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.

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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 seesm 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

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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.

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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."

We're back in El Salvador

Our first few days in El Salvador have been filled with fun, laughter and hard work. After a long day of travel on Thursday we were able to get out to the community on Friday. We helped to clean up the rock-filled soccer field with knee-high grass in some places. Amparo and Pastor Jose trusted us with their machetes and cumas, so the team worked along side the Salvadorians all day to make the field playable. We also built two soccer goals with the church members and fixed one that they already had.

Today we were able to put that work to good use with a community soccer tournament. The Salvadorians rolled up in soccer cleats and matching jerseys ready to play and (of course) took home the trophy for the tournament. While the soccer tournament was going on the kids were able to get their own little game in and play some other games with our team, too. It was amazing to see how quickly some of the most shy kids warmed up to us and the pure joy they had when they were playing. Dianne Dell says the parents seemed to have just as much fun as their kids simply because they were able to see them enjoy themselves.

So far it has been a joyful experience. We truly feel a part of the community when we are there and are so blessed to be able to spend a few more days here.

What God's been doing on our planning trip!

Now that it's almost time to come home, we thought some of you would like an update on what we've been up to this week! Thank you for your prayers, we've felt them each day. On Sunday, we were able to start our day with attending church in Amparo's community, which is our main focus for our projects at this time. We were welcomed we open arms, as family coming home. During the service, they wanted each one of us to come up front and share with everyone who we were and our calling to work in their community. It's moments like those where I really feel God's presence and love surrounding us. Somewhat of a surreal experience, to be standing in front of the church explaining God's vision for Into the Nations and how we each felt personally called to be a part of it. After the service, we spent some time catching up with Pastor Jose and what has been going on in the community since we were last here, as well as spent some time at Amparo's house playing with the kids and planning our goals for the week.

Sunday evening brought a fun reunion over ice cream with our friends we've worked with over the years. We invited everyone! It was great to see the incredible group of people God has brought into our lives over the past few years. It was truly like a family reunion.

On Monday we were able to visit Tiana and her kids at the orphanage. To say they had been waiting and were overjoyed to see us, is an understatement! The joy on their faces when the door opened and they saw who was there, was a gift in itself. We continue to pray for God to provide to all who live there, with enough food and school supplies and clothes. We plan to have a fun activity day with them when we return in August.

Today we spent most of the day back in Amparo's community wrapping up loose ends of what we wanted to accomplish this week in gathering some new video footage of interviews on how her life has already changed as a result of being involved with Into the Nations. We captured some great moments in photos and shared lunch with her family. We were also able to visit the community school and meet with the principal to discuss donations we received in elementary curriculum and laptops. She was very excited to hear about the opportunity to work with us in August and talked about how we can contribute to improving the biggest needs of the school.

It's been a week filled with exhaustion, blessings, and love in the best forms! We know God has His hand in each step of our journey. Because of our faith and dedication to His calling, we will be able to make the biggest changes in the most impactful way to those we serve. Thank you for coming along on the journey with us in prayer, donations, and support of every kind. We are filled with gratitude in what God is doing through each of us.

-Adrienne Fessler, ITN Traveler

One Step at a Time

The past couple times that we have visited Amparo's community have been full of joy! Two weeks ago, we arrived to see a birthday celebration in progress for Ezekiel, the pastor's 5 year old grandson who has completely stolen our hearts. The kids were absolutely delighted with the music, the sweets, the face painting, and the piñata! It was a day full of joy.

We had some special guests tag along as well. Mimi, one of our amazing translators, brought her family to give them a look at what we have done and are continuing to do in this community. Her parents loved seeing what their daughter has been participating in, and her siblings begged to come back again!

This week, Chris was able to meet with Pastor Jose and his son, Astor, to discuss plans to start a men's group. What better way to bring them together than a soccer team? It is clear that this is their favorite sport, and sometimes it is the only way to get people to participate in a group like this. They plan to start meeting as soon as possible to play, build relationships, and share the gospel in a comfortable setting.

Sunday, there was a great turn out at church, with new and younger faces in attendance. And to make it even better, they all wanted to participate in the drama ministry! I taught them a drama set to "Todo en mi" by Mauricio Muñoz (the Spanish version of the ever so popular "Everything" by Lifehouse). I honestly think it is an understatement to say that they loved it. At first, everyone was a bit shy but by the end they were really having fun and enjoying the time spent together. They learned the entire thing in just one hour and can't wait to learn another one next week!

