Wednesday, July 7, 2010

El Salvador Reflections

God has recently been teaching me important things concerning my trip to El Salvador, and building on what He taught me while I was there. Each day I was there, it seemed like my devotions were always about one thing: faith. To be honest I wasn't quite sure why it kept coming up over and over every single day, but God knows exactly what I need at exactly the right time.
In order to explain what God has been doing in my life, I would like to share a little bit about what God has been showing me through His Word.

June 2nd, our first morning there, I wrote in my journal, "Faith: Trust when all else fails." Completely trust in God. Trust in the sufficiency of God's grace and the strength of His will to carry me through. I read that day in Colossians 1 to "walk worthy of the Lord". I knew that while I was there I needed to walk worthy of my calling, yet also depend solely on the Lord to do so.

On June 3rd I read Matthew 5:14-16, which says "You are the light of the world." and tells us to "let your light so shine before men".

On the 4th, 2 Thessalonians 1:11 told me, "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

June 5th's devotions were mainly about prayer, and the power it has. Christ is our life, and our reliance is on Him. Pray and wait for the Lord. Colossians 4:2 says "Devote yourselves to prayer, be watchful and thankful".

On June 6th, God continued to remind me of what He had already been teaching me. Habakuk 2:4 says that the righteous will live by faith. Matthew 26:41 tells us to "watch and pray". 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ"

June 7: Faith creates an atmosphere in which hope thrives. Faith keeps us looking forward. [our best days are ahead]. Faith is like a ship; the strength of a ship is only fully demonstrated in the midst of a hurricane. Have faith in God even when things go bad [especially when they do]. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 tells us to "live lives worthy of God, who called you into His kingdom and glory".

On June 8th, my prayer journal had something in it that I think we should tell God every day. Father, thank You for Your grace. You deserve my best today, because You gave Your best on the cross, Amen. It is a simple prayer, yet very profound. Galations 3:11-12 again tells that the just shall live by faith. We have salvation by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone.
Faith can change any situation, no matter how dark.

June 9th: Faith working through love. While I was in El Salvador, I immediately knew what God was teaching me here, and I could put it into immediate practice. That day He also taught me to trust Him. Hebrews 13:5b-6: God has said, "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" The eagle that soars great altitudes does not worry about how it will cross a river. Put your trust in God.

June 10th: Strengthen my faith. Job asks, "How can a man be found righteous?" (Job 25:4). Paul answers, "Faith." (Rom. 3:28). Faith is a divine gift. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

On June 11th I wrote that faith is only as valuble as the value of its object (where it is placed). Faith must be founded on God to be worth anything, but when it is, it's worth everything. Mark 11:22 tells us to "have faith in God". What causes us to pray such little prayers to such a big God? Why are our dreams so small, when our faith is in the Lord of heaven and earth who has unlimited resources and power? I read 2 Thessalonians 1:11 again which says, " With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God might count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

June 12: We are saved by a faith that works. I want to make my life count. Make an eternal difference in this world. James 2:20 says that faith without works is dead. 1 Corinthians 1:5 tells us that God has enriched us. Our faith must be producing works.

June 13th. I want Christ on the inside to be what the world witnesses on the outside. I am grateful because God is more gracious that I deserve. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you". That's what it's all about!

June 14th. Mark 9:23 says that everything is possible for he who believes! Faith honors God and God honors faith.

Now, if your like I was at the time, you might be wondering how all these random thoughts fit together, and what the big picture is. About this time I was thinking, well I learned some new things about faith, trust, light, and prayer, but I just am not sure what God is trying to tell me. I am so thankful that God is so patient with me. Look how much He had to teach me about faith for me to finally get it, and even now, I have a long way to go when it comes to faith. But here's what happened after I got home.

It was a drastic adjustment coming home, to say the least. The trip for me was such a whirlwind, having just graduated three days earlier, and having college orientation two days after. After orientation, and a few days to catch up on sleep (and by few I mean about 3), it was time for camp. For the past couple of years now, I have been going to youth camp with my church. This year was my last because I was a senior. I love camp and am always excited to go, but I wasn't as hyped this year as I usually am. I was excited about the band that was there [my favorite: Stephen Cole Band], but thats about it. Satan really wanted to steal a lot of people's joy at camp, and he worked in many different ways.

