Posts filed under ‘Travel’
No matter how much I wanted to, I didn’t wake up in El Salvador today. My week with Compassion International is over, and I’m grieving that.
I got home Friday night around 11pm and woke Orison (our then-4-year-old) and he greeted me very drowsily. In the morning he didn’t even remember it! But when he woke up Saturday morning, he was FIVE! That’s right, I got home just in time for his birthday.
We spent the day pretty quietly together as a family. But Abraham and I were so tired that by about 5pm we both knew we needed to get out of the house or we were going to be miserable until bedtime. In some random moment of insanity, Abraham suggested that we take Orison to ride a few rides at the Mall of America (something he’s only done a couple times and would be totally thrilled by).
So… it was Saturday night at the Mall of America. Not for the faint of heart, my friends. I don’t think we’d ever been there on a Saturday night before. It was so.stinkin’.busy. So full of people with waaaay too much.
As we were talking toward the amusement park area, I told Abraham, “I’m feeling a little sick to my stomach.”
“Literally?” He asks. (All too often I’m actually sick to my stomach, so he has to make sure….)
“No… more heartsick.”
“So, you’re sick to the stomach of your heart?”
I mean, the day before I was still seeing tin-roofed, dilapidated shacks that people call homes. The day before I was still in the thick of El Salvador and it’s poverty. And I was still there in my heart and mind. But somehow my body was travelling through the Mall of America.
Walking paradox, no?
I keep thinking about objects in space, and how they have to very carefully calculate how the object will reenter the earth’s atmosphere, or else any number of catastrophic ends will result (blowing up, exploding, catching on fire). Perhaps a trip to the Mall of America wasn’t the best reentry strategy.
I’ve already cried a few times today, my emotions just barely below the surface. I feel okay with that, though. If I were just pushing it all down and refusing to let it touch me, that would be unhealthy. My mentor tells me, “Don’t be afraid of tears. Tears are often a sign that the Holy Spirit’s at work.”
So that, for now, is my reentry strategy. Try to let the tears come as they need to. Remember what I saw. And try to avoid the Mall of America.
My El Salvador Posts
- “This Child Deserves to Know Jesus!”
- More Than Just Beautiful Faces, but Beautiful Nonetheless
- A Hero’s Welcome Given by Heroes
- Mothers Becoming Moms: Child Survival Program in Action
- You’ve Been Cordially Invited to Break Your Heart
We all made it safely to El Salvador today (with all of our luggage)! Thanks to all of you who prayed for us and thought about us throughout the day.
First thing’s first: flooding. I mentioned that Hurricane Ida had passed through and substantial flooding had killed around 100 people. Many people have lost their homes, and some of the Compassion projects have incurred damage. Some of the Compassion-sponsored children have lost homes or been evacuated from their homes because they’re in areas at high risk for further landslides.
Thankfully none of the projects that we’re scheduled to visit were damaged. That makes things a lot easier, itinerary-wise, for our trip leaders (as you can imagine).
Today was a full day of travel and then meeting up with our tour guides. We drove through downtown San Salvador, had a wonderful lunch, and then went to the Compassion National Headquarters.
They’ve been in this new building for about a year, having moved from a bunker with no windows for offices. It was a beautifully-maintained, well-run, organized office! What a blessing to this hardworking staff! I seriously have never seen an office of people so happy. We met every staff member and they just basically kept one-upping each other on the happiness scale.
We had a presentation by Brother Guillermo, the country director for Compassion El Salvador. And wow, what an awesome, Godly man!
One thing that you should know about Compassion in El Salvador is that they have just added a new program, the Child Survival Program, this year. As Brother Guillermo was sharing about that and showing a couple stats and pictures, he said something that stopped my heart. He was showing a picture of a baby girl, probably about 3 months old, and he said in such a sincere, passionate voice:
“This child deserves to know Jesus!”
The tears filled my eyes as he said it again:
“This child deserves to know Jesus!”
And of course we, as sinners, have no rights to God. But that he loves us so much despite our sin that he still gives us access to Him is staggering. That we can share in his love, his grace, his joy, his peace, his wonderful plan of salvation… it’s amazing to me again today.
I’ve seen and heard so much already about Compassion’s model for their programs worldwide. They focus on the development of 4 key areas: physical, cognitive, socio-emotional, and spiritual. They are deeply invested in meeting these needs for their children. They have project managers that are continually evaluating each project to make sure they’re addressing all of these areas and they operate a training department to help the churches and projects in their weaknesses to achieve their goals. It’s so cool!
I just want to encourage you today to think and pray about sponsoring a child from El Salvador. They deserve to know Jesus.
Just got a link from our trip leader, Shaun Groves, sharing the news that there was a hurricane in El Salvador last night, and that 91 people are believed to be dead.
Read the story here.
Of course we have no idea at this point how this will affect our trip. Almost certainly, children and families sponsored by Compassion have lost the little they had in the last 24 hours.
So pray for us. Pray that we can love people well in the midst of their disaster, if that’s what we come up against. Pray that we will trust God in ways that are beautiful and attractive to the people that we encounter, even as we proclaim that we trust in the God who controls the winds and waves.
*Warning: this is a disjointed, brain-dump post as I try to organize my thoughts and life before my El Salvador trip*
In some ways, I’m totally in denial that I’m leaving the country and my family in four days.
