My Trip to El Salvador
My heart has been for missions since 1997. I felt God calling me to it. So I went to Bible College to study missions. Yes, I bet some of you didn’t know that about me. I basically was studying to be a minister. (Life happens and I haven’t finished yet. But, that is for another time)
So fast forward it is 2004. I am 20 years old. I am a sponsor for youth group and we find out that we are going on a missions trip to El Salvador. I am super…stoked! (I don’t usually use that word now..but then..yes!) So the next few months consisted of fundraising and writing letters to friends and family for donations. I didn’t think I would ever get enough money. But the Lord provided. He apparently wanted me to go. Our group drove from Springfield, Mo. to Oklahoma City, Ok. Then we flew from there to Houston then to El Salvador.
The airport was so small. No air condition. I felt like a refugee. We grabbed our things and the airport personnel began to looked at my passport as if I was some drug dealer. They went through our stuff asked a few questions. It was nothing I had ever experienced. I “checked out” to be okay, so I proceeded through. We met up with our hosts and they piled us on a bus. As we headed through town, I noticed how crazy the traffic was! I never witnessed crazy driving like this before. I thought we were going to die before we even started our mission. The driver didn’t use his signal to turn and he cut off people several times. One interesting thing though, one of the students noticed a beat up mini van with chrome hubcaps. That seemed a little out of place to us. (We were all guilty of making fun of that. I am sure we all repented later. lol)
Another thing that I found interesting was the police in the city. They would stand outside the station with these big assault rifles. That…was scary. Being from the bible belt and living in the mecca city of bible colleges, we never witnessed things like this before.(I know in other countries it is far more worse. But for us newbies this was intimidating). I truly realized I was not in America anymore. See this country has been through all kinds of turmoil(You will have to google info on that yourself. Trying to keep this short. haha) But, it was supposedly the safest country to go to on our first missions trip.
The landscape was breath taking. Hills everywhere. Jungles filled with beautiful wildlife and fauna. Later, in the week we went walking through the jungle witnessing and we were pointed out coffee plants growing everywhere. As we entered into our destination, we noticed a lake. But it was not just a lake..no..in fact..it was an inactive volcano! (which we later went swimming in) There were kids running up and down the streets, people walking barefoot, trucks with produce. The houses came in all shapes and sizes. They were not at all like what we see here in America. Nicely built. Some you could tell had to have been owned by drug lords. In fact, we were warned about some. Some of the houses had walls around with broken glass on top to keep people out. (big drug problems etc there)
Then we arrived. Below is some pictures of where we were staying for the next week.
We stayed here for the next week. It was the rainy season so it was very hot, humid, and like clock work the rain came in around 6 pm every night. It wasn’t a gentle spring rain. It was a torrential rain. You could sit on the hill and hear it come in through the trees and see it like a curtain come across the lake. It was beautiful. Towards the end of the week we went to the Pacific Ocean. Where one of our youths got baptized in the ocean. This was very cool to witness. The sand was black. This is due to all the volcanic activity on the pacific side. Also, El Salvador has fire ants of some sort. If you stepped one toe into the grass you were in a hurt of trouble. In other words, it was bad news. I mean bad news! I experienced that a few times trying to run across the campus for meal time.
Meals always consisted of chicken in some way shape or form, black beans and some kind of fruit usually pineapple or the like. It was all very good. Best quesadilla I ever had was bought in a street market there. It was a type of cheesy-bread-cake thing. Not at all how we make it here in the US, with cheese and shells. And they sold Fresca there.(sprite flavored) That was their “special beverage”
The first couple days we were taught how to minister. We would be working with children so our training consisted of skits, dances, etc. The next few days we would go from school to school ministering. Can you believe that? The school allowed the missionaries and their groups to minister in the schools. (If we did that here..I wonder how that would work?)
The first time we went out it was a bit intimidating. But, we prayed. We knew our purpose and that feeling soon left. So each day we went out performed our skits or dance and the local interns would give a short salvation message. There is nothing like seeing kids raise their hands to accept Christ. Nothing like it in the world! You tear up just about every time. We got to pray with the kids as well. I was able to use the little bit of Spanish I knew to speak to the children. They were impressed that this American knew their language. However, I was corrected a few times on some words because the Spanish I had learned in highschool was a bit different from El Salvadorian language.
Even though our days were full and exhausting…I never felt that way. Each day I woke up refreshed. Talk about feeling fulfilled. I felt this is what I could do everyday. Everyday1 Even now I can remember that feeling I had and it ignites that fulfillment again. We had many come to the Lord. I wish I could share with you the number, however, I cannot remember. But what matters is, that the young people and even the teachers, they were able to learn about the Lord and how much He loves them.
We rode a bus to most of the places that we ministered too. To get to certain schools we had to haul our generator and equipment (provided by the SPEED THE LIGHT ministry) up very steep and long hills. thankfully we had strong youth boys in our group. In being funny they would exclaim “fuego!” because it was hot for one thing and these teen boys were not use to feeling the burn pushing equipment up these hills. Some of which were almost a 90 degree angle. (No joke) Also, we liked using this word, because being apart of the Assembly of God we wanted His Spirit to fall…His fire, as we ministered. Another word we used a lot was “por que”. I can not even remember why we started saying it. But being silly we would say it to everything. Just because. Fun times with fun people doing the work of the Father. What could be better.
A life changed
After going on this trip I was changed. When we left it was bitter sweet. We hugged our host. People I know I will never forget. And the lives that were changed because I, along with my friends, were willing to be used by the Lord. God just wants willing hearts. There is nothing like being in the will of God. Complete satisfaction. When I arrived back in America, my eyes were opened. I realized how selfish we Americans are. How blind many are. My heart broke to realize these people need the Lord just the same as those in El Salvador.
But what would I do about it? I knew I needed to reach out to children. So, this is what I have been doing the last few years. Sharing God with children. Teaching them about God. Disciplining them. So that when they grow up they have this firm foundation in the Lord. This, is what I will continue to do until my last breath! Doing the work of the Father is always fulfilling. And being in His will is where I want to be.
Pray for our missionaries in El Salvador.
Don and Terri Triplet.