7.09.2009

This is John Shen from Troy, MI, in El Salvador. I just logged into my online music storage and found the most recently uploaded song.



It´s a remix, but it reminded me of when I actually heard the song here, in San Salvador. I responded by commenting to the nearest person that this song shouldn´t be here, and that I like Salvadoran music better anyway. But she replied that maybe the people here like our music back in the States better too.

Later that night we met with the pastor of the church which we are helping. He told us one of the greatest struggles the youth here face is that 70% of them want to leave the country for the USA. He wanted us to relate and connect with them, all of us learning together on our retreat this weekend that we are followers of Jesus - wherever we go, wherever we are, wherever we want to be.

Luego, amigos (y amigas).

Squíz!

Yea, the greatest drink since Sunny D, and only 25 cents here in El Savlador. Thats pretty much the first thing I do here every morning out of my room, walk over to the corner tienda and get some Squíz.

I guess I should introduce myself a bit. Hola, me llamo Joe and I am here with a team of 14 chinos (thats what everyone calls us here even though we have a Korean and a few white guys with us).

Days here are pretty draining. Today in particular tired me out tremendously. I woke up early along with Brent, our youth pastor, and Kevin to catch an appointment with a local that wanted to learn english. Even though he ended up not showing up, it just goes to show how God is opening up opportunities to create relationships with the people here.
Be able to work with the children at Tía Ana´s is quite a blessing. I personally am not particularly good with kids, but the kids there have so much life and joy in them even though most of the them are without nourishing parents. Contruction is also very fulfilling as our team managed to get a giant pile of sand moved up a hill.

I have to thank God that our team is still so motivated and working hard. Its so easy to get frustrated and discouraged with the heat, the crazy children, and the language barrier, but God has been working wonders in each of us and keeping us a functioning machine. Christian Jacobs (the intern with our group) is such a blessing. I did not anticipate him being so cool and bonding with our team so well.

Time is flying as we´re leaving for a youth retreat tomorrow. Before I know it, we´ll all be in a plane comming home thinking about what has happened here. It is very apparant how God is working in each of our hearts. Its so amazing watching teammates grow individually and on each other. Additionally, going to church on sunday gave me another reminder that God is universal. God back at home is the same God here, granted we may praise Him in a different way.

Well here´s a clip of a song that sums up one of my hopes and prayers I have for not just me, but for our whole team.



"Open my eyes open them wide
Let me go, let me play, let me live a little yeah Let me sow, let me grow, supernatural
Open myself to what I find,
Let me fly, let me ride living faith or die falling on my face 7 times yet I still rise
Open my eyes open them wide
Every time I lie awake everywhere that I look I can see your face"

God´s People

El Salvador is absolutely amazing. I came on this missions trip (my first) expecting to bring God to an unknowing land, but I ended up discovering a setting that was already graced by Christ´s love. Every custom, every home, and every face seems to have ¨Jesus was here¨ written all over it. I feel honored to be among a people that God must love so much. The people here rely on their faith whole heartedly. They aren´t as technical as the people at home. Salvadorians appreciate life, and as cliche as it sounds, they actually take the time to smell, look at, and pick the roses. So what if they don´t sit around debating new technology or paper and plastic. They act with their hearts and rely on their spiritual intuition, and because of this, they aren´t servants of society, but servants of God. They are truly God´s people.
I´m not saying that I don´t love American culture with its filibustering over topics like Obama, global warming, stem cell research, and modern philosophy...but life here still seems to have a certain kind of depth to it that you just can´t find at home.

okay its time to leave the internet cafe. shame shame

Janet from Michigan.

It´s Rainin´ Men

Hola todos, Kevin aquí. Ok, I speak English. So I´m a chino de Michigan de Los Estados Unidos, and I´m here with a team of 14 from our church, O@sis. You might be wondering why I have that title up there. Well, we just had to drive through stupidly heavy rain in the back of a pickup truck after eating a Pupusa dinner. Yeah, fun stuff.

