Pupusas…lots and lots of pupusas

Both Jorel and Chad ate 10 pupusas on Easter.  Crazy.

Pupusas are to El Salvador what hamburgers are to the USA or Fish & Chips is to the U.K. or Cuy (pictured below) is to Peru…well not exactly that, but close enough.

 

cuy

We had fun making them on Easter evening at Pastor Fabricio’s house.  Great day.  They’re made of rice or flour and are then stuffed with cheese, beans, loroco (a plant) or even fried pork…chicharon.  You can read more on wikipedia…the best source for news 🙂

Here are a few photos of the team, with a nice video for your viewing pleasure.karen making pupusas

chad's pupusasdesnat pupusas

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Good timing…

On our Plan B trip to El Salvador, our first place of ministry was a small village about 30 minutes from San Salvador.  There, we worked with a local pastor who was preparing to start a church at our place of ministry.  The church started Easter Sunday.

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They’ve been working in the area, but without our Plan B, they wouldn’t have been there that day.

While there, we shared food, shoes with those who needed them, and toys for the kids.  Jorel and Bethany also shared about hope and life and a future with Jesus.  After we shared with the people, a woman came to Bethany with the news that when she arrived, she had planned to kill herself in the very near future.  She decided not to that day.  Bethany prayed with her. Hope.

I don’t know the woman’s struggles…I know there’s extreme poverty, violence, drug use, gangs, and more where she pile o' foodlives.  I know that many men have abandoned their families and woman are left with little or nothing.  I don’t know her struggles, but I know they must have been big. Now? Hope.Bethany with a friend

We made sure she met people from the soon to start church.  She said she’d go…and it’s in her village.  I’ll be back soon and will check to see if she made it. The woman in the photo isn’t the one of whom I write…it didn’t seem right to take her photo.  However, this woman’s life changed that day too.

Here’s Bethany sharing the story from her perspective…

A bitterly sweet time with Sylvia and her family

manuelwalter1I can’t believe they killed her father.

Last summer, April and I had the immense privilege of spending time with a young lady my grandmother sponsors through Latin America Child Care.  Her name is Sylvia.  She attends a school in Santa Ana, El Salvador which is helped by Convoy of Hope.  We met her, her brother Walter, and their parents, spending time in their home and sharing a meal with them.  I blogged about it all, including my grandmother’s connection to her, last summer. http://bit.ly/iBSHr.

While there, among other things, we enjoyed taking Manual, her father and family to Pizza Hut for his 40th birthday.  It was a special day at the restaurant they’d always wanted to try.  Everything changed just one month later when violent gang members uselessly shot and killed her father…the man pictured here.  It happened about a month after I took this photo.  I can’t believe they killed him. 

We reconnected with Sylvia and her family while in El Salvador with our spring interns a few weeks ago.  We shared hugs and tears and prayers and we talked.  We returned to Pizza Hut.  We smiled.

sylviafam“Walter is the man of the house now,” Sylvia told us.  “(Walter) wakes up and asks why people have to be mean,” her mother explains.  They’re grieving but growing through their grief.

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The day after we reconnected, the family joined us for an outreach in a village about 30 minutes from their home.  There, Sylvia shared her testimony, starting by quoting Psalm 23.  She sang with our team in ministry for the people of the village and she and her family handed out groceries to those who had gathered.  The woman here is quite happy with what Sylvia shared.

Afterwards, her mother (pictured in yellow in the group photo above) said, “This has been the best thing for helping us heal…serving others.”

I’ll see her and her family again this summer and look forward to keeping in touch with the family for years to come. 

waltertruckOne final note…last summer we asked 9-year-old Walter about his school.  He didn’t attend “we don’t have enough money,” his parents said.  God touched a team member’s heart who decided to work with Latin America Child Care in sponsoring Walter.  He’d never been to school.  He couldn’t read.  It took time for Walter and extra money for his sponsor, but last fall, even as the family went through this tragedy, Walter had a personal tutor.  This January, he was able to start school with his class.  At Pizza Hut, he read me the menu…didn’t struggle with a single word.  God’s got a plan for the young man…who’s now the head of his home.sylviamatt

OneHope, kingdom stuff, and old friends

Well…not old, but you know what I mean.  I loved being a part of the Book of Hope (now OneHope) team from ’02-’06.  Great years, great friends.  With a two night layover in S. Florida to pick up our team from Haiti and then head to other foreign lands, I was excited to reconnect with some great people, and stay in OneHope’s Forum.
 
I blogged yesterday about a call I got that changed our entire two weeks.  Kathryn from the OneHope team actually started helping us search for new flights, Paul prayed over us.  The administration team of OneHope helped in some cool ways too.  The change in plans threw off some of our transportation…and friends like Pat and Christine chipped in and helped in huge ways.  I love the Kingdom of God.
 
