After several hours of travel, I landed in El Salvador Saturday morning. I had a fast food lunch, and then got some quiet time to settle in and unpack. Some of the girls here were going for papusas, and invited me along. It was so nice to meet new people and get to spend an evening talking with new friends over dinner.
I found out that I will not be staying in the mission house. Instead of spending time with short term teams, I will be living in the transition house. I am can't wait to move in there. I will be living with girls that have aged out of the orphan system, and helping lead and encourage them. They go to school and work, so they are very busy. I won't be moving for a couple of weeks, but I am ready to go!
I was invited to church Sunday morning here. The best part of the invite was that it included a ride. I do not have transportation here, so being driven around is a blessing. Church was good, and everyone there was very welcoming. It was in Spanish, of course, so I had a little trouble following along. After church, I got a ride to the grocery. The house I am living in now does not have a working stove or microwave. I was only able to buy bread and things that do not need to be cooked. I am really excited to try and find someone to teach me to make traditional El Salvador food.
Today, we went to Cipi. We taught bible classes and English classes. I wasn't sure how to help, so I mostly just sat there and watched. I learned some new words, and gave and received a lot of hugs from the kids. As I get better acquainted with the progarms, I will be able to help more. Tomorrow is a team meeting, then we are going back to Cipi for a movie night.
Today, I learned a lot of new words. I am trying to learn Spanish so I can communicate better. I feel so blessed because everyone here is SO HELPFUL with teaching me and patient with my questions. Even strangers in customer service! I do keep getting frustrated when I have to ask for help, though. I want to be better at speaking with people, especially the girls in the transition house.
That's all for now. I hope to find to time update everyone at least once a week. Thanks for your prayers, love, and support.
We will soon be receiving a new resident in Esther's House. I call him Ernie. His middle name is Ernesto and he asked me how to say that in English. I blurted out Ernie and he laughed and now insists that I call him Ernie. Fine, easier for me! Before Ernie can move in with us, the judge insisted that we have a few visits with him in his current placement. The home that he lives in now is in Soyapango which is commonly known as one of the most dangerous cities (if not the most dangerous city) in the world. We went to visit Ernie this past Sunday after our church ended. We went to the early service which meant we finished at 10:00. Most traditional churches in El Salvador start at 9:00 or 10:00 and go on well into the afternoon.
As we were driving through Soyapango most churches were still holding service. All with their doors open due to the heat. I noticed that there were churches everywhere. I can't even say there was a church on every corner because there were more than that. At one point we saw 4 different churches in a row on one block. I commented to Oscar how odd it was that there were so many churches, and yet it was the most dangerous city in the world. It made me wonder why. Why with so many people going to worship God, was the Holy Spirit not running wild through that city? Why were people not outside boldly proclaiming the love of Christ to those very gang members who made the city so dangerous? I don't want this to come off as me being judgemental, this is just how my mind works. It just hit me hard that we seem to keep God and all of His glory and power in a box; a building. I don't think that was the intention of the start of the church. I think so many go to church to get fed. They get energized for their week and then go home or out to eat and talk among other believers about how great the sermon was and that's where it ends. That's not what we are called to do. We are called to spread the word of Christ. How can we do that if we keep it in our church buildings and at our dinner table?
People here are scared. I get that. they worry about going outside and getting murdered. They worry about getting on a bus and getting robbed. They worry about the gangs entering their homes and killing their children. I understand that fear. I don't live any differently accept that I know that I am protected by God. I know that while I value my life here on Earth, that this is just a temporary home and while it is possible that someone murder me, my life does not end but my life goes on for eternity. Psalm 23:4 says: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (KJV because that's how I memorized it as a child) I believe as Christians we have a duty and a responsibility to get out there and share the love of Christ. Not just to the sweet little old lady who lives next door, not just to little children who are not scary. I think we have a duty to step out of our comfort zone. We need to exercise our faith. We recite Psalm 23, but do we believe it? Do we really fear no evil? I think it's time for all of us to get out of our comfort zone. Don't keep God in the church. Don't lock up the Holy Spirit. You hear all over the place about how the world is so bad that we must be living in the end times. Does that give any of us a sense of urgency? We need to be out there exercising our faith. Telling others about Christ. Supporting each other through prayer.
One last story and then my "rant" is done. I have spoken of my mentor/friend several times before. Sherry Rapp is a bold woman of Christ. This is truly a lady who fears no evil. She has taught me so much about being bold for Christ (although she will humbly deny it). She and I went out to eat once. I don't remember why or if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner. I don't even remember the name of the restaurant. What I do remember is that when we were paying for our meal Sherry looked at the cashier and asked her if she knew Christ. The lady immediately began to cry. She was having a horrible time in her life. I don't remember all of the details, but I do remember this lady asking us to pray for her. Sherry said "we will pray for you, but we will also pray with you." so, right there at the cash register, we laid hands on her and prayed. We prayed in front of the people waiting to pay for their meals, and we prayed in front of the entire restaurant. I can't remember how many times Sherry has done that. Different places spontaneously praying and proclaiming the love of Christ to strangers. Imagine if all of the people in the churches of Soyapango feared no evil and they went out on Sundays proclaiming Christ's love to the gang members what a difference that would make. Imagine if all of the people in the churches around the world went outside and proclaimed the love of Christ to strangers what a better world we would live in. Again I am not saying this to judge anybody but to encourage all of us. Fear no evil. Be comforted by God's words.