Day 7: The Volcano

Check out this video made by the talented Austin Balaz

Somehow it seemed like in the blink of an eye, we were upon Volcano day! It was bittersweet, as we moved into two days of personal reflection on what God has challenged us with throughout the trip, where He has shown up unexpected, and where we go from here. Before beginning the climb, Sandy challenged each of us with the reflection question of “what does it mean to Dream Big? And what would you do if you could not fail?” With each step of the climb, we were to reflect on what God was speaking into our hearts around these two questions.

 

It always amazes me how God has each of our tiny steps planned ahead of time, down to who will go first and in what order of hiking. Who will be hiking together, in pairs and in groups – it all magically falls together to reveal stories of encouragement and revelations only He can show us. Some of us have done the hike multiple times, some felt unprepared, some were injured, and some were unsure of what was ahead. But no matter how we felt, God spoke to us. He knew what each of us needed to hear, and exactly how we were going to conquer that volcano.

 

Every year I’ve done this, I am always amazed at how I begin to feel exhausted and want to stop or slow down. And it is right before we come around a bend and look up and can SEE the peak. I often think of how many times in life, we are in a situation when we feel like we are too tired to go on. We question why God has led us down a certain path or journey. And it is usually right before he reveals our greatest strengths and allows us to accomplish our biggest goals. This climb is definitely worth the mountain top.

IMG_9438.jpg

 

-Adrienne Fessler

Day 6: Childlike Faith

IMG_3731.jpg

We traveled to Sonsonate today, about a one and a half hour drive, to Tia Ana’s home. Tia Ana cares for about 15 children whose mothers cannot or don’t want to take care of them. We loaded up the truck and van with hot dogs, chips, cakes, enough school supplies for an entire school, clothes and a new bed. One of Tia Ana’s boys, Erick, has been sleeping on an old couch for months since there aren’t enough beds in the house they recently moved into. We stopped on the side the highway to purchase a mattress and box spring, that Brady gracefully climbed atop the van to secure. Tonight, he will be sleeping in a brand-new bed that Matt assembled. We are incredibly grateful for anyone who donated for this trip that made it possible for this young boy to have his very own bed to sleep in.

IMG_0115.JPG

 

 

 

The Into the Nations team served everybody some lunch and shared a meal together. After we ate, Tia Ana shared her powerful testimony with everyone – a true tale of resilience, perseverance and God’s consistent goodness and provision. Most of the team then took the kids to the soccer field across the street to play some games while the rest of the team unloaded and sorted all the donations.

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing soccer, basketball and eventually had a water balloon war. It seems to be a pretty consistent talent that Salvadoran children are able to destroy hundreds of water balloons in seconds. Today was filled with pure joy and it was so evident in the faces in all the kids, but especially Tia Ana. Being able to provide her and her family with some things that will impact many of their days in the future was incredibly special. Tia Ana doesn’t receive any funding or help from the government, nor does she have a consistent income. She wakes up each day not knowing how she will provide for her 15 kids, but steadfast in her faith that God will provide exactly what they need for the days ahead. While we didn’t pick up a single shovel or mix any concrete, today was just as rewarding as every other day of this trip. Hearing the shouts of laughter and the huge smiles on everyone’s faces made it crystal clear that they were feeling Jesus’ love through our actions and words. Tia Ana is a picture perfect image of what it looks like to live a life completely reliant on God. She is a testament to unwavering faith, even when it looks like life is against her. Her life is an inspiration to all of us, and it’s safe to say we were all touched by something we experienced today.

 

We enjoyed an extremely delicious dinner (shout out to our main man Manny for deciding on a prime location for dinner). After dinner, we spent a few hours at INJUVE with some of our friends and the ITN boys plus Holly showed off some fire basketball skills against a team of locals. It was a fun evening of spending time with old and new friends alike.

While the basketball game was going on, three of the team members were able to sit down with Tamara about her future plans and how we can best help her break the cycle of poverty in her family. She is hoping to be able to attend the rest of her high school in the capital, San Salvador. The conversation was intended to allow her to dream big, and believe that she can do anything! Now that we have a better idea of what she wants to do, the next step is for her to continue researching schools, working to pay tuition, and getting the proper paperwork filled out. Since we first met, her she has come so far and as she pursues this next step life, we are looking forward to encouraging her every step of the way.  This will not be an easy path for Tamara, but both her and ITN are committed to helping her get to where she wants to go!

