An amazing week of ministry in El Salvador


      If I tried to share everything about our recent trip to El Salvador it would take more space than a page of newsprint.  Let me share some of my highlights.
          We had 32 people, representing 10 local churches, on the Feb. 16-23 journey. We worked hard at painting, wiring, organizing, teaching, playing, worshipping, learning, and sharing, but what we were really doing was building a bridge of relationship.  
      We worked well together and bonded as a group.  We were patient in the midst of uncertainty.  We worked hard and completed as much as we could.  I was especially impressed with our young people.  We had six youth on our team and they were an inspiration – their excitement for ministry was contagious.
        Many team members commented that they felt they were leaving a part of their hearts in El Salvador – I agree totally. We want to continue building this bridge and sharing with the people of El Salvador as they “make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.”  We can learn much from them about vitality and commitment in the church.
      The people we worked with in El Salvador were gracious hosts.  Brian Dubberly, UMVIM missioner and Juan de Dios Pena, President of the Methodist Church in El Salvador, made sure we got where we needed to be and had what we needed to get our work done.  
        We were one of the larger teams that had come, so our hosts spent most of their time running from site to site to be sure we had what we needed.  The people of the churches were friendly and appreciative.  We had the opportunity to worship twice at New Jerusalem Methodist Church in Ahuachapan and the people hugged us and welcomed us into their community.  The children were very special.  We had Bible School for about 50 children for three days.  They were eager to learn and had a great time learning about God’s creation.
       There were three clergywomen on our team and we got to participate in the first ever Clergywomen’s Conference in El Salvador.  There are seven clergywomen in El Salvador and we got to spend a morning with five of them.  These women are truly God’s servants in very difficult circumstances.  Through an interpreter, we shared our struggles and visions of ministry in our two very different worlds and found that the struggles and visions are very similar.  I will be praying especially for my sisters in ministry in El Salvador.   
       In conversation with Juan de Dios, we learned that transportation is an issue for pastors in El Salvador.  Gas is very expensive, maintaining a vehicle is difficult, and it costs $300 to get a driver’s license in El Salvador (a very large amount of money for them).  The cost of a motorcycle is $1,800.  Thanks to your generosity and the generosity of our team, we were able to give Juan de Dios $1,870 on Friday to purchase that motorcycle and a helmet.
      Plans are in the works for at least one trip in 2014.  We will also be looking at ways to be helpful as the church in El Salvador develops their existing churches and builds new one.  They have a plan for this and we want to be helpful in some tangible way.  Be in prayer for our growing partnership.
     I am especially gratefu to Stephen and Melanie Soulen for their leadership of our team. Their experience in leading mission trips helped all of us first-timers understand and process going into a new culture and then coming back into our own.  I am thankful for their hard work.
       Please be in prayer for safe travels for that team that will be coming from El Salvador to our Annual Conference in June.
Carol Cook serves as superintendent of the LaGrange District.