I’ve missed you guys! Thanks for your patience the last couple of months that I haven’t sent out an update. It’s been a busy season full of hosting mission teams so I’ve got lots to share. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s get caught up.
A Lot of Mission Teams…
Wow! God has been incredibly faithful with the short-term mission teams we have hosted. We received seven teams in ten weeks, totaling 128 individual missionaries! As Missions Coordinator for Great Commission Church, I was with each team pretty much every step of the way. From picking them up at the airport all the way to hotel check-out at the end of the week, I managed all of the logistics for these teams. This includes transportation, meals, work plans, extra activities, interpreters and hotel to name a few.
I loved seeing many familiar faces as well as meeting and making new friends from Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Texas and Oregon. Many times over a missionary asked me at some point throughout the week, “Do you ever get a break when we’re here?”. Well, I got enough sleep! No need to worry too much about me, I took advantage of every hour in the day so that by the time we wrapped up dinner with the teams I just had a couple quick tasks to complete before recharging for the next day.
There’s no way I could fit all of what the teams were able to do in this update, but I’ll try to give an accurate summary! My favorite project that we launched this summer is called The Esmeralda Project, in honor of a girl that was a part of our Volcano Center and sadly passed away from cancer in March 2015. If I met with you during my initial support raising phase in 2016, you may remember that I shared Esmeralda’s story with you. She deeply touched my heart on my first few trips to El Salvador and continues to be a source of motivation for me.
Through this project, we hope to build a new bed for every child in our program at the Centers. We offered bed building as an option for donations and work activities for the teams and almost every team participated! In total, we have provided 48 beds so far–including one for Briseida (above) and Emily (below).
In addition to this, teams spent their time in activities which included but not limited to:
- Over 340 dental consults totaling $230,000 worth of procedures
- 55 physical therapy consults
- Several construction projects including: installing drywall in our Dental Clinic, painting railings and stairs, expanding the waiting area at our Soyapango Medical Clinic, playground maintenance, painting two beautiful new murals and installing an irrigation system for the Volcano garden
- A Sunday church service and two women’s meetings with special guest speakers
- Over 150 veterinarian consults
- Hundreds of vision tests conducted and prescription glasses provided as needed
- Numerous home visits, Bible-based children’s classes and clinic evangelism to share the gospel and pray with children and their families.
I also get asked regularly about how a blonde, blue-eyed girl from Ohio makes it living in a developing country mostly known by the outside world for its high rates of violence. The truth is, as much as God is faithful in His protection and providence, He has been equally as faithful in giving me small reminders of that same thing that nailed my heart to this ministry over four years.
Serving with so many mission teams meant I got to spend more time than usual at our Children’s Development Centers. Normally, I visit the Centers 1-2 times a week as most of my job requires a reliable WiFi connection (which is unfortunately unavailable at either our inner city location in Soyapango or in the rural area at our Volcano Center). Since the teams worked almost exclusively at the Centers, however, I cherished the extra opportunity to catch up with some of my favorite little ones and see the teams bring some added excitement to their days.
Beyond that, I felt like God repeatedly gave me glimpses into what He’s doing in the lives of the people we serve. Every sincere “thank you” from a mother for her child’s new bed–every tear shed during prayer for someone with a hurting heart–every lightbulb moment when one of our kids finally understood that annoying math problem–every sigh of relief when someone received care for their medical ailment–this. This is His way.
Our God lives and breathes love in action, our Jesus died because His love is not just in speech or in thought. I pray that my life and our ministry would always reflect a love like that. (Romans 12:9-21).
So that, my friends, is the Truth that brought me here and has kept me here for almost two years. I am writing this struck with gratefulness for the way I saw the gospel lived out through each of the teams that visited us this summer. I dream of the people these kids will grow up to be, knowing that their faith in Jesus will mark a profound difference in the course of their lives.
Fátima (pictured below) just celebrated her second birthday. When her older brother joined our Soyapango Center last year, she was a shy baby constantly clinging to her mother, Claudia–a single mother who struggles each day and often comes us short to fill her children’s basic needs on her own. I had the privilege of praying with Claudia last year when she accepted Jesus into her heart. Seeing the ways God has used our Center to help her and her children physically, emotionally and spiritually over the last year leaves me speechless.
Fátima will grow up hearing about Jesus and I trust that one day, when she’s ready, she will come to know him personally. She’s now a walking, talking ball of fire, stealing hearts at the Center on a daily basis (including my own, of course). There’s nothing that gives me more satisfaction than a tiny human running up to me, shouting my name and greeting me with a big hug–and Fátima’s hugs are ones I look forward to each time I go to Soyapango.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
Below, I’ve linked a summary video for a team from Rock City Church that served here a few weeks ago. I’ve also included tons of pictures from the past months at the end of this update! If you’d like to see more video recaps from this year, you can find them on each team’s summary page HERE.
…and a Little Bit of Beach Livin’
In June, I had the joy of standing beside two dear friends as they joined their lives together in marriage! Ashley has been one of my closest gal pals since meeting at Rock City and coming to San Salvador together on a missions trip back in 2014. Mario became a quick friend for me shortly afterward. Their beach wedding was also the first wedding I’ve attended here in El Salvador! Please pray for them as they learn to love each other better each day.
In between teams, Pastor Victor, Silvia and their kids invited me to join them to spend a day at an all-inclusive resort in El Salvador called Decameron. I had heard about this place before, and it didn’t disappoint. It was refreshing to turn off our work brains for the day and enjoy our friendship amidst the beach scenery–so much so that we forgot to take a picture together! Having the Turcios’ as my host family here has been one of the greatest blessings about living abroad.
I’ll be Stateside this fall!
Reliant requires their international missionaries to take a three month furlough back in the States every two years. So, it’s my turn! I’m working on exact dates but expecting to be in Ohio mid-October through December. I’ll be splitting my time between Columbus and Toledo and also hope to make a trip to Chicago and D.C./Annapolis area. Furlough gives me a chance to spend some time raising support, connect with current supporters (you guys!) and recharge by enjoying quality time with family and friends.
I’d love to catch up with you while I’m in the States and share more about what God has been doing in San Salvador! To see when works best, you can shoot me an email or message on Facebook and I’ll be sure to make it a priority.
I still thank God daily for you and the rest of the team He has brought together to make the work I’m doing in San Salvador possible. It means more than I can express that I can count on your continuous support and focus on the mission here with all I have (Colossians 3:23). Enjoy the pictures!
- For the 230 children that are a part of our Children’s Development Centers as they round out their school year (public school in El Salvador runs from January through October). Pray that they would finish strong and that the Centers would provide any support they need.
- For the short-term missionaries that visited us in 2018 (160 total). Pray that their experience here would help them to grow in their personal faith and that they would encourage others to support our ministry in prayer and donations.
- For myself as I reflect on this missions team season and settle back into a more balanced weekly routine.