This is on the light side. We went to Compassion Project 866 at Springs of Eternal Life Church in San Miguel, El Salvador. We had the most warm incredible welcome I have ever been a part of. I will post in more detail later when we come home to the states. All that to say here are some big American boys whose Sombrero’s just don’t fit, and Selah riding in a cart pulled by oxen!
We’ve had a great time getting to know Neil and David of Run Kid Run.
After we visited the Compassion school and church we went to homes for lunch. Our home was a mother in the Child Survival Program. An amazing program for pregnant mothers all the way to when the child is three. We were dropped off by bus at a creek and picked up in style by these guys.
We leave tomorrow afternoon. I’m full of emotion and I’m still processing. As I get pictures from Keely and I’m able to sit down and wright I will share the incredible life changing stories I have witnessed. Until that time I hope you have a good laugh at this post.
Here are some pictures of our day today.
One of the most powerful experiences of the day was visiting a sponsored child’s home. Today Allan, Amy, and I visited Jeffererson’s home.
Jefferson has cancer in his throat glands. Jefferson’s father left for the states 4 yrs ago. Don’t know how much his dad is in his life. Compassion came into his life 4 yrs ago. His mother was in tears as she shared that the staff of Compassion is the reason she has hope.
No great story to tell here. The are just so cute I had to post it. For many of these kids this meal will be the only one they eat all day.
Puppusas are a staple. The are made out of corn flower, water, and oil. Beans are placed in the center, and then they throw them in the pan. They are soooooo goooood!
The two little guys, second row all the way on the left, sang at the top of their lungs! Hilarious.
Okay, I know after the church debacle in Haiti it’s probably not okay to take him home, but look at him:)
This young man was preaching about how Jesus is the answer to our problems. How He is our hope.
These young men are brothers. They sat on my lap during the presentation. I showed them how to take pictures with my Iphone and that was it. 250 pictures later I got it back!!
It’s a bit blurry. The girl in the violet dress to my left gave me hugs all day. I have never been hugged in one day so much in my life. These kids were so loving.
Here are some suffering for Jesus pics. After we were finished at the Project we stopped at a Coffee plantation. Coffee is one of El Salvador’s largest exports. This plantation is on top of a mountain. They grow the coffee right there. They have a restaurant and exotic birds. These pictures looked fine in the edit. They don’t in the real blog. I’ve tried to fix it several times and I’m giving up.
This Toucan was a complete ham. He would hide in the ceiling of his cage, and as soon as you walked by him he would drop done and pose for you.
Allan, myself and Amy after an incredible day…
All pictures taken by Todd Smith’s Iphone(Keely’s would never look like these). Some pictures taken by two small Compassion boys who will remain anonymous.
We (Selah) are on Day 2 of our trip to El Salvador. We are staying in the beautiful city of San Miguel. Today we are visiting the Saving Fountain Church where Compassion’s Child Developement Center is. We will be spending time with many national Compassion staffers, but primarily with Rocio, Carlos, George, and Diana.
We spent all day with them yesterday. I’m hoping to get to know them better over the next couple days. If I’m going to trust Compassion I want to know the hearts of the people running the Centers here. Last night I sat next to Diana and heard her testimony. Looking at her you see this sweet, joyful, beautiful person. You can tell she is caring and selfless. I would have never known she was raised in heartbreaking circumstances. I asked her how she found the Lord? She gave me permission to share her story.
I was 7 years old when my parents divorced. My father remarried and I lived with him and my step mom for 6 years. My step mother was verbally and physically abusive to me. She used to lock me and my brother in the bathroom for up to 6 hours at a time. Finally, when I was 13 years old my brother and I moved in with my mother. I quickly became friends with a girl who was a Christian. She would share about Jesus with me all the time. When my other girlfriends were making bad choices (alcohol, partying, or sex) I would always remember my friends words and abstain. Much of the time I was with her so it kept me out of trouble.
After many “no’s” I accepted in invitation to go to her church. The woman speaking shared about Jesus. She asked if any of us had been abused, rejected, or felt hopeless. The more she shared the more the tears came. That night I gave my life to Christ.
I continued to live with my mother, but over the next 6 months neither she nor my brother would speak to me. I was alone. They kept me from my friend and from going to church for a long time. As time went on they saw a change in me. A change where I was making the right choices, and finally I was allowed to go to church again. My mother is saved now, but I am still praying for my father and brother.
I told Diana I would ask you for prayer for her family. Please pray that they will come to know Jesus fully. I could relate in a small way because my mother prayed for over 40 years for my grandpa to come to Christ. There were many days she thought those prayers were wasted and useless. One morning my dad woke up and said “Nancy, today is the day.” He just felt the Holy Spirit telling him that. Dad shared the gospel again with my grandpa and he accepted Christ that day. He passed away a couple months after that.
I asked Diana why she believes in Compassion. She said it’s a very hard job. It can be very stressful and demanding, but she sees the hope these kids have. She said “you will see the difference in the kids who are in Compassion’s program compared to the children who are not tomorrow.” They have hope. They have opportunity. They have confidence that they can be so much more. Many of them go on to Compassion’s Leadership Developement Program (college/spiritual formation program) where they become experts in their field and bring that experience and knowledge back into their communities. Diana said “most of all we are sharing the life changing hope of Jesus.”
Diana is what makes up the Compassion leadership. Her transformation through Jesus Christ is what gives this ministry credibility. Someone who had no hope and little chance is now devoting her life to seeing kids receive a future. Seeing them get opportunities in a Christ centered environment that she was never given.
Diana’s life is inspiring to me. She is what Compassion is all about. This is one of many reasons why I believe I can trust what Compassion is doing.
Today my group Selah left for El Salvador on a “Vision Trip” with Compassion International. It’s called a vision trip because it’s purpose is to give us a better understanding about what Compassion is all about in developing nations. A chance for us to soak up the culture, to be with the national staff, and to see the results of child sponsorship in action.
Our (Selah) concerts provide an opportunity for us to share with thousands of people about this ministry. We want to get people involved by sponsoring a child, but we don’t want to manipulate them. As we share stories that are emotional we don’t want to mislead people’s emotions. I’m hoping and praying that I will come away broken and angry. Angry about the injustice and poverty I see. That the next time we share from stage it will be more authentic, honest, hopeful, and passionate.
Sure we look good sharing about children in need. We show that we have a global look on life with our ministry, but I want Allan, Amy, and I to be so changed by this trip that when we share people will know we are speaking from a place of conviction and urgency. It’s easy to share about kids. It’s easy to play with people’s feelings when it comes to children. We want the Holy Spirit to impact our lives so much that when we talk about our experiences in concert people will be compelled to sponsor.
I have my questions. There are some things I’m skeptical about. My wife Angie, my girls, and I sponsor two kids in India. We get great joy out of doing this. Right now Mohit and Sangita are young and impressionable. What happens when they get older? What happens when they are done with the program? What percentage of kids grow to adulthood and live better lives than the other children around them who weren’t in the program? How do we know they are getting a good education? What opportunities do they have for jobs? Why should we care about these kids when we have so many in need in the United States? How do I know Compassion is handling the funds well that my family, and other families send who sponsor kids in El Salvador?
I’m hoping these questions will be answered in a way that I am satisfied over the next few days. Not only satisfied, but where we feel confident in sharing with people who are trusting Selah as we ask them to give to Compassion.