Friday, November 25, 2011

I Walk the Line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because your mine, I walk the line

       The words of this Johnny Cash song have taken on a whole new meaning over the last few weeks.  As Carie mentioned in her last post, we are well into the season of groups from Canada.  In fact, by the end of March we will have had somewhere around 200-250 visitors from Canada.  And it is an exciting time, as we get to see groups come in and change neighbourhoods in a matter of days.  We get to see about 100 people from the community working together with between 10 and 20 Canadians.  They build together, they play together, they eat together, and for a few moments we get a good glimpse of heaven, or the Kingdom of God.  We are thankful for the joyful noise we hear made up of laughing, playing, joking, and working together.  And so, what is my role in all of this?  Well most days I feel like I am simply walking the line.
       Let me give you a little background.  We are focusing our construction efforts this year in San Antonio Caminos and San Felipe, both of which are medium-sized communities within 20 minutes of our home in San Vicente.  Our plan is to split the 120 or so houses that will be built by the groups, between these two communities.  As well, food delivery, medical clinics, and our goat project, have, and will continue to play an important role in our work in these villages.  There is no question that we are dealing with some of the poorest of the poor in this country, and for that reason many (if not most) of these families do not own the land on which they live.  Most people have squatted on government land sometime over the last 30 years, and continue to live under some sort of “squatter’s rights” agreement with the government, allowing them to stay.  In San Antonio Caminos, one such area is an abandoned train line.  A lot of the tracks still exist, but the train stopped running 15 to 20 years ago.  The land allowance on either side of the tracks provided free land, and as such seemed like an ideal place to build a shack.  For this reason 100’s of families live along these old, rusted train tracks.  Recently, much of Trent’s and my time has been spent walking up and down this old train line.
       We walk to make sure that homes are being built properly, we walk to ensure that materials are getting to where they need to be, and we walk to take tools from one site to another.  But we also walk for other reasons.  We walk to hear and see stories of need and pain, we walk to celebrate with families when they are picked for a new home, we walk to sit with friends and acquaintances and share in their lives, and we walk to find a nice quite spot to dine like princes with some of the humblest, most beautiful people in this world.  We walk the line, and the old road, and the goat trails, and the corn fields.  We walk.

 The other day I was walking with three people from San Antonio.  I don’t remember exactly what we were doing, but we were together checking on something or other.  And then I stopped and reflected for a moment.  My company was made up of an unwed mother of 8 children, an overtly homosexual man (which is a lot less acceptable in this society where machismo rules), and another lady who, although I can’t confirm it, is probably a prostitute, or at the very least has been abused by men in this society.  My reflection left me with two thoughts.  First of all, what label are these people assigning to me?  Am I the wealthy North-American?  Am I the guy that has more than he needs, or can use?  Am I the guy from that culture that has helped start and perpetuate many of the problems here?

       My second thought was that this way of walking feels more and more right to me each day here.  I want to walk with people to whom the walking matters.  I want to walk with those that teach me about myself and my preconceptions.  I want to walk as my Lord walked.  So, I continue to walk the line.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

7 New Kids Born in El Salvador! (the baby goat kind)

 7 New Baby Goats!

Exciting news this week! Our first goats that we delivered in June are now having their babies, which means milk for the families!!!

Some you may know about the GOT GOAT project here in ES.  In the beginning we wanted to deliver one goat at a time to the families in need as we received the goats.  We were finding that a lot of adults, children and babies had anemia, and there was a real lack of vitamins and nutrients in their diets.  Goat's milk  is the closest to that of a mother's milk.  Because their diets are so poor, women  loose their milk quickly and end up giving their babies sugar water!  The goat's milk is full of vitamins A and B-6, niacin and other nutrients like the vitally important potassium.  It is easy to digest, less allergenic and easy to keep.

After such an wonderful response of many family and friends back home, we found that we needed to spend more time thinking about who to give the next goats to and how do we ensure that they were taking care of the goats properly?  We are not in the business of just handing things out and moving on to the next!  We really want to equip people in the long run.  How to make what they have go the farthest it can, and think ahead about the days to come.


Pimpa and her 2 kids

Jake & Nicole with Esmeralda & Miguel and family
This is when we met Armando.   We got to talking about how the project could grow and be more effective. Armando has been working for awhile on a 'Co-operative Goat Farm' project and has had a lot of interest from various NGO's but no one wants to stop giving goats and focus on the farm idea. His idea is to have a farm of 25 goats, barn and enclosed area for feeding. One family would live and operate the farm with 9 other families living close by, who would all take turns caring for the goats. These 10 families together would be educated by Armando, how to properly care for and run a business of raising and breeding a better milking goat.

