Monday, July 25, 2011

"You can live your whole life not being aware of anyone else's needs, but you will always be aware of your own. It takes intentionality to be aware of other's needs." Matt Dyck

Great things have been happening in the village. We are currently working on House #16 & 17! There are an number of men and women who now come out regularly to each house to help with the building and cooking. Its fun for us to see them starting to rally aroundeach other and help with a house when it isn't even their own.

House # 16 - Jorge & Sonia and their 4 daughters. This was probably a record house for the number of people that showed up to help, I think there was 30 people working! Stuart's mom, Bev & Rick Sproule were out to help with this house and it was fun to have them here with our families! They were great at getting to know the family and taking the time to try and speak the language. They may have gone home a little exhausted not only because of the heat, or from all the work they did, but because of our 8 children (between the 2 families)!!! :) Thanks to their help financially and for the help building, 2 new families are living under a safe roof tonight.

House # 17 - The last house we built for was for Blanca and her 7 yr old daughter Katarine. They are very poor and have hardly anything at all. She has the biggest smile you've ever seen and when we told her she was getting house, her smile said "I just won the lottery!" She is a single mom whose 'spouse' has another family in a near by town and rarely comes by. As it turns out when he heard she was getting a house he showed up! And also came back when it was time to have the key ceremony.... There are some very deep wounds in this family and the little girl is so obvious with her need to be loved.

Some highlights for me personally have been having all 3 of my sisters out to visit!!! Shanny & Jaime came out the end of May, and Merrylee came the end of June. It was SO good to have my sisters out here, we've all missed them very much. When Jaime & Shanny came, they brought along with them 2 large boxes of medical supplies that they raised $ to buy. We were so excited to hold our very first Medical Clinic in San Antonio. We had 3 doctors, 3 nurses and countless others volunteer their time to help with the clinic. We had over 300 people come through and were seen by the doctors. Another part was the Eye Glass Clinic that was also new to us. My sister Shanny used to work as an optician in Calgary, so her expertise was a huge help. It was awesome to see people pick up a book and be able to read, some for the very first time! A friend of ours even helped out with the kids and had stuff for them to do while they waited to see a doctor. I was able to hand out some toothbrushes and give some education on dental hygiene. Thank you to my sisters Jaime and Shanny for raising $ and getting the medicine safely to us! And a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated to the medical kits. I'll let the video tell you the rest!

This is a fellow named Isaias. He is 25 yrs old and has a wife and 5 yr old boy. Last month while he was selling coconuts out of the back of his truck, and bus came by and hit him. As a result he lost his foot. Shortly after seeing the doctor, he got an infection and they had to amputate his leg just above the knee. Trent was able to go visit him in the hospital and spend a little time with him. The family had to find 7 friends that were willing, AND had the right blood type to donate their blood for the operation. It just so happened that my other sister Merrylee (who is a physical therapist in Calgary) was coming down for a visit during this time. The night before she left to come here to El Salvador, one of her patients came to her with an old pair of crutches and asked if she could take them down and donate them to someone who needed them. So while Merr was here visiting, Isaias was released from the hospital and came straight to our house where we made a 'make shift' observation room on Carie's bed. We came out to the street to meet him, and he had no way of getting into the house. The public hospital here gave him NO post-op instructions, NO therapy, and NO crutches! We knew then who those crutches were meant for! Merr helped him into the house, giving him instruction on how to use the crutches and was able to help with exercises and instruction on how to care for and bandage his leg. A huge gift to Isaias, so thank you Merr and thank you to your thoughtful patient who gave to someone she didn't even know and changed his life!

This is Mitilda! She is our friend from San Antonio. She is 15 yrs old and is a sister to the Airlinda, the little girl we've been helping with all the medical problems (Carie has talked about her in previo
us blogs and who is now healthy!!! Praise God!) Mitilda only has a grade 2 education and when we asked why she doesn't go to school, she said she is too embarrassed to go back with grade 2 kids. She stopped going because her eyes were bad and could not see the board. She now is the proud owner of new spectacles, thanks to our friend Rob and his church in Grimshaw, Alberta! She has a teacher who comes to her and should be caught up within a couple of years. Her life has changed! Yesterday she came by the house for a visit and ended up helping me with a baby blanket that Carie and I are working on. Trent reminded me yesterday that I would never have thought a year ago that I would be sitting in my living room today visiting in spanish and sewing with a 15 yr old girl from
the village!