Anyway, we´re here with another team from Boone, North Carolina to help minister to the El Salvadorians of La Iglesia de Fe y Adoración (or something close to that). So far, we´ve ministered in our local community of Zacamil, played with the orphans of Tía Ana, and done construction on a new house for Tía Ana, just to give a couple things. As for myself, I am enjoying the things we are doing for this place, as I know it touches the hearts of the locals, and I know when I come out of this, I will have taken in more than I could take from anywhere else. This experience is unlike anything I´ve had before, and I can already feel its effects on me after these 5 days we´ve been here. Our intern, Christian Jacobs, challenged us to make goals for ourselves over this trip, and one of mine was to live with more spontaneity. In other words, I want to be able to live and perform God´s word without hesitatoin, without fear, without question, and just do whatever God wants me to do when I feel him tugging on my shoulder. I am a naturally reserved person, but my teammates, and even myself (a person who does not like to think or talk about himself much) notice a change in my behavior and character. I hope I can continue this trend as we finish this trip.

It seems like this week has gone by so quickly already, as tomorrow (Friday) afternoon, we will be leaving for a retreat with the young adults of the church for three days. I don´t know what to expect while we are there, but I am excited to see what differences there are between how the El Salvadorians do their retreat amd how my church does it. After the retreat (Sunday afternoon), there is not much more of the hard work to do like the construction and orphanage, and we even get a part of a day at the beach. So this mission trip has already gone by so fast, and many of the hardest things we´ve had to do are already over. The timing is good though, because many of us are becoming pretty tired and fatigued. One of our teammates is a bit ill, so we pray that she will recover quickly and be ready for the upcoming retreat. I myself am pretty tired as well, but somehow I am still keeping my spirits up, with God´s help.

So that´s about it for now. Be sure to check out posts from my other teammates as we are all in an Internet café at the moment taking turns blogging. Adios.

This is Love

Hola amigas,

This is Veronica with the Oasis Mission Team from Michigan. We began this trip last Saturday and we still have a couple more days to go. This is pretty much my first time going international since I was six and honestly, it all still seems a bit surreal.

The people here are beyond welcoming. To the average American who is used to the hustle and bustle of the city life, El Salvador is slow and steady, taking ten times as expected to do business. At first, I was a bit impatient. To me, people were asking too many personal questions for my liking and the service never came soon enough. I was (and still am) struggling with the language barrier, having never taken Spanish in high school. In time, I learned to accept these questions as a way of appreciation. The Salvadoreans take the effort to thoroughly get to know someone (even a gringo who didn´t understand a word they were saying).

I stayed with Ghershon´s (pardon my name botching) family for the first couple of days. I was experiencing a slight bit of culture shock in the beginning and didn´t talk as much since Spanish was still too foreign to me. However, laughter is shared in every country. We, the Salvadoreans and Chinos alike, both recognize the same humor. I awoke to the sound of laughter, ringing throughout the apartment. The love in that small, foreign room was apparent. In a way, I envied that connection. I expected to find a place that was broken and bitter, haunted by its traumatic past. Instead, there was so much passion, so much devotion in poverty that my home in America seemed unreal. I was whole heartedly embraced by love and gradually, I began to respond to it.

The laughter was familar. The respect was familiar. Most importantly, the love was familiar. I prepared myself for a land entirely different, but I was pleasantly proven wrong in so many aspects. I´ve realized that Salvadoreans have stopped being the people. They are now my people.

God bless,
Veronica

7.01.2009

Chicago meets El Salvador!

We´re in El Salvador! My team arrived on Saturday afternoon, and since then we´ve had the chance to go to the community church, work at Tia Ana´s orphanage, conduct a Vacation Bible School for about 60 kids, tour the city, learn about its history, help build a new house for Tia Ana, hosted a barbeque for the community, sing Karaoke (Man! I Feel Like A Woman....!), and develop relationships with the people of El Salvador. Coming here has opened the eyes of our team to question our own habits of our every day lives and strive to serve more like Christ. We´ve come to learn about a new culture (where people don´t flush toliet paper in the toliet?), but ultimatley, we´ve discovered that universally, people all strive for the same things: love, community, friendship, and happiness. Our team has developed friendships with these people that we know will last more than the time we´re here, and we´ve really come to love this county. Complete strangers are the friendliest, and everyone is very compassionate and willing to give, even when they are giving out of their own poverty. This is such a beautiful and warm county, and we know the things we´ve learned will stick with us for a lifetime. Praise God for giving us the opportunity to come here.

Peace out los grinos.

In Christ,

Amber and Kristin (students of the Lombard Bible Church Team)

6.23.2009

a picture is worth...