But God is greater and stronger and so much more powerful. From the first night I knew one thing that God was teaching me: in the darkness, God's light shines. That is a line from the song "You deserve", but I felt as though God was speaking straight to me. I had been upset and sad for the people I met in El Salvador. I was questioning why these terrible things had happened to them, while almost nothing has to me. I felt helpless, and I desperately wanted to do something for them or somehow make everything better for them, but I couldn't. I also had been wondering how such dark and terrible things could happen, and how such a vulnerable and innocent person could be placed in such a situation. But God said to me, "I am shining there. The darker the place, the brighter I can shine." Wow. What a comfort to me! It sounds so simple, but this "easy" concept gave me such peace in just a moment. It's like I was trying to depend on myself, or the situation, or what other people can do. I was putting parts of my faith in other things, which as I had learned, is useless. So I knew now that God light was still shining there, but now what do I do? I still love these people, and care so much about them, but can do nothing for them. I was still struggling with some of the same thoughts, and dealing with the complexity of it all. One night, the band was singing, and it was as if God spoke to me in the midst of the song.
There is no one higher "Jo, what do you think I have been trying to tell you all along?
No one greater Trust Me.
No one like our God Put your faith in Me.
There is none more able Pray in faith for those people.
Christ our Savior I am all you need, and I am all they need.
Great and Glorious I shine there. Just have faith."

Now, I am so thankful for God's timing, faithfulness, and patience with me. I am blessed that He would speak to me. I am thankful for His grace and love. I am so blessed for all of you who God put in my life who prayed for me and supported me on this trip. A prayer in faith goes farther than you'll ever know. Thank you for being so generous; your support has changed many lives, including my own! I would love with all my heart to go back to El Salvador. But I know that God is in control, He is there with them, and He is all they need. He is able. Just have faith.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

La Ultima Dia en El Salvador

I cannot believe that our last day has come. It has already been a full day, with church and everything. We went to Beth´s church, and she wanted us to speak. Untill last night, we thought we would have a translator, but we found out that we wouldn´t have one! This was somewhat of an obstacle for us, because we are not comfortable talking in front of people, especially in a different language. But we did it, and hopefully everyone understood haha! After church we went to Burger King on the way home. It was the first American fast food I´ve had down here. I loved it because I got to see some of today´s world cup game! I love that we are here during it. The celebrations and fiestas are awesome everywhere we go, and I have loved to be a part of it. Beth brought a movie for the girls to watch on her projector. Because of this, I found a few minutes to get on the computer!

I am going to miss these people so much! I definitely hope that I will be able to see them again soon. This trip has been amazing, and I am so grateful that God gave me this opportunity. I pray that my life would make an eternal impact on this world. Not that I would ever be able to do it, but that Christ in me would become more, and I would become less. I pray that this trip was ultimately glorifying to God, and that He used us to touch these peoples lives.

We come home tomorrow, and it will already be a very long day of traveling, plus we have to say goodbye. That will be very very difficult, and I am already not looking forward to it! We are going to have pupusas tonight with everyone, so that will be a fun last time! Well, I am going to go spend as much time with the girls as I can! Adios! and thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 9

It seems like the time is flying by here in El Salvador. For some reasons, I do want to come home, but when I think about the people here that I love, I wish I didn´t have to leave them ever. I wish more than anything that I could take these precious children and friends with me. I love them so much, and it is hard to imagine leaving. This is going to be a short post because I don´t have much time, and it´s also getting past my early bedtime haha. Just wanted to let you all know we´re doing good. We only have two days left in the centers, which is kinda sad because I love going. Though I love it here and all that we do, it has been a rather tough and long week. Long story short, at lunch on sunday, Danielle and I got Naranja Limonada (orange lemonade) which by the way tasted wonderful. But it was not worth the result. Apparantly, it was made with the water, and it made us sick. It caught up with us yesterday when we woke up. I had two glasses of the drink, so I had it worse. I ended up having to stay home yesterday from the centers because I was feeling so bad.. plus I wanted to be okay for the rest of the week because we are leaving on monday! I went all day today, and I am doing much better (minus small and random stomach pains). Danielle is feeling much better too I think, so that is also good. Hòpefully I will be able to update you all soon, and in more detail, but if not I will definitely blog more when I get back.

