Friday, June 18, 2010

Lessons Learned

I first like to start off by saying thank you for keeping updated with my trip and for praying for me. I recieved several messages and facebook posts from several while in El Salvador and they were so encouraging for me. Our last night was very nice. The power actually went out for about an hour and looking back, I really think it was a God thing. All the girls and the kids went out to the back patio where there was a little light from the city and we sang and talked, it was very special and would have never happened if there was power. I love seeing how God works. It was really hard to leave the girls the next morning, there were alot of tears and hugging. I am very thankful for technology today, most of them have facebook and email so we will be able to keep in touch. Living, eating and talking with these girls these past two weeks has been such an incredible blessing that I will never forget. They have been through so much hardship in their short lives, it makes me grateful for my comfortable life and I need to remember to never take it for granted. I have learned that it is not my place to question why God choose to give them such struggles, and was so easy on me it seems. In both cases we need to be grateful for where God has put us in life. They are stronger than I will ever be. At the beach I had a really good conversation with Jorge, I asked him if it was ever hard working with the girls, hearing their heartwrenching stories and problems and feeling like there was no way he could help him. This was something I struggled with the whole trip. How could I, one single person, fix the immense problems of these girls?? I felt that since I was given so much, I had to "make better" the lives of those less fortunate. Jorge's answer made so much sense, he said "Danielle, yes, I struggle everyday feeling helpless and inadequate to truly help these young girls. However I have to realize that they are not looking for someone to "fix" their problems, their is no way anyone could. What they ARE looking for is someone who is going to love them, hug them and listen to them. They want to know that they are not facing their problems alone, their are people there who love them and will walk through it with them together." This is something I can actually do! It is still far from easy, and can be very draining but God asks us to love one another with brotherly love. We also do not have to go to foreign country to do this, there are millions of heartbroken people around us, looking for someone to listen to them and given them hope. They need the hope of God's love. While i'm at home in the states, I need to be in prayer daily for these girls, you can help me with that as well! Prayer can do alot of things and we should never underestimate it. Thanks again for your prayers and encouragement

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 12

I can´t believe this is my last day here!!! It seriously blows my mind! Im not going to write much because I dont have much time. Yesterdays beach trip was awesome! The beach we went was like something out of a dream...or a movie set, whichever is better. It was so nice to relax in our little cabanna in the hammocks they had set up for us. I got to have a good talk with Jorge about the trup overall and teh girls in general. It was really good and I was reminded again how wise he is and how blessed the girls are to have at least one male role model in their lives. Today we went and spoke at Beths, church. Her church was the exact opposite of the church we went to last week, very small and traditional. We were all extremely nervous because she didnt have a translator for us, so we had to do it in Spanish!! As much as we were freaking out about it, it really wasn´t that bad, adn the people there were very warm and welcoming. Tonight is our Papusa night we have been planing as our goodbye party. The girls in the Hope house are coming over too and we are making papusa´s for everyone and just hanging out! It´s going to be so hard to leave, but I think tonight will be very fun! I will write a wrap up note once I get back to kind of the close up the trip. But I should go, lots to do and a very loooong day of traveling tomorrow!!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 10

