Back again. Thanks for checking on me and the team.
Arrgh! I am so frustrated! And that shared frustration was the topic of conversation at one point on Thursday.....HOW do WE share with others what God has allowed us to experience...how can we possibly explain all we have "heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life..." (1 John 1:1) -- THAT is the first scripture that came to my mind when team member Larry, posed the question of sharing with others. Lisa summed up our conversation best. "You can't. The only way you can truly understand is to go on the mission trip." Although Lisa is only in her 20s and this is her first mission trip, her words were truly wisdom.
When we return, we will share photos and stories. We may be moved to tears as we share with you. But there is a place in our hearts that will house the memories of special moments we experienced with the Holy Spirit - the very presence of God within us. I am convinced that God had these type of moments in mind to give each Believer that submits to obedience when HE commanded us to "Go ye, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every living creature." (Matthew 16:15) --- The question then comes to mind...."What have I missed, Lord? What other moments were/are waiting that would show me more of YOU?" God wants us to know HIM more intimately - to show us more of HIS amazing Kingdom....and all we need to do is walk in obedience to HIS commands. DUH!
OK - back to the report of activities for the Wednesday and Thursday.....
I gave the devotion to our team as I felt God had told me to. Since we are the Bridges of Hope team, I used the acrostic for HOPE that God gave me about a year and a half ago. He's Our Perfect Example. No matter what comes into our lives, we can look to HIM. HE has been there, done that, and shows us the perfect character traits to follow. That is not the exact verbiage - and there are scriptures to back up every point (imagine that!). I also showed an object lesson of how if we put God first --- there is time for everything in our lives. OK - you have to see the demo for that one. Remind me when you see me. I will gladly show you.
We left the hotel at 9 AM for the elder care facility, where we did another eye clinic, gave gifts, painted fingernails, listened to their stories, and toured the amazing facility. BOY! Those typed words do know justice to the blessings that we experienced there. I will say, that US should come see what is done here. All of us older team members agreed we would be OK with spending our last years at Res. Menderley. (Not sure what the UPS shipping would be to get us back down to ES though.)
From there the next project was with the kids from Exodo Orphanage. We met them at a Pizza Hut and then shopping with 24 adults and about 40 kids! We did not go to a mall - but rather the central market location of the city. Oh, BOY! Do we all have some hair-raising stories to tell! YOUR prayers and God's angels protected us. We didn't even lose 1 adult or child in the maze of tiny shops and chaos in the shopping experience!
From there we traveled to the orpanage. Remember, this was a return trip for a few of us. The kids did remember and the photos that I took last year, and printed out for them was a good reminder. We found out that the kids have prayed for the team of BOH every day. It was amazing how much the kids had grown and matured. They performed for us - and had made us each a personal greeting card with a group photo of the kids. So many stories and photos....!
It was a long day - but such a blessing to everyone from an 18 month old - to a new friend that recently celebrated her 101st birthday.
We left the hotel at 8:30 AM for Mariona Prison. I can now say that I have been in prison....twice... in El Salvador. (Is it any wonder that I embarrass my grandkids?)
The prison was built to house 850 men. I'm pretty sure we were told that there are around 4,500 there now. BUT - this place is now a haven for criminals to find a personal relationship with Christ! Last year it was probably the most moving spiritual time of the mission, and this year the visit had no less of an impact. It was different than last year because of what God has been doing in the prisoner's lives, we were allowed to see much more of the prison and the huge changes taking place under the leadership of Juan Ramon. His sharing his personal testimony (at our request) was in itself, worth the trip. To see such a humble and godly man in this place and what God is doing through him is awe-inspiring. It was weird to think you could be in a prison - and not want to leave. That is the way it was for our team - and for many of the prisoners as well! Oh, and one surprize we had while we were there. Jaun Ramon introduced us to his horse! We saw his cowboy boots and saddle as well! That surprize will only be understood by my buddies back in the Great Adventure Club. But there is more to that story.....
Our last project was a food distribution in another poor barrio. The homes were better shelter than the ones we saw on Tuesday - but the stories of poverty were not. The really cool thing about this outreach was that the church that we partnered with came with us and took us door to door, then ended with a very fun event for the children. There I was, on Thursday afternoon, with 50+ kids singing jumping, dancing, and singing praises to Jesus! This was at the same time the Great Adventure Club was going on back in Trafalgar, Indiana! AND --- during the celebration, everything stopped for a couple of minutes because....a HORSE was being led right through the middle of the crowd! I couldn't believe it! For those who don't know, the club theme this semester is "Rodeo Round-Up" - a horse theme! It was another incredibly special hug from God!!! I don't mean to minimize the impact of the food distibution or that of meeting the indidual families - I have plenty of photos that will prompt sharing the special moments - but you have to admit - only God could have sent that horse - though the middle of those kids at that precise time! YEEEE-HAW!
Here it is 1AM again. I had planned on going to bed by 11 or 12. BUT - it is a free day tomorrow. I can sleep till 10 AM --- if it is the Lord's will! My missionary friend, Leila, will be picking me up about noon so we can spend just a little more time together. The Baby House is over the viruses now. We hope to go visit that ministry. Team mate, Lisa will be going with us. Babies! We love Babies!!!
Other team members are going sight-seeing and to the beach, and some of our men are returning to the special education school we visited on Tuesday. They saw some needs of things to be done there and wanted to volunteer to help. The school was thrilled and the guys are happy to do it! It's ALL good. It's GOD!
I probably won't blog again until Monday. SO in the meantime....PLEASE pray to get us home safely -- no rain or snow storms for our flight, and no ice on our wings or runways!
Can't wait to see you all - especially, Ted -- and the rest of the family. But I think I will be resting for a few days!
Love and Prayers from El Salvador!!