For those of you praying, pray that my stomach feels better. More importantly, pray for the girls in the house and at the centers, and for all the people we have made relationships with. Pray that they would have been impacted by God using us here. Pray for their situations (which are very difficult and trying) and their future (which is unknown and can be very scary). Pray that God would draw them unto Himself, and that the Holy Spirit would move greatly in El Salvador!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day Six in El Salvador

hola!jkghy...that was Glenda typing haha. Just goes to show how difficult it is to blog in this house. hyfdtfgftyhohbinm,mmmyhujhj8ui9uj8hiujijjnubb6hykl omjmiuyyyhyhuhjhjgt6yy..that was Glenda again. She thinks that she is saying johana princessa bonita and samantha beautiful, and daniella beautiful. haha it is so funny so I left it in for you all to see. She asked me what my mom´s name was and then said,¨ohh bonita (beautiful). ´Tatiana es bonita´..she typed that with my help. Tatiana is her mom and since we´re already talking about her, I would like to tell you about them to pray for today. Tatiana is about my age, and she is a great mom. Tonight she made us dinner. She made cheese pupusas especially for Sam, Danielle, and I. They were perfect, and tasted even better than the pupuseria.

This morning we went to church called CIA. I think the website is if you want to see it. It was nothing like what I expected, but I really enjoyed it. It was so nice, perhaps nicer than most churches in America. They had great music, and sang a lot. There were even a few songs that we know in english. It was a really cool experience to be able to worship God in a different language, but saying the same thing. How awesome is it that no matter what language, no matter what ethnicity or race, and no matter what age, we can worship God! They also had dancers with tamborines, which I thought was so neat. After we sang, they had a drama, which was comical, but had a moral. It was about a couple who wanted to divorce and went on a tv show. The actors were really funny, but in the end, the message pointed to Christ. A man told them that they needed Jesus in their lives. The power went out, but it was okay because they have backup power. The only thing that didn´t work was the air conditioning, so it got pretty hot, but we´re used to that now. The first thing I noticed when we first arrived at the church was how nice all the people were. They even set us up with a translater so we could fully understand the message. They are starting a new series called Áconsejar Christo´. The message was really good and I loved how much scripture the pastor used. He talked about how many people look to God´s will as Him filling a void, or something they need such as a job, relationship, or financial needs. But God´s will for us is what He wants us to be. Also, He said that Christ is our everything, like it says in Colossians 3, Christ is our life. He doesn´t show us the way, He is the way. He doesn´t just speak truth, He is truth. The gospel isn´t just words, Christ is the living word. He is ¨the way, the truth, and the life¨(John 14,6). I am so happy that God knew that we would be going to this church, it is just what I needed to hear. The pastor also said that some people believe, while others think they believe. If you depend on things other that Christ on a day to day basis, you aren´t believing. One of my favorite things he said was that when you ask God for wisdom, He will give you more of Christ in you, as with other things you ask for. Lastly, he said something which I think is important for everyone to hear. When you pray for help with a sin that maybe a habit which you keep falling into, know this..Christ in me will never do that sin, and I ask that I would not live this life, but Christ in me, because Christ is my life. I know that was a lot of little random points from the sermon, but I wanted to share them and remember them.

After church, we went back to the Promise House because Jorge had to drop off some of the girls from the Hope House. We ended up going to the restaurant at the end of the street with hermana Marina for lunch. It was a huge treat for her, because it was a pretty nice restaurant. She had a kind of crab soup, and we had quesadillas. I had orange lemonade to drink and it was delicious! Danielle and I ended up ordering one to go, and it was funny because they gave it to us in little bowls! When we got back to the house, we all took a nap, which was much needed. It was really hot today, so our room was much hotter than usual. After a while, Beth (the missionary down here) came, and brought her laptop and projector. We watched Éver After´ with the girls and that was a ton of fun. Beth bought platanos con leche, and I tried one. They were pretty good actually. After that, we watched Tati make pupusas, which we may try when we get back!

Tomorrow we begin to go into the centers again, and will be there all week. We will be at CISNA in the mornings with the girls in the prison, and CIPI in the afternoon with the orphans there. For those of you praying, please pray that the Bible lessons we do each day will impact the lives of those who hear them. Also, pray for the girls and babies in the Promise House. Pray that God will be glorified in everything we do this week, as it is our last. Hopefully I will be able to update more often, but you never know in this house!

