Well, I’m back in El Salvador now. But before I left Montana Richard and I spoke at one more church in Great Falls, MT. We spoke at something like 6 different events on 4 different days. It was great to get to know a lot of the people there. I even did a little touring around the city with Casey and Nick, two guys that I met at the young adults group.
After my month in Montana I got on a plane and flew to New York so that I could spend some time with my friends and family in Connecticut. It was great to see everyone. I got few chances to go hang out in the woods too. Being in the city in El Salvador, I miss the trees and mountains a lot. So I hiked up Ragged Mountain with Meghan (my girlfriend), Bobby (my brother), and Tim (one of my best friends). We had some good days for hiking, and the leaves had mostly changed colors. It was really refreshing to be out there. At the end of the week it was hard to say goodbye, but Meghan and my sister Kelsey will be visiting in November, so that at least made it a little easier.
Coming back to El Salvador honestly felt like I was coming home. There were a lot of things that I missed like the other staff, my room, my chickens and quail, and even my job. Its good to be back. The day after I returned I decided I needed a bookshelf in my room. So I built one out of some crates that people usually throw out. I thought you all might like to see it.
Prayer Requests: Please pray for my transition back into my job and El Salvador. Also pray that I make good relationships. I’ve been trying to be more active in our church and meet some new people because living and working with the same people all of the time can get overwhelming. Thanks!
Well it’s been a long time again since my last post. I was thinking that I would have more access to the internet in Montana than in El Salvador, but I was wrong. We have been moving around so much and in so many places that don’t have any internet that I have barely had time to check my emails. Its kind of funny how that works.
Over the past month here in Montana I have been helping promote the Broken ministry. Again, for those of you who don’t know about it, the Broken ministry is something that we are currently raising money for. It is a ministry to help empower the broken people of El Salvador, starting with orphaned street children. For more information check out this link. We have been selling coffee as a fundraiser. The first week we sold it at the farmer’s market and the harvest festival in town, but since then we have been traveling all over. We drove four hours to talk in Kalispell, MT, we talked for a pastor’s meeting in Great Falls, I went alone to talk a little bit in Havre, and we drove another 6 hours to speak at the a conference called TLC in Billings.
As I have said before, public speaking is not exactly my favorite thing to do. I can be pretty shy and I generally don’t like to be the center of attention. To this point, I had only really talked a few times at churches to raise money to go to El Salvador in the first place. On this trip I have spoken in front of hundreds of people at a time and I’m actually starting to get the hang of it. On Tuesday this week I spoke to about 200 or 300 people at the conference in Billings. I was able to communicate effectively and engage my listeners. I asked for prayer that I would be comfortable speaking, so I just wanted to let you all know that you’re prayers are being answered.
Aside from fundraising and spreading the news of the Broken Campaign, I have had some time to enjoy the beauty of Montana. Last week Richard and I were given the chance to camp in the middle of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. So we went elk hunting in some pretty untouched land for a few days. It was a great chance to enjoy nature and take a break from tour.
Prayer requests: Please pray for safe travels as I will soon be flying to CT to visit family for a week and then back to El Salvador. Please also pray for our ministry. Pray that people will be inspired by it, and that God will give us guidance. Thanks!
Last week, I was able to help Samuel with an aquaponics system that he is installing in a town called Santo Tomas. This site in particular is being made to produce food for the community. So while we work with all of the tubes and specifics, a lot of people from the community come by to help fill each of the garden beds with gravel. Last week we installed a pump and actually got water running to the first row of beds. Samuel planted some test seeds and they have already started growing. One more full day at this site and all three rows should be finished.
This week we have a group at the Wired Ministry Center consisting of two families and two 23-year-old girls. They are mostly working with Tia Ana’s orphanage. They have been doing Bible lessons with the kids, teaching them English, and just loving them. One of the families from the group came with me to the farm on Tuesday to see Samuel’s ministry. So we started off the by hearing Samuel’s plan’s for his own land and then his testimony. That was the first time that I had ever heard it, and it was really encouraging.
On his own property, Samuel is planning on building an orphanage as well. But he doesn’t like to rely on the money of supporters because it is not necessarily consistent. He doesn’t want to take in a bunch of kids and then not be able to feed them. So this whole aquaponics business that I am currently helping with only exists to support ministries. With the business side, he can eventually set up these systems for free for people who really need it. On his land he already has a large fish pond. He plans to use that to water 17 greenhouses on the land which will also be funded by the business end. Along with that there will be traditional farming and about 1000 chickens on the land, all to support the orphanage. Its a pretty cool vision, and hearing it made me more excited to be working with him.
Recently I also got some quail as another attempt to make myself at least a little bit more sustainable. Quail are supposed to be better than any chicken at converting feed to eggs, and they don’t need a large amount of space like chickens do. Not to mention, every quail egg, though smaller, has 3 times the amount of nutrients found in a chicken egg. I got my first egg this Tuesday. I just thought that you all might want to see it.
On Wednesday I fly to Montana to help Richard raise money for Broken as well as representing Envision for various churches. Please continue to pray that I get out of God’s way so that he can work. Pray for safe travels and for courage to share in front of a lot of different churches and groups. Thanks!
Hello everyone! Sorry for not updating in so long, but I guess the good side to that is that I have a lot to tell.
