A Winter Update from El Salvador
What. A. Trip! It was one of those trips where it would be much easier to say, “you just had to be there!” but we can’t do that to all of you! We have to testify to the incredible work that happened in El Salvador during our annual December trip. As usual, we had our goals set, plans made, and hearts ready as we traveled to El Salvador, and as usual, God did far more than what could have been anticipated.
Over the past several years, December in El Salvador has become one of the most eventful seasons of ministry for our team. This year was no exception. Our goals for this trip included facilitating a teacher conference and a youth conference, welcoming new youth into our Salvadoran intern program, digging a grey water trench and building a new shower for our neighbor. We also equipped local farmers with tools and hosted a CPR and First Aid seminar. We are glad to report that ALL of our goals were accomplished! The Lord helped us so much. I'm going to do my best to recount some of the finest moments here.
Over 30 teachers attended our teachers conference where they were empowered through relevant sessions like “Teaching Students, not just Classes.” They participated in engaging, applicable dialogue with one another and our presenters. They were each given a bag full of supplies for their classrooms and the latest edition of Recursos magazine.
At the conclusion of the seminar, the Superintendent of schools approached us asking if we’d come next month and offer another one for 300-400 teachers! Of course, we’re making this happen, and the conference will be held at the end of this month. These teachers deserve it! After the conference one teacher said, “Everything that was taught was relevant to me, and being encouraged to love our students was a needed reminder. Caring for them is so important.”
The 3-day youth conference had nearly 50 youth in attendance and it was a blast! This is the first time we took all of the youth to our campus and had them participate in a variety of projects in order to emphasize our theme, “Love God and Love your Neighbor.”
By facilitating projects that they could participate in, it allowed them to put into action what they were learning in the Bible sessions. They were truly loving their neighbor by helping to facilitate VBS for the neighborhood children, assisting our team with building a shower for a family, neighborhood clean up, and practicing hospitality toward the mothers and grandparents who were on our Campus watching their children enjoy VBS.
At the end of the week, one youth shared that her neighbor had always been mean to her family for as long as she could remember. She testified that after learning how Jesus loved others, she was going to do the same and love her neighbor, because it was a practical and immediate way that she could change the world. Another youth testified that she had always been good at working with children, but she didn’t realize until that week that God wanted her to use those skills for all of the kids around her--her neighbors! She was heavily involved with the VBS that week and was in tears as she reflected on the happiness she witnessed in them as she spent time teaching them, crafting with them, and investing into them.
Grey Water Trench
Sounds so boring, right? Well, this project meets many more needs than meets the eye. Our neighbor’s home and shower are located on the middle edge of our property, which means every time the shower is used the run-off water creates a dirty stream down the center of the land. A constant dirty stream of water creates mud, and that mud makes our campus unusable and inhospitable. The water also pools which creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With the help of those on our team as well as some of the Salvadoran youth, a trench was dug and piping placed in the ground to channel the water underground and to the empty field on the other side of our lot. This has made such a difference already! But we didn’t stop there.
While digging the trench, we observed that José’s shower was not adequate. It had a dirt floor and makeshift walls, definitely not a suitable place for his family to get clean. So we built him a new one.
We weren’t able to finish it before our trip was over, but after the team left our cooperatives, Lorena and Antonio, oversaw the project to completion. Several of the youth who helped while we were there stayed and ensured the shower was completed. This, in and of itself, is another reason to praise God! The youth saw the importance of loving their neighbor and wanted to finish José’s shower well, and they did. God took what may have just looked like a typical digging project and did so much more. Our neighbor now has a clean, working shower, the grey water no longer floods our property, and the youth who attended our conference and learned about loving their neighbors were able to actualize that lesson. Praise God!
Equipping Local Farmers
We’ve been working with this group of farmers for almost two years, showing them different techniques including double digging, drip irrigation, and composting. They’ve seen tremendous soil improvement and yield from their crops, and now need help maintaining the growth!
We were able to check in on the garden beds, see the crops and troubleshoot some issues, construct a fence around the perimeter of the garden to keep out animals, and provide much needed tools for their continued success. More irrigation materials, garden tools, and composting supplies will help them as they continue to do what they once thought was impossible: grow a variety of healthy foods in abundance!
CPR and First Aid Seminar
Education is paramount to creating, maintaining, and increasing enthusiasm. A year ago, Nurse Practitioner Jaimeé Arroyo sat down with our cooperative, Lorena, and taught her some basic first aid skills. She took to the information so naturally, and during this year’s seminar she was seamlessly articulating concepts that she remembered (and had practiced) from that initial teaching a year ago! There were 5 other youth who participated in this seminar and they were all extremely engaged in the information they were being taught. They asked relevant questions and brought up realistic scenarios. The information they learned was similar to what one would receive in nursing school, and they were absorbing it so well. We can easily rely on our medical system, at least our ambulance services, to be there for us if we have an emergency...but that is not their reality. They were learning this information like lives depended on it, because in many ways, they do.
Welcoming New Youth Intern Candidates
We were able to conclude our time with a beautiful ceremony where we formally welcomed 6 youth who are candidates for our Salvadoran Internship Program. Our program consists of taking Bible classes, volunteering in community service opportunities, and skills training. There are currently 3 youth in the program who just completed their first year, and they are excited to welcome more!
The Lord did a lot in a short amount of time, and while the work is far from over, thank you for celebrating with us for all that he is doing NOW! So many of you directly supported our December trip efforts, and we can’t thank you enough! Your donations and prayers helped make all of these things possible. It truly is amazing what can be done when the Body of Christ works together. Here’s to another successful mission for God and to many more in the year to come!