Thank you so much for praying!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day Five in El Salvador

I am so happy that I found a minute to finally spend some time in updating my blog. It is so crazy and loud here at the Promise House with 7 girls and 7 babys (well not all babies, but children..well younger anyways.) Today we were planning on going to the beach, but the forecast predicted rain from the storm that had passed through the week before we arrived. Instead, we decided to go to the market today, and perhaps the beach next saturday (hopefully..pray for no rain!). The market was a lot of fun, I loved to see all the different little shops and the things they were selling. It was closer than we thought so we finished at the market somewhat early. We went back to the PH to get some money for the supermarket and lunch. We got some of our favorite El Salvadorian pan dulce and chickys (a type of cookie), along with some bread and water for the week. For lunch, Hermano Jorge took us to the mall (which is really nice) to eat at the food court. We ate at a place called los cebollines, which was really good. There was a lot of food but we weren´t too full for dessert. Sam has been telling me about a place called Jungle Snow since she got back from ES last year. It is an ice cream place where they give you a ton of ice cream for a low price. We ordered ¨chocolate king of the jungle¨ and ¨watermelon snow¨. SO GOOD! we should definitely open one in the U.S...i suggest you look it up to see the menu! When we got back to the Promise House, we met Beth, who is a missionary here and went with her to the park. We took a few of the girls and kids there to play. It was fun to take pictures of the kids enjoying themselves and playing around.

For now, I have to eat dinner..frijoles of course! haha but I like them. Pray for the upcoming week, that we would be effective in the prison and orphanage as well as the house. I thank God for you who are praying and I pray that He would be glorified in everything we do here, especially as we start a new week.

Friday, June 4, 2010

a mi me encanta el salvador!

It is friday night, and I have the time and opportunity to be on the compu! How exciting! Sorry my last post was a little choppy, it is difficult to write a post without being interrupted by los ninos or las chicas in the promise house. Although I wouldn´t trade it for anything. I love it here. Right now Glenda and Alondra are on my lap! We just listened to our new favorite song, ¨Creere´¨ and it was one of my favorite times. Sam was trying to sing with it, and Danielle was dancing like a ballerina, and everyone was just watching and laughing. I don´t have much time, but I want to tell you to read Sam´s latest post for a details on what we all did so far.

I just really want to let you all know that we are doing well, and God has blessed us thus far. I love everything about this place, well maybe I could do without a few things, but I do for the most part. I am starting to be able to talk to the girls more in spanish, and that is SO exciting for me to do! I think my spanish is getting better too. It is funny because everytime I begin to say something, even if it is to Sam or Danielle, I say it in my head in spanish! I am trying not to think about only being here for such a short time, but I am so happy that God has given me this incredible opportunity. My favorite thing to do during the day is going to CISNA, and hanging out with the girls there, it is so much fun. We do a small bible study, and then we do arts and crafts. I love when they teach us how to do their favorite things. We are teaching them, but I think I am learning so much more than I could ever teach by being here in El Salvador.

I love everyone I have met here, and I wish I could somehow stay here and come back at the same time. I know that doesn´t make much sense, but it´s almost like being in a different world down here. I am so thankful that I am here, and that God has already taught me so much! Maria just asked me if I liked her hair, because Tatyana (who is going to be a cosmetologist) just did it for her. I wish I could express in words the love and joy these people bring me, but I don´t think that would be possible!

I am writing in my journal each night, and I am going to do more blogging when I get home about the trip, when I can fully pay attention haha. Please continue to pray for us, and especially for the people in the house that have chicken pox. Like Sam said, baby Nicole has it really bad. Also, pray that though most Salvadorians know about God, that they would actually know Him, and understand what it means to be saved and live for God. Thank you so much for your prayers! Hasta luego!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

we're here!

I am so excited to be typing this from la computadora de la casa de promesa! I love it here! It has been a great trip so far and we are blessed to have had such safe travels. I am so overwhelmed with emotion and mucha cansada (tired) but I wanted to just let everyone know how it's going so far. First of all, i LOVE the kids here in the house, and everyone i've met already has a special place in mi corazon (heart). Being here is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I am so happy that i got to come. I really want to write more, but I am journaling and will probably update that to my blog when i come home! Today we went to the Detention Center for girls at CISNA. We made pulseras y tarjetas (bracelets and cards), then we went to the orphanage SIPI and made more bracelets with the girls there! It has been so much fun meeting these girls and being able to talk to them. My spanish is definitely out of practice, but i am hoping that i am improving and will continue to do so. If anything, the language barrier has been hilarious, because we mix up words sometimes haha.
God has been teaching me a lot, especially this morning in my devotions. I brought a few different devotionals along with my Bible, and they all told me the same thing today: trust in God no matter what. How perfect for this time! Also, I read in Colossians 1 to "walk worthy of the Lord". Isnt that our prayer no matter where we are in the world? I hope it is mine, and I am focusing on that while I am down here, striving to be worthy of what I am called to do. How awesome is it that while I alone cannot be worthy of my calling here in El Salvador, I can depend on God and His strength and grace to help me to be. I will hopefully be updating soon! i love you guys. Gracias para tus oraciones! (thank you for the prayers!)