I've been sitting here with a blinking cursor for a solid twenty minutes. I don't know how to get through the emotion and the reality of life in El Salvador.
I went down with our church Missions Director, and another team leader to plan for the coming trips next year.
It was magnificent to have the opportunity to escape the holiday/kids/school/dance/piano/gymnastics/birthdays/carpool/homemaking whirlwind of life.
Truthfully, while it was a work trip, it was honestly more of a gift. Thank You Don for bringing me!! I needed to get away and breath for a moment. I needed some solitude in front of a magnificent ocean for my spirit to be still and soak in the Peace only the Creator of that ocean could provide. I needed to be amongst my La Libertad friends, with their love and acceptance, and passion for Jesus. The Holy Spirit is in the breeze.
I was revived and refocused on what is truly important. Because who can focus in Commercialized American Christmas Chaos? It sucks you in and makes you crazy. It lies to you. It claims that happiness and Christmas can be found in Lipstick, and electronics, movies, video games, mounds of toys.....
But in El Salvador? None of that matters. In El Salvador, survival is everything. Every day. Working 6 and 7 days a week so that you can buy rice and perhaps some chicken or fish for your family.
It is also a place with extreme beauty. If you sat on the beach outside of my hotel, you would think you were in a tropical paradise with palms, black sand, 85 degrees with a warm soft breeze blowing. And if you sit there a little longer you would see a sunset that is so beyond any description.
But if you were to avert your eyes to the right 100 yards.... extreme poverty. Where feeding your children every day is a fight. Where if you have tattoos the police will pull you aside and may put you in jail thinking you are in a gang. You might be mugged at night, and the gangs will try and suck your child into their violence and drug trafficking as a pre-teen.
This is not El Salvador's real story. The story is in the people. Like Pastor Ivo and his wife Marielos, who have committed their lives to reaching the poorest of the poor. The are committed to keeping children from turning to the gangs.
It is people like Zobeta that I told you about, that was raised in an orphanage, survived the streets and now works running a daycare center while other women are trained to make hand made goods to sell.
The story is in people like my dearest friend Evelin. Who put herself through college, raises her nephew as her own and is passionate about serving her God in her church. It is because of the deep love and reliance on God that these people of La Libertad continue on every day.
It was my honor to represent my friends in the U.S. who gave pack n' plays. I was deeply moved that women here are willing to give baggage fees and fight for women a world away, that they have not witnessed on their own. They did it because of their deep love for God, and I am blessed to call them my friends.
The story is in the people who care for the little ones every day.
And the people who find happiness not in the newest electronic gadgets, but in a simple Sunday game of Beach Soccer, and swimming with their families.
The story is in the people that give to each other. Because Christmas is not about how many toys we can stuff under the tree, but about how we give in honor of the God who gave His Son to us.
If you want to give back this Chrismtas, please consider Compassion International. They work to stop the cycle of poverty, work to stop starvation and illiteracy, they work to give Jesus to every man, woman and child. And at Christmas time they offer a Christmas catalogue to make it so so simple to give in a meaningful, important, and most impactful way. The gifts in this catalogue will not be tossed aside or forgotten after 3 days. You won't find them months later under a couch, or behind a bed. These gifts make it possible for people to thrive, physically and spiritually. So go shop the Compassion Christmas Catalogue and buy a goat or a chicken today!!
What is your favorite holiday tradidions with your family? I know in Ohio, it is NOT soccer on a beach! Decorating the tree while listening to music, and having Christmas cookies is my favorite. What is yours?