 and that God would guide us to what goals He has for us for next year. 

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