• Kendra Marie

El Salvador Mission Trip

Updated: Aug 1, 2018

2018 March 3rd - 9th

Me sitting on the edge of a road / cliff overseeing the beautiful, Lago de Coatepeque "Crator Lake" - El Salvador

Introduction:

So as many of you may know, even though my senior year of college was crazy busy and stressful, God continued to throw huge decisions but amazing opportunities in my path. I truly believe He has been testing me and seeing / showing me what I am capable of!


Typically I am too overwhelmed and nervous to take risks in my life but this past year I have learned that you can never move forward in life if you never take risks and face your fears. So I have vowed to consider every opportunity and “risk” that comes my way, and so far I have to say that it has been both amazing and extremely awarding. This mission trip was one of them.


After all of these years, and I mean years and years of thinking about it, I have finally heard God’s calling for me to take on this mission trip opportunity to help those in need. Therefore, I decided to spend my spring break down in El Salvador, along with 30 others, to bring and spread security, happiness, hope, love, and the beauty that God holds within for us to others rather than keeping it all to myself; and as my mother has always told me, “It is not what you give but the thought that counts!” This was the least that I could do to help those in need, and hopefully I can do more in the future!


But before I go any further I first have to thank everyone who took their hard earned money and donated it towards my journey on this mission trip, along with funding for additional water filters for those in need down in El Salvador, etc and their prayers for my guidance and safety. I am extremely grateful for all of the support and encouragement from the people within this glorious little community I live in; it is a true blessing sent down from above.


So the least I can do for you is to share a piece of this beautiful experience to those who could not experience it for them selfs.


Please feel free to comment below and ask any questions you may have about any part of my trip!


I would love to know what you want to hear or know! :)


What we did:


During this mission trip we worked with impoverished communities who are suffering in ways we cannot even imagine. We traveled to towns where most people have no access to clean water to drink or cook with. They collect water from rivers and streams that are full of bacteria, parasites and other contaminants. The water can make them very sick and causes the death of many of their children. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, one child dies every 20 seconds due to water related illnesses. Can you imagine having to drink water from a river contaminated with animal waste? These people have no choice because clean water simply is not available where they live. Even in areas where people have access to a well, often the water still is not clean. These facts, just heightened my passion and need to help them not only for me but for God and his people as well. No human being deserves to struggle to survive like this and I knew this is the least I could do for them.


Our main mission in El Salvador was to go house-to-house in several communities and distribute water filters and provide basic hygiene training and soap for the families to use as well.


Filter of Hope has made this possible by developing a state of the art water filter that uses the same technology found in kidney dialysis machines. They produce up to 150 gallons of clean water, every day, for at least 10 years.


As we met with families we also had the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them and connect them with churches in their area if they pleased. We were not forceful on them but simply wanted to share the beauty of God with them and how He can immensely impact their lives. We used the filters as a metaphor to how God and Jesus works in our everyday lives.


Here is a brief example of how we would do so.


Just like this water which is unclear, foggy and dirty. Our lives without God is unclear, broken, full of sin and unhealthy. But once we accept God and believe in him we can be cleansed from all of our sins every single day and He will make us pure again; just like how this filter cleanses all of the dirt and grim out of the water. He will forever show us the way and love and care for us . . . every single second, minute and hour of every single day for all eternity.


It is important to take care of our relationship with God, just like it is important to take care of the filter in order to keep it working properly. God does not ask that we DO anything for Him or that we have to do all good deeds in order to go to heaven (like a lot of false perceptions and teachings say). We simply just have to full heartedly believe in Him and trust in Him. It is through Him, that we WANT to do good and WANT to treat others with our purest love and respect. It is through our acceptance of Him that we become one big family and therefore become one anothers' brothers and sisters, no matter where we are in the world! Hence, why we are here helping you, our family, today! :)


Every single time went different. It just depended on the family or individual we were talking to. It also changed based on which team member that was in charge of this part for that stop, because our own personal relationship with God and our experiences in our life influenced how we described it to someone else. But more importantly, it depended on how God wanted to work through us at that moment in order to clearly get the message across to them. That was the true beauty throughout this entire trip! Us, ourselves (the entire group), every day had no clue how it was going to go or what we were going to say to each family. We simply just asked God every morning before we went out to guide us on our ways and to speak through us to help share His word. The craziest part, was that some days when we shared what has happened throughout our day, some individuals recalled having the Holy Spirit work through them.


The most amazing part is that by the end of the trip, God not only worked through us to help those in El Salvador find Him, but allowed us to find Him as well! That may sound crazy, but yes, and it was the most tear-jerking and amazing thing I could ever witness.


How else could a group of 30 individuals, who hardly even knew each other when they first left for this mission, share their most personal and hardest confessions and wide-awakenings in their life to the whole group / family that we have now become in less than a week!? On the second last day of the trip, we even had one individual start crying during our group sharing time and say that it wasn't until now that they have fully accepted Christ into their life and that when they get back they want to get baptized!!


Just wow, God is truly amazing! Just look at what He has done and what He is doing!



