Monday, June 26, 2017

Smile and Hug Somebody

Blog post written by Marty Newman from Prosper, Texas

Marty sharing at the boys' orphanage

Well, I didn't see that coming.  On our first full day in El Salvador, after attending  a local church service and enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, we hurried back to the Mission House for a quick change of clothes and were off to a government run orphanage for teenage boys.  Now it was starting to get real.

I had no idea what to expect.  I assumed it would be sad and difficult emotionally.  I assumed the teenage boys would be angry......or depressed.....or both.  Why shouldn't they be?  What would I say to them?  How could I possibly offer them anything when I can't speak hardly any Spanish?  But as our bus pulled up to the gate, I wasn't at all prepared for what I saw.  Four or five young boys running to the gate to greet us.  Huge smiles on their faces.  The emotion?  Pure joy.

Wait....what?  I guess I didn't need to worry.  I had prayed about this very moment........for God to give me the right words and actions when the time came.  And, He did.  As I walked through the gate, it became obvious what I needed to do.  I smiled.....and I put my arms around them.  Again and again.  They responded.  With joy.

We were prepared to play games because that's what teenage boys like to do.  We had balls for soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and frisbees.  I dearly love basketball and played for years as a younger man.  I jumped at the chance to help organize a game.  It was a little ragged, but fun.  Most importantly, connections were made.  "Carlos" and "Juan" were on my team.  By the time the game was finished, we were buds.  After a water break, Carlos picked up the basketball, and though neither of us spoke the other's language, he made it clear he wanted to go back to the court.  So we did.  Just the two of us.  Now Juan wasn't athletically gifted, but he was eager.  So, I worked with him a little on his dribbling and showed him how to figure 8 around his legs.  He picked it up pretty quickly and loved it.  Then, we worked on his shot, and after a few minutes he was routinely making first close in shots, and then a free throw or two.  More joy.

Then "Edwin" wandered over.  I would describe Edwin as borderline special needs, and physically challenged.  But after a few minutes, he was also routinely banking in short shots.  He was BEAMING!  Here comes that word again.  Joy.  Not just for them for me also.  Yeah, I really didn't see that coming.

A couple of the young ladies on our mission team are professional hair stylists.  Dina and Jessica had the good sense to bring clippers and scissors with them and were giving all the boys that wanted one, a new clip.  Gel included.  They spent hours.  More joy.  For the boys, but also for Dina and Jessica.  (A quick side boy had by far the most thick, lustrous, Elvis like hair you have ever seen.  It was my bball teammate, the perfectly named Fabio).

So how do I wrap this up?  Well, I just completed my first 24 hours of mission work.  I had no experience, and I had no idea what to expect.  I simply trusted that if I was willing to go, and let the love of Jesus shine through me, that he would empower me when the time came.  So here is my now expert technique:  smile and then hug somebody.  And don't be surprised when you get more out of it than the ones you're there to serve.

El Salvador, You Have My Heart!

Blog post written by Kim Newman from Prosper, Texas

El Salvador, you have my heart. Today's church service at Monte Calvario exceeded all expectations. I have to admit, I was a little concerned about a longer service and no AC. Yes, I know, that's a first world problem. I was soon quickly distracted by an out-pouring of passion-filled praise and worship in a language that I have not mastered yet. And even though I didn't exactly comprehend  what I was singing, it didn't matter because I know I was glorifying God. Prayers were lifted up to our heavenly  Father in such an inspirational way that I was nearly moved to tears. Yes, again in a language that is vaguely familiar to me. How can this be? Because our God is great, and the power of the Holy Spirit transcends all boundaries and borders. 

Impromptu testimonies, a thought provoking sermon by our own Chris Cain from Lighthouse Christian Fellowship about knowing God, praise and worship music  that was produced with such passion, worshipping as one community, and I never even looked at my watch once. You see, the people here aren't concerned with their church service extending over the allotted hour and a half. They aren't looking to the next thing they have to accomplish on Sunday before they go back to work on Monday. They instead glorify and honor their Creator with no concept of time.  Thank you, amigos de San Salvador, for such an authentic experience, 
and glory to God on high for the Great Awakening.

