I have felt conflicted recently about how I sometimes worry about the kids we work with; how they have next to nothing, how they must not be happy running around in bare feet, dirty clothes, dirty hands, some with rotted out teeth… the list goes on. The first thing that crosses our minds many days is how WE can “fix” things , what can WE do to help (because it is so obvious that these kids are miserable… well, that is what we tend to think many times).

But the reality is that there is a factor that we don’t take into account; they are not always thinking about their comfort level because to be honest they aren’t used to it and quite frankly have never had it. The families care for each other and give of their time and resources if other family members are in need; aunts caring for nieces and nephews while the mom works (and many times the father is not around), young siblings in charge of littler siblings even though they would much rather be free to play. We have seen as many as 10 people live in a one-room shack; somehow managing not to kill each other (Of course we all need our own space many times throughout the day or week… a luxury that they just can’t afford).  They have little to no toys, but somehow manage not to complain every five seconds that they are bored and have nothing to do, a phrase I have said in the past and have heard from my kids too many times.

I have worried about the kids there and what they will end up being when they grow up, and it all comes down to the fact that I want their lives to be more comfortable than what they have now. I want this, and I am sure after a tough life the parents want this for their kids too, but probably think it is impossible. I am struggling between if this is wrong to feel this way, or if they are just fine living this life, difficult as it may be.

What I do know is “we” or “I” cannot fix anything or everything. I will just be here for them to love them and spend time with them and at times spoil them just a little. And what God wants to do through all of this He will do. Whether it be to bring to our attention a family in desperate need, or just be the little excitement these kids have for the week, or just be there to show these families that someone does care and thinks they are special. We do believe that even if it is just for one kid, or something God wants to do in our hearts, there is a reason. And so far it has been more than worth it.

Perfect Justice

I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying over the last couple days about "stuff". More specifically about "my stuff". Something happened earlier this week that sparked this introspection. We received the last few bags that we had been waiting for from our move here to El Salvador. Unfortunately (...or in retrospect, maybe it was fortunate...) many of our possessions were missing...likely stolen by the customs inspectors here. My immediate reaction was one of anger...intense anger. But God calmed me quickly with a reminder that the "stuff" that I have here on earth is not really mine and all gifts come from Him.

As I began to process this situation more though I turned to the Gospels. I felt as if I had been mistreated...taken advantage of...violated...and I turned to the Biblical account of Jesus persecution and death on the cross for answers. There is no better example of someone who had been wrongfully abused, undeservedly exploited, and completely violated than Jesus.

Surprisingly what gave me comfort was not how Jesus handled the torture of the cross, but the fact that God the Father put Jesus there in the first place. Crazy, huh? I've always seen the cross as a symbol of Jesus love for us, which it is...but it is equally a symbol of the perfect justice of God the Father.

Through my sin, I have done wrong to God...just like the people who stole my stuff did wrong to me. My God would not be a just God if there was not a penalty for that sin...just like our society would not be a just society if there were not penalties for theft. If Jesus had never died on that cross then the penalty for my sin would have gone unpaid. The only choice left would be for me to pay the penalty. I find comfort in the fact that God didn't just look the other way and excuse my sin...He didn't just forgive me and tell me that "it's OK Jake, I still love you". He insisted that the penalty for my sin had to be paid. The good news is that I didn't pay the penalty, Jesus did.

I would never want a God that just let everything go...just like I wouldn't want to live in a society that has no repercussions for murder or theft. It gives me great comfort to know that we serve a God who is perfectly just. That means that I don't have to spend another minute thinking about how to get back at those who wrong me. I look at the cross and cannot help but respond in love. I'm living in a country now that is filled with violence...murders are in the papers daily. For those who don't believe in the God that I believe in...a perfectly just God...revenge and violence are understandable responses when you are wronged. However, if you believe in the God that I believe in then you know that He is in control and His perfect justice will prevail in the end.

I pray that God will use us to spread his message of love and that we can be a small part of slowing and ending the violence that is so prevalent in this city and this country.

First week in El salvador!!

Hello to all! We have been here in San Salvador for a week and a half now and God has really been guiding us and taking care of us since we have been here! He has brought some GREAT people along side us to help us with all of the details of moving to a new city and it has really been a very smooth transition. Thank you to everyone who has helped us to get here, to stay here, and to those of you who have helped us since we have been here. God has blessed us with YOU and we thank you for everything and for being a part of this with us.

We are living in an apartment that has three bed rooms, and a long room that is both a living room and kitchen eating area. It is plenty of space for the 4 of us, and we are also so excited about the guarded area all around us for the kids to play...ok not just the kids, you all know Jake and I are big kids too :)  We are about 15 minutes from the center of San Salvador (centro), but we will be working further past the city when we begin our work, which for me (Becky) will hopefully be soon! Jake will hopefully be starting with a Spanish tutor next week and will be studying with her and on his own.  If there is anything he can start doing with his little knowledge of Spanish, he is excited to do it! I will still be studying on my own and most likely meeting with the tutor at least once a week, maybe more...

During this last week we took the kids to visit Benedicion de Dios, one of the poor neighborhoods where CFCI works, and we also took them for a full day to CISNA, the state-run boys orphanage here. Adam had a great time playing soccer with the boys from the orphanage even though there was the language barrier. They loved playing with him! Abby kicks the ball around a little with the boys and also likes to play tic tac toe and draw with them. She still gets a little shy, but they are both transitioning WAY better than we could have ever hoped for! God has his arms around us and has really truly blessed us and watched over us.

We still have a few big things left on the list such as registering the kids at their new school for the fall, and applying for our residency here which should be a real treat from what we hear! Thank you for your prayers, for your e-mails and for your support. We are doing well, and we are so excited to start our work with CFCI!!! We hope many of  you will visit us, or take a trip to a country like El Salvador. There are many places that need our love, our resources and they need to know that we love them and care about them. Always remember that you are blessed!