Our goal is to be able to go out into the community and the surrounding communities to evangelize and share the gospel in a way that is eye-catching and fun. They expressed their desire to show people that being in the church or in a relationship with God is not boring or strict, but fun and exciting. They want to convey that life doesn't end when they commit to God, but it is only the beginning of something much bigger than you could ever imagine.

Personally, I am beyond happy every time I am in the community. I love to see that God's children have a heart for others, for the lost. It is a blessing to already see changes throughout the community, the church, and the family. We are so blessed to be able to have another family here in Buenos Aires.

In God we Find Rest

Looking back on our recent trip, we are naturally looking for things that could have gone smoother or things we could have done better. Although there are always things that can be improved, God urges us to look past these minute details and focus on the things that went well: the lives that were touched, the kids that were thrilled for just one day out of the norm, the hearts that were changed, and the blessings that were given in both directions. He tells us all to look at what can be accomplished when we come together in his name under one purpose. It is an enormous blessing to be able to work with sweet Amparo, her beautiful family, and the church in her community. The best thing is that these people truly are a family and exude God's love daily. This is one of the things that keeps us going, the pure love and joy that is felt upon being with them. 

Amparo is extra joyful because we took her to pick up her brand new glasses! We took her a few weeks ago for a checkup, something that was long overdue, and she fell in love with the perfect pink pair. At first she was a bit shy, but now she's sporting them with a big smile because she can finally see well enough to read and write, something she hasn't been able to do for a while because of this seemingly small need. 

We also just sat and talked, curious about the impact the family has felt so far as we have been walking alongside them. It is beautiful to now see a family with incentive and drive. Amparo even said herself that before, the house was falling apart and they didn't know what to do. But now, seeing what a transformation the house has undergone, they want to start taking initiative to improve their overall living conditions on their own. They built a small storage area with leftover materials, and added more space to continue weaving hammocks, one of the only ways Amparo is able to provide for her family. Without the daunting fear of their house collapsing, the family now sleeps in peace, the kids describe their house as beautiful, and Amparo is content knowing that her family is finally secure under one roof. There is no worry, because in God we find rest. 

On Wednesday we were able to further bless Amparo's family with a water filter (which due to miscommunications was not given during the trip). This filter purifies the water, which before caused many illnesses among the family. When she received it, Amparo just continually said how beautiful it was; she was thrilled. Another thing that we had planned on blessing Amparo with was a small stove. Seeing that she had just bought a stove for herself, she decided to donate it to Pastor Jose and the church. A big thank you to Project Red (projectredelsalvador.org) for donating this stove to us, it will be a huge blessing to the church and their ministry. 

Speaking of Pastor Jose, a man of great faith in miracles, he is a walking miracle today. Last Friday, he was completely run over by a bus and he is walking today with only one small scratch to show for it. All he has to say is "Dios es bueno."

Chris and I were able to sit and talk with him and his wife about the incredible plans that God has put upon their hearts for their community. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a strong, Godly couple that is admired throughout the community. They want to touch every age group, and every life within those age groups in order to make a greater impact in the world. They want to start with the kids, the future generation of this country, and they want to build them up and show them that there is a God who loves them; that the only thing they need when they are troubled is to turn to him. Seeing that this community has a lot of single mothers, they want to strengthen them and all the women, letting them know that they have the power to be the head of their households. They want to give them the courage to lead their children towards God, walking with them every step of the way. Their plans are also to provide small classes in which young men can participate in order to keep them away from the temptations of everyday life. And to further reach out to the community and those who are outside of the church, they want to start a drama ministry in the hopes of winning more souls to Christ.

We are more than excited to be able to walk with them and support them in this vision that God has given them. The entire intothenations team believes wholeheartedly that this church will be a great light in the community and we know God's hand is guiding us all. This is a big step that we are taking together and we don't want you guys to miss out on it!


Thank You!

The team left Saturday and we are missing them like crazy! Chris, Veronica, and I are staying a few extra days to say our goodbyes and tie up some loose ends with our campaign. The first ITN trip was a huge success and we are so proud of our team for stepping up to be apart this mission. Wrapping up, we were able help a lot people in these few days! We built a new roof for Amparo and her incredible family, we served the homeless at Mission to El Salvador, we ran a vacation bible school, and spent a day with the kids from Tia Ana’s orphanage!

This trip would not have been possible without some key people! A huge THANK YOU to Coles Family Dentistry, Brieghner’s Tire, DGI Creative, Bethel Assembly of God, the doctors and staff at Hanover Hospital, and all those who donated to individual team member budgets! Thank you so much for your help!