Stories & the Affects:


Wow, now this is the hard part. There are so many stories and amazing affects that have happened throughout this entire trip that is hard to tell every single one. However, I will tell you the ones I can remember right off bat, my most memorable and favorite ones, and if you would like to know anything else you can simply just ask in the comment section below! :)


This entire trip was just a wave of emotions the whole entire trip! From, happy to sad and everything in-between.


1. One of the saddest things that I saw there was when we were traveling to one of the families homes, we passed a family by the river on the way. We stopped and talked to them for a little while, with our translator of course for help!


But, what we saw was heart aching, and it was the definition of why we were there!


This mother and her children were all at the river doing their daily activities all in this one place. To try and help you picture this, they had the river running through the hillside and down the side of it they had big cement like built rectangles that were used to hold water for different tasks. Each one was filled with the water from the contaminated river. One was used basically to get water from for cooking and drinking. One was used to wash dishes and clothes in, and the other was used to wash off with. When we were there, the mother was doing her daily chores with washing her family's clothes while her children were bathing with the water from the cement block next to her.


Our translator later informed us that most of their water sources, or where it is contained is often "cleaned" from bacteria through the use of mixing it with bleach in order to kill as many bacteria and parasites in it as possible. However, even though that may clear the contaminated water, many of them still become very sick because of the high use and ingestion of the bleach.


It was just so sad seeing it in real life, how this contaminated river became their source for everything and for everyone! Even though they know it is highly contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and with animals using it as well; they have no other source of water and are therefore forced to drink from it, cook with it, wash dishes and clothes with it and anything else you can think of that you need water for. All because it is all they have access to. But, at the same time, even though it was sad to see, it also brought joy and excitement to me because of the joy our gift would bring to them and how it could save their families lives for years to come!


(Picture in PixieSet link at the end of the blog!)


2. The man and his two sons - hammock

- questioned my faith


3. Woman and her son who accepted christ and cried

- so thankful for everything we were doing and for sharing a little piece of jesus with her


4. Mother and her son

- in hills/mountains -> walks t work everyday rain or shine hour there and back; her son walks to school alone or with friends about a half hour there and back everyday

- do not typically go to church because there is none close enough t them


5. firework story


6. families and the children as we went house to house

- communities are made up of families and super close families -> just go next door and make themselves at home -> what is ours is yours kind of aspect -> very friendly


5. parakeets

- el chicos -> all are typically called this -> one lady had 3 of them and we asked what their names wher and she said, el chico, el chico and el chico!

- many families catch wild ones on their own and sell them for a side profit

- a lot of places just have some that chill in their trees all the time and they are so used to people that you can just go up to a tree and put your hand out and it will typically move onto it -> can put on shoulder and it will sit there as well -> sometimes have to train a tad



10. Everyone there

- talk about all the people in the area in general and how they were so thankful that we were there; everyone knew we were honest and trustworthy because they never have anyone from our area come and visit them them (especially up in the hills/mountains) to high and rough -> typically no transportation to get up there - usually walk and take a horse if lucky enough to have one



From others on the trip:


"I must say, I am astounded at what has happened this week in my heart and others whom we have met. I know I am learning more about the simplicity of the Gospel, and I even explained it to a women who had never heard of Jesus before and had NO idea what a Bible even was. I read from my own Bible and shared what Jesus meant to me. I always wonder how it must sound, not knowing anything about it before. She did not accept Christ, but we shared the Gospel with her and told her about the church. Oh Lord, you have been at work.

- Shared piece of a journal entry by Anna Stephens



God's Work Around Me & In Me:


I would have to say that all of my life I have always believed deeply in God, but like many you will always have those moments in your life where you question it.


But, ever since this trip, my belief, acceptance, and love for God has heightened beyond belief. I was amazed about how much I have saw and learned more about how simple the gospel actually is and how fast it can take action.


( A lot of these things are interwoven in the blog / stories above! )


Not only that, but one of the most beautiful things to me was how He showed me, through the people in El Salvador, that people are more important than tangible objects. We do not need all of the widgets and gadgets in life to be happy, but rather just a relationship with Him and those who surround us here on Earth! He has shown me that too many now get caught up in everything we have or don't have rather than cherishing the world He has created around us, and how human relationships will resonate and affect us more than a tangible item could ever achieve. Objects are temporary whereas relationships and memories are forever!


But, one in the same, I also learned the love for myself is truly important and through His work in me has been made even more apparent to me. He has showed me how we are the hardest judges on ourselves and that what we see and believe in of our actions and ourselves is completely different than what others around us see! It is one of the hardest things in life to do, but it is possible, and through God I myself can do it too!


Therefore, it is also important to remember to recognize others for their achievements, good doings, or things you love about them that they too often oversee or that they them selves do not believe! Just one simple compliment can change one's day or maybe even their entire life!





Verses:


Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18


You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11


And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14


You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all you heart. Jeremiah 29:13



REST IN PROGRESS . . .


For more information about Filter of Hope and the water filters, visit:

http://filterofhope.org/




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