The interns threw Mario Salvador´s family a graduation dinner. Probably the nicest restaurant they´ve ever been to before.


Happy graduation Mario!


This is our neighbor... he´s so nice. When we gave him his shirt he was literally slobbering bc he was so happy!



Nena the cook is sporting her new apron.




Adoarable kids from Tia Ana´s orphanage.

6.22.2009

Prayer

I would like to ask you all to be praying especially for the teams down: for safety. We really NEED your help in covering the Pastors in prayer (Mario and Juan Carlos) because the enemy is out to get them especailly during the summer when they do so much ministry with us and lives are being changed because of their ministry and what God has called them to do. the other day Pastor Mario was robbed at gun point so that shook everyone up because it was in the neighborhood where we live. The enemy is always OUT TO GET US so we ALL need to be covered in prayer!!This year more than last there has been more theft and such because people are so desperate for money with the bad economy. There is no need to be afraid because we are in the hands of God but we do need to be cautious. YOU must pray. YOU GUYS are each part of the link that keeps us all going with your prayers...please dont stop prayer or ever think that your prayer is not needed!!!The teams are doing well connecting with the locals. Yesturday the first team left and the tears began for the load of goodbyes that there will be this summer...but God is always good and he always brings the gringos here to Zacamil for a great purpose: To impact the lives of the people here and in turn have their lives impacted in such a way that they will never be the same.I asked a guy from the group, Phil, "What is the one thing that you will remember forever from your trip?" He answered, " the FACES!!" That answer made my heart happy and filled with joy because i know that this kind of stuff makes God smile!!God is at work in every area and sometimes we don't even see it until it is well on its way but I sure am glad that i get to be in the very middle of what God is doing here in Zacamil, El Salvador!!grace and peace to you all :)

6.11.2009

pupusas and coke in a bag- only in el salvador

This is the lady that makes "tortillas" outside of our apartment... they taste nothing like what you're expecting- a little "chalk-ier" and thicker, yet still satisfying. 


Buenas!  Man we're stoked about the teams coming down... if I have to sweat so should you ;)  No, really, things are going really well down here.  Tonight we had dinner with an El Salvadorian family; we cooked homemade salsa, chicken, and veggies.  We also watched as the niños lick the brownie pan... I'm guessing they don't get them to often.  In actuality, it was really cool to be able to bless these people with a "feast."  Many of them don't eat three meals a day, and sometimes just a tortilla or a bag of chips is all they eat period.  

It's incredible to think that if I just stopped eating out for two months, I would probably have enough money leftover to feed a family for three months!  This morning the interns prayed that when we leave here, we leave here changed.  It's so easy to forget about a world that isn't part of our everyday environment.  But to forget about those in need certainly isn't to love them.

So, about my title... pupusas are what's up down here.  They're like a quesadilla with beans and cheese, and the best part is, they're like 40 cents a piece.  I like to put "chimol" (basically pico de gallo without the pico) and eat it like a taco.  It's a culinary masterpiece, and if you're coming down, you'll get your share of the goodness.  And, if you have any leftover coke, they keep the bottle, give you a straw, and put your coke in a bag.  It's hilarious.  

I've been thinking about how taking care of the environment is a commodity.  These people are, for the most part, in survival mode.  They care about where their next meal is coming from or how they're going to pay their $100 rent.  Consequently, the shabby cars they use fill the air with pollution, they throw their trash all over the neighborhood instead of purchasing trash cans or bags, and they don't think twice about not recycling.  It makes  me think of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  Even knowing that surviving is THE priority, it's painful for me to watch, especially after just finishing a book about how to love God through taking care of the environment.    

Anyway, we're getting up early to spend the day with the Pastors' families.  Peace out.

Christian the intern (commonly called "sexy gato" down here for some strange reason)

5.19.2009

"How about Methuselah? That's a nice name."

So. the first intern to arrive is... Aram!!! As I was telling the Pastor's wife, Mimi, about all of the names of the interns, she was telling me the Spanish equivalent. We got stuck on Aram's name. Her son, Joel, suggested giving him a new name. We jokingly mentioned some pretty obscure names and then Mimi chimed in with "How about Methuselah? That's a nice name." So funny. But, I think we'll stick with Arám.