Tomorrow is a big day with hiking the volcano on the agenda. We are looking forward to sharing this experience with those on the team who have never climbed before. Wishing the days would slow down so we could prolong all the amazing times we are sharing with each other.

IMG_0163 (1).jpg

Day 5: Mission To El Salvador

IMG_4597.jpg

It is hard to find the right words to describe our day today. We spent the day working with Mission to El Salvador which is an organization that began as a homeless outreach and has expanded into working with homeless, helping men and women run microenterprise businesses, assists women who have been trafficked, offer counseling and rehab treatment to youth with addictions and many more incredible things.

 

Before we began serving lunch, we got a tour of the brand new facility and spent the morning doing some handy work projects. We got to see first hand how Mission to El Salvador serves the community every day. When the doors opened, about 40 homeless men and women came inside and began taking showers, exchanging their clothes for a clean outfit, getting haircuts ,and playing different table games. The Into the Nations team was split up and got to participate in everything. While all of this was going on, the ITN kitchen crew was hard at work preparing lunch for the men and women. Our translator, Sue, shared her powerful testimony and how God has moved in her life. Hearing Sue’s story was heartbreaking, but full of hope and inspiration. Our team then served and cleaned up lunch before heading out to the artisan market.

 

After picking out some goodies at the market, we enjoyed another delicious dinner at Pollo Campero, a Salvadoran classic. Around 8 pm we headed back to Mission to El Salvador to pack and prepare 350 meals to serve to the men, women and children who are living on the streets of San Salvador. Handing out meals out of the back of a pick-up truck while driving around in the pouring down rain is an experience that is impossible to describe until you see it for yourself. It is easy to forget that there are hundreds of men, women, children and elderly living on the streets all day every day – sometimes unsure of where their next meal will come from. It is eye opening and heart wrenching, yet with a glimmer of hope that maybe one day these people can receive help, love and encouragement from the different programs that Mission to El Salvador has to offer. The staff at MTES go out and feed these people 1-2 times a week – a task that is not easy, but impossible to ignore when you have been called to do it. This night is a good reminder that we are blessed to live in abundance. While we only had to be out in the pouring rain for a few hours, the people we encountered spend 24 hours a day every day on the streets. We are able to come home to warm beds, hot showers and more food than we need. 

IMG_4706.jpg

Tomorrow is our last day of serving and we will be heading to Tia Ana’s home to spend the day with her children. We have games, lunch and many fun things planned that we will all enjoy. Time is going by too quickly, but we are still having a blast together.

IMG_4701.jpg

Day 4: Last Day In The Community ):

IMG_3546.jpg

After 4 busy days in the community, we finally finished the construction projects and ended the day with an intense soccer tournament. When we arrived this morning, there were at least 200 people out in the field already playing softball and hanging out. Half of the team finished assembling the water tower at the church. The other half of the team went to the field and added another coat of paint to the swing sets and attached the swings. The kids went absolutely nuts for the swings. After a few minutes we convinced them to make a line behind the swings and each time they counted down from two minutes to zero to make sure every one got a fair turn.

By noon everyone was hungry and ready for lunch.  Everyone, including the kids, helped unpack 300 hot dogs and rolls, cookies, sodas and pizzas. The food was a big hit and it was special to be able to share another meal with such a large group of people. Not long after lunch, everyone in the community ran home to change into their soccer jerseys and cleats.

At least 100 people, from the little kids to the adults, participated in a soccer tournament in the afternoon. Two of the Salvadoran men who lead construction volunteered to be the refs for the games. The players took the tournament very seriously and would not start the game until every member was wearing a matching jersey and had a pair of cleats. We would like to give a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who donated a pair of cleats. It was incredible watching Pastor give out pairs of cleats to all of his players. Even the 4 and 5 year olds were able to have a pair and we could tell they felt so special and fancy with their new shoes!