Today was our last day in the centers. It was really wierd because part of me feels like we just got here and the other part feels we have been here forever! In CISNA it was actually dissapointing because we had just read our first verse for our lesson when the girls got called out to participate in some activity going on in the prison. Since there was no way we were going to be like ¨um excuse Mr. prison guard, we haven´t read our second verse yet...¨ we just had to let them leave. Very anti climactic end to our two weeks there... I kept wondering why that had to happen, when I just had to remember that God has a plan for everything. We do not control what happens even if we have great intentions. Another disapointment was that Julia was not at CIPI today... This was sad for me because we had even written a note to give her and everything. I think we might try to give it to Jorge to give to her teacher. again...God is in control, not me. It was sad to leave the girls, they kept making us pictures and bracelets and made us promise not to forget them. As sad as it was to leave the centers, it is going to be way harder to leave the girls and kids in teh promise house! The three of us went out to dinner tonight at this super nice outdoor mall place, It was really cool! We walked around a bit and watched this World Cup celebration going on, it was really awesome cause there was alot of dancing and singing and shouting going on. It was really nice to relax after a long tiring week. When we got home we gave all the girls flip flops and they decorated them with pieces of fabric. They seemed to really like it and were very appreciative of them. The kids just like to throw the fabric around which made for alot of clean up...but it was cute. We just found out that all the kids have lice...isnt that great! so.... the three of us our going to be sporting some sweet sumo wrestler buns for the remainder of our stay here... Tomorrow is the beach!!!! And it is much needed, trust me!!! Please pray that I don´t get sick anymore, I´ve had a fever the past few nights, which isn´t very fun. Thanks for all the prayers! Buenas noches

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 10

I decieded to write this early before the girls get home from school and pandimonium breaks out. CISNA today was really good! We read the romans road to them and talked about the gospel message. All of them said that they have accepted Christ as their Savior, only God can know for sure but at least teh seeds were planted. It´s hard to tell when someone´s faith is real here, or if it is just culture. Almost everyone professes to be a christian and believe in God, it´s just what you do... It´s hard to distinguish who has a real relationship with Christ adn who is just talking the talk. We made a cross craft to go with the verses and they really liked doing that as well. We got to go to Pizza Hut for lunch adn I was beyond excited! The Orphan Helpers staff took us out and it was really fun! They are all really sweet, and they kept thanking us for coming. We should really be thanking them! At CIPI we went through the romans road with them as well. The girls there weren´t very responsive, they are usually more quiet anyway. This can be a frustration, but I just have to remember that I cannot force a believe or decision on anyone, I just need to tell them and the rest is up to God. I did get to talk with Julie for awile today which was really cool! She speaks slowly so we can actually have a reall conversation without me asking her to repeat herself 17,000 times. We didn´t talk about anything super deep, she just talked about her life and her experience at CIPI. From what I gathered, she is there because her mom abused her, she doesn´t really know what is going to happend to her next. I´m really praying that I get another chance to talk to her again tomorrow since it´s our last day in the centers. I´ll keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 8 and 9

I couldn´t get on the computer yesterday because it was crazy!!! It actually started being crazy Monday night when I was feeling so sick! I woke up feeling much better but Jo started feeling sick as well. We ended finding out that we drank some of the water unknowling at one of the restaurantes we went to. The moral of the story is...if you are in El Salvador and its not from a bottle DO NOT DRINK IT! It does horrible things to your body! Jo ended up not going with us on tuesday cause she felt so bad...Tuesday night the three of us were invited to go to the Hope house for dinner. The girls there were so sweet! The all met us at the door and introduced their selves. They had made us a totally american meal of spaghetti and meatball and even garlic bread! It was so kind of them. We enjoyed spending the evening with them and getting to know them better. Today we went to the centers and it was really good, the girls seem to be opening alot more. One of girls at CISNA who is 15 wispered to me that she was pregnant. I asked her if she had gone to the doctor or told anyone and she said I was the first one. It blows my mind that she would trust a practical stranger such news. Her name is Gabriella, pray that I have the words to say to her. The girls at CIPI are a little harder to get to know we have come to realize. I think they are so closed off and depressed because they have no hope for their future at all. One of the girls here at the house, Tatiana used to live at CIPI and she said she hated it...I would too. One of the girls Julie is 13 and she can speak english a little bit. She told us that she believes in God but doesnt want to live her life for him because her life is so horrible. It´s hard to have the words to say to these girls. Tonight we ate and hung out with the girls, Beth came over again and ate with us. She teaches the girls english on Wednesdays. She also asked us to speak at her church on Sunday. We agreed not knowing that WE were the service for the day. We are only slightly panicking...The good news is, we are all feeling better! Sams throut has improved and Jo and I are on our way to recovering, Thank the Lord! Also Nicole´s chicken pox are going away. Thanks for praying. I have to say the one thing I will NOT miss from El Salvador is the cold showers...We actually have a knob for hot water, for what reason I do not know. I think its there to tease me actually, even though I know there will be no hot water I still try at least three times...I will probably continue to do so. I also will not miss every near death experience I have drving to and from the the centers everyday. Although growing up driving in a car with my Dad has somewhat prepared me for this...Other than these things, it´s going to be so hard to leave. Marta, one of the girls in the house already cried today when were talking about leaving monday....I´m trying not think about it right now. Thanks for continuing to pray! Hasta Luego

