Ojos de Agua – quatro dias

Us gals woke up in the Pastor’s home to lots of sounds, Roosters crowing, and the smell of fire burning. The beginning of a day in the life of a Salvadoran. We freshened up as best we could to begin our day at 7:00am. Mercy and her daughters along with her mother and sister prepared these calzone type breakfast food. So so tasty, they are so sweet & kind. We walked through the town and wow… the beauty was breathtaking!

First stop was a small school on the mountainside. About 45 children ranging from 5-16 or so. Hayley shared her testimony and we sang and did the empty heart drama. We broke into small groups and shared the Gospel one on one. Our small group with Susan, Lucy (our awesome translator) and I were with a few 10 year old boys and some youth. 3 girls about 16 yrs old.

Next we dropped into the village beside the school and went door to door to share God’s good news. We hit about 8-10 houses, but our little group only met one woman and her children. She cautiously let us in and listened. Praise the Lord for her soul, as she claimed she wanted to follow Christ. We gave her the Gospel of John to read and we prayed for her that she begins to grow in her faith. We will continue to pray for that family.

We headed back to the church where Pastor Everr and Mercy fed us lunch. It was Amazing! This family Blessed us in so many ways. They will forever be etched in our hearts.

We headed back down the steep rocky road to meet up with Hannah & Jon who met us from the airport and then journeyed to our hotel. High up in the mountains once again, of Chalatenango. Thankful for a semi-warm shower… first warm shower this far into the trip. Boy was that helpful. A clean bed and lights out until tomorrow. 

God is faithful. We are standing firm, holding out His Word.

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Tres dias

We began Sunday with breakfast at the camp before our journey into the mountains. After a delicious breakfast the Word of Life team prepared we packed and cleaned up, with a set time to leave of 11:00. At 10:00 we spent some time praying over the week ahead. After loading up a 4 vehicle entourage we headed towards San Salvador and Chalatenango. We stopped for lunch in San Salvador at McDonalds and then to walmart to buy gifts for the churches in the areas we plan to visit.

The road to the mountain town “Ojos de Agua” was hmmm what shall we say? No bueno! No good. No good at all! Curvy, rocky, and sometimes dangerous with the pavement caved in. Over an hour drive on this road was tough. But God got us through. We arrived in Ojos de Agua to a magnificent mountainside and outdoor service with our partner church. About halfway through the service there was a big outburst from either a crazy or drunk man. He was yelling in spanish… I want to know english… Goliath was the hero… and cursing. This was when we felt the beginning of the opposition. The power had gone out in the area about 10:00 that morning which was very rare and the reason for our outdoor service. Open air mic so the town heard the Gospel! The evil one cannot overcome God’s light! After the service, we walked back to the camp building on their dusty, rocky roads as the sun was setting. Personally, I was overwhelmed with discouragement and felt the opposition thick, almost like you could cut it with a knife. Praise God for my sweet husband and his encouragement while I felt overwhelmed and the tears flowed.

The pastor, Ebher and his wife Mercy were generous and invited us into their home for homemade papusa. We had candles everywhere and a big bon fire. It was a night to etch in our memories forever.

Sweet hands in the kitchen patting out Papusas and inviting us in to try the “pat”! Us ladies got to make some and some of the guys too! Their home& hospitality melts your heart.

Pastor Everr and his wife shared their powerful testimony in the light of the fire. We were literally lights in the black of night with our candles and flashlights. Powerful. They shared that they have great opposition in their town (can you tell?) and they needed prayer for wisdom and against the evil one. Our team circled around them and prayed over their home & family. Wow totally overwhelming. Can’t even describe in words on paper. 

We had planned to stay at the church camp facility but it was so dark we couldn’t get the women’s bunk area set up so the pastors wife hosted all of us women to sleep on her floor. 

The WOL team had brought these stackable mattresses. So thankful. We all slept on the floor but had something to break the hard floor. Not much rest because the animals and dogs barked and crowed and clucked and cropped and hopped and hollared. Never heard such a racket 😆. 

Praying we all get rest the remainder of the week, for protection for our tummies, and for the rest of the week ahead. Most of all: May many hearts be changed and turned to Christ in this country.

Interesting things we have seen or not seen: not one speed limit, armed guards at grocery stores, children on motorcycles with no helmets, children without car seats in vehicles, people piled in backs of trucks, horses and cows in the road, Walmart & McDonalds are universal. 

Chivo!

Woke up to the sounds of El Salvador. The morning was spent with the Word of Life team, & what an inspiration they are! Very talented and the food they have prepared for us is so delicious.

The team practiced our drama we will do when we visit the schools and talked through the Gospel and how to share using an evangicube. Also, we prepared to sing a song. “How great is our God” or Cuan Grande es Dios.
After lunch we had a short rest break and headed to two Bible clubs in San Salvador. No matter where you are we are all the same, love games, love snacks and love a good message!

