Saturday, March 31, 2012

Eating outside!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Nap standoff

Sleep won.
Even if it is in the floor in the middle of the doorway.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lounging

Thursday

Today we spent half a day working on painting here at Shalom and then got to head into San Salvador for a team outing.

1. Lynette, Kim, Grant, and Matt spent the morning wrapping up the tie-dying from yesterday's craft. We are going to give the shirts back to the kids tomorrow night at a bonfire with hot chocolate - quite a treat we hear! The shirts had to be rinsed, and then washed in the hottest water possible to set the dye - problem is, none of the multitude of washing machines here had hot water connected to them. Matt remedied that by scavenging in the shop, finding enough fittings to convert the showerhead into a standard hosebib connection and a muy grande garden hose to fill the washers.
2. The shirts all turned out great! We can't wait to see the kids wear them!
3. Painting projects are coming along, but seem to be taking longer than we anticipated. Our goal is to wrap up everything that we have started by tomorrow afternoon.
4. We had a great trip into San Salvador this afternoon. We enjoyed a very relaxing lunch outdoors at a cafe, took a hike to the top of the volcano, and then took in a typical market (tourist souvenirs). After a quick trip to Walmart - just like Walmart in the States with a few bits of local flavor - we made a final stop for helado - we all scream for ice cream!
5. We got to see a lot of the country today. The huge disparity between the few very rich (thus the Maserati dealership we passed) and then just about everyone else.
6. Reflecting on the kids here at Shalom, even seeing some of the country today, it's still hard to imagine what many of them have come from, or what their lives would be like if they were not here. They are loved, well fed, have safe shelter and clothes, get an education, and most importantly - have the opportunity to learn about Christ.

Lots of pictures today. We will post them when we are back in the states!

Whipped cream!

video

Improvising to get hot water

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday

Teammate Jocelyn arrived last night. On top of the passport issues-this was her first time flying...so she ended up being by herself flying internationally! Thankfully the trip went great and she made it through customs and immigration without a hitch!
2. We spent the afternoon tie-dying t-shirts with the kids! It was really fun, slightly chaotic and they will all get a really fun t-shirt out of the process. Pictures to come after we're state side.
3. A few months ago an oven and mixer were donated to Shalom. They were able to send one of the kids to baking school and tonight we got to watch him teach several other kids how to make bread. It's really amazing how many opportunities the kids are given because they are here. Tomorrow we are going on an excursion and will get to see a more real picture of what poverty in El Salvador looks like.
4. Some of our team led a devotional with the younger kids last night using the resurrection eggs...even though it looked like a really bad version of a game show it seemed like the kids really enjoyed the story and learned from it...even through all the broken Spanish.
5. One thing to pray for: we've been told there is a new international law that states that it's better for kids to be raised by their parents instead of in an orphanage even if the parents are on drugs, living in slums, physically incapable of caring for others, etc etc.
We haven't been able to find the actual written law (so it could be the El Salvadorean governments version to orphanages, or misinterpreted- we are going to continue to research what that means) but several kids here are back and forth to court to determine if they will stay at the orphanage or go back to their parents. This is really heartbreaking for the staff to fight to keep these kids where they can make sure they get meals, go to school, are taught Christian principles, have clothes- when in most cases the other option is SO dire. And as far as we can tell from conversations with different kids, most of them want to be here. Pray that God's sovereignty reigns and if kids are sent back to their parents, they leave with truth in their hearts.
6. Pray for our team as we are starting to feel worn down. The guys are sore and achy from moving bricks and others are sore from being in the sun and humidity painting (tedious detail painting on swirly wrought iron gates and fences). And while we have all learned how to communicate more effectively through the language barrier, and some have had more of their high school Spanish come back to them, it's mentally draining to have to try to boil everything down to the most simple phrase and then try to remember how to say that in Spanish:).
7. We are really thankful for how our team has come together! I (Lynette) have led so many short term missions teams through group development programs that I had high expectations for how I know a group can come together. And it's really been fun to see walls come down and people really open up...especially considering the demographics of our group!