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 7

Well today was a pretty long day. Went to CISNA in the morning which was really cool. I read Proverbs 31 to the girls and especially focused on verse 30. Sam translated for me as I did a little devotional with them about being women of God even when the world tells us that looks are the most important thing. I think this is something girls need to here no matter what country they live in. Then Jo, Sam and I painted their nails for them! They were pretty excited about that, we even did some toenails...Anything for the glory of God, right. While waiting for our ride to CIPI, we played with some of boys from the orphange next door. My heart truly goes out to these boys, I really couldn´t imagine a worse place to live... SInce it was only us three girls, we didnt get permission to work witht hem everyday, so it is cool we get to hang out with them a little in between centers. I wish I could bring them home to a good family and give them hope for a better life. We went to CIPI afterwards and got to have some good conversations with the girls. They opened up to us a little more, even though our lives are completely different. We learned this afternoon that time is not half as important to El Salvadorians as it is to Americans... Our ride was an hour and a half late, and it didnt help that Sam was feeling sick. Please pray that her throut feels better since she was in a lot of pain this afternoon, though she seems to be doing better tonight. It also took us about an hour to get home. Tonight after dinner I brought out my old straightener and started doing some of the girls hair, they seem to really like it so I´ll probably leave it with them when I leave. Well I need to hit the sack!! Love you all!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 6

Today we woke up and went to church with the girls from the Hope House. The Hope house is similair to the promise House we are staying in but these girls do not have any kids. The Church was not what I expected, It was what I would consider an El Salvadorian mega church! It was in a very nice building and the service was very Americanized. The power did keep going out all throughout the service but they just kept on going. It was kind of funny. I love to watch them sing, they have so much passion and are so much more uninhibited than most Americans in church. They all sang out at the top of their lungs and could care less what they sounded like or what others thought of them. You don´t see that much in the U.S. After church we took one of the house moms, Marina out to lunch, it was really fun and I think she was very grateful. It was great getting to know her even better, she is seriously such a sweet lady. She has no family and she consideres the girls in the promise house and their babies her children. You can really tell how much she loves them. The Orphan Helpers missionary came over again today, I guess she does a movie day for the girls every Sunday and today was the movie Ever After!! which was great since its one of my favorite movies!! It was in Spanish but they put the English subtitles on for us. It made me realize how much girls are the same in every culture, we would all awww when they kissed and get mad when the evil stepmother was a jerk. I spent the rest of the night playing hide and seek with the girls and the kids and they taught me some more spanish games they knew. Sometimes I forget how young they really are. Most of them are babies themselves, yet they have a whole other person depending on them. My favorite part of the night was when we started singing together. They know alot of Hillsong songs, so they would sing them in Spanish and we would sing them in English at teh same time. I love the fact that we can sing praises and lift up the name of God in all different languages and he still understands and love us all. I will never forget that. This week is going to be busy but I will keep you posted!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day five