Bologna and Cheese and the Gospel

Blog post written by Chris Cain from Prosper, Texas

Dios le bendiga

It’s not the stomach groans.  It can’t be. Or protruding bone borrowing skin until the time when muscle and fat might once again comfort its span. It’s not that either.  Nor is it their eyes,  half sunk and beady, glazed with misery while remaining keen.         No.        It’s not their eyes.  Maybe it’s their clothes, tattered and torn like any cheap thread count would surely be after long nights on short concrete steps.  But I don’t think that’s it.  

What is it plucking the strings of my heart to the tune of Sorrow and Pity while chords of hope and joy round out the arrangement? Such a strange feeling . . . 

From my hand I extend a good bologna and cheese sandwich and from my soul I am extending something much greater.  

And I’ve concluded that while the rest of the world could easily hand out a sandwich to someone in need, they can’t do it like I can—like a Christian does it.  Tonight, I realized as some 20ish sandwiches departed my hands for theirs, a measure of grace is given that they could not taste apart from hands of God’s redeemed. 

There’s something spiritual about a bologna and cheese sandwich, after all.  At least for the Christian there is. While we certainly aren’t distributing some Ziploc variety of salvation with a light mayonnaise spread, we are (when we serve and when we give) providing a bite sized glimpse into God’s Kingdom—a place where all belong and everyone receives only because of the Giver and never due to any merit of those who hunger to partake.  

Is this not a portion of the ministry of Christ, Himself—to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to miraculously feed thousands?  And to what end?  The healed would likely be sick again, the raised would most certainly die once more, the fed would soon enough be hungry. 

Jesus was no short-sighted humanitarian.  He was (and is) an eternal King ushering in his Kingdom where in the fullness of his rule there is no sickness, there is no death and those who have partaken of his divine nature will never hunger or thirst again. 

And so we feed the hungry, we care for the homeless, we bestow bologna and we confer cheese in the name and example of Jesus knowing that as they satisfy their stomachs there’s a god, our God, who longs to satisfy their souls.  

No it’s not the stomach groans. It never was. It was their hearts all along, projecting pitch like a dog whistle—silent to those who cannot hear but piercing to any half-hearing hound on the backside of the globe.  

Like that hound, surely the Spirit of God hears their cries and responds, providing the salvation we cannot.

Yes, God saves and we give sandwiches and a blessing of hope.

Dios le bendiga.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lighthouse Send Off

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

His Hands His Feet is incredibly thrilled to be sending our first team from TX to serve in El Salvador on June 24 in partnership with Lighthouse Christian Fellowship.  This past Sunday the team was commissioned by the elders in the church service.  The Lighthouse children's ministry collected hundreds of stuffed animals to send with the team.  They joined us for the send off to pray over all of the children who will receive the stuffed animals. It was a powerful time of prayer and commissioning.

Our team consists of eighteen volunteers from TX, AL and CA.  We have seven teenagers on the team (ranging from ages 13-18) and our youngest team member, Elianna, is eleven years old.  This is an incredible group of servants!  Please pray for our team as we prepare this week.  We are deeply humbled to take the hope of the Gospel to the beautiful people of El Salvador!

"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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Eating Burgers for El Salvador

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Last Sunday we gathered with one-hundred of our closest friends to eat burgers and raise money for El Salvador at JC's Burger House in Prosper.  We had an incredible turn out and kept the restaurant busy all night long.  The team raised $220 and enjoyed some great fellowship together.  Our family loves the small town feel of Prosper and the we're so grateful for all of the support we've received for our work among orphans in Central America.

We need your help! Our team still needs $6700 by June 1 since all funds must be wired to El Salvador three weeks before travel.  If you feel led to support the team, you can donate by clicking the "donate" button on the top of this blog, or mail a check to His Hands His Feet, 69 Saratoga, Newport Beach CA 92660.  All donations are tax-deductible.  Our team will be serving in El Salvador from June 24-July 1, where we'll have the privilege of visiting children living in government run orphanages, building a home for a needy family, serving in a local church and providing meals to the homeless community. Thank you for being on this incredible journey with us! Your prayers and financial support allow us to take the hope of the Gospel to the beautiful people of El Salvador!

