Monday, June 28, 2010


It has been exciting to share so many stories with you about the El Salvador trip. Each of the 17 teammates of mine has a plethora of stories to share of lives changes, tasks finished, much accomplished.

We slogged through the mud to see how much of the home our teammates were working on is completed. We were greeted by a mother whose 8 month old daughter rode on her hip. This girl is one of the reasons Pastor Ivo selected this loving family to benefit from our work. At 8 months, she is only 11 pounds. She has an infection inside that contributes to her lack of stature. But she is absolutely gorgeous--curly dark hair, chocolate brown eyes and olive skin. We all wanted to take her home with us!

With a pick axe in hand, her brother who was 6 or 7, dug out the mucky ground where the foundation eventually was laid. The guys marveled at this little worker and his ability to split a brach in two with a machete. No nintendo for him; oh no, he's gone on to much greater things.

Though we have left El Salvador, we are doing the same...going on to much greater things. Don't be surprised if you hear about them in Life Groups, in the hallways of our campus, in a letter or two from those you may have supported by prayer or monetetarily. We sense God's hand on us to serve out of the overflow that He has provided for us. We have enough resources to continue the work that has begun in El Salvador as well as the work we are doing here.

We have discovered the secret of the Body of Christ: together, with prayer and the gifts and abilites God has given us, we achieve more. We can TEAM up and make great strides for the Lord right here in our region. This includes the upcoming Family Fair hosted at four sites in Elyria on August 14th to help children go back to school equipped to the virtual "barnraising" that will happen throughout the summer. There are lots of places for each of us to jump in and be involved.

Will you continue to pray that our transition back to our routines and obligations will be good. We don't want to miss a beat, but we want to be right where God can use us the most. I think it was Mother Theresa who said that small things done with great love change the world. We have experienced that first hand. We hope that you will join us here in Elyria as we change our world for Christ.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A History Lesson

Today we enjoyed a bit of history with our translators and hosts here in El Salvador. After putting in a full week of work, we headed off to Chalchuapa to visit the Mayan Pyramid. It was eerie to stand at the top of altars built for human sacrifices high above the ground. Thinking of the loss of life large enough for blood to fill the stone basins staggered our minds. It is almost incomprehensible.

After touring the museum rich in artifacts and information, it was off to San Salvador to shop in the local shops for some El Salvadorian treasures. If it wasn´t for help with translation, I am sure I would have still been trying to make a purchase. So much to choose from, so little time!

Tomorrow we will see the house we helped build, but not quite finish. The men from the church here, GCLA, will complete what we started. It is a partnership that will result in great results. That house will give a family from Pastor Ivo´s church a new start, a place to make their own family history.

Every day the father of two dug out earth, moved boulders and bags of cement (100 pounds in each bag on each shoulder), cut steel and painted with a group of men and women from team. They all laughed at Pastor Dan´s goofy straw hat, and used muscles they didn´t know they had. But what a sense of accomplishment! So many miracles have occured throughout this trip, all for God´s glory!!

Tonight our hosts have prepared a farewell dinner as we share one more evening with them. We will miss these friends who have served us and who we have served alongside all week. They are humble people who work so hard, who give so much, who ask so little for themselves. They embody Christ in the many ways they show their love, so selfless.

So today´s word is history, historia. Not only have created personal history in a country most of us had never visited, but we have been a part of history in this church. What intersections have happened here between the team, Pastor Ivo and his staff and helpers, the local people we shared life with have been significant. So significant that our lives have been changed.

We indeed have not only been a part of history, but also a part of His Story,
La historia de dios, written on the hearts of all of us. We can´t thank you enough for your prayers and continued support!! Adios, amigos. We´ll see you en ustados unidos soon. Dios te bendiga! (God bless you!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Calor....need I say more?

Calor. That is definitely the word for today. When our clothes stick to us, sweat is dripping off our brows, we consume more water than a herd of camels, and you don´t even have to move to get warm, it is calor...HOT! "Eso es caliente" is what my new friends tell me to write as I sit here with them at the computers.

It has been a productive day at the church. We saw a total of 180 patients over the last three days. Our nurses and the doctor worked well together for 14 hours and were pleased with the results. Pastor Ivo brought the vision of the medical clinic and he has ministered to these people in a practical way with our help. We have literally been the hands and feet of Jesus. It´s incredible to be used in this way. People will be healed of illnesses, have deformities corrected and spirits lifted.

It was very hot in the midst of this work, but the warmth we felt in our hearts as we gave love in the form of amoxicillin, tylenol, bandaids, toothpaste, wound care, physical therapy, blood pressure checks, weigh-ins (to name a few) was worth it. Oh yes, did I tell you there was also free water and food, stickers for the children, lollipops and candy, coloring book sessions and drawing captured by lots of photos. The children just love having their picture taken and seeing it on the digital display. Their eyes speak volumes of love; it just captures your heart.