The kids were so adamant on including ITN members on their teams. We loved being able to participate in the competition and be a part of a game they love so dearly. At the end of the tournament, sweaty, tired and covered in dirt and grass, we handed out a trophy to the winning team and gave a soccer ball to each team as well.

We wrapped up another busy day with a delicious Mexican dinner on top of a mountain with a breath taking view. Many fun memories were made. We are now assembling personal care kits to distribute at Mission to El Salvador tomorrow. The majority of the team is feeling great and 100% of the team is having the time of our lives. We are looking forward to a few more days of serving here in El Salvador!

IMG_8902.jpg

Day 3: Kicking Off The Week With 112 donations!

 

It was another fun filled day in the community. The day started with a church service at Nehemias. Manuela, Sandy and Kevin shared messages with the congregation and it was awesome to see how attentive the congregation was. The church went above and beyond yet again to serve us a delicious lunch. We had at least 4 long tables pushed together to have enough seats for everyone who came. The construction projects are wrapping up and today we painted two swing sets and Matt’s construction crew attached the basketball hoops to the poles.

It was amazing to see how excited some of the community members were to help us paint and finish up the construction. The other half of the team worked at the church to assemble water filters, paint the water tower and organize over 80 pairs of soccer cleats.

IMG_8290.jpg

One of the most touching moments of the day was watching as some of the community members saw the massive array of cleats inside the church. Our soccer tournament is tomorrow so it was the perfect time to give these kids a special gift!

Our construction projects are moving along faster than we anticipated which has given us the opportunity to spend more time just interacting and building relationships with the community. Today we got to join them in a softball game and it’s safe to say they have some impressive athletes! 

IMG_2196.jpg

Our day wouldn’t have been complete without a pizza night at home with some of our Salvadoran friends. Year after year our Salvadoran friends spend a night with us telling stories and catching up on all that’s happened in the last year. As of yesterday, we had a special arrival of another team member! Eric worked some magic and got his passport and was able to join us! It’s safe to say we are happy he is here and sharing in all of the fun with us. We are pumped for another fun day tomorrow showing off our basketball and soccer skills in the community. Stay tuned for more updates on our Salvadoran adventure!

Day 2 Diggin' Deep

Today was a great second day! The construction team worked hard and finished expanding the basketball court by 6 feet on both sides. The construction team also concreted the two new basketball poles into the ground and completed the second swing set. The biggest hit was a 6-foot inflatable beach ball – larger than life size! We had some unlikely help from a community member to get the ball fully inflated, which was just another way God pulls things together. The pure JOY on the kids’ faces when they saw the ball larger than life was truly priceless.

 

Each day we are seeing more and more community involvement with construction projects and outreach programs. The women’s outreach lead by Manuela and Tanya was a huge success. About 20 women came together to talk about Mary and Martha and how the Bible story relates to their own lives. Some women even asked if we would be having another devotional time tomorrow. It is amazing watching relationships bloom and flourish among people who have just met each other.

It’s been so rewarding watching our construction projects come to fruition, but what is even better is watching members of the community begin to trust us and share parts of their lives with us. It is always exciting when many children ask what time we will be back in the morning and what games we have planned for the next day. Tomorrow we will be attending the church service and Kevin will be sharing a message with the congregation. We are excited with anticipation of how God will work in the hearts of the community members tomorrow and throughout the week. Please pray for continued good health among the team and that we would continue being able to pour into the lives of our friends in the community.

IMG_1795.jpg

Day 1: Community Impact

IMG_0550-Edit-2.jpg

Today we hit the ground running with a full plate of construction projects as well as school outreach programs we prepared for the older kids. We arrived at the community bright and early around 8am, greeted by familiar smiles and hugs from Amparo and her family. We introduced the team to her family and home, as she showed us some progress on hammocks she's made since the last time we were here. It's always fascinating to see how she weaves them so intricately but makes it look so simple. Baby Cesar got SO big in a year! From sleeping in a hammock as a little baby to be held, to running around with soccer skills better than mine! An active 1 year old full of life and love, ran to me with open arms as I scooped him up and he laid his head on my shoulder. Melt my heart!