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." - Deuteronomy 10:18

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My 3 Day Trip to El Salvador

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

This past week I had the joy of taking a short trip to El Salvador, only a three hour flight from Dallas. My three day trip was beyond incredible.  In fact, it's hard to find the words to describe the emotions I experienced during my time there, with all that God did in our midst and the anticipation that floods my heart as I prepare to lead our teams back this summer.

The main reason for my trip was to attend the quinceanera (fifteenth birthday celebration) of Trinity Knepper.  Trinity's parents, David and Kathy, are full time missionaries in El Salvador, serving with Calvary Chapel.  We have known the Knepper family for seven years and they have become very dear friends. The Kneppers are one of our long-term ministry partners and their family has served with over ten of our short-term teams.  A quinceanera is a significant rite of passage for a Latin American teen girl. Trinity's party was Christ-centered and she used her celebration to publicly proclaim her commitment to Him and desire to serve Him with her life.  Trinity also shared her quinceanera with a young girl from their church, who would not have been able to throw a party in light of her family's circumstances.  It was so touching to watch David dance with both Trinity and Michelle.  What a powerful demonstration of the Gospel!

Is is traditional at a quinceanera for the birthday girl to present a candle to people who've had a significant impact on her life.  I was deeply touched as Trinity called me forward and presented me with a candle.  It was an emotional moment that I will never forget. Trinity and her family are so special to me and I'm so grateful that the Lord allowed me to be in El Salvador to celebrate this momentous occasion.

I was blessed to attend an incredibly powerful missions service, where the church prayed over missionaries who are serving all over the world.  Many of these missionaries serve in closed countries, where persecution is intense.  We were forbidden to take photos of these families in light of the risk it might present. Their faith and dedication was humbling.  The Lord is raising up Latin American missionaries to minister to the Muslim world, where they have favor, cultural similarities and open doors to share the Gospel. It's truly an honor to be a part of the mobilization of these missionaries into some of the darkest places in the world!  God is on the move and we know that the Gospel is the only answer to the suffering that so many people face today. 

It was such a gift to spend my Mother's Day with the girls who live in the Sus Hijos transition home, some of whom I have known for many years.  Sadly, the kids living in government run orphanages are kicked out when they turn eighteen.  Many have nowhere to turn, and end up living on the streets or joining gangs.  In light of this, Sus Hijos has opened two homes for young men and women, where they provide life skills, family structure, counseling, discipleship and full time jobs at the States Diner for all of the residents.  We enjoyed an unforgettable girls' night out/slumber party and dined at an amazing restaurant on the hills of a volcano, with stunning views of San Salvador.  

The girls were given gifts that I had brought from friends in Texas;  new pajamas, make up, jewelry, nail polish, hygiene products and clothing.  It warmed my heart to watch their faces light up as they opened their gifts and giggled with glee!  They were so excited and I loved watching them as they were pampered.  I was able to share my testimony at the end of the evening and encourage them with the hope that Jesus has given me in the midst of painful experiences in my life.  The Lord has clearly given each of them hope for their futures and it's such a joy to watch them grow into godly women who've been healed and empowered by His Spirit! I can't wait to be back in El Salvador next month and continue to watch His redeeming work in their lives!

Monday, May 1, 2017

TX Team Update

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

Yesterday our team from Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in Prosper, Texas, hosted a successful bake sale during our church luncheon and night of worship. We raised almost $1700!  We're so grateful for the support of our church family!

Please pray for our team as we continue to fundraise.  We still need over $10,000 to cover all travel and ministry costs.  This team will be starting construction on a new home for a family in need. We'll also be visiting children living in government run orphanages, providing meals to people living on the streets of El Salvador and participating in a worship serve at Monte Calvario Church.  The team from Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, CA, will complete the home that will be started by Lighthouse in the end of July.  Thank you for your prayers and support!

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." - Deuteronomy 10:18