In other ways, I’ve been anticipating and preparing. For example, I’ve been trying to make some freezer meals for Abraham and the kids to help them along the way. They should be well-stocked with spaghetti sauce and wild rice soup. I figure if I get one more meal made, that should be sufficient (taking leftovers into account). I mean, I’m only gone for five days. And if they get really desperate they can always order pizza or make scrambled eggs.
I’m going to meet our family’s sponsor child while I’m there! I’m so excited about that. I have yet to get gifts for him and his family. What I learned in our team meeting the other day is to think practically, and to think about the whole family. Toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, deoderant, and maybe some small items like photo albums and little toys for the kids.
I think I’ll get our little guy a soccer ball with a pump for a special gift. That way he can use it with his friends and siblings and everyone can enjoy it.
I had a good idea last night to bring some of my extra stashed yarn and needles along to give away to women/moms there who knit! And if they don’t know how to knit, maybe I’ll give a knitting lesson! Good thing I’ll have a translator! And some things can be done through demonstration, so how cool would that be???
And of course I chose yesterday to paint my laundry room. I am such a random weirdo. I mean, who does that? Apparently I do. I think I respond to stress by choosing to take on more stress. Actually, painting feels more like an accomplishment. So maybe it’s that I take on projects that I can control when there’s so many other things out of control.
And who psychoanalyzes their painting? Apparently, I do.
As some of you know, I’m heading to El Salvador very soon (12 days!!!) as a blogger for Compassion International. As the trip draws closer, I’m getting really excited about the work I’ll be able to witness, and humbled that I get to catalogue it here.
Many of you know about Compassion’s work, and like many of you, I thought until a couple months ago that Compassion was exclusively a child sponsorship program.
Oh friends, we were sooooo wrong.
Turns out there are three unique programs targeting different stages of child development.
The youngest children served by Compassion are still in the womb! Compassion provides a beautiful ministry called the Child Survival Program. It offers:
- prenatal care and infant survival training for mothers and caregivers, as well as spiritual guidance and education, such as literacy and income-generation training
- ongoing health screenings and immunizations for the children
- child development training for mothers of children under 4
This is a program that I’m very eager to see first-hand. Most of us here in the States take our childrearing skills and education for granted. Our mothers were educated and had resources to raise us. And now we are educated and have resources to raise our children. As huge as that is, conceptually, we take it for granted.
I hope you’ll read the post, Child Survival 101, and learn a little more as I start my journey. That way, when I’m actually in the country, you’ll be all caught up on what I’m talking about and we can focus on the stories, the people, and the lives that matter so much to God. Some of them are being knit together even now.
Thanks for being interested in my trip to El Salvador. And if you have questions about the Child Survival Program that you want me to ask when I’m there, post them in the comments! I want to go as an ambassador for all of you!!!
Can you tell I’m getting excited?
When Abraham and I were in California a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting one of my favorite bloggers—Elizabeth Esther!
I’ve been reading her blog for at least a year, which is a mix of articles and posts about life. You’ll find her writing about family, faith, politics—really whatever is on her mind and heart. And when she shares what’s on her heart, it’s always in a very real way, never with a polished facade.
She also writes occasionally about her experiences of getting out of an abusive fundamentalist church. I come from such a different background that these posts always fascinate me. And she was more than willing to answer my questions when we got together at her kitchen table.
She made us Greek food and chocolate chip cookies (my faves), let us hang out with her kids, and even talked her husband into taking a break during his work day to come hang out with us (thanks, Matt!).
I really hope you’ll visit her blog and poke around. She’s a great writer.
You know how there’s just some people you know you’re going to get along with? Well, she’s one of those for me.
Other blogs I read:
When we were in Santa Barbara, California last week (a place that has recently been added to my mental list of “Favorite Places”), I got my first pedicure.
I know, I’m thirty years old and I’ve never had a pedicure. I honestly had no idea what the big fuss was about. But I’m happy to report that 45 minutes of pampering to my tired old feet was something spectacular that I wish could happen on a frequent and regular basis.
We strolled into this nail place around 7:30pm in the funky, fun shopping district of Santa Barbara (State Street, for those of you who know it). I was hesitant to spend the money (of course), but Abraham insisted. It wasn’t that it cost all that much, I just have issues with spending money on stuff like that. Anyway…
There were two Asian women working that night. One spoke decent English, but the other one spoke almost none. But she didn’t even need it—she was speaking some unknown foot love language that is kept secret from the population at large. She was the pedicure master.
I had a difficult time picking out what color I wanted, so picked a few finalists and had Abraham pick his favorite from those. He chose a deep burgundy red that I liked a lot. So I went with it.
The pedicure was nothing short of fantastic. There was lots of rubbing, snipping, filing, polishing… my toenails have never shone like that!
I was transfixed by the pretty color and how professional they looked. I never thought of my at-home toenail jobs as unprofessional, but I had now seen a whole new level of potential for my piggies, and I was diggin’ it! Imagine my sadness when I discovered a chip in my polish just two days later!
For all you pedicure veterans, is this normal? Obviously I can’t go back to Santa Barbara (as much as I’d like to) and get it fixed, but do pedicures usually have such a short life? Will nail salons fix it within a certain window of time?
I was definitely thinking it would last a week. Were my expectations totally overblown?