Our fourth mission trip to El Salvador is officially over. As far as I know, everyone made it back to LA and is safely home. Saturday was another amazing day.
Traci and I spent the morning teaching a class at the worship conference, and then we had some extended time with Josue and Vero. They have become such great friends and they are so dear to our hearts. It was great to have that time together.
Ana got to go and see her extended family, many of whom she hasn't seen in 23 years, and meet all of the new family, kids, spouses, etc. She has a really great time with them, and several of them came to church on Sunday.
Liz spent the day with her little Julio. It was his first time in the city, his first look at a skyscraper, his first escalator, his first cologne, his first shopping mall. They had so much fun together. It was so great to see him at church on Sunday, to experience that with us. We believe that God must have a plan for this young man because so many of us are praying for him and dedicated to helping him.
The rest of the team went to visit Angel & Inez, who we have visited every time, and also a single mom named Eldai, who we have tried to visit every time, but have never been successful until now. They took lots of groceries and love with them. It was an incredibly moving experience for everyone who went.
Inez was so grateful to receive the yarn that Mama Simone and other sent to her. She is using it to make head coverings for women who have lost their hair while going through chemo, like she did. She also made personal handwritten cards for every person who has visited her from the Turning Point over the last two years.
Eldai lives on $35 a week, working and supporting her two children, a 12 year old boy and a 5 year old girl. She lives well over an hour from the church building, and has to take several buses to get there, but she is always there at every service and every midweek. She was so excited that we were finally coming to her house so she made us all individual gifts that she had made. The team was taken back because they knew that she could easily have sold these gifts and made money, but she insisted on giving them to us. Her son, Andreas, loves playing marbles yet only had a handful. He insisted on giving each person one of his marbles as a way to express his gratitude for our visit. He walked around the group and had them pick out their favorite.
When the team arrived back at the Landaverde's house that night, they were all visibly shaken and moved. God did something in their hearts through this experience that cannot be explained, only experienced. We spent Saturday night just sharing with each other about the day and what God was teaching us.
Sunday morning was an incredible time with the church. It was the final service of their worship conference, and they had decided to have a time of singing and reading scriptures together. It was so moving and several times I was brought to tears either by the sharing or by the singing, even though I didn't understand a word. It is amazing how God created our spirits to connect with his Spirit, even when we can't speak the language.
As soon as service was over, we said many tearful goodbyes, boarded the microbus and headed to the airport. We all cried with Liz while she was waving at Julio out the window.
Understatement alert: It was a really great trip.
I pray that everyone in the Turning Point can come on one of these trips with us over the next few years. It will completely change your life, I promise. We are hoping to plan two trips for 2012, one in May, and one in October. Start saving now!
Thanks for all of your prayers and support for us while we were in El Salvador. We definitely felt them all! We are just now starting to get all of the pictures up on the Phanfare site. There will be more to come over the next few days. In the meantime, here is one of my favorites of Curtis handing out backpacks at Suchitoto: