Last week I went to the girls prison (for girls under 18) for a mother's day event they were having. It was me, Carlos from Sus Hijos, the prison staff, two other visitors, and the girls from one of the sectors. Some of the girls read poems they wrote to their mom's (but their mom's weren't there) and some sang songs. They played a game where they had a few of the the girls who were moms model. Then they announced that they had a famous singer come all the way from Spain to sing for them. One of the faculty members then walked out in a cheaply made, bright red dress that looked like it had been sewn together in their sewing workshop. She lip sang a song that was played on the speakers at full volume. I had never heard the song before, but all the girls sang with her at the top of their lungs. Carlos later told me it was an old song and he had only heard it played by his mom.
The rest of the event went by like this. We were each given a little sandwich made in their kitchen with a bag of juice. More "famous singers" came out singing old songs, dancing around, acting out the lyrics, and the girls continued to sing their hearts out. Nearing the end, they had cried for an encore. The singer agreed to sing one more song and acted out a scene where she was fighting with another woman over a man. When the event had finished, all the girls were glowing and gave me hugs before heading back to their cell. While I was watching them, God reminded me again how we can love each other right where we are, in whatever situation we are in.
I'm always fighting myself and my thoughts. I try to focus on positive things and the little progress I make when I'm working. I am beyond blessed to be here and to be given the opportunity to do the things I find most valuable in life. Investing in others is the only thing worth doing. I still struggle with things that others find simple and sometimes I ask God why He made me like this. I know God put me here. There is no way I could have come here on my own. Knowing this, I continue to cling to the belief that God knows me and works through me regardless of what I see or where I think I should be in life. Even with my imperfections, God loves others through me. If all I do is make a small difference in one person's life, my journey here was worth it.
To read more by Christina vistit her blog My Life Unloaded.
When I started this blog it was because I wanted to share our mission and vision with you. I said I was going to be real with you. I said that some things would be funny and inspiring and that some things would be about our frustrations. Lately there have been more frustrations and disappointments than there have been funny and inspiring things to write about. I generally try to keep a very positive out look and life and since there have been so many frustrating things going on I chose not to share with you. So with that being said I am making a new commitment to those of you who actually read this, to blog once a week. Good or bad, you will hopefully get some insight into our lives here in El Salvador.
What has been weighing heavily on my heart over the last couple of months (the cause of my writer's block) are two comments that were made to me and about me by two separate people who are also in ministry here in El Salvador. The first comment was that I am producing rice Christians. I'm guessing the comment meant that our children only come to hear about God because they can get a free meal; that if we didn't give food out they wouldn't be interested in learning about the love of Christ. The second comment made to me was that all I do is hand out boxes of food to children. I took offense to both of those comments. Even though I was offended I took a hard look at our work here. Is what these two people had said true? Are we doing enough to teach the love of Christ and help these children stand on their own in their faith...with or without food. After a long period of praying and some fasting this is what God revealed to me. First, the words of another person came to mind. This person is the head of a very large ministry. It is known around the world and they help millions of children each year. You may know them, they give out shoe boxes at Christmas time among other great works. He said to me "We always feed the children before we share Christ's love. If a child is hungry while you are sharing Christ with them, they are focused on their hunger. You can tell a Child that God loves them, but if they haven't eaten in 2 days the automatically think 'if God loves me why am I starving?' Feed them first and then share the word and they are focused on the Word of God and God's love becomes tangible to them." It made sense to me. I mean how often have I been in church and my stomach started to growl? Suddenly I am focused on my hunger and not so much on what the pastor is saying. Secondly God revealed to me that even Jesus fed people before he preached or shared with them. So what is wrong with serving these children food? Nothing. We give out food to our sponsor children each month so that they can grow and live healthy lives. So that their infant like faith can see God's love for them first hand. We give the children who come to our Kids Klass lunch before we send them home. It may be true that they come more for the food than to hear the word of God it might not be true. My thinking is whatever the reason they are there is not important. What is important is that they are there. They are learning about God and His love for them. They are growing both physically and spiritually. They are connecting with a group other than a gang. That they are sharing what they have learned with their families. To minimize what we do is unfair. To criticize us for taking care of physical needs as well as spiritual needs is not just. Oscar and I strive to hear God's voice and to be obedient to God. As long as we keep that as our goal, to me, that's what is most important.
To learn more about Beth and Oscar Alegria, visit their website by clicking here!
Yesterday we spent a good chunk of our day in downtown Chiang Mai doing a few errands and learning how the public transportation works. To get to the area we wanted to get to you have to take a green songthaew (basically a small truck with two bench seats in the back of the bed and a cover over it.) which has a very specific route through the city. Once you get where you want to go you ring a buzzer, they pull over, you give them 15 baht and you go on your merry way. It worked FLAWLESSLY getting to the night bazaar.
Once Anna, Aria, and I were ready to go after we finished everything we decided to take the green truck back to our mooban (neighborhood). Aria was tired, super cranky, and ready for a bath and bed and I was just ready to be home to have some chillaxin time before we called it a night. Unfortunately that’s not the way it went and for some reason we had to have a little adventure before we could make it home. As our green songthaew driver pulled up I asked him if he was going near our mooban and he said yes so we jumped on board.
The first 20 minutes were perfect and I knew exactly where we were. As we neared Central Festival (a HUGE mall that puts most malls in America to shame) we normally take a left onto the super highway…he didn’t do it and kept going straight. I was thinking maybe he just needs to drop some other people off this direction (which I had never been before) and decided to ride it out and see where he was going. After another 20 minutes of going this same direction getting farther and farther from the city and with my heart beating faster and faster I decided that maybe we weren’t going the right direction. I asked a few people on the songthaew if we were going the right direction and most of them that understood me said yes…I can only imagine the hilarity of this big westerner asking the same question over and over again (I mean seriously, I’m at least a quarter size bigger than most people here).
At this point we were so far out from the city the only lights we had were the two inside the bed of the truck and to make this even better of a story; a storm began to blow in with rain and lightning. “Great”, I thought to myself, “here we are, I’ve got my wife and 18 month old daughter out in the middle of the Thai country. I have no idea where we are and where we are going, and I can’t seem to get this driver to understand that I NEED TO GET HOME…” Simply put, I felt very VERY helpless. Keeping cool, calm, and collected (according to Anna I didn’t do too good of a job at that) I called one of our frequent drivers and had him talk to the green truck driver and tell him where our mooban was. Twenty more agonizing minutes later we arrived outside our mooban with a gigantic sigh of relief.
Come to find out from Megan the route that the driver took is an old route that they very seldom take and we just happened to be lucky enough to take that one on our very first time getting home at night. At least now we know in case it ever happens again. Gotta love random adventures! I wished this one could have waited till during the day but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
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