I still find myself wondering some days if I am really making a difference, do these people know that we really do care about them? I recently listened to our friend Matt Dyck speak on being discontent with all that we have and always wanting more when we see what others have. Or not even knowing you need it until someone else tells you, you need it! When you're surrounded by people that don't really care about your clothes or what your house looks like, I find myself not wasting one single minute of my day wishing I had more! These people are just trying to find enough food for that day and trying to stay dry in their beds at night. Its true, when we take the time to hear their stories and learn what their needs are, all of a sudden the focus isn't so much on me as it is on them and their needs!

Hope you enjoy reading a few of their stories. If you would like to help get involved in anyway, please let us know. We have many families who need a goat, a house, an education, or some medicine. The needs are endless!

"Generosity bridles discontentment"
Thanks Matt!

Friday, July 8, 2011

5 months and still going...

I guess we haven’t written in a while so I thought I would catch everyone up. This week we are kind of taking it easy after the 5 months of “working” sometimes 20 hours a day 7 days a week. The Berstad’s are away with Kerrie’s sister Merrylee seeing some sites and we are here in the house trying to get some rest. The kids are going crazy though. At what age do you start to need rest?

Anyway, I have been starting to ponder some things here lately. It is probably because we are at the 5 month mark and all of a sudden we look back and think, “where did the time go?” I have to admit with only having one visitor from home so far, my brother and sister-in-law and nephew, I am missing my friends and family a lot!! The thing I am pondering most is, how do we do work here, and not feel used or tricked?

For up to 4 months whenever someone asked me for something here, I trusted that they were telling me the truth. I would take people to the clinic, buy them shoes for school, or medicine etc. Recently, one of the women we know in San Antonio came up to Kerrie and whispered in her ear that she has no food to feed her children. How could your heart not break? I just think about how easy it is, when I am hungry, to go to the fridge and grab a snack. So right away we said that we would come back and give her some food. We put together a little hamper and brought it to her.

3 days later her friend came to the door also saying that she needed food and money because she didn’t have any. This time Juanita was here and helped us to ask the appropriate questions about what she was doing to help herself? It turned out that she hadn’t tried anything to help herself here and just thought that the “white folks” would give her a hand out.

Another situation that I think that I wrote about already, a little one year old girl that is antibiotic resistant and immune suppressed. I have been helping her and her mom a lot lately. Recently they got an appointment in the low income specialist clinic in San Salvador. She asked me if I would help out. She needed money for transport, food while there, and diapers. I agreed to all of this. After I told everyone that I agreed to this, they told me that I need to watch out. I might be getting used. I started feeling like I was getting taken advantage of. When she came to our door the next day, she said that her daughter had a fever and that she needed to go to the clinic. I was working on a project for kids’ church and really felt like I didn’t know what was truth anymore, and she was probably overreacting, so I told Stuart that I didn’t want to go. He said that he would. He took her, and it turned out that she had a really bad case of bronchitis and spent 3 days in the hospital. She probably would have died had she gone back home that day.

A couple of days ago, Kerrie e-mailed me this verse...

Philemon 1:6

"And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it."

It reminded me that, if God lays it on my heart, then I am not getting used. So what if I am a little naive sometimes. If I don’t do the things that I think God is asking me to, then who knows what can happen. And if I give a little too much sometimes, or step in the wrong direction, well then I know that our God is full of grace, and it will be ok. I also know that there are people to ask when I don’t understand something about the way things work here in El Salvador.


Last week, I also took a 15 year old girl to find out about going back to school. She only has a grade 2 education. She quit because she couldn’t see the blackboard and kids were making fun of her, but now she was eager to go back and learn. We are partnering with a church in Grimshaw, AB that said they would sponsor her to go back to school. After some digging and research, and walking all over San Vicente, we found out that she can have lessons near her house for free and they provide all the materials. The only thing that we had to do was get her some glasses. She starts schools on Tuesday and I told her that as long as she wants to go to school, we would find a way to get her there, even if it is University. Matilde’s life can be changed forever! And we couldn’t do it without out the support of friends at home.

I also know that while we have been here, we have already built over 12 houses, giving them a dry place to sleep, held a medical clinic for over 300 people, and made countless relationships. I met my compassion child Adonay and his family, who touched my heart deeply. We are going to build him a house in the next couple of weeks too. And I think overall in general, we are right where we need to be.

Please continue to pray for us. I am working on getting the sewing centre set up and we are still working on trying to get our temporary residency. I think we will head to San Salvador on Thursday to migration and after 37 documents, translated, stamped, authenticated, signed and a lot of money. Pray that we have everything we need.

Also we would like to build more houses. If you have it on your heart to help us out with that or the sewing project, please click on the “donate here” link on the side of this webpage and specify which project you would like to donate to. Thank you all so much for your support!!