Arriving at the soccer field, we saw the community workers and help were way ahead of us already getting things prepped and ready to go! Our team began right away by assisting in expanding the basketball court that we constructed last year. The school team walked over to the school and spent time with just the 9th graders on their school picture day before a week vacation break. Tanya shared with the whole group on "life words" and how we can breathe life into each other with affirmations as well as our own self-talk. She led an exercise where they were able to practice affirming each other and discovering how it made them feel. Next, we broke into two groups of just guys and girls separated. I can't speak for the guys, because I wasn't there, but the girls had a great time of sharing and lessons from the heart led by Sofia and myself. Sofia shared on goals and not putting limits on what you're able to accomplish. I shared on God's standards for us, being created perfectly in His image, and the importance of surrounding yourself with positive influences every day. All the topics flowed together seamlessly ...unplanned! But God knew!

Back at the soccer field, cement was being mixed by hand, poured and leveled by hand, and progress being made! Brady and Matt B were hard at work constructing the swing sets, drilling holes in metal pipes for brackets and digging holes to cement the base into. Ironically we got more accomplished with construction progress this year on Day 1 than any other year and we were without any major equipment to help us this time! Funny how God shows us our strength when we come together as a united team.

Our day finished up with a delicious meal of papusas with a breath-taking view...

Thank you for your constant prayers - we can feel them!

Sending love home from all of us,
- Adrienne

This is Why I Climb

I climb because there is more out there than church pews and Sunday school. I climb because there is more out there than Monday to Friday, 9-5. I climb because God gave me a plan and a purpose that I believe will come to pass. I climb because even though I can't see where I'm going, I have to keep moving to get there. I climb because there are still people who haven't heard, people who don't know the love that God has for them. This is why I climb.


Last night we were given a paper that challenged us to think about why we climb; why we continue to persevere and not give up no matter what we face. Today we were able to reflect on this as we climbed Volcán Ilamatepec. As we arrived, there were clouds filling sky and just as we began to walk we heard thunder. The guides warned us that if it began to rain at any point then we would immediately have to turn around and come back. Wanting to make it to the top, we decided to pray for clear skies and continue moving forward. Soon after, the thunder stopped and although there were clouds surrounding us and blocking the view, we trusted that we were going to have a clear view at the top. Thankfully we made it to the top without a drop of rain and the team was able to take in an amazing view. Even in the small things, God looks out for us. Today we climbed in the midst of uncertainty simply because we wanted to see the view. Daily we climb because we know that God is always on our side; he always goes before us and directs our path.

IMG_0728.JPG

Serving where needed

On Monday we took a break from the construction and spent the day with kids from Tia Ana's orphanage. Tia Ana is an amazing woman of faith who is instilling incredible values into the kids she cares for. She has single-handedly taken on the challenge to care for kids who come from various difficult backgrounds and has dedicated her life to assure that these kids have a normal life.

After just a short time with them, the team was able to see that despite the language barrier, they were able to give the kids what they desired - a lot of love and a day full of fun. We played soccer, used jump ropes, and flew kites. The joy that the kids had when flying the kites was contagious and I couldn't stop watching their smiling faces as they ran and looked up at the kite fluttering behind them. The kids were fun to be around and it was great to get to know their quirks while enjoying some pizza alongside them. Soon, they will be moving to a house that God has provided for them that sits on a large piece of land with fruit trees and a river flowing through it. Tia Ana sees this as a blessing from the Lord, as she has been praying for this for 20 years. Keep them in your prayers as they transition to the new area and that God's hand will guide and protect them.

Yesterday we had the privilege of sponsoring a meal for Proyecto el Faro (The Lighthouse Project), a biweekly program of Mission to El Salvador. Our goal was to serve them wherever they needed and during this time the local homeless can take showers, have a meal, get haircuts if they desire, play games together, and hear a devotional. In the morning we helped organize donations of clothing and toiletries as well as repaint the front gate to the mission. During the afternoon program our team was hands on in preparing the meal for the homeless, playing games, cutting hair, and handing out clean clothes.

