Building Hope in El Salvador – 2013 Trip Report

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After long hours of travel, the Timberline missions teams were warmly welcomed by the church in El Espino, El Salvador. The group stayed in the country’s capital, San Salvador, but worked with families in El Espino and La Labor. The bus rides were long, but the beautiful green and volcanic landscapes fueled entertaining and exciting conversations. The journey over the week was filled with laughter, challenges, joy and hope. The teams worked with an organization called Enlace, which means “to link.” Enlace’s goal is to link churches in America with churches in El Salvador, then help them to serve their community.

On Sunday, the teams worshiped with Pastor Santos and his congregation in El Espino. Although there was a language barrier, it did not stop the love that was shared and the relationships that were formed. The youth team taught the Sunday School leaders some games to help engage the kids in learning about the love of Jesus. They also taught the leaders some actions to a Spanish/English worship song, “Trading My Sorrows/Cambiaré Mi Tristeza.” Seeing the congregation worship together emphasized the importance of having the teams in El Salvador. They brought hope to the community.

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In just four days, the youth team tackled the overwhelming challenge of building 20 EcoStoves in La Labor. Until now, families have been using open, wood-burning fires, which cause many respiratory diseases in addition to harming the environment. The EcoStoves provide a safer, cheaper and more effective way for families to cook. The youth team had a fantastic time building the EcoStoves, using their feet to mix the cement. The cement even contained a secret ingredient–molasses! They used molasses to protect the bricks on the outside of the stove. It was such a blessing to be a part of something that will change the lives of Salvadorian families. One lady had a huge smile on her face and could not wait to light the first fire on her new stove. By the end of the day, they were exhausted, covered in dirt, but feeling satisfied about each day’s work.

Meanwhile, the adult team kept extremely busy at the clinic, serving over 450 patients through the week. Not one person was turned away and the team was able to meet the needs of every patient. Many kids had developmental disabilities and it was amazing to witness how their families met their needs with limited resources. When the teams met to make house visits in the afternoon, it was eye opening to see how strong the families were and how they shared unconditional love for each other. Each day was challenging and filled with incredible experiences.

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Both the adult and youth teams met at a rural school where the team started building a wall two years ago. It was exciting to see the wall completed and being used to benefit the school. Both teams spent time playing games and worshipping with the smiling kids. The kids were very welcoming and loving and it emphasized the importance the teams of being in El Salvador.

The youth team received a banner from the school in honor of the work they have done. The plan is to display the heartfelt gift in the youth office of Timberline Church. There was a wonderful dedication of the project at the church in El Espino. The pastors spoke about the very exciting new relationship formed between the churches in El Espino and La Labor. After the dedication, they enjoyed a celebratory dinner of pupusas, which was a great opportunity to share in praise with the local church members.

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It was a very emotional and exciting week for both teams. The last day was planned as a fun day at the beach. It also was a day to mull over what they have learned over the week before heading for home. They asked the question, “What do we do with our heightened relationship with Jesus once we return?” They learned that we serve a truly amazing God who will provide no matter what. It’s important to always trust in Him. After a fun day of walking through the warm volcanic sand and splashing through the waves, it was time for the team to go home. Everyone arrived safely at home very early Sunday morning. The teams would like to thank you so much for your prayers and support over the week. It’s exciting to see how the Holy Spirit will change the lives and bring hope to the people of El Salvador.

Read more and watch the daily videos from the youth team at www.elsalvadortym.blogspot.com.

(Courtesy of Storyteller Nicole Sutton)

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