Our work is fueled by our love of God, who calls us to help those who are in dire need. Part of SLAM’s mission is to provide volunteers, people who want to make a difference in the world through practical service, for the purpose of helping the vulnerable in the regions we serve.
This summer, we’ve had over 50 youth and adults from 3 churches from Minnesota and Indiana serve alongside our missionaries in El Salvador. In addition, five of our summer interns are also serving in the region. Every group experiences the life, hardship, and struggle that so many individuals endure in the rural areas of El Salvador. This summer, we’ve focused a lot of our efforts on providing kid camps, bible studies, work projects, and primary education. In this article, I will share a few highlights.
One particular group from Pine City, Minnesota, arrived ready to work. Their projects were led by Michael Johnson (of Pine City, MN), and revolved around creating a new cooking space for our neighbor, Carmen. Carmen is a single mother with 4 kids who regularly cooks in a smoky kitchen without ventilation, impairing her health. Michael helped the group create a rocket stove that will reduce the smoke in the kitchen, keeping her health from getting worse, and lessening the amount of money she will have to spend on wood. Through this experience, alongside bible studies, the group learned about God’s concern for the poor, and the practical service opportunities that we can do to alleviate some of Carmen’s suffering, alongside countless others we long to serve.
While work projects are incredibly helpful, we recognize that God’s work project is developing human beings. That’s why each of our work projects center on improving the quality of life for a particular person, or group of people. These projects span from home improvement to a large amount of education. Our interns and youth groups participated in education and healthy extracurriculars through offering facilitated sports matches, kids camps, and tutoring. Our interns have spent over 15 hours a week tutoring elementary school students outside of school hours. This provides enhanced, individualized learning opportunities and a deeper connection with our neighbors and friends. Our youth groups have been facilitating kid camps full of games, soccer, bible lessons and lots of good times! The Lord is moving through these great groups of youth and adults who came to serve the Lord and the wonderful people of El Salvador.
One moment that our summer interns won’t soon forget is when they met Mama Tula, a 99-year-old midwife. Mama Tula had 24 of her own children, only 6 of which are still alive. As a midwife, she delivered over 1,000 babies, none of whom died in delivery. Even when the interns visited with her, though she suffered from a severe skin disease on her face, she testified to God's goodness and how he takes care of her everyday. Our leaders and intern team were able to share an encouragement from the Word of God and spent time praying with this vibrant and thriving woman.
The work we are doing in El Salvador is part of the responsibility we feel from the Lord to uplift the sick, encourage the weak, and educate children. We are meeting real needs as God leads us. Continue praying for these dear people we’ve ministered so they can experience life in a world that has made it really difficult to bear.