At night, we came together to make over 400 bagged lunches and loaded up in the back of a pick-up truck to go out and feed those living on the streets of San Salvador. Upon leaving, we prayed that God would not only feed their physical bodies, but that he would provide for their spiritual needs as well.  We encountered people from all walks of life - young and old, entire families, prostitutes. To say that it was an eye opening night doesn't do it justice. When we came to the last stop, there were about 25 bags of food left but way more people in line to recieve one. Unfortunately, we had to leave without feeding them all; it broke the hearts of the team members who experienced this. The only help we could be was to say a prayer that God would provide their needs in another way. This opened our eyes to see the need not only in foreign countries but at home, too. There are people in need everywhere and we have the ability to do more to reach out and help them, not only physically but spiritually, too. 

Please keep those that we've encountered so far in your prayers. We appreciate all the support that you've given us so far. Today we're headed out to conquer Volcán Ilamatepec. 

Day 4

IMG_0482.JPG

Today was our final work day in the community of Chanmico. We arrived at 6:30am and were mixing and laying concrete shortly after. Some team members even said that mixing the concrete by hand was way more fun than they expected. Even in the early hours there were many community members eager and ready to help us finish the basketball court and benches. By 11am we miraculously finished the basketball court and headed to church where Sandy gave an incredible message to the attendees. The church graciously provided us with a delicious lunch of chicken, rice, vegetables and ice cream.

 

By the afternoon we were back out at the construction projects putting finalizing touches on all of our projects. A few days ago none of us had any idea about many of the pastors visions for the basketball court and benches, but after many hours of work, we finally saw his dreams come to life - what an incredible sight it was!

 

We enjoyed a big team dinner with some Salvadoran friends. Sandy, Steve, and Chris made Sandy's special spaghetti recipe and our translator Cynthia prepared yuca. We celebrated 3 birthdays and enjoyed some cake. All of the sick team members felt much better today - Praise God! Shout out to Matt Bennett for plunging the flooded shower with a 12 inch plunger.

 

It's been a very long but incredibly rewarding day. We can hardly believe another day has flown by.

IMG_0520.JPG

Feliz cumpleaños Addison! Happy 10th Birthday to Addison, Steve Dutterer's daughter. We celebrated you from a far today!  

Day 3

It is such a blessing to be in a community where we have seen so much growth and initiative that comes from within the community. Just a year ago the soccer field had grass at least two feet tall and was never used. We helped fix it up last summer so that it could be a central area for the community to enjoy. Now, they work to maintain the grass so it can be used regularly. Today we helped the community members mix and lay concrete to make a basketball court at the end of the field. There was a lot of calculating, measuring, and improvising but the project got off to a good start. We were able to get half of the court finished and we are determined to complete it bright and early tomorrow morning. Last winter we had the idea to start a community garden, and today this vision finally started to become a reality! We did a test run last year and successfully planted vegetables at the church, but this year we wanted to expand it and make this available to the whole community.

Today we planted 2 almond trees, 2 tangerine trees, 3 orange trees, and one maquilishuat, El Salvador's national tree that will eventually bloom with beautiful pink flowers. These trees are right next to the basketball court and will be available to the community. Our goal is to provide the community with food as well as a possible source of income. We still have plans to add a vegetable garden and we are so excited to see how the community furthers this project.

Aside from the hard work that was accomplished today, the team members have been learning, too. Many were amazed with how resourceful the Salvadorans are - they use anything and everything reasonable in order to get the job done. They love to work and are determined to finish this which will add to their community space. It has been encouraging to see how two groups from two completely different cultures can come together under one common goal and work together; we are blessed to be working alongside them.

Despite the few sicknesses that we've had on the team and the tiredness that everyone has been fighting, everyone is in good spirits. We trust that God will carry us through and we will be able to continue serving with 110% of our energy.

Thank you all for your prayers and support so far! Keep praying that God will move in the community as well as change the hearts and lives of all who are involved in His work here. 

Day 2!

Today was our second day in the country, but our first day of work. We headed out from MCA bright and early to Chanmico which is where the church we are working with is located. We heard a little bit about the history and background of the church, Nehemias, from the pastor and his wife. We then visited Amparo’s house to see her hammocks and the machine that she weaves them on.

