Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Jordan Ramsey Takes 3rd Place in Speech Competition with Speech on El Salvador

Blog written by Jenni Ramsey

Being 14 years old is tough.  Period.  It has often been said that 8th grade is the hardest year for teens due to surging hormones, difficult relational dynamics in school, the search for identity and the longing to belong.  This year our family moved from CA to TX, and Jordan endured the challenge of moving in the middle of 8th grade.  Our move was harder than we anticipated and it was especially trying for Jordan in many ways.  When our family heard about Dallas Fort Worth Speech and Debate, a Christian organization for young people, we knew this could be a great opportunity for Jordan, who excelled in his 7th grade speech class.

The vision of DFW Speech and Debate is to help students develop solid critical thinking and communication skills, and to understand and articulate what they believe and why.  Jordan has been attending their classes for the past five months on Friday evenings, where he developed two speeches and learned impromptu speaking.  He wrote a persuasive speech on the importance of volunteering, which emphasized how his experiences volunteering in his community and overseas impacted his life.  His speech examined the influence of inspirational volunteers on the world such as Mother Teresa, St. Patrick, David Platt and Katie Davis.  This past weekend Jordan participated in a 12 hour speech competition, where he advanced to the semi-finals and finals with his moving and emotional speech.  He blew us away as he soared to 3rd place (in a speech category of twenty-one students) as a first year student.  Here is the opening to his speech...

"I got my first passport when I was seven years old as I was preparing to travel to El Salvador to serve orphans.  I had no idea that my life would be so profoundly impacted by volunteering in a third world country when that passport photo was taken.  As I boarded the plane to El Salvador, I thought I was going to help kids who were less fortunate than me, but what I didn't realize was that these incredible kids would change my life for the better.  The boys and girls that I met in the orphanage taught me the secret of true joy and contentment.  Although they had no families, luxuries, toys or electronics, they were happier than any of the kids I knew in the U.S.  I returned home with a new perspective and a greater appreciation for my family, the privileges I had as a child growing up in a first world country, and the amazing ways in which volunteering had changed me forever."

Jordan was required to memorize his eight minute speech, which meant hours of time in addition to his regular homework load. He was judged on the skills that he gained in his classes;  expression, delivery, emotion, the use of pertinent sources, quotes, supporting evidence, etc.  It was a privilege for me, Mike and my mom to volunteer as judges for other categories throughout the day.  We thoroughly enjoyed hearing presentations from other students.  However, as I sat in the back of the room and listened to my son presenting, I was moved to tears.  It was one of those mom moments that I will never forget.  Words can not describe how my heart was warmed as I heard Jordan communicate his heart for missions and the undeniable ways in which his life has been molded through serving.

Our entire family is incredibly proud of Jordan and the godly, young man he is becoming.  He is not an athlete so this event was like a "championship game" for our gifted, articulate and deep thinking son.   We are so thrilled to be sending him on his fifth trip to El Salvador next month and look forward to watching God move in his life.   

If you'd like a copy of Jordan's entire speech, email me at ramseyfam5@icloud.com.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

11-Year-Old Ryan Youd Raises $250 for the Homeless in El Salvador

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Ryan Youd and his father Geoff served on the Village Church El Salvador team last summer.  Ryan was our youngest team member, at just ten years old.  When the team fed the homeless on the streets of San Salvador, Ryan was greatly impacted.  He was sobered by the heartbreak that he encountered as well as the joy he experienced in giving meals in Jesus' name.  Tragically, kids living in government orphanages are kicked out on their 18th birthdays. Many end up living on the streets, where they often sniff glue to dull the hunger pains.  Sus Hijos, our ministry partners in El Salvador, feeds the homeless community two to three times per week, bringing the hope of the Gospel through the gift of a meal.  When Ryan learned that it cost $250 per evening to feed the homeless, he determined to raise those funds once he returned home.

Over the past ten months Ryan and his family have worked diligently to recycle and collect recyclables in order to raise funds.  This experience was deeply moving for Ryan and his family as they learned valuable lessons in recycling, saving and the joy of giving.  Last Saturday Ryan was able to give $250 cash to Kurt Ackermann at the pupusa fundraiser in Newport Beach.  Kurt was overwhelmed by Ryan's selfless gift and the Sus Hijos ministry team was honored to package and distribute meals with Ryan's funds this past week.

I often tell our team members that our trips should not be viewed as an item to check off the bucket list.  These trips should alter lives.  Our team members are challenged to consider how they spend their funds, time, resources and gifts to serve others.   Every team members is sobered and humbled as they encounter the realities of life in third world countries;  abused and orphaned children, homelessness, poverty and desperate cycles of brokenness.  However, they also encounter the power of the Gospel, which can transfer and heal any situation. They learn that their lives matter, not just while serving on a missions trip, but every single day.  It warms my heart to know that Ryan got it. His family will be forever changed by his experience and he truly was the HANDS and FEET of Jesus this week in El Salvador through his gift of food.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25:35-40

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kurt Ackermann Visits So Cal

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Last week Kurt Ackermann, founder of Sus Hijos/His Children El Salvador, made his first visit to So Cal to meet with the His Hands His Feet teams.  I was also privileged to be in CA during this time and loved spending time with Kurt and our staff.  Kurt and his family moved to El Salvador from VA thirteen years ago and they are passionate about bringing the hope of the gospel to this beautiful, little country.  His Hands His Feet has been privileged to partner with Sus Hijos for the past six years and we're privileged to be sending three teams to serve in El Salvador this summer.

Here are a few highlights from Kurt's visit…

Kurt and I met with members of the Crean Lutheran High School team.