Hometown:
Boone, NC


Hobbies:
Playing Guitar, rock climbing, biking, skiing, backpacking

Funny/ Interesting things about you:
I lived in Ireland for a while, and my fourth toe is longer than my big toe.

Favorite food:
Definitely Menudo!

If you could have any superpower you would have:
Flying, how awesome would that be? I would fly everywhere!

You are stuck on a desert island. Besides the Bible, your family and friends, what three inanimate objects would you take with you?
My guitar, An iPod with tons of music on it, and some water.

What does it mean to “Love God” to you personally?
It means to be crazily devoted to his word, and passionately love all his people. Your life should bring him praise, everything else is a waste of time.

Why is “Loving Others” so critical?
They are God's creation, and he loves them more than we can ever know. If a perfect God can see past people's faults, than why would we ever judge??



Please join in Aram in prayer for:

(1) Quick language acquisition

(2) Sensitivity to God's teachings in this time

(3) Impacting the lives of the youth that are coming here on missions trips

5.18.2009

introducing "rico suave"

mario salvador... aka rico suave


Mario has been a rockstar helper to the last five summer intern teams in El Salvador. This year, he feels God tugging on his heart to join the team. Here's a little bio on him:

Hometown:
San Salvador , El Salvador.
Hobbies:
I play baseball, soccer and stay with my friends

Funny/ Interesting things about you:
My all-time favorite movie is "101 Dalmatians." Also, I like know about a lot of people, and to make friends.

What is your favorite food?
pupusas, beef with tomatoes, and rice.

If you could have any superpower you would have:
"fire power" just like Super Mario

You are stuck on a desert island. Besides the Bible, your family and friends, what three inanimate objects would you take with you?
1. a water bottle
2. a stick of deoderant
3. a tooth brush

What does "Loving God" mean to you personally?
For me loving God is everything because I will never have anybody who loves me like Him.

Why is “Loving Others” so critical?
It's so important to be united with those around us, show them we care, and be peaceful.

5.15.2009

meet the bakers.

The Bakers will be joining us in El Salvador this summer as interns! We're pretty much psyched. Their wicked cool... some people even call them "The Blazin' Bakers!"
Check out their video!

video

4.15.2009

The Worksite

We are at the beginning stages of providing a refuge for Tia Ana and her kids. Last week there were over 25 individuals working at the site the home will be built upon. Here are some pics:




Impressions

I've been in El Salvador now since Monday afternoon. In many ways, it's much like every other developing country that I've visited, but in others, very different.

I've been fortunate to have gone on many "missions" trips in the past. In every case, there was a strongly defined purpose or project to work on. I am starting to realize that this is a distinctly western/american way of thinking about missions, and furthermore, about people.

What I appreciate about being here is that projects is not the purpose, but PEOPLE are the purpose. Relationships take time - a lot of time! They don't form to maturity in two weeks, but over years.

As an American, I struggle with this at times because I, like many, am prone to analyze situations and ask "Why am I here?". The thing is, I don't know that we can always answer that question. And so with missions in general, maybe we should stop thinking in terms of projects, and more in terms of relationships with people.

So I am psyched to be here, and to be getting to know The Church here in El Salvador - witnessing how the Spirit of God is at work among the people and country, and learning from those in this culture the values of being together and relating to one another as family.

So far, I think we have more to learn from this culture, than the Salvadorians have to learn from us!

3.20.2009

Conviviendo




Conviviendo is a Spanish word that simply means "doing life together." That is our goal in El Salvador. We live in community, embrace our community, and hope to be a community for others. If those we live among don't have hot water for showers, neither do we. If our neighbors lose electricity because of a power failure, so do we. Those are things that we can't control, but there are also ways that we intentionally choose conviviendo. We choose to be apart of the lives of the people in our community through world cup soccer games, pupusa dinners, providing medicine and care for the sick, birthday parties, visiting shut-ins, coffee, conversation, prayer meetings, little league baseball games, learning to make Salvadoran food, puddle jumping, hearing life stories, singing in the rain, tres leches cakes :), and trips to the corner store. As we practice conviviendo, we learn to appreciate the beauty of God's global mosaic. Through caring relationships we communicate the best story ever told. We don't embrace a vision in which we live seperate from our community. We live in community through relationships. Sometimes it's raw, unpolished, and messy, but it's always authentic. We make Jesus famous in our community by conviviendo.

Living together is an art.
-- William Pickens