Along those lines, our Convoy of Hope Interns in Haiti did a Book of Hope distribution to children while serving with a King’s Castle team.  Working together.  I like that.  It’s very John 17ish.
 
Guatemala is beautiful.  Our spiritual retreat begins today. I may even purchase some coffee here, at my favorite place to buy whole bean coffee in the world (let me know by Friday afternoon if you want some).
 
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We’re off to El Salvador on Saturday.

Off to…wait! Huh? Where am I going?

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Yep…I’m in Guatemala.  About 48 hours ago, our trip to another country was abruptly cancelled.  Not an April fool’s joke either.  Still getting word as to reasons, but it’s beyond our control.  It’s a beautiful place full of special people…I hope I can get there someday.

 

Ever had a change of plans?  Ever stood there knowing things would work out, but you had no idea how or where or why or what or whatever?  Me…Monday night.

 

 

 

Prayer (over hot wings with Paul Walker…where I was when I got the call)

 

Understanding that God wasn’t shocked.

 

Cell phones, websites…surfing the web for airfares/etc. (with help from OneHope’s Kathryn and Shannon from our staff)

 

Prayer

 

 

Within two hours we booked a flight for the team to Guatemala.  We arrived an hour ago or so. We’ll have a short spiritual retreat while we coordinate with the Convoy of Hope staff in El Salvador, then we’ll head to that country.  It’s working out better than I could ever hope.  In a few days we’ll be working with refugees, a new church plant and in other places.  Thank God for God.

 

 

 

BTW:  The retreat will be here…a beautiful place for a team that’s been working very, very, very hard in Haiti to soak in what He’s been doing.  Please pray it will be a holy time that brings a much greater depth to each of our lives.  Sometimes when there’s day after day of work in a foreign place, we don’t stop and let what’s happening soak in and affect us like it should.  I’m praying that’s what happens over these few days.  We head to El Salvador Saturday.

 

 

 Life with Jesus isn’t boring.

 Here’s another shot of one of my favorite places on the planet…

 

 

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Sara’s story

2008-0717-el-salvador-24Today, the Springfield News-Leader covered the story of one of our summer ’08 interns.  Sara Perez worked hard in both El Salvador and Nicaragua.  Her father had dreams of playing basketball in El Salvador but was forced to make the decision to move to the USA during El Salvador’s civil war. 

On a missions trip with Convoy of Hope, Kenton Moody and Rick Ryan, from our staff, saw her skills and encouraged her to come to Evangel to play ball.  It worked out and she’s here with a scholarship.  She returned to do the summer internship and hopes to serve in El Salvador after college.   We were thrilled at the interpreting skills (and laughter and energy and love of coffee and more) she brought to the team.  Kudos to Rick Ryan and Kenton Moody for the impact they’ve  made in her life…

Check out the story here.

This photo of Sara hangs on our intern wall here at Convoy of Hope.200perez1

Sylvia and my grandmother (and Convoy of Hope)

From 1941-45 my grandparents were missionaries in El Salvador. They first served in Santa Ana where they pastored Templo Betel, and then pioneered the Assemblies of God work in San Salvador, the capital.

Grandpa is with Jesus, but Grandma is a strong 87-year-old. Though she hasn’t been to El Salvador in years, she’s been sponsoring Sylvia, an Latin American Child Care student in Santa Ana, a city in which she lived 67 years ago.

The team and I met up with Sylvia. She and her family invited us to her home where she showed us some photos my grandmother sent, some letters she wrote, and shared her amazing personality. To say that she’s thankful for Grandma’s sponsorship is an understatement. Here are her words of thanks.

A few weeks ago, I returned to El Salvador with the team from Oregon. We met up with Sylvia again…wow. We met her father for the first time.

Two things stand out from that night:

1. It was her father’s 45th birthday. We’d asked Sylvia about her favorite restaurant (Pizza Hut). As we ate there with her family, he let me know two things that humbled me, it was his first food of the day, and it was the first time he’d ever eaten out to celebrate his birthday. Wow. We were honored to join him on his special day.

2. I asked about her little brother, Walter. He’s a fun and energetic 9-year-old. In speaking with the familiy and then the school director, I learned that Walter stopped attending school after 1st grade because the family didn’t have money for school supplies, the uniform, or small school fees. A team member decided this should change…Walter will be back in school when the next term begins in January.

Our Convoy of Hope teams have worked in Sylvia’s schools and dozens like them this summer. These are the types of students and families with whom we’ve been working. We loved getting to know Sylvia and her family, learning more about El Salvador and opportunity in this country.