We had our work cut out for us as we began clearing a rocky field filled with weeds that will soon be a basketball court. As we were all shoveling and raking the weeds, we had the biggest surprise we could’ve imagined when two bulldozers drove up onto the field and cleared out all of the rocks and weeds while leveling the surface for the court. What would’ve taken us hours to complete by hand was finished in a quick thirty minutes! God has been providing for us in ways we never could have pictured. While the majority of the team worked on the basketball court, a few team members played different games with students of the school next door. We were surrounded by about 50 young school kids who were full of energy for hours. We enjoyed hearing stories from the children and answering all of their questions about the United States like how we got to El Salvador and whether we knew any of their uncles who also live in the US.

We enjoyed lunch from Don Pollo with many members of the community. After lunch, we got back to work and playing with the kids. We taught them some relay races with jump ropes, played soccer, catch, and kickball. We are so excited to see the kids and other community members tomorrow, Sunday, and next Thursday.

Given that this is Into the Nations third year in this community, we are starting to see the fruits of our labors. Relationships are strengthening with local government and others. Three years ago the mayor of this community wouldn’t even speak to the pastor the church, but today. they were working side by side to improve their community.

On the way to dinner, our driver, Manny pulled over to the lava fields alongside the road so we could get a closer look and take some pictures. We had an amazing traditional dinner of pupusas. Pupusas are tortillas with fillings such as cheese, beans, or chicken and were exactly what we needed after a long day of hard work in the sun.

We are definitely looking forward to another productive day tomorrow. Everyone is healthy and enjoying the experience. Please pray that we are able to mix and pour cement for the basketball court tomorrow and that it is able to be finished by Sunday! 

We Have Arrived!

The day started out with an early departure to Dulles Airport at 2:15am. We had a quick filght to our layover in Miami and another 2 hour flight to El Salvador. We arrived in El Salvador at 1:30pm local time, which is two hours behind the US.

Our wonderful driver, Manny, picked us up at the airport and we arrived at the MCA mission house where we will be staying for the next 10 days. After dropping off the luggage and groceries, we headed to a much needed dinner at Dona Rosy's for some Mexican food and delicious frozen drinks.

After returning to MCA after dinner, we delved a little deeper into what these next 10 days mean to us - what our true mission here is. What is each team member's "why"? What is each team member's story, and how does that impact our mission here in El Salvador? Brandon told us more about Understand Your Brand, the incredible story of what our team shirts mean, and where they came from. We are currently packing up our supplies for a busy day in the community tomorrow. We are looking forward to starting some construction projects, playing games and sharing Bible stories with the children, and getting to learn a little bit more about the people we are serving this week.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers this week. We hope that you can all follow along with us as we experience what God is unfolding for us each day!

First Planning Meeting!

This past Sunday afternoon we were able to come together as a TEAM for the first time in preparation of our mission this summer! What an incredible feeling, to be sitting around the table not knowing everyone, yet knowing that God will weave us together as a family over the course of the next few months. We were able to share a bit about ourselves and how we feel God calling us to serve in El Salvador, as well as dive into what it means to truly prepare our hearts for this journey. Please join us in prayer starting NOW until we come home! We know God will flawlessly orchestrate the details that will complete each item on our checklists. And may He also breakdown walls in our hearts and allow us to be open to hearing His word in new ways.

-Adrienne Fessler (2017 team member!)

We Are Back In El Salvador!!!

Every time we visit this country and see its beautiful people, our mission grows deeper in our hearts. It's a privilege and honor to be here again with those we've worked alongside for 2 years, it's truly unexplainable!  I am over-joyed and filled with anticipation for the 2017 Into The Nations Team! This July, members of our team will continue to build upon the development of the Buenos Aires community! The sweat and labor from our teams continue to bring hope to this community; to the children, to the widows, and to the homeless - as we stay the course and "meet needs in the eye".  The team will need prayers, words of encouragement, and financial help! Please consider helping in any way you can! 

 

If you're interested in donating to a team member or to the Into The Nations Organization, click the button below! 

 The Garden Project will be GROWING in 2017! 

