Saturday, November 16, 2013

Catch up-

I am sitting here at 5:22 in the morning already having been up for an hour, in the dark, in a hotel room. One of the rare chances that we actually have to relax and I can't sleep, why is that? Who knows why my mind and body works the way it does. Anyway, as I was lying here I realized that I have not posted anything since August, if that gives you any indication of how busy it has been.

Teams started coming at the end of October, and we were off. It has begun a great season. This year every team has projected to build more houses than the year before. Last year we built about 225 houses. SO exciting!! On another not so exciting topic, our roof has been leaking. Every time it rains. Our house that we are renting is very poorly constructed, and the owner doesn't want to put in the money to fix it. If anything though, it has reminded me why we are here working with Shelter. As Stuart and I are working furiously at 10pm trying to scoop out water from the floor, while standing in it up to our ankles, the only thing that runs through my head is, at least we have a house. I can not even begin to imagine what it is like for those that only have a make-shift roof over their heads. Imagine  practically having to swim around your house in pure mud every night that it rains hard! (Which is often during the rainy season) At midnight, we finally get the floor somewhat empty of water. As I go to bed that night, I think; how can we build more houses?
If you haven't already seen this video, it is totally worth your time. Shelter Video

This year we also have new translators, new cooks, and new drivers, so we are working closely with them to get things running smoothly. So far so good! We feel like God has chosen the exact people to be involved this year and feel very blessed by the amount of locals that are so willing to be a part of what we are doing here.

Alongside this, we are also still working away at building our new house/ministry centre. Stuart is there multiple times in the day overseeing the work and we often go as a family after the crew leaves to see the progress. Everything is done by hand, so it is just amazing to see each day what has been accomplished. They are at the point now where they are about to poor the roof of the first floor. We are getting excited to have a place to call our own, not to mention move out of the place we are in now. Everyone keeps asking me when we think it will be done. Honestly I have no idea? But I am ok with that, which tells me that I have come a long way from 3 years ago when I felt the need to know and control everything!!
 The kids just finished school this week and are now off until the 3rd week of January. That is why were are here in a hotel celebrating. We are so proud of all the kids for being so adaptive to our way of living here and speaking in two languages. Recently we had Laura here from Airdrie and she told me how she can see such a love in the hearts of my children from the people here and especially in Kade, the pain of the unjust and the feeling of wanting to make it better. We are also so proud of the kids we are sponsoring to go to school here. There are many of them, but I will just update you on a few...

Keyri - Juanita's grand daughter, had her first year of school this year. She did so well, next year she is skipping Kindergarten and going right to Grade one. We are also sponsoring her Mom, Joanna, to finish university as she was 2 years into a four year degree and had to quit because of financial reasons. She is at the top of her class right now, and working a full time job.
Daniela and Diego also make us so proud. Most of you know their story already, but this year Daniella went from getting marks of 6 and 7 to getting 9s in most of her classes, and is turning into a beautiful woman with the desire to succeed.
Diego is also still top of his class and has turned into a confident, ambitious man. He LOVES his clothing design school. On Saturdays, he has to leave San Vicente at 4:30 in the morning to get to his class in San Salvador, but he attends faithfully. He also has many hopes and dreams. Annually we take my kids and Daniela and Diego to San Salvador to celebrate their accomplishments and do something fun. With the caveat that we will continue to do this as long as we are living here and when they graduate university and have jobs, they can then take us to celebrate!! Last night after supper, we decided to go into Pull & Bear, a newish, hip and trendy store for youth. Diego pipes up and says, one day I am going to have a store like this selling my designs. I almost cried right there on the spot. That's a far cry from 3 years ago when you ask a person what they want to be when they grow up, or what their dreams are and they just shrug their shoulders and say that they don't bother to dream, or think of a positive future, because it almost never comes true.