Carolina and her 2 kids

So we decided we would try out these goats.... We delivered 3 new goats to families in Las Brisas (that were already giving milk and due to have babies again soon).  When our friends Jake & Nicole Fluker came to visit with their kids, they brought with them $ from friends back home in Okotoks to buy goats for families in need of milk.  It was exciting for us because this time we had an expert goat farmer with us who was able to spend time with each of the families, showing them how to milk, feed and take care of their goats to ensure good production of milk!  This is what he would do as part of the farm, educating the families.

Learning to milk the goat

 The goats typically give around 1-2 bottles of milk per day. When given proper nutrition, vaccines and care, a well bred goat can give up to 5-6 bottles per day! Times that by 25 and all of a sudden you have a lot of milk for a lot of families! Once these goats start to have babies, we then can take some of the goats for future breeding and give some as gifts to other families.

We love the idea and would like to take his idea and make it a reality. What does that mean for us? We are hoping to start 2 of these farms. One up in the Victoria area, where some groups are building and 1 down here in the San Vicente area.  Each farm would cost $5000.00 That is including material for a small raised goat shelter, 25 goats, food, vaccines and education.  We are already getting close to having enough goats for 1 farm.

For those who have already bought a goat or donated towards the goat project, this just means that we would purchase 1 of these 25 goats on your behalf. Families will still be getting the milk, we just want to ensure that goats are not wasted and given to families who are not able to care for them. People can still purchase goats, t-shirts or give a general donation to the 'Goat Project'.  The goats we would like to purchase for these farms are $150.
Thank you to everyone who has donated, you are making a difference in so many ways! We are really excited to see communities join together in this project along with those of you at home. Together we are able to reach a much larger group of people.  

For now, enjoy the pictures and the smiles you have put on their faces!!

Much love,

It's good, try some!

Mom & Dad McDougall holding new twins

We were fortunate to visit the family who is making the 'Got Goat' T-shirts for us.  We were able to see the shirts being made and the process it takes to put the logo on each shirt!  If you are interested in purchasing a shirt, please let us know at either or

Shirts being made
Silk Screening process


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Sowers of Jireh or Centro De Coser Los Sembradores

We have been very busy over the last few weeks. A month has gone by in the wink of an eye for us. We just got news that there is snow already in Canada. It seems so weird to me, feels like it was just summer. Over the last month we have had 3 groups from Canada come. First, Pastor Deve's team from Sarnia, Ontario came and filled their week with numerous activities. It was really exciting to show them all the new things going in the communities we have been working with for the last 9 months. They built 5 homes, visited our friends at the Exodo Orphanage and spent a day visiting and working with Compassion Canada and handed out food to 135 families in San Antonio. Check out their blog at to read more about their week. It was great to see the group in action and even though this was new for us, it went surprisingly well. And it was surprising for us realize that it took the five of us, Trent, Kerrie Lynn, Stuart and I and Phil to do the job that one man did in previous years; Pastor Jorge.  
The Sarnia team also brought down 5 Janome sewing machines to add to our sewing centre. What a wonderful thing. This has allowed our younger sewers a way to express their creativity. Daniella (15) is making all of our aprons and Diego (17) has created, designed and made his own tote bags.

In September I started showing Pimpa how to make quilts.
 We decided that the best plan would be to use second hand jeans as the majority of the quilt. 

It is almost impossible to find nice cotton material here and we wanted for this sewing centre to be a ongoing, self sustaining, income making endevour. By using materials that the general public have access to, they will be able to continue making these creations on their own when we leave.

Since then Pimpa and 7 others have been very busy making quilts of all kinds. Thanks to our friends at home we have a constant supply of jeans and other fabrics being sent down with the groups. We also have a Special Needs group in Airdire cutting jeans for us, so they are in workable pieces. 

It is so cool to know how people have come together from there and here to make this happen. We are currently looking for more people to train in cutting and sewing. It is a bit difficult because right now, the pay is so little. But the sewers we have, know this and are happy to learn a new skill. Here are some pictures of the type of quilts we are making now.

If you have any ideas for us or would like to purchase a quilt or apron or tote bag, we are now taking orders, please e-mail me at Carie McAllister - .

 Quilt Prices are as follows:

Crib $65
Throw $75
Single $85
Double $100
Queen $125
King $150

The Sowers of Jireh or Centro De Coser Los Sembradores is what we are calling the people that work in the centre. The Jireh, referring to Jehovah Jireh means Our Provider. Since we are employing people form the villages around El Salvador, that might not have other employment and enabling them to grow and learn, providing future opportunities, we are sowing the work of Our Provider! We are also doing a weekly devotional with everyone in the centre and praying for various groups. As you read this, please pray for unity within our sowers as different people from different areas come together to work as a team.

Luke 8:5-8

New International Version (NIV)
5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

Please also pray that we a yield a crop, a hundred times more than was sown!!