The Garden Project will be GROWING in 2017! 

Fruits of Our Labor

In the months since our trip, great things have been happening. Cynthia, Into The Nations in- country liaison, has been visiting the community monthly, this is her latest update:

Pastor Jose was pleased with the sponsorship for Christmas lunch with teens, it was a blast for all them with a piñata, big cake and some little gifts for the kids. Many kids looks pastor Jose and Gloria as their parents. 

 MInistry & Mentoring Relationship:  

Pastor has good attendance with monthly lunch that ITN sponsor, the families are very receptive to have fellowship with the members of the church Pastor Jose is mentoring some of them. He never miss an oportunity to invite them on Saturdays church service at 4pm. 

As I wrote on my last update Pastor Jose is having youth services on Thursday at 4pm 15 kids are attending regularly ages 11-16 they are very excited to have this time of mentoring, soccer games, fellowship and music lessons. The youth got new shirts with the slogan "To the Rescue". This slogan show the heart of Pastor for his community

An Example of this is Steven, he is a boy of 11 years old, his mom is in jail but once in while they allow her go out for one day to visit her family (for good behavior) Steven  knocked at Pastor Jose's house asking him if he can to go and pray for his mom. This boy is praying for his mom, she can be able to get out of prison. This just one of the testimonies of all these teens. 

Amparo has gotten new weaving material and continues to make hammocks, her new bathroom is working well and has been a blessing.

What is Next:

The ITN staff will be traveling to El Salvador to evaluate future projects and to set up this years trip. The 2017 Mission Team is forming to continue our work in El Salvador. I am looking forward to what God has in store for this coming year!

 

An Impactful End

Our final day of serving was spent at an amazing place filled with staff and volunteers who have huge hearts for their community. Mission to El Salvador has a program called The Lighthouse Project where every Tuesday and Thursday, people who live on the streets can come in to shower, brush their teeth, and get a hair cut if needed. They also spend time together playing games, eating a hot meal, and listening to a devotional. Together with the staff of Mission to El Salvador, they are able to plan for a promising future through the many programs that they offer.

After spending time cooking 53 cheeseburgers, braiding hair, playing jenga and checkers, and handing out clean clothes, we were able to sit down and listen to a insightful devotional given by one of our team members and a powerful testimony from someone who used to live on the streets. It was amazing to spend the afternoon together and just enjoying the company of the men and women who are able to benefit from this program.

In the evening, we headed back to make over 300 bagged lunches to take to streets. Who knew that piling into the back of a pickup truck to hand out food would make such a lasting impact on the team members? This is by far one of the most touching nights of our trip. We saw people from every walk of life lining up behind the truck for a bag of food; prostitutes, elderly, families with babies, teenagers, disabled, lonely children. The only comfort we have in witnessing that is knowing that God is our provider and our protector, and he watches over everyone. The team walked away from this experience with a desire to do more, with determination to be the hands and feet of Christ wherever we go; in school, at work, at church, in our own communities. It is disheartening to see the realities of some peoples' lives, but we all can make a small difference just by reaching out.


Day 6: A Day of Reflection

Today we set out after our usual family style breakfast to take on Llamatepec, the tallest volcano "IN THE WORLD" or at least in this country.. This hike was a monumental experience for the team both physically and spiritually. It started with a 600 step decline into the valley, which led to the foot of the volcano. We began climbing the seemingly never ending steps and rocky terrain in order to meet the top. Through aches, pain, and some humorous falls together as a team were able to enjoy the incredible view. 

After some photos and selfies on the top, we took the time to reflect on the volcano as a symbol of our journey! There are always times were you feel like the battle is simply not worth it, that is, until you end up above some clouds looking over what you had just accomplished. We ended our day over dinner at the lake and got prepared for another day of serving! We are so happy to be apart of this adventure and calling that God has placed on each one of us!  


Day 5 ITN: El Salvador

Tuesday was an important day and began with breakfast at 5:30 AM. This would be our busiest and most emotionally challenging day yet. Part of the team still needed to finish the bathroom for Amparo while the rest of the team went to the community's school for the morning and the orphanage in the afternoon. 

