Day #1 - April 3, 2016
Team Member #1
After a long but thankfully very uneventful day yesterday we were welcomed by the 8 o'clock heat and humidity of El Salvador.
This morning started off with a hearty breakfast and a great devotional reminding us why we are here. While from all outward appearances we are here to build homes, in actuality we are here to share the love of Christ and build hope into these beautiful people.
Shelter Canada has been building homes in various communities around El Salvador and the San Vicente area for many years but tomorrow we are going to be the first group to build in a community just outside of San Vicente named Valle Verde which translated means Green Valley. The people of this community were extremely welcoming to us when we arrived and even went so far as to have cold bottled water and Gatorade for us all. When you realize that these people on average make about $5/day and that Gatorade is not much less down here than it is back home you get a glimpse of the self sacrifice that these people have given to make us feel welcome. The first person that we were introduced to was a lady named Wanita who is the leader of the community and we spent the next few hours getting introduced to each of the families and getting an overview of the sites that we will be working on.
From this village we took a short drive in the back of our truck to a roadside lookout point that gives a great view of San Vicente and the volcano. What a great place to sit and have lunch together.
No Sunday would be complete without spending a little time in the Lords house, and by a little time i mean about 2 1/2 hours. While the service was long, not to mention hot, it is such an incredible experience to worship God in a different culture. We sing many of the same songs, they sing in Spanish and we sing along in English. It is such a reminder that even though we don't understand what they are saying and vice versa we are one in Christ. The highlight of the day for many of our team was being prayed for by this El Salvadorian church. The pastor asked us to stand and asked the local church to lay hands on us while he prayed. We were immediately surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ and while the pastor started praying the local church members began to pray aloud for us as well. You could just feel the prayers of these people lifting us up before the Lord.
Last order of business for the day was dinner at Pollo Campero and a sharing time back at the hotel.
Tomorrow will be an exciting and exhausting day.
Thanks you for continuing to pray for us. Please pray that we will be able connect, build relationships and share Christ with the families. Pray for safety as we build and for health and strength for our team.
Team Member #2
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. We want to let you know that we have a medical emergency on board.” That was the announcement from our pilot about 30 minutes into the flight from Edmonton to Houston. Fortunately, the medical emergency was resolved, the flight arrived in Houston early, and we had plenty of time to make our connection to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.
All members of our group of 22 plus their luggage made it to the city of San Vicente on April 2, 2016. We will spend a week where we will be working with Shelter Canada to build 16 homes for families in Valle Verde, a poor community on the outskirts of San Vicente.
Our first full day in El Salvador began with a trip to the community to meet with community leaders and to meet the families for whom we will be building homes. It was wonderful to begin developing relationships and hearing stories from 16 families of all sizes comprised of folks of all ages, from 3 months to 68 years old.
One of the most touching stories was that of a young mother who was widowed a few months ago. She is doing what she can to support her son and herself, but feels totally overwhelmed by her loss. She now has the hope that they will at least have a home to live in. In the afternoon, we had the privilege of worshiping with a local congregation. We enjoyed the lively choruses and engaging sermon on the heart of worship. For many of the members of our group, a high point was when the members of the congregation prayed for us and for our mission. We truly felt the Holy Spirit uniting us with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We had an opportunity to visit the sewing centre that was started by Shelter Canada then turned over to the employees to run.
Tomorrow, we start to build the homes and continue to build the relationships with the members of the community.