On my last post I wrote all about the sewing week in Rio Frio. I am happy to report that the sewing centre there is fully up and running. First we were invited as special guests, along with the mayor of San Vicente, to the graduation of 21 of the women from the "corte y confeccion" 8 month sewing program where they learned to make almost every kind of clothing item you can think of. What an honour! 
Then we finished the process of building the sewing centre which they aptly named " Bendicion de Dios" - blessing from God.
Since this photo, we have bought 2 long tables and shelving
There are 12 women working there right now on various items to sell from purses to aprons, home decor and clothing. They just received an order for 300 aprons! The women are very excited to venture into this and are looking for places to sell their goods as well as learning about what you need to run a business. Earlier this week I took three of them to San Salvador to buy fabric and notions. They are learning the cost of things so that they can better price their products. On a side note, it was also their first time on an escalator, so that was pretty cool for me to watch!! lol.

Various products the girls are sewing in Rio Frio.
 If you are interested, I do have many of their products for sale. Some people back in Canada are using stuff they make to sell as fundraisers for homes. What a great idea!

Quilt Spots
That leads me to the sewing centre in San Vicente. We have just completed an order of 125 quilts and are working on another one of 40 more. Now with the groups here, we are hoping that individual orders will pick up. We are still trying to collect funds for the website, which behind the scenes is working great. I just have no time to try and get the photos of product and description on the site! Not to mention I am a terrible photographer! Any one want to come out and help me with that?

The girls are also making "quilt spots" which can be used as hot pads or decoration, in all sorts of colours. What a great Christmas gift that really gives back, wink, wink. The girls in the t-shirt and stamping area of the sewing centre are super busy with all kinds of different orders. We recently received an order for 2500 bags made and stamped that will be used by a dentist in Calgary.  We competed successfully against bids from off shore manufacturers.  With us, the dentist can know that she is also giving work at fair wages to some pretty amazing women!!

Speaking of amazing women…. On Thursday I took all the girls to the dentist to get a check up. When I told them that we were going to see if he could help, some of the women had tears in their eyes, from the hope that they may get relief. Many of them have been complaining of headaches and tooth aches (not directly to me, but it always gets back to me somehow).  I thought maybe they would each have a cavity or two. It turns out that most of them have in the range of 8-15 cavities plus 2-3 extractions each! Yikes. 

Meet Leybi, she is a single mom of 2 boys aged 14 and 15. She had been very mistreated by men in her life. This is a rare photo where you will find her smiling for a camera. She has found peace working in the sewing centre and is always on time, willing to do whatever is asked. She however, has no top teeth. Whenever she talks to you, she covers her mouth with her hand, because she is embarrassed.  To give her top teeth and change the way she thinks about herself it would only cost $150. She also has 13 fillings needed on her bottom teeth. We have a dentist her that is very good, and clean and knows what he is doing. He is willing to work with me to change these girls life and teach them proper dental hygiene providing a class, and a kit. I have decided that this would be a better Christmas present than anything else I could give.

I however can not do it alone. If you are interested in helping me out with this or any of the other projects we have going on here, please click on the Donate button on the right and click donate under This button is to support the McAllister's El Salvador mission project.. 
Think about giving someone the gift of no more headaches or toothaches this year. We told our kids that instead of gifts at Christmas for them, we would be using the money to help these women, they seemed to agree and take it all in stride! So proud!

One last bit here, last month I was able to get away and go to Antigua, Guatemala for a refresher on my Spanish. It was so nice to get away and think of other things, although I think I was more tired from learning for 6 hours a day since I haven't been a student in so long! Anyway, the weather was about 18 degrees and rainy and I had to go out and buy two sweaters. This year we are going home at Christmas and I just don't know how we will be able to handle the cold!! Maybe we will have to curl up under our Sowers of Jireh quilt and people will have to come visit us in bed. Please pray :) It will probably be the first time that Violet can remember seeing snow since we moved here, when she was just 1 year old.
Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces though at this special time of year. And I hope and pray that all you and your families are doing well. Feel free to drop us a line at anytime.

Carie - On behalf of the rest of the McAllisters in El Salvador