At Amparo's, after many hours of hard work, soccer games, another delicious meal from Pastor and his wife and many, and many mistakes, the Lord provided and the team was able to finish the bathroom.

Meanwhile at school, the team attended a 9th grade English class, providing the teachers with countless donations including school curriculum and toys. They spent most of the day engaging with the students through soccer, basketball, jump rope and more. The officials at the school were overwhelmed by the amount we were able to gather for them.

Later at the park the team met up with a group of kids from an orphanage run by Tia Ana. We Played soccer, basketball and had some fun with water balloons. It touched my heart to see the joy on the kids faces as we interacted with them. One boy, Eric, knew a lot of English so he was able to communicate with us more thoroughly and act as a translator when needed. It is evident by the way these kids conducted themselves, that the work Tia Ana is doing is leaving a life long impression on their lives.

Written By: Julia Whitbeck & Austin Balaz

Remember the Story..

Sunday, August 7, 2016
by Tonya Lardarello

The story began bright and early, devotions and breakfast at 6:30, departure at 7:30. It was a profound day. As we arrived, community members were already there beginning to prepare us a Salvadorian lunch. We were blown away by their generosity. The team began working on water filters that the Pastor will give to community leaders that are promoting unity and commitment to making a change. The Pastor shared with Sandy that the filters are part of God's perfect timing, as the water delivery company just informed him that they were no longer going to deliver water and if they did, the cost would double.

As the service began, Pastor spoke briefly of God's love being immeasurable and how God wants to bless us. Pastor's passion for the people in the community is undeniable. Sandy spoke of the seed falling on all types of soil, and as it falls on good soil, it will be fruitful and despite circumstances, we can't let the troubles of life choke out the good seed. There is a watermelon growing at Pastor's house, that they look at as a miracle because no one planted it. (An example of seed falling on good soil!)

The afternoon was amazing. We began preparing a bathroom for Amparo and created a garden. Teamwork throughout the two projects was evident. Even though there was a language barrier, we were able to communicate through laughter, smiles, jesters and any other means we could! Little Ezekiel just loved the garden and it made my heart want to explode. He was a quick learner and could name every plant!


Monday, August 8, 2016
by Breanna Bennett and Dianne Dell

The day began for the team at 6:15 AM as we gathered for breakfast and a great devotion by Kevin Crawford from Acts 3 and the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful. After the devotion and breakfast together at the Mission's House we set out for Amparo's house which is about 40 minutes away.

Most of the ladies began the day mixing concrete for Pastor Jose and his wife, Gloria to put in their new bathroom area at their house which is right beside the church. Unlike what we are used to in the United States, we mixed the concrete right outside of the entrance to the church in the dirt. We mixed, carried, poured, and finished the bathroom area that was approximately 4 X 5. The Into the Nations ladies ROCKED it today!

The men and a few of the ladies worked at Amparo's house to continue the brick and concrete work for her new outside bathroom area. They do not have most of the tools and materials we have in the United States to make a job easier but they work together as a team and everyone pitches in and gets the job done and with much joy!

Pastor Jose's son (along with Pastor Jose and Gloria) made an incredible lunch for the team at the church. They treated us like royalty as they cooked and served us. The team wanted to clean up after lunch and wash the dishes but Pastor Jose said that they wanted to complete the blessing and asked the team to allow him that privilege.

After lunch, work continued on Amparo's bathroom and will need to be finished up on Tuesday. A few of the team members played soccer in the dirt, along with Pastor Jose and some of the kids from the community. The Salvadorian teens and kids play soccer in the dirt with no shoes - they are so tough and hard to keep up with. They absolutely love to show off their skills.

The team left Amparo's community late afternoon and stopped for some infamous Salvadorian Papusas for dinner.

The team has approximately 13+ hour days but the Lord has given each member strength, health and great attitudes! In just a few short days this team has become a family!

Tuesday part of the team will finish the bathroom at Amparo's house and the rest of the team will go to a school in the morning and an orphanage in the afternoon. The team will feed them lunch and take them out to a park for a few hours.

Every day is a new day filled with excitement, joy, work, laughs, tears, and the blessing of the Lord!

Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."