Jesus is our Healer, and today, we helped. We can give water in His name, loving people who have so much in common with us though they live what seems like a world away. It will be hard to leave this place. We have already had to say good bye to one of our translators...not easy. The tears were calor, hot on our cheeks. But we know we will see them again...if not here, in eternity.

So, our official work is almost over and tomorrow we will visit the site of the home we are building with the new owner. It will shield him from hot, but it will not keep every hardship out of his life. I wonder if this trip was not so much about buildling a home as much as building up 17 "gringo" Americano hearts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Body of Christ

Nora said a profound statement as we sat in her mother´s living area in San Salvador today. It was this: ¨"Christians need to spend more time building each other up and not dividing the Body of Christ, the church."

We met Nora on the plane from Houston to El Salvador. She was returning to her home to visit with her mom who is dying of cancer. Karen, a member of our team, sat next to her on that flight and conversed about many things. She took the family phone number down and gave it to Pastor Ivo here at GCLA.

In a matter of days, the meeting we went to took place. We were so blessed to hear that Gladys, Nora´s mom, had 8 children. Each of them knew Jesus personally. A few of them are serving in ministry as pastors and missionaries. She beamed, though in some pain as she shared this with us. Nora graciously extended hospitality to us by serving fresh coconuts with straws coming out the top (by the way, coconut milk is very good and good for you!) We were humbled and enthralled by this encounter. (See my facebook page for a picture of this wonderful lady and her daughters.)

She sat in the 100 plus year old home, surrounded by very few extras, (essentials is what we call them in the US, like tv and gadgets.) She has lived through earthquake that destroyed even the massive pillars of the house she grew up in. But her spiritual house is strong, it´s solid. She shared that the tumor in her neck was not operable, but she still had her family and her Lord to see her through.

Such simple profound faith. She knew that the Body of Christ had connected us that day. We got to pray and hear our prayers in her language. WE got to build up a sister. She knows where she will spend eternity; she knows the same Jesus we do. She is the Body of Christ here in El Salvador, but she is also our sister in Christ. We will see her again, for when you are in the Body of Christ, adios is only temporary.

Oh, I didn´t want to forget...the word for today: vivir, which means live. So. go out and live like you are part of the body and make a difference in someone´s life and living.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Medicine for the Heart

Today, Tuesday, we opened the doors at 10 in the morning to a mass of people waiting to receive medical care. In preparation for this big day, yesterday 5 people on the medical team went out into a nearby community and distributed a ticket to any person who needed medical care.

The plan was to create stations to accomodate the volume of people and the various medical assessment tools they performed. Intake was at one station, height and weight at another, blood pressure, pulse and medical condition at the last. Some of the patients were able to be helped without seeing a doctor. Others waited to see a local certified physician onsite. By 2:30 all of the 45 patients had been assisted.

This was the first time that GCLA church had done a medical outreach and it was received well. We hope to see over 150 patients in three days. Pastor Ivo has a vision to reach the poorest of La Libertad with the love of Jesus in practical ways. Medical help offers that. Add the compassion of 17 gringos here to help and you have love and service that honors the Lord.

Not only were the physical needs met, but we prayed and talked to many about Christ. One young lady was prayed over for healing due to witnessing an uncle´s suicide that plagues her with anxiety attacks. We believe God will set her free from this trauma. She was in church on Sunday, and only accepted the Lord 3 months ago. Please pray for Anna and the other patients we will see in the next two days. God is moving!!!

The medicine that was given out will certainly the people who received it. However, the real medicine of the heart may be the love that is received not by word (since many of us do not know the language well enough to speak it) but by actions and service. Today´s word for the day is actually two similar words: dar, to give; and ayudar, to help. As we catch the eye of a child and give them a smile, a pat on the back, a coloring book, we are giving them love. The ironic thing about it is that we receive what we are And that, my friends, is good medicine for the heart.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Party on!!

The church service Sunday night at Great Commission Church in La Libertad reminded me that language of the Holy Spirit is universal much like music or a smile. We had a supply of both as we sang songs that we have sung before at Open Door in Spanish. (We have a new appreciation for powerpoint by the way.) The band was rockin´ (I mean tear up the place with total annointed worship and instrumentation) and Pastor Dan delivered a great message out of Acts 1. We prayed over him, blessing him and asking God to slow his preaching down a little to accomodate the interpreter, which he did.´Pastor Ivo was excited to report that the message was well received.

Sunday afternoon we went door to door in very humble neighborhoods asking children and their parents to come to a party. It is hard to describe the conditions in which they live without getting choked up. Simple doesn´t really do it justice. Yet the people are very open to having conversations with gringos like us. We visited a home that was built last year by the church here. We will build something like that home this week. We gave out invitations to the party at GCLA (that´s how Í will refer to the organization we are working with here but it stands for Great Commission Latin America) better for having seen a little of where they live and their culture.