Today we woke up early and Jorge drove us to the market. It was so fun to walk around and see all the handcrafted El Salvadorian stuff. We then went out to lunch, Jorge took us to the nicest mall around and we got to look around. The mall was VERY nice and it blew my mind that so much money could be so close to such poverty. It just didn´t seem right. Whenever we go anywhere I am amazed at the shacks people live in. I am beginning to see first hand that even the poor people in America are considered rich to these people. It´s hard for me to see because I feel so helpless. We also got to go get Ice cream from a place called Jungle Snow, it was AMAZING!!! It´s probably a good thing they dont have one in the states or I would literally be 5000 pounds. After we got back we took the girls to a park near by with one of the the Orphan Helpers missionaries, Beth. It was really fun to play with the kids. The girls LOVE for us to take pictures of them and thier babies. Everytime the camera comes out it likes a mini photo shoot! And they are so cute I can´t help but take a zillion pictures. I am really enjoying getting to know the girls and a little bit of their stories.. They love to try to learn English so we can kind of help eachother. Tomorrow we are going to their church with them, so that should be really fun. Today we spent a little time planning what Bible lessons and activities we are going to do with the kids in CISNA and CIPI this week. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!! Love you all!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day Four! for real this time...

Ok I know I said yesterday was day four, bu tit was actually today, sorry! Anyway last night we went to the pupuseria with our driver Jorge, it was INCREDIBLE!! He took us to this place that is literally on top of a mountain looking over San Salvador! The view was amazing, as were the pupusas! And Sam Jo Jorge and I all ate there for 7.50! The pupusas and the price of them is something I am definately going to miss back in the States. I also found out that Jorge knows MUCH more english than he let on! We were able to really get to know him over dinner and he is seriously the sweetest man. He has a heart of gold and you can really see his love for God and the girls in the promise house shine throughout his life. He badly wants to come to the United States but cannot get a visa for himself or his family. He told me that he would not come to the U.S. illegally because if God wanted him there He would provide a visa for him. I told him I would pray that he would get a visa. I feel like Jorge is kind of like our Dad while we are here and we all feel better when he is around. Whenever we dont understand something or are confused we look at eachother and are like ¨Where´s Jorge!¨ I absolutley LOVE playing with the kids in the house! They are seriously the cutest!! And they love to play ¨Avion¨ or airplane. Whenever they see me they yell Avion, Avion! and then I fly them around on my legs till they are literally about to fall off. One of the girls in the house, Jessica invited us to go to her school because she was elected to be a canditate for something like princess of the flowers, I guess its something like homecoming queen in the States. It was Quite the experience! We were there for probably three houre more than we expected to be! But it was very interesting to see a C.A. school. I guess it was a dance too, so we got to watch the kids on the dance floor. We kept getting asked to dance but we were all like NO WAY! We already stand out enough with our white skin and matching shirts. We didnt need people pointing at the gringas trying hoplessly to bust a move on the dance floor. The girls in the house are so great and have really opened up to us. Its crazy to think about how different their lives are than ours. The youngest mother is 11, and they are all here because they were raped, not because they were trying to have children. Sometimes I wonder why I was so blessed to live where I do and have the family and friends that I do. This just makes me even more thankful. Tonight we took two of the little girls Glenda and Alandra,who is my personal favorite but I try not to show it, and gave them two new dresses each that Sam had brought with her. I could have cried watching them try them on and spin around for us, it was so cute! Tomorrow we are going to the market, we were supposed to go to the beach but it is going to rain alot so we are going next week. Well I need to go to bed. Ill keep you posted!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 4

Today was a great day and it rained so it cooled things down a bit. We went to CISNA again and they taught us to make oragami picture frames which was very tedious but very fun. We were able to do a little devotional on Psalm 1 with them which was very cool. CISNA is not a Christian organization but because El Salvador does not have seperation of church and state they allow Orphan Helpers in and they can teach them all the Bible they want which is really cool. We did the same bible lesson at CIPI adn will continue to do it everyday Lord willing. We are going tonight to get pupasas which is kind of like quesadillas but better according to Sam, so I am super excited!!!! If you could pray, one of the babies in the house, Nicole, has chicken pox pretty bad and I think she is passing it around. Please pray that no one else gets it!! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 3