Playing with the little kids

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday

1. Our teammate's passport finally came and she arrives tomorrow!
2. We were hoping to get into town to go to Walmart so that we could buy another crib or even a pack n play for Shalom. But, plans didn't quite work out and there was no room in the truck that was headed to town for any of us to go - and it was too difficult to try and explain what a pack n play was in our broken Spanish!
3. About an hour after the truck left, 2 more babies were dropped off by a government official. One is still wearing a hospital band and was abandoned there.
4. Now the need for cribs is huge! Thankfully since our team raised extra funds we will be able to buy three more cribs for the orphanage! God clearly provided for a need that we didn't even know was coming.
5. Luke spent the morning playing with the two and unders...and loved it. There's a little boy named Moises (near Luke's age, probably a little older) who loves peek-a-boo, being chased and tickled!
6. Our team primarily worked on painting projects today. Some members (including Matt) moved a couple hundred blocks from outside the worksite into the medical clinic under construction and up three flights of steps...with only a wheelbarrow, hard hats, and work gloves. And after watching the whole construction process, we definitely had the least strenuous task-everthing is done manually - sifting sand from gravel, bending and welding rebar, and carrying cement upstairs - the only powered equipment we saw were the two gas powered stationary cement mixers.
7. We all agree - the food here is amazing! Just don't buy anything off the street.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday

Cliff notes version:
1. We arrived safely. Our one team member's passport did not make it so keep praying that she receives it tomorrow morning and can catch a Monday flight out of northwest Arkansas to Dallas in time to catch a flight to San Salvador.
2. There were three other mission groups on our flight. One team from Taylor University, a medical team including a JBU student and another team with some more U of A students.
3. The immigration and customs line was LONG and Luke was pretty unhappy that he wasn't allowed to run around, but we survived and were met by the orphanage van shortly after.
4. Upon arriving at Shalom we found out they didn't have an extra crib for Luke. (insert immediate anxiety on mom and dad's part- Luke is a VERY active sleeper). We couldn't be too disappointed though as they had just taken in two six week old babies who were abandoned - so they had a home. Nevertheless- it through us for a loop. We tried to craft a makeshift crib by pushing a futon against the wall - but there was nothing to keep him from crawling/diving over the end. Plan B: Luke share's the bed with mom. Dad on the futon. It worked(ish) for around six hours.
5. Rules about El Salvadorian culture. Always say 'hola' and smile:). Otherwise they think you don't like them. This is pretty counter cultural for us - but honestly kind of refreshing! There's way less "do I say hi, look at the ground, try to pretend I don't see them"...you just say hola and treat them like a nice friendly person:). Luke has even said "hola" to a few people!
6. Babies- there are six babies under two. And babies (whatever culture) still make the same noises (cooing, laughing, crying) and gestures (pointing) to get their point across to whoever is holding them.
7. Everyone LOVES touching Luke's hair. And they think he is mucho lindo (very CUTE)...people told us they would love him- but you just can't comprehend that until you see it in person.
8. We finally did get a crib. They are using a bigger crib for the two infants so Luke could have a crib. And we are VERY grateful for that...and Luke was too after his very long afternoon nap.
9. La gatas (the cats) -there are some cats around the orphanage compound that Luke loves to chase/pet/terrorize/love.

PS - we will post more pictures when we are back home.

We made it!

And Luke did great on the flight. Look for an update tonight.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still asleep!

Nap time

Just in time for our long flight!

Relaxing at DFW

On the plane

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Update on El Salvador

Thank you for your support & prayers for our El Salvador missions trip!  We will leave this Saturday for El Salvador, and wanted to share a quick update.

1 - we will have internet access while we are in El Salvador.  Our plan is to update this blog at least once a day with some news, updates, and any prayer requests.  Please bookmark http://www.voss411.com - this is where our updates will be posted.

2 - If you are curious, our team of 11 (including Luke) was able to raise lots of money for the trip.  In fact, we more than covered our expenses, meaning there were funds left over to purchase supplies and other needed items that we will be bringing down to the orphanage.  A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that gave financial support, purchased bread, and more.

3 - One member of the team has had difficulties obtaining her passport...and, yes, we leave this Saturday.  Please pray that this issue would be able to get resolved before we are supposed to leave.  

4 - Please pray that we would have safe travels, that all our luggage would arrive, and that we would have safety while we are in El Salvador.  And please pray that God would use us to bless the missionaries and orphans at the home, and that He would be at work in our own lives while we are there.

4 - please come back here soon for more updates!

Thank you...we cannot wait to tell you about the trip when we get back home!

Moving a heavy load!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012