My group from Grace Church came and did some great work in San Ignacio. We spent the week there encouraging and empowering the local church. We did all kinds of ministries like VBS, Women’s devotions, a church outreach, and a sports ministry. It was had to say goodbye.
Once we were back in San Salvador, we took a day trip to the “Broken” land. With every group we go there to explain our vision for our future ministry. Many times we hike across the peninsula. The only way onto or off of it is by boat, so we hike to the other side where the boat picks us up. While we were hiking Lisa, a woman from the Grace Church group, fell and broke her ankle right at the midpoint of the hike. We were on the top of the mountain and our only way out was the boat at the shore … so we built a stretcher. Everyone on the hike chipped in. Some worked on a splint for her leg, some refilled water bottles, others made shade out of a poncho to keep Lisa from the midday heat of the sun. I went and chopped down some big tree branches to form the sides of the stretcher. We helped Lisa onto the stretcher and began to carry her. We carried her through corn fields, over and under barbed wire, and down steep rocky hills. We finally got to the boat and took a picture as we showed Lisa the shore. We were all sore and tired, but we felt like we just conquered the world. My arms were sore for at least a week, and my blisters are still healing, but I was glad to help.
Lisa flew back to the states the next day and had a couple of surgeries. She was so patient and calm the whole time despite the possibility of us dropping her and the pain in her leg. She told me that she has had a great time telling her story to all of the doctors. When we first got her to the hospital in El Salvador, she actually still had her splint made from vines and sticks on. The doctors asked, “What is that?” Haha.
Richard flew out shortly after Grace Church left. He’ll be living in Montana for about a 10-12 month furlow. Since then we have had 2 more groups, a vacation, and now it is the Office season. I have decided that the “Off” season doesn’t make sense because we are definitely still working. It has been a strange transition into this new season. Without groups here i t is very different. But I think it will be good.
I recently started working with Samuel Okurut. I have talk about him before. He has a ministry called Corazon de mi Padre, or My Father’s Heart. He works with aquaponics to make a more sustainable way of living. I have worked with him two days so far and we have gone to 4 or 5 different sites where he is currently setting up this aquaponics system. Basically it works like this: A pond is built and filled with edible fish. The fish, of course, release waste into the water, making it dirty. Fish excrement is high in nitrogen, something that is very good for plant growth. So the water from the fish pond is then pumped and dripped into various garden beds filled with gravel. The plants that grow in the garden beds benefit from the fish waste, but they also filter it out. The clean water is then sent back into the fish pond to start the cycle over again.
The system uses something like 5% of the water used for traditional farming and you get fish out of it too. I have already been learning a lot about how it works and how to put it together. By November, Samuel is hoping to have me trained enough to manage a site for him. It’s pretty exciting, and I can’t wait for a chance to experiment on my own.
In other news, this September I will be visiting the states for a month. Richard is home and going on “tour” to raise support. I’ll be joining him for part of it to raise awareness about working with Envision and to raise more support for myself as well. I could use some prayer for that. I will be doing a lot of public speaking, and it is not something that I have a lot of experience with. Thank you all again for your prayers and donations!
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in the office, figuring out all of the final details before my group gets here on Friday the 20th. This is my first time consistently working in an office, and it’s been tough for me. I can’t say that I enjoy it. I think most days I would rather be doing the manual labor than typing on a computer. But I know that this isn’t about me. I’m here for a greater purpose.
Nonetheless, I did get a chance to escape from the office this week. In the off-season (Fall and Winter) I will be working at a farm run by our friend Samuel Okurut to learn from him. The hope is that I will be able to implement some of what I learned from Samuel in a future ministry of Envision Wired. Anyway, the group that’s here this week has been doing some work for him, digging trenches and pouring cement. So a couple days ago, when I had a break in my office work I joined the group on the farm. It was great to be out in the open air, see all of the animals he has, and just do some physical labor rather then mental labor.
When we were there, a drunk man showed up on the farm. He had been eyeing the groups’ backpacks like he wanted to take one. The old Salvadoran woman who lives on the farm then came out and tried to keep him from taking something. One of the group members came and got me and asked me to resolve the situation. I was told that the old woman wanted the drunk man off the farm. So I walked over and asked the old lady how I could help. But she didn’t respond. So I watched the conversation to make sure I was understanding it correctly.
The woman kept telling the drunk man that he needed to leave and the drunk man would say, “Yeah, I’m leaving”. Every time he started to leave though, he would get distracted and start crying because he had a small cut on his leg from when one of the farm cats scratched him. I asked one more time, “Do you want him to leave?” I said it in different words in case my Spanish was incorrect the first time, but again, she didn’t respond. However, when I said it the drunk man said “I’m going”. So I said “Okay, let’s go” and took the drunk man for a walk. We walked down the road a little bit and I tried to make conversation. I couldn’t really understand most of his drunken Spanish. Then I made sure he knew his way home and went back to work on the farm.
The group member that originally told me about the situation came to me shortly after I returned from the walk. Apparently the old woman wasn’t responding to me because she thought that I was with the drunk man. I guess the dirt all over my clothes and my messy hat hair made me look something like a drunk Salvadoran. Just a funny story that I thought you would like to hear.
Please continue to pray for the upcoming groups and that God will work through them. Thanks!