We had a blast taking Kurt to LA.  His 16 year old daughter received a scholarship to attend the Cinema Makeup School summer camp this July.  We enjoyed visiting the school and giving Kurt a tour of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

We hosted our first pupusa fundraiser, which was a great success!  We were thrilled to have team members gather together from The Village Church of Irvine, Young Women of Vision and Crean Lutheran High School to hear Kurt's heart for El Salvador and support the ministry.  We raised almost $4500 for Sus Hijos.  What a night!

We were blessed to share about our ministry at The Village Church of Irvine and many of our former and new team members gathered for lunch before Kurt and I flew back to our homes. 

Please pray for our team members as they prepare to serve this summer.  We have almost 70 team members from 4 states and and for many, this will be their first time serving in a third world country. Pray for the finances needed, fundraising process, team bonding, health and all of the trip preparations.

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in to his harvest field.” - Matthew 9:35-38

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pupusa Fundraiser Sat, April 9

So Cal friends, please join us on Sat, April 9 for our first pupusa fundraiser to support Sus Hijos/His Children, our ministry partners in El Salvador.  His Hands His Feet has been privileged to partner with Sus Hijos for over five years, bringing the hope of Jesus to children living in government run orphanages, detention centers and safe homes.  Sus Hijos provides constant support to these centers through Bible studies, mentoring opportunities,  English class, sports clinic, counseling services, construction teams, quinceaneras, job opportunities and transitional homes.

We're thrilled that Kurt Ackermann, the founder of Sus Hijos, will be joining us and sharing how God is moving powerfully in the beautiful yet broken country of El Salvador.  This will be Kurt's first visit to CA and he's looking forward to seeing former team members and meeting our 2016 team members.  Stephen Keenan, Village Church missionary to El Salvador, recently returned back to CA after serving with Sus Hijos for 14 months.  Stephen will also be sharing at the fundraiser along with other staff members from His Hands His Feet.

You may be wondering what in the world is a pupusa?  Pupusas are a traditional Salvadorian dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortillas and they're usually filled with beans, cheese, pork, chicken or a blend.  They're absolutely delicious and our short-term teams typically visit a pupusa restaurant on the last night of our week of ministry in San Salvador.  The pupusas that we'll be enjoying at the fundraiser will be prepared by an authentic Salvadorian restaurant in Santa Ana.  Come to enjoy an evening of fellowship and to be challenged and encouraged by how the Lord is working through the hope of the Gospel in Central America.

The dinner will be $10/adult and $5/child and all proceeds will benefit Sus Hijos.  Join us at the Bayside South Clubhouse at 6 pm at 300 East Coast Hwy in Newport Beach.  Parking will be available on Bayside Drive.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why We Do What We Do

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Most of our team members fundraise for their trips costs.  Watching God provide supernaturally for the finances needed for each trip is one of my favorite parts of the trip experience and it's always faith building for every team member.  I also enjoy watching our team members write and send our their fundraising letters.  This week Danielle Straka, one of our returning students from Crean Lutheran High School, submitted her fundraising letter for my review.  I was so moved by her letter that I decided to share part of it here.  Our goal at His Hands His Feet is for the lives of our team members to be forever impacted by our trips.  Clearly, Danielle's life was radically changed and this is exactly why we do what we do...

"As many of you may know, last year I was blessed with the opportunity of going to serve the people of El Salvador on a mission trip. Although I did not know it at the time, going to El Salvador was the best decision I have made in my life thus far. Words cannot begin to describe what an amazing week it was. But I will try my best.

While we were there, we witnessed God working in incredible ways. One amazing experience took place when we hosted a quincenera for special needs orphans. Two sisters who had been living in different government orphanages for years were reunited for the night. While we organized the event, we had no clue that they were related, making the reunion even more special and clearly orchestrated by God. The sisters couldn’t stop hugging and loving on each other. It was a prefect model of the love that Jesus has for all of us.

This is just one example of the many ways we saw God’s love shine in El Salvador. Seeing all this first hand has definitely impacted me more than I could image. It has not only made me want to return this summer, but it has changed my outlook on the important things in life, as well as where I want to go for college and what I want to do for the rest of my life, which is serve in ways similar to what we did in El Salvador."

Please pray for Danielle as she serves with our team this summer and seeks the Lord for direction in her life.  I'm so honored to serve with students who are passionate about missions like Danielle!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Crean Lutheran High 2016 Team

Last week the team from Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, CA, gathered together for a team meeting.  There was lots of excitement in the room with seven returning team members and nine new members.  We're thrilled to announce that two of our high school seniors, Lexi Ramos and Taylor Wasson, will be returning to El Salvador for their third summer of ministry and they will both be serving as our student leaders.  We're so proud of them and their passion for the Lord and the people El Salvador!

Please pray for our team members as they begin fundraising and preparing for their life changing summer of ministry.  We still have a few spaces left on the team.  Contact Jenni Ramsey at ramseyfam5@icloud.com for more information.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

2016 Summer Teams Kick Off

His Hands His Feet Director Jenni Ramsey traveled from Texas to California in January to kick off the So Cal team meetings.  Our summer teams are growing and we're excited to have so many returning team members serving with us this year.  Jenni was privileged to speak to the student body on missions at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, met with the Young Women of Vision quinceanera team as well as the Village Church team.  His Hands His Feet board members Stephanie Keenan, Tanya Eason and Jenni Ramsey had a wonderful time meeting with the Knepper family, close friends and missionary partners in El Salvador who were home on furlough.

Spots are filling up fast for our summer teams, contact Jenni at ramseyfam5@icloud.com if you would like to apply to serve this summer.