The first club was at Iglesias Bautista (for short I think there may have been 5 words in the name). About 25 children & youth.

We broke into groups and shared our stories of how God has rescued us and how He has a story for each of their lives too!

The next place was Iglesias Ebron where we played games and got to know the students. Nate and Josh shared their testimonies with them as well. Praying God uses their stories to encourage them in their walk or to draw them to Himself. The students taught us the word “chivo!” Meaning Cool in Spanish and now we all saying Chavo every chance we get 😆

Below are a few photos:

Uno dia

We have arrived in El Salvador and Praise God with no problems. The Word of Life team is so welcoming and helpful getting us settled.

We all arrived early to ROA about 5:15 am. Smooth ticket and bag check and on time flight to Atl. 2 hour layover in Atlanta went quick and included breakfast. We took off a little late,  but made it in great time to El Salvador. About a 3 1/2 hr flight.

Customs was no problem, had one bag searched out of the whole team, pretty good I would say.

As we moved outside the airport there were tons of people standing around waiting in the streets. It was a little overwhelming and not what you’d expect. We were told those people were waiting on loved ones who had been deported from US. Very saddening.

We arrived to camp and had a snack and an hour to regroup before we headed to a Worship service. The Salvadorans worship on weeknights because on the weekends they sell their fish or goods in the markets. We were at Puerto de la Libertad, right along the pacific coastline. Traffic is a little crazy, people stand on the backs of  moving trucks. But it’s amazing to see another culture alive and in action.

We visited the church service where everything was in Spanish. Beautiful that Gods word transcends continents, languages, and cultures. Beautiful.

Today, we prepare for our week ahead and visit two Bible Clubs.

Please pray for open hearts and ears and boldness from our team despite the language barrier. 

Here are a few pictures

This is the Pastors home right beside the church building.

Some of the guys went swimming because it’s so warm here. They played catch with a coconut 😆


The ride

Have you ever been on one of those rides at a fair or amusement park that looks like a boat and swings you around and around?  You swing up to the top and for a minute it feels like you are free falling back down, with nothing to stop you.  Or have you rode to the top of a roller coaster, slowly chug-a-chug.  Then you reach the very top and it gives you the appearance there are no more tracks and you begin to slightly panic because well…. where’s the TRACK?  But then you careen down as fast as you can and sure enough the tracks were there.  And sure enough the arm that holds the boat together kept you from falling flat on your face.

This year has been a bit like riding on the rides I’ve just described.  We’re holding on tight, and its only March 1st!  The cool part?  God IS the track, and I don’t have to stress about whether we will careen out of control.  (Although, I fight this fear with all my might daily) He is teaching us, well, life is all about His tracks.  We just are along for the ride, and its our own personal coaster. Its a Personal. Exhilarating. Ride.  Full of ups and downs, full of highs and lows.  Full of learning.  Full of absolute joy. And sometimes full of fear.

Think about the face you have at the end of the ride, when you’ve made it to the end.  Maybe you are so mad and you say “I’ll never do that again” or maybe you scream in delight “AGAIN!”.  Or, perhaps you are just in relief that you made it! Well, I want to be the one who says. “AGAIN!”  I want to ride with my eyes closed and the wind in my hair with my only care, that of, pure joy.  This is where I feel like the Lord has me standing.  Over and over again, He keeps whispering “Stand Firm” throughout His Word.  Stand on His promises.  Obediently get on the ride, buckle up in HIS protective Gear, the gifts He gives.  And watch the track.  Its his to build, and mine to ride.

We are 40 or so hours from getting on a flight to El Salvador for our first international trip to step outside of our comfort zone and share the Gospel outside of our boundaries.  But the tracks?  They extend clear over to El Salvador.  They extend wherever He calls.  We are on the ride, obediently strapped in with His Gear (Ephesians 6:10-18) and we are careening downward.

Join us in prayer for the people we will encounter?  For boldness of mouth?  For protection?  For our families staying home?  For our children?  Praise God, for who He is… right along with us.  That He builds the track, we step on in obedience, He provides the gear, and He prepares the way.

Here are a few photos from our year. Its spring already!

 

Day – 10 depart & travel

The day we leave.  Oh boo hoo!  I have to squeeze this last part of the adventure on paper.  Every minute counts.

We all woke early, eager to see the ocean one last time.  To put our toes in the sand on Poipu/Brennecke’s Beach one last time.  Josh, myself and Nana headed down with our coffee and met a particularly large snail on the way.  If you know Josh and his big hands, the thing was about as big as his hand!


We greeted an empty beach, Brennecke’s… where the waves were crashing beautifully.  It was a perfect morning.  Clouds out at sea, none behind us. The beach ready for play.  Lots of folks out walking & running.  Was nice to start the day that way.