Well I figured I would write a quick note before things get crazy here. We just got back from CIPI and the girls are still at school, so it is a little quiet in the house for now. I spent last night playing with the babies and singing along with Justin Beibers music video "baby" with the girls, needless to say much fun was had by all. We left for CISNA the girls detention center around 8. I was actually very nervous about going there, one because I was worried about them understanding me, and two I didnt know if the girls were going to want to do the crafts and things we had planned for them. If anyone walked into a teenage girls detention center in the States, Im pretty sure the last thing they would want to do is make friendship bracelets, but thats what we did! The girls actually liked them alot, they even showed us some of the cards and crafts they had been making which were incredible!! They promised to teach us how to make them tomorrow. After I complimented one of the girls on her project she came back later and gave it to me. It said para Daniela. recuerdo CISNA, or to Danielle remember CISNA. That really put a smile on my face. Later we went to CIPI where we made friendship bracelets again with the girls! I guess this goes to show that if one is ever bound by a language barrier, make jewlery! It's the universal language!!! We are now home for the evening and Im not quite sure what the plans are but I'll keep you posted!!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 1!

Well today has been a crazy day!!! Im going to keep this super short cause I am beyond tired! All the flights went very well with no major problems. We arrived in El Salvador about 12pm, because they are two hours behind the U.S. Our driver Jorge, picked us up and we went straight to the Promise house. There are seven teenage mothers there, ranging in ages from 11 to 21. It pretty crazy, the girls are really sweet and their kids are beautiful!! We enjoyed playing with them basically all night. I asked one of the girls, using my limited spanish, if the girl she was holding was her daughter. In actuality I asked her if the child was her boyfriend!!! They got quite the kick out of laugh and I have a feeling I won´t live that down any time soon! It has been a little difficult communicating with the girls because they speak zero english, but we seem to get around the language barrier by lots of hand motions. We ate a wonderful dinner of Platanos, beans and tortillas cooked by the house mom, Marina, who is quite possibly the sweetest woman I have ever met! Tomorrow we got to the two other centers and we are planning on doing different crafts and things with them. Thanks for reading and please keep praying!!! Adios!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya, Tomorrow!!

Well Tomorrow is the big day! I am so excited for my opportunity to go to El Salvador with Orphan Helpers. Our team (which consists of my friends Samantha and Jo Stevenson) have been preparing both mentally and spiritually for our two week trip, though I dont know if could ever be totally prepared for what is to come. We are expecting God to do amazing things for us and through us on this trip. He has already faithfully provided for us financially, so I suspect he has wonderful plans in store for us. Even before leaving on this trip, God has showed me how big He truly is. Even though I know this, there are many times I do not trust Him like I should. I know I will probably be reminded of this again over the next two weeks.
While we are in El Salvador we will be staying in a girls home called "The Promise House", I am so excited that we will be right there living with these girls and hope to form relationships in the process. This is a home for teenage moms, many of whom already have multiple children, so it will definately be a new expierence for me. During the days we will be going to two different orphanges, CISNA(a girls detention home) and CIPI. We will be doing bible lessons, crafts and just loving on these kids and young women. We will also do any work projects they may need us to do as well. I am so excited to bond with these children and I am praying that I will be of some encouragement to them, though I know from past expirence that they will probably bless me even more.
As for tomorrow, we are leaving at about 3:30 am to go to Norfolk International airport where we will be flying out of, we then have a layover in Atlanta. Once we arrive in El Salvador we will go grocery shopping and settle ourselves into the promise house.
I would truly appreciate it if you would be willing to pray for me while I am on this trip, some specific things you can pray for are:
-Travelling safety
-Safety while in El Salvador
-Effectiveness while in the centers
-Language barriers (this is something I am a little worried about since I do not speak much spanish, Sam is fluent and will be our translator for the trip but please pray I will be able to effectively communicate especially with the children in the centers)
Thank You so much for praying, I will update this as much as possible, so keep reading!!!!