I must admit, I was skeptical as to how many would come. I was pleasantly surprised, no, really, a bit shocked as about 200 people came to party at 2 pm. All of them walked, and their faces lit up to see balloons, hear music and get to play for a couple hours out of the hot sun. What a fiesta!! We partied, played, hugged, loved and interacted with these beautiful people, both parents and children of all ages.

The party included many games and contests between boys and girls as well as swinging at two pinatas. There was a skit describing a version of the Prodigal son story put on by two actors who were very energetic. To see so many children enthralled for two hours was a miracle of sorts. When was the last time you were able to keep the attention of that many children for that long? They are hungry for something that they found here.

God has thrown a party for us, one that will last for eternity, but also starts right here and now. Celebration is an attitude, a matter of the heart. And so today´s word is fiesta. Party because we have a God who loves us, even when we are prodigal children. Party because God loves us so much He planned a celebration forever. We see that God is at work here in La Libertad which goes to show...that party can happen anywhere at anytime. Party on, friends!

God provides in El Salvador

¡Hola! We arrived safely to a soft rain in San Salvador, flying through a beautiful sky full of thunderclouds. The sunset was picture worthy, but not as amazing as the hospitality we have experienced since we landed. The two veterans of the trip, Don and Caylie, bolted toward Jose, Pastor Ivo Susanna and Evelyn greeting each other like family.

We took a two hour van ride through rivers of water on the winding roads with able drivers (thank you God). In the morning the tree across the road from where we are staying reminded us of God´s hand on us for protection and provision.

All luggage made it, though most of the contents were drenched by the downpours as our luggage came by way of the back of a pick up truck. We hung everything up, and went to bed to be greeted by the roaring waves of the ocean. The word for today, therefore< is...mojado which means...wet!

As we gathered for a protein rich breakfast of huevos (eggs), beans and bread we blessed God. Here we can give back as I have been given so much was one sentiment. There´s nothing like worshipping with the crash of waves in the background. We pray that God will use us today as we canvas the neighborhoods inviting people to church tonight. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Adventure of Loving in El Salvador

There are many opportunities to be a part of something larger than oneself in this lifetime, but often we opt out of the uncomfortable, unfamiliar to stay close to that which requires no stretching of ones resources, intellect or sense of adventure. This, my friends, is where 17 of us now find ourselves...ready to experience the time of our lives. El Salvador, here we come!

What we have in common is simple: we are a team of folks who love God and sense we are to make a difference on His behalf. We come from many backgrounds, have many talents, work different jobs, but we all love God. We have varied abilities, different dreams and fears, and various years of experience going on trips such as this one. We are men and women, teens and elders, but we all love God. Some of us are professionals, done with formal training, others not even out of school, but did I tell you…we all love God. We will work, sleep, eat, play, pray, read and learn together all for sharing the love of God. It’s our mission for the next week.

We covet your prayers and thank you for the support we felt as we were prayed over in the service on Sunday. We go representing you and Christ's Body known as Church of the Open Door. We go to honor the One who loves us and sends us. We go to love people….

So, as you join us on this adventure to El Salvador know that it is our mission to do one thing: LOVE. Love across borders, love through language differences, love because of the One who loved us all first. We will share His love this week. We hope you will check in with us to see and read about how our Adventure of Loving is going.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Twinkie Connection

Psalm 139 says I was fearfully and wonderfully made. I believe that, but I also believe that I was uniquely blessed with a twin sister who, aside from the mysterious connection I had with the mother who birthed us, has been connected to me in some form or fashion since birth. She was my first introduction to being connected.

We spent 9 months together like twinkies, then popped out 2 minutes apart at 1:44 and 1:46 am on a brisk fall day in New Jersey. (I am older, just to stall your curiosity) She's the blonde; I've still got the original color. We have been through thick and thin, years of connecting at all hours of the day and night have cemented our prenatal relationship into a real, authentic sister connection. Yeah, we do have that twin thing going...she senses when I am needing her and visa versa. How incredible to have someone so perceptive in your life.

Maybe you don't have a twin or a sister, but you have a sister-in-law or a good friend. You know who I am talking about, someone who just gets you. It's a blessing to have that on earth; it's an even greater blessing to know that type of relationship for eternity.

As much as I treasure who my sister Carlee is, there is One whose friendship I hold on to even tighter. It's my relationship with God through His unbelievably faithful Son, Jesus. If I do or say anything of value in this lifetime, it is only by His provision that it is done. I hope you know a friend who is closer than a brother or sister. (Proverbs 18:24)

In John 15:15, Jesus tells us that as his friends, he will share with us what he has learned from his Father. That's some pretty significant connecting. I trust you know Jesus as a friend in your life. If not, I hope that this blog encourages you to check Him out. He wants a connection with you, and He gave up his life to prove it.