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.


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

New memorization venture…

I’ve wanted to memorize and pray for all the countries of the world for about 5 years. I figured since I’ve actually started, that blogging about it may help provide added accountability.

I heard a speaker at Book of Hope quite some time ago. His name is Dick Eastman and he’s with a ministry called Every Home for Christ. http://www.ehc.org/

If I remember correctly, he spoke of praying for every country in the world every day on his way to work, or wherever he was going that day. I love that idea. Of course, it’s a listing thing where he would simply fly through a list. However, with his decent knowlege of the world a passion for those people, and a greater love for God, I bet some cool things happen in response to those prayers.

The prayer…

  • helps keep his passion alive and growing.
  • reminds him to pray for the places he’s been and the people he’s met
  • helps him be more aware when he hears of places on the news or in conversation
  • connects him with the desire God has to receive worship from the nations
  • is heard by our Savior, who responds

He passed out prayer maps that day. I have mine with me most of the time, wanting to actually start the memorization process. The idea is to pray for a few countries a day each day for a month, but I like the idea of just learning them all. I’ve told other intern teams of my desire to learn them all. Haven’t done it. Will do so starting now, or last week actually.

Click here to see the list.

I’ve gotten Africa, but am a bit worried about all of those Oceanic islands. Wish me luck…or even order the map (it’s free). Accountability in cyberspace has arrived.


Where in the world is Moldova?

Still sitting in the O’Hare airport with time to share some thoughts…

The team and I are on our way to Chisnau, Moldova. I’ve had some fun conversations about Moldova lately:


With a TRAVEL agent:
Him: “Where’s Boldova? Is that in Africa?”
Me: “No…Moldova”
Him: “Is Moldova in Africa?”


With the INTERNATIONAL desk at ATT:
Her: “What country is this city in?”
Me: “It’s a country called Moldova”
Her: “Really? I don’t see it here? Is it a city?”
Me: “No…it’s a country in Europe.”
Her: “What country is Armenia in?”
Me: “It’s not a city, it’s a country in the Middle East.”
Her: “Albania?”



With the guy at the AIRPORT as I checked in my bags this morning:
Him: You’re going to Chisnau, Moldova…where is that?
Me: It’s in Europe, between Romania and Ukraine near the Black Sea.
Him: “Oh…I’ve never seen that before. Cool.”


That being said, I probably couldn’t have pointed it out on a map until a few months ago either. However, I’ve been there and I’m going back. It’s a beautiful place where the people are considered the poorerst in Europe. I look forward to telling stories from this place over the next few weeks. Here’s a map with some Photoshopped spots on the cities in which we’ll serve (Mihaileni, Saralta Galbena, Straseni):


You can also read more about Moldova here.