Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Cruz // November 2019

Hey! I hope you’ve been having a great fall season. The last couple of months have been nothing short of a whirlwind and I’m left in awe of our Creator for all of it. Thanks for reading and keeping up with this crazy life God is placing in front of me!

¡Nos casamos! We’re Married!

Chepe and I had the best day of our lives on October 5th. It was full of family, friends, joy and abounding gratefulness for Who our God is. We want to thank all of you that reached out to wish us well, we felt the love!

Many of my family and friends flew down for the celebration, most of which had never been to El Salvador before. It was such a special treat to be able to show them our home and introduce them to the ministry that we are so passionate about. So far, marriage has been a mix of happiness, compromise, and LOTS of changes. We know that challenges will come, but for now we are soaking up all the honeymoon feels that we can.

Enjoy these sneak peeks we’ve received from our photographer:



MINISTRY UPDATES

Child Sponsorship
As part of my role as Child Sponsorship Coordinator, I am in charge of creating individual child updates twice a year for our over 200 kiddos with sponsors. I’ve recently begun working on the second update of the year. If you’re one of our child sponsors, expect your update in December! 

My favorite thing about managing sponsorship is that it guarantees that I touch base with each of our kids multiple times a year. For me, it is the part of my job that reminds me of the “why” and lets me hang with the kids that tugged on my heart from the very beginning of my story here. Since most of my responsibilities keep me in front of the computer, I cherish these times where I get lots of face time with the families that we serve.

Here’s an example of a child update I sent out in May of this year:

Mission Teams
2020 is right around the corner! That being said, we already have seven mission teams confirmed for next year with more potential teams to confirm. Before the year is out I will begin to plan logistics for the earliest teams of the year as well as follow up with potential teams to join the schedule.

If your church is looking for a place to expand their international missions outreach, we would love to give you more information about what a trip with us could look like. We have needs that cover a range of interests and talents including children’s ministry, evangelism, construction projects, medical and dental campaigns and more. We still have lots of space for more mission teams next year!


Praises and Prayer Requests
PRAISE
  • a joyful wedding day for Chepe and I!
  • for each of our current child sponsors, who make it possible for the CDIs to stay open month to month and give us the opportunity to work with these families
  • safe, action-packed and fun visit from fourteen friends and family that joined us for wedding weekend
PLEASE PRAY
  • that Chepe and I would continue to learn more about grace and sacrifice as we adjust to living together and creating a new life together
  • for our children in the CDIs as they are currently in exams week as they close out the school year here (public school here runs January-October)
  • for the CDI program to make an eternal impact as we get extra time to influence these kids during the month that they are out of classes but before we go on Christmas break

I am constantly reminded of how God works through you all to support the ministry happening here in San Salvador, El Salvador. All I can say is – THANK YOU!

Bendiciones,
Ali

His Grace Abounds // August 2019

Hello! How are you doing? I hope summer has ended on a high note for everyone. August was full of great God moments and I’m excited to share below!


Grupo de Crecimiento (Youth Group)

Chepe leads our small group with Iglesia Gran Comisión of about 15 people that serves mostly those in late high school and early college from our church. Last week, we had the amazing opportunity to build, decorate and deliver three beds for children at our Development Center on the Volcano! It was a great bonding activity for our group and so fun to see two parts of my world collide as our local church members don’t always get a chance to visit the Center.

Thanks to an outside donation, we were able to bless Byron, Jonathan and Kenia with their very own beds, giving them the chance to get a better night’s sleep and showing them God’s love in action at the same time. The Esmeralda Project (our bed-building initiative) has provided 78 beds to children in our program since June 2018!

Beginning in July, the leaders of our youth groups have taken the initiative to plan a monthly event (apart from weekly small groups) to bring together all the youth from IGC San Salvador, Soyapango and La Libertad. At the first of these meetings, Chepe shared about the importance of reading the Bible each day and in this month’s event another leader, Vladimir, shared about how we can defend the Bible’s Truth in our lives. There was also a special appearance from Nueva Creación (“New Creation” a local worship ministry that Chepe has been a part of for over ten years)!

We have seen GREAT turnout for these events (over 75 people each month)–would you join us in praying that these events be a successful way to reach more youth with the gospel of Jesus?


Thank you, Bethel Presbyterian Church!

We closed out our missions season for the year with a team from Bethel Presbyterian in Columbus, Ohio! It was great hosting more people from my home state and getting to serve them throughout the week. They spent most of their time at our Soyapango Center/Clinic/Church with vaccinating pets, building beds, evangelizing door-to-door and hosting Bible studies. We can’t wait to have them (and all other mission teams) back next year!


Race for the Soul

Do you live in or near the Columbus, Ohio area? Do you like to exercise while supporting a good cause? Then this announcement is for YOU! On September 28th, Race for the Soul at the Columbus Zoo will help to benefit Total Health, the organization that supports our two medical clinics here in San Salvador!

I am representing El Salvador as Team Captain and although I’m not able to be there in person, Pastor Victor will attend and participate in the race! I and everyone else here will be cheering from all the way down south. There are 5k run, walk and kid race options. This is a great opportunity to bond with your family, small group or co-workers!