We walked back to the house and Josh and Nana gathered a bunch of kids to go ride waves one last time.  Jake was up and had his boogie board ready before you could say Humahumanukanukaapuha!  haha!

No one took pictures that morning, they just enjoyed the sand, salty air and salty water.

We packed quickly and were ready to depart about 9:40.  I was impressed with how well we all pulled together to get where we needed to go daily.  Well oiled machine.

We headed to old Koloa to souvenir shop & look around at their sweet little town.


We all got a token to remember this beautiful place by!
Next stop: gas @ Costco.  We decided we’d better eat before the airport so Costco pizza seemed convenient.  They had a nice seating area outside so we snagged a big table and devoured two pizza’s, hot dogs, and Jake had a turkey sandwich.

Checked into airport in no time flat, with our bags scanned for any native flowers or fruits.  Couldn’t bring my sliced apple or orange on the plane.  All must stay in Hawaii.  Ah, so hard to say goodbye.
American airlines disappointed us on the flight home, for a number of reasons.  But nevertheless, 5 hrs and 30min later we were at LAX again.  Having to give goodbye hugs in the middle of the crazy LAX traffic is not fun!  Half the family was waiting for a shuttle to get cars at the hotel we stayed at before we left & we found a shuttle to the Residence Inn Marriott where we crashed for the night.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we were informed: You’ve been upgraded!  Oh boy its our lucky night.  Can you say swanky?  No pics, because so beat.  But we had a beautiful 10th floor suite with multiple rooms.  But you could hear the planes all night.  Only downfall.  Meanwhile the family had to end up getting a taxi back to their cars because the shuttle never arrived.  Like I said, leaving is the hardest part.

We slept fast and were up for breakfast by 9.  We enjoyed their nice spread and caught a 9:30 shuttle back to the airport to repeat our travel.  Back to VA we go.

We arrived got checked in and found a spot to hang until time to depart.  Left without a hitch, until…… storms were pounding Atlanta airport.  Our plane circled around a few times and then decided to stop in Memphis for fuel. 2 hours of sitting on the runway and we were back in the air, 1 hour to destination.  Total 8 hours on one plane. Yeowsa!

Once we arrived in Atlanta we discovered the worst case scenario:  plane to ROA left without us. Never missed one before.  First time for everything.  I will admit, I was quite cranky and rude service got me upset.  But after debating: sleep on terminal floor or drive all night we decided to cut & run.

Got a rental car and hit the road by 1am.  Found an all night Chick fil A. Because we were starving! Ate and drove until 8am we arrived on our doorstep.  Welcome back to VA & Oh glorious beds!

We all crashed until 11:30, got up, went to the airport to return rental car, got luggage that came on the plane that morning from Atlanta.  Grabbed lunch and went home to try and recuperate.  Wow our kids are amazing travelers.  So grateful.  The Lord brought us home, maybe not the way we would’ve chosen, but safe & sound at last.

We have been reflecting on our trip over the last week, and can’t say more than enough how much fun we had and how grateful we are.

#graceupongrace

 

 

Day 9- last full day in Kauai

We woke determined to head to Waimea Canyon. It’s equivalent to an Hawaiian Grand Canyon. Josh and I went out for breakfast just the two of us, fairly early around 7:30. We ended up at a little cafe. Macadamia nut French toast & pancakes, eggs, peppered bacon & delicious Hawaiian coffee. We enjoyed a few quiet moments and headed back to our crew. We headed out about 9:45 or so on our way to the 45 minute commute up the coastlined mountain.

About halfway through our drive Josh glanced back and saw the van behind us pull over quickly… Seconds later the phone rang letting us know Judson was barfing. Never a dull moment! I was in tears. Oh no traveling with sickness. We immediately got him cleaned up, van cleaned we took our fam back to the house while the rest pressed up the mountain. I was praying for protection over all of us immediately. In fact, we have been praying this entire trip & worshipping just how beautiful and magnificent our God really is. His intricate details never cease to amaze.

We were fairly certain Jud had gagged on a sip of unsweetened sparkling lemon water and since his tummy was so full it just came right back up. Once home we got him cleaned up & he wanted lunch. Praise God no sickness, just a fluke. We rested & ate & waited for our posse to return! They came back by 1:00 and Jud was fine so we decided to pool hop!

The canyon we’re told was gorgeous!

Next on the agenda: water slide once again, then we headed over to the Hyatt on a tip Nana got from her friend! Water slide, lazy river, & salt water pond. Another beautiful beach as well!  We spent a few hours playing and headed out to get ready for dinner. All of us loved the water slide! Supa fast!

Dinner at Olympic cafe in a cute little shopping area and the day was complete. Jud struggled to stay awake otherwise all the kids were champions all week.

Also, we saw a rainbow every day. Absolutely beautiful.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow” – Shakespeare

Can you spy the gecko in this pic? They are everywhere and so fun!