Friday, April 7, 2017

Learning to Listen

It's been a very busy week down here and for those of you who have remembered that we were away, thank you for your prayer!

On Monday we built 5 houses in the morning and then began our meetings in the afternoon. The first day and a half was training with our guest, Mark Crocker from stmleader.com. Together we were reminded about the importance of pre-trip preparations and post-trip debriefing. Mark also underscored the value of telling the story, not of what we do, but of those we meet - allowing their stories to impact our lives and be shared with others. It's about learning to listen.

On Wednesday, we had a full day of our Shelter AGM. While the majority of leaders would prefer to be outside in the beautifully hot 40 degree weather, the sacrifice to do the "business" of ministry is extremely important. We are humbled by the way in which the Lord is allowing this ministry to grow as we have built over 370 homes since last April, which is 370 families, maybe unto 1,500 people who have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, seen His love in action and are being given the opportunity to learn more about Him as the local churches we partner with continue to go into these communities.

Today, we built another 5 houses. Our team built a "tiny house" - it was modified to fit a very small space. Hopefully I'll share more on that another time. The real highlight for the day came in the afternoon. We switched things around and had the El Salvador leaders sit at the head table and share their roles and their perspective on the work. We are learning to listen to what God is doing through those who see and interact with the Spirit's leading down here on a 24/7 basis.

As we have learned to listen, we are learning to empower and release the giftings of our friends, brothers and sisters in Christ to do the work of the Lord. Though it is obvious our cultural differences will always provide a tension, we pray that it will be a healthy tension that allows us to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of the poor communities within which we work in El Salvador and among our team members at home in Canada.

Friday, is key ceremony day and then we celebrate with our El Salvadorian community leaders, honouring them for a season of wonderful blessing! Thanks for sharing the journey!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Oasis

An oasis can be defined as something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. It sounds like something that is worth looking for. It sounds like something many people yearn for. 


Today we built in a section of San Vicente called Agua Caliente or "Hot Water". It's a place that people from the rest of San Vicente wouldn't normally go. They would be fearful to walk the narrow streets. In a country where violence is extremely high and in a city where violence is extremely high, this community is considered to be a place to avoid - don't end up in Hot Water!  Is an oasis an escape to another location from the dread of reality? If so, then this was a time for an oasis, not only because of the turmoil on the outside, but also because of the upheaval that has been going on within me over these last number of days. 

Yet here we were today, on our first build day of Leaders Week 2017. 32 people, some experienced leaders and some aspiring team leaders together with a large group of Salvadorian teammates walking into this community with one purpose: build houses that build hope...hope in Jesus!

The team that I was on finished our build early. It was one of those smooth and efficient builds where the ground was flat, the dirt was soft and the shade tree over our heads made working conditions favourable. While it was definitely good medicine to dig again and to build again and to work in rhythm with our Salvadorian friends, these things did not make it an oasis. 

Instead it was a simple sign, on the inside wall of the house. On a street that is lined with the tall concrete facades topped by broken bottles or barbed wire and the steel doors that form a mote-like distance between the trouble outside and the family inside, there was this sign hanging on the wall. On it was written Psalm 91...and there I was reminded that an oasis is not an escape from reality but it is the presence of Our Faithful God in the midst of our reality, even when we find ourselves in Hot Water. 




Psalm 91
1Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.a
2I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14“Because heb loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Goodbye

Goodbye

It can be hard to say goodbye. Especially after having shared an experience together. But when you've shared several experiences, the connection between you grows. This makes goodbye almost excruciating, a pain deep down within the soul that you just can't or won't let go. It's almost like the pain is a reminder of the relationship and so you don't begrudge carrying it. That's what goodbye's are like for me. This trip, this time it is another one of those gut wrenching goodbye's.

So...goodbye orange tshirt. When we first met at Old Navy you were bright and beautiful. Your $4 price tag misled and underdefined the legacy you leave behind. One trip to El Salvador turned into two, then three, then four, then...more and more. You were my constant companion on each of those trips. You always had my back...and front... Though you faded to an almost transparent hue of orange, you held me within the impenetrable seams of your shoulders. You have walked through valleys, across streams and up mountains. You have endured dirt, dirt and more dirt. No matter how hot the sun tried to shine...as try it did..you never let my brown torso get browner. You were no ordinary shirt. They say Father Time is undefeated. That nothing lasts forever. You endured beyond the point where other more expensive-fancy-namebrand shirts have wilted, ripped and worn out. If there was a hall of fame for tshirts, you would be in on the first ballot.  Not just because of your in the field accomplishments. But also for the tears you have absorbed on your shoulders, the children you have carried, and the congratulatory slaps  you have received upon your back. Let's not forget the constant wrinkling you have endured from all the hugs. Despite all of this, despite the blackening and hardening of your armpits, you gave everything until the end. You have shown yourself strong to over 60 team members, over 100 El salvadorian families. 

So thank you faded-yet faithful-crusty armpit-orange friend. You put the capital T in Tshirt. 


Deve