Make sure to register under “Team El Salvador” so that the funds will be directed specifically to Total Health.

To learn more and to register to race, visit raceforthesoul.com

If you are unable to attend the event but would still like to support the cause, you may do so at the link above as well. There are cool prizes for those that raise the most money or perform the best in races!


Praises and Prayer Requests
PRAISE
  • A fruitful season of hosting Mission Teams and already multiple teams confirmed for 2020!
  • constant reminders of God’s provision as He has met several needs in our ministry through missionaries and donors
  • a growing youth ministry at Iglesia Gran Comisión and an additional way for Chepe to serve using his gifts
PLEASE PRAY
  • For more churches to partner with us and send additional Mission Teams to support the work that God will do through these projects in 2020.
  • For additional donations for our Recreational Center in the Volcano Center. We are almost done with construction but about $11,000 from paying off the project.
  • For Chepe and I during the last few weeks of wedding planning–it’s been an exciting time but stressful at the same time. Please pray that we can savor this season and let go of lots of the details that only God can control!
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, it means more to me than I could express in words!

Bendiciones,
Ali

He is Good // July 2019

Hey guys! How was your month? I think and pray for you often and I hope that God continues to bring you closer to Him through those around and events surrounding you. Here’s a summary of what happened in July in San Salvador!


Thank you, Bay Area and Rock City!

This month, we hosted two different mission teams from Bay Area Community Church (Annapolis, MD) and Rock City Church (Columbus, Ohio). Both teams were full of energy and reminded me in different ways of the passion and desire we should all have for serving God and getting to know Him better in everything that we do. We are praising Jesus for all of the work that was done with these two teams and that both teams are planning to return next year!

Bay Area was a team of middle schoolers and high schoolers focused on continuing construction on the Recreational Center and spending time with our children and families at the Volcano CDC. They made a donation to the Rec Center in honor of one of their own, Eddie, that tragically passed earlier this year. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to honoring Eddie’s memory and giving glory to our God!

It’s always a treat hosting teams from my home church, Rock City! This team was no different and they did lots to bless the children at our Soyapango and Volcano CDCs. My favorite part was watching the team build EIGHT beds for children in need and getting to witness some of the deliveries. It’s so easy for us to take for granted the things we have, and I always welcome the reminder of how preciously faithful our God is in His provision for me, my family and those we serve at the CDCs. Thank you, Rock City!


Watch a summary of Bay Area’s trip HERE and of Rock City’s trip HERE. Coordinating photo and video of all the missionaries is one of Chepe’s roles with mission teams!


Apartment Update

So, I kinda snuck this into my praises last month but I wanted to make sure to tell you that Chepe and I found an apartment! We have been praying and asking God to bring us to the right place to live when we get married ever since our engagement in January.

In the same neighborhood that Victor and Silvia’s (my host parents) home is, they were building apartments that we have had our eye on for a while now. It seemed like the most ideal fit in terms of location and safety (our top priorities), but we weren’t sure if we could make it work financially. Well, God came through and we were able to see one of the apartments for rent (they were going VERY quickly) and were able to negotiate with the owner to bring the rent down into our price range! PRAISE Jesus!

Another answer to prayer came when we realized that I would need to move out of the Turcios home before the wedding to be able to keep the apartment. I was nervous about this conversation because I didn’t want them to feel that I was leaving them behind, but God was present and they were so understanding and flexible with this decision! We were able to buy essential furniture and appliances that I’d need in time to move in between mission teams a couple weeks ago. Over the next few months, we will keep getting the things that we need for the long-term, but for now it has been an overall smooth transition. I’m already so excited for Chepe to join me here after the wedding!

One of my favorite things is our view from the apartment. It looks out on the volcano where one of our CDCs is and has been a cool, daily reminder to pray for these families and kids on the days I’m not there. Thank you to those that have been praying for us during this time of engagement and for all of the upcoming changes. We are confident in and reminded of His faithfulness every step of the way!


Race for the Soul

Do you live in or near the Columbus, Ohio area? Do you like to exercise while supporting a good cause? Then this announcement is for YOU! On September 28th, Race for the Soul at the Columbus Zoo will help to benefit Total Health, the organization that supports our two medical clinics here in San Salvador!

I am representing El Salvador as Team Captain and although I’m not able to be there in person, Pastor Victor is planning to attend and participate in the race! I and everyone else here will be cheering from all the way down south. There are 5k run, walk and kid race options. This is a great opportunity to bond with your family, small group or co-workers!

Make sure to register under “Team El Salvador” so that the funds will be directed specifically to Total Health.

To learn more and to register to race, visit raceforthesoul.com

If you are unable to attend the event but would still like to support the cause, you may do so at the link above as well. There are cool prizes for those that raise the most money or perform the best in races!


