On Monday, the team and I went to a village church about 30 minutes from Sarata Galbena. Many of the homes in the village were abandoned as people had no money and left for other places. We worked with local Christians to share food with some gypsy families, the elderly, and some very poor people. Few times have I seen poverty on this scale.
Here, Claire gives us a bit of a tour and her thoughts…
Then, we went back to the small church building (it’s actually more of a home) where they fed us and we had a service for about 25 kids. What a wonderful time. There’s a family from the main church in Sarata that’s sees this village as their mission…we loved partnering with them for this day. (We also provided a lot of groceries for the church and food for the ministry.)
While there, I met Maria (not her real name…). We were sitting down, and there were balloons on the floor and we, not knowing each other’s language, got in a mild balloon fight. Fun. We palled around for the rest of the afternoon.
I then learned her story. She’s 10-years-old and has a little sister. Her father has been gone for years and her mother left last year as well. She’s taken care of her little sister for months now. This church found her, and has been helping her. In fact, the couple pastoring the church are letting Maria and her sister move in with them. She’s now well fed, warm and has some adults who love her and are telling her about Jesus.
The larger church is working towards perhaps starting an orphanage to help children such as Maria and her sister.
Great girl, fun afternoon, honor for Convoy of Hope and our interns to partner with churches like this.
I texted a blog entry with a small photo as we left Dani and Lena’s yesterday, but wanted to write more.
The village of Mihaileni is a village of about 6000. There are hundreds of them around this country. We partnered with a growing church to help them by painting and reaching out to the poor in the community. In a meeting with the mayor, he told of a family of siblings. The father abandoned the family years ago and the mother is in another country working. She left some money with the market to take care of her children, but the money ran out a long time ago. Thankfully, there are some older siblings in this tiny home, but they’re gone all day, leaving the little ones home alone.
They clearly bathe quite seldomly, are malnourished and in need of some serious attention. Multiple team members have stopped by in the last few days, and I was able to go with some yesterday. They devoured the chicken and soup we brought them, and loved the ball and other toys we shared with them. Here’s Mikellah with Dani…
Not sure how to process that kind of poverty, but I know that God smiles on a young lady going out of her way to help. I know he really smiles on a young couple in the church that have commited to keeping in touch with the kids and doing whatever they can possibly do to help. Igor said, “I didn’t know that poverty like this exists in my village.”
Here are the kids devouring the food…
Is there poverty like that where you live? What can be done? I realize some soup, chicken and toys won’t change their lives…but in combination with a caring couple from a caring church who walks with those kids as they get older…I think it could.
I've been a lot of places, but few of them are like the home of Andre, Lena and Dani. These three siblings don't know where their father is and their mother has gone to another country for work. She left some money at the local market for her kids to have food. That was last summer and she hasn't returned.
There are older siblings who help watch them but they're in the fields all day. The kids stay home…when it's hot and when it's cold.
We got their information from the mayor. He said they were in desperate need.
Igor is a local pastor's son. He and his wife went with us to their home yesterday and today. Igor said he didn't know poverty like this existed in his village. They were moved.
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.