Moving forward the ITN Team will be moving into phase two of May You Find Rest campaign with Amparo! This will include help in improving Amparo’s economic stability. Over the next few months we will be working to EMPOWER Amparo by walking along side her to develop a business model for her hammocks. We want to see her take the business as far as she would like it to go. In that, the plan is to help her create a structure here in El Salvador that will allow her to sell hammocks in artisan markets. In addition we would like to sell the hammocks as an Into The Nations product back in the States! All the profits made by ITN will be going back to her community and further ITN projects! We are so excited to see where this goes and invite you to be apart of the journey!

Thank you so much for following us on our trip! 

His Business
— ITN

Day 6, VBS!

Today was dedicated to Vacation Bible School for the children in the community, and the kids had a blast! We all learned about the colors of salvation with the help of our puppet friends and had a few games set up to play. Water balloons, the biggest hit of the day, started as an organized toss game and quickly turned into an all-out war. It is so refreshing to see these kids enjoying themselves in ways that some usually are not able to. There was a girl who was dying to tell us the story behind her scar; she told us that there was a baby who was going to be killed but she tried to protect it and got hurt instead. It is incredible to know that most of these children have already seen more damaging things than we have, and some are far less than half our age. It is a relief to know that we were able to lift their burdens even for just one day, but hopefully we gave them a long lasting impact.  

Sadly, today we had to say goodbye to a beloved family and community that we have grown to adore in such a short amount of time. These people will always hold a special place in our hearts and although we came to make a difference in their lives, they have made an everlasting difference in ours. When saying our goodbyes to Amparo and her family, we were able to bless them with all of the donations we have received and a few other things that we saw fit to give her. We want to thank everyone who has given anything to our team because with your donations, you are the ones who have been able to be a blessing to the family and also to the community.

“There is no one who you wouldn’t love if you knew their story”


Long Day, Longer Night!

         Today the guys finished Amparo’s House! Those last holes drilled and j-hooks tightened ended a five-day project. Nothing feels better than being able to confidently say that Amparo’s home is now structurally sound. She no longer has to worry about the roof falling in on her kids or leaking during storms. I am so incredibly proud of the guys for sticking it out and driving through all the difficulties they faced during the process, it’s finished! These means phase one (alleviating pressing needs) of the May You Find Rest campaign is finished and we will be planning the next steps when we get home!

         As the guys completed the house, the ladies went to serve at Mission to El Salvador, an amazing organization that gives aid the homeless here.  They prepared for a day of free haircuts and showers, lunch, some karaoke, birthday celebrations, and more! The guys showed up in time to take orders from the girls and hopped into the mix. It was such a blessing to be able to lend helping hands to the amazing people who put on this on every Tuesday and Thursday. In addition to bringing homeless people in for a meal during the day, another part of Mission to El Salvador is going out to feed the homeless at night. The team loaded up into the back of a pick-up with 150 bagged meals to hand out. I think that I can speak for the entire team in saying that tonight was a head and heart check like no other. We drove around with flashlights to grab the attention of those on the street, yelling “comida” (“food”). The first stop we made was for a kid about 11 or 12 years old, he was sitting on a pile of trash and plastic bottles alone at 10 PM… He ran to the back of the truck and lit up with excitement because he got to eat tonight. I broke, I think we all did, we drove around for about an hour calling people off the street to give food. It’s hard to explain the experience. There’s no true way to capture what we felt tonight in words, all I can say is that the back of that truck was completely silent. Ask anyone on the team and I’m sure they could tell you a particular encounter from tonight that hit home. For me it was one guy in particular that we were not able to serve.. We drove away because we were quickly running out of food in one of the locations, a man ran after the truck in desperation for this one meal and I had one in my hand. I was told not to throw it from the truck and it took everything in my power not to, but I trusted our guides viewpoint on the situation considering they have been doing this for four years. The image of this man running is burned into my mind and is accompanied by an inability to comprehend the emotion that is still coursing through me. Our team has been humbled tonight by what we experienced in a way that I don’t think any of us were expecting. I’m praying for these people tonight, especially the young boys. Praying that a gang doesn’t swoop them up.  We are so blessed, and yet we are blind. Thank you God for opening our eyes and allowing us to be your hands and feet.

We got back around 10:30 and starting preparing for VBS, 500 water balloons filled, roles assigned, and 5 AM alarms set! Its 1:30AM, goodnight!

spotty wifi = late post

Humbled Silence
— ITN Team