Praises and Prayer Requests
PRAISE
  • Protection for the mission teams and pure joy that we got to experience during their time here! For each person that gave their life to Jesus through these teams!
  • God’s provision and faithfulness in helping us find an apartment to share together when Chepe and I get married in just a couple short months!
  • For the Turcios family and the time I got to spend sharing their home for over two and a half years. They truly have become part of our family and have been such a blessing to me in so many ways since moving here.
PLEASE PRAY
  • For the upcoming mission team from Bethel Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio. They will be serving mainly at our Soyapango CDC with an animal vaccine campaign, building beds and hosting Bible studies for parents.
  • For us as we continue to coordinate things for the apartment and the wedding in time for our big day in October. In El Salvador, some small tasks are more complicated than I’m used to in the States and now living in the apartment I’m having to adjust to lots of them! Please pray for patience and for God to help us find the right people to help us with all the logistics.

We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to continue serving the local church here and advancing the gospel in San Salvador in the years to come!

Your support is essential to making this possible and we thank God for you daily!

Bendiciones mil,
Ali

Races and Familiar Faces // June 2019

Hola, amigos! June was full of activity and I am praising God for each moment of it.


 

Race for the Soul

Do you live in or near the Columbus, Ohio area? Do you like to exercise while supporting a good cause? Then this announcement is for YOU! On September 28th, Race for the Soul at the Columbus Zoo will help to benefit Total Health, the organization that supports our two medical clinics here in San Salvador! 

I am representing El Salvador as Team Captain and although I’m not able to be there in person, Pastor Victor is planning to attend and participate in the race! I and everyone else here will be cheering from all the way down south. There are 5k run, walk and kid race options. This is a great opportunity to bond with your family, small group or co-workers!

Make sure to register under “Team El Salvador” so that the funds will be directed specifically to Total Health.

To learn more and to register to race, visit raceforthesoul.com

If you are unable to attend the event but would still like to support the cause, you may do so at the link above as well. There are cool prizes for those that raise the most money or perform the best in races!


 

Thank you, CedarCreek Church!

We had another great experience with a missions team from CedarCreek Church in Toledo, Ohio! The leaders, Jim and Cindy Casey, have been friends of mine for years and it was great to see them and meet lots of new folks as well.

The main focus of this team was to kickstart the construction of our new Recreational Center in the Volcano Children’s Development Center. Most of the funds for the project were given in memorial of a woman, Judi, that was a member of CedarCreek and came here on a missions trip several years ago. Sadly, Judi passed away earlier this year but her family wanted to honor her memory and make an eternal impact at the same time. We are so blessed by this donation and the team’s willingness to get (really) dirty to get this project going. We are expecting construction to be complete in August! 

[ site of the future Rec Center! ]
[ dedicating the project in Judi’s honor and for God’s glory ]



 

Welcome, Dad!

In June, my dad also came to visit for a couple quick but precious days. It was great having him here even for a short time and we crammed in as much activity as we could. We’re so thankful for him and are excited to see him and so many others from my family in a few months for our wedding!

[ breakfast with my dad, Doug, Chepe’s parents, José and Berta and Victor and Silvia]

Praises and Prayer Requests
PRAISE
  • God was faithful in safety and timing with the CedarCreek team! We were able to make lots of progress on the construction project while still evangelizing, visiting homes and teaching the children at the Center about God’s promises.
  • A fun visit from my dad; again, God was Good in His protection!
  • Chepe and I found an apartment! We are so relieved to have found a home that will fit our needs in a safe area once we are married.
PLEASE PRAY
  • For the upcoming mission teams we will be hosting in July from Bay Area Community Church (Maryland) and Rock City Church (Ohio); that God would give me and our local team wisdom as we plan and that He would ultimately have all the control and glory for the work the missionaries will do here!
  • For God’s presence to overwhelm the communities of the families we serve in our ministry. It is too often that we are told that a family has to move because of threats to their safety due to the violence in these areas. We trust that God’s plan is perfect and that His protection would cover these children and families.

 


We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to continue serving the local church here and advancing the gospel in San Salvador in the years to come!

Bendiciones mil,
Ali

Video Update! // May 2019

Hello, everyone! I hope you’ve enjoyed a great Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to change things up a bit this month, so click on the link below to see a quick video I put together to explain more about what happens at the Children’s Development Centers we work with. I love this part of the ministry with Iglesia Gran Comisión and it’s what first got my heart hooked on missions back in 2014!


 

To see my latest video update, click HERE!

Thank you for your continued support, prayers and love. I pray that God will multiply our joint efforts to keep expanding His Kingdom and loving His people here in San Salvador!

 

[ Wedding fun! Here’s a peek of Chepe and I’s engagement pictures taken a couple weeks ago. We asked a friend to take them for us at a small town a couple hours from the city. We love them!  ]

 

Prayer Requests

  • For the next missions team we will be hosting from CedarCreek Church (Toledo, Ohio) from June 15-22. Please pray for safety and the construction project the team will be focusing on. 
  • Praise! I’m so thankful to see my monthly support deficit reduced to just $139! This has been a huge blessing. Please continue to pray for us as we work out a tentative budget for when we get married and we raise additional support to cover our expenses so that we can focus our energy on the local ministry!