The Mission Youth EXTREME Mission to El Salvador, July 10-17, was an absolutely crazy, inspiring, incredible, awesome, terrifying, peaceful, beautiful, and overall EXTREME experience. Thank you so much for making this possible for me!
So much happened, that it would take weeks to sort through all of the amazing experiences I had. All of us missionaries from the US met in the airport, and no one knew anyone else. Nevertheless, we all immediately became friends, and we worked really well together during the following week. We met the Mexican and Salvadoran missionaries over the next couple of days. They were all girls, who loved to sing, were very fun, and spoke English exceedingly well. On Sunday, everyone was split into teams, and we all went door to door on an evangelization mission, asking if anyone had any prayer intentions, encouraging them in their faith, reminding them of the words of the Scriptures, and handing out rosaries to the small children. In my group, we started out with a group of 5, and ended with twelve, because the little kids followed us around-SO CUTE! During the week, the missionary boys taught English classes and swimming lessons, and the girls decorated the school classrooms by painting them, putting up borders, cutting out the ABC’s, and the like. In the afternoons, all of the missionaries painted the basketball courts. On Wednesday, we all went in boats to an island to do a medical mission. We had a doctor with us, and lots of medicine. I put labels on the medicine bottles, and then went out and played with the kids. Tag, Freeze Tag, Cops and Robbers, and games like that are so fun to play with little kids. And they don’t care if you don’t speak their language-love is a language all its own, and loving people can understand what words can’t describe.
This brings me to tell you about the people. They are so happy! Their daily lives consist of poorly built, one-room houses, dirt floors, extreme humidity, hot weather all year long, little or no running water, and if they have it, it is dirty and smells bad, only monthly or yearly access to a doctor and basic medicines, sometimes no clothes for their children, very little food, and so very few possessions. And through it all, they are happy. What is the source? Their immense faith. They love God so much, and are always talking about Him. They would consistently say that He has given them their house, their family, their life, and that that is all they need. We gave them rosaries, scapulars, and medicines, all of which the cost of our trips covered, but we also gave them our work. When we went door to door, we gave them our prayers, and encouragement from God’s Word. All of these things combined brought them hope, and joy, which money can’t buy. Their happiness is incredible, and we helped to brim it over. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you helped someone be happy. At the same time though, we found that it was us, the missionaries, who were fulfilled. The Salvadoran people invited us into their homes unashamedly, prayed with and for us, and welcomed us profusely at church with handshakes, hugs, and one lady even kissed my hand! We were overwhelmed with their welcome, and they were overwhelmed with excitement, joy, and hope that we were there to help them. And then, there’s God. What can I say but, “Wow.” Our God is an awesome God, and he shows us through the little things in life that He is there, caring for us. During our time in El Salvador, there was a 5.0 earthquake, some flooding, and a very scary lightning storm that was not even a mile away, when we were in a boat with metal poles on it, on a river, under trees, as the tallest thing on the water. But in all of those moments, God saw us safely through. Nearing the end of the week though, I personally felt His hand very strongly. I was enjoying the lack of possessions, the Salvadoran people, the company of the other missionaries, and the peace that exists when you’re not at home. I began to feel afraid of returning home-to stress, to work, to normal life.
So, as I was painting yellow lines on the basketball court, I just asked God if He would help me to do His will, trust Him, and maybe give me some sign that I could bear normal life again. Well, that night, we read from the Gospel of Matthew 11:30 where Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” I had tears running down my cheeks. That Gospel was meant for me. The people in El Salvador have huge problems, but they pick up their crosses and follow Jesus. I knew, right then, right there, that I could do the same thing.
Thank you so much for your support in this endeavor. It was an incredible experience, and one that I hope all of you can at some time or other know too.
Thanks again, take care, and God bless!
Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy cares upon the Lord and he will sustain thee.”