“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” – John 14:18
Blog posted by Jenni Ramsey
Our team is now 35,000 miles in the air and the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. We are all processing the incredible week that we shared together. I felt a deep sense of pain in my heart as we ascended into the air. But that pain was mixed with the excitement and anticipation of what God has begun to do in our hearts through our life-changing week together.
One of the highlights of our week was serving alongside the Ackermann family. The Ackermanns have lived in El Salvador for seven years and serve in numerous orphanages throughout the country. They have a deep burden and passion for the Salvadorian people. God has given them incredible vision and dreams for this nation that resound in all of our hearts. We are each praying about how God will lead us to partner with them in the future. Their mission home was a “home away from home” and they truly have the gift of hospitality. Kurt Ackermann told us that there are over 5,000 orphanages / children’s homes in El Salvador. This number is astounding since El Salvador is such a small nation (the size of Massachusetts). But this tiny little country is gripped by poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and sexual oppression. Clearly these issues deeply affect the children of this beautiful nation and we were blessed to be HIS HANDS and HIS FEET among them this week!
During our week of ministry we experienced extreme contrasts. We were broken by stories of abuse, neglect, abandonment, hunger and helplessness. We were brought to tears by the heart breaking backgrounds of the children in the government orphanage. As I shared in the blog post on Monday, the first child that I held was black and blue because of the abuse he suffered from his mother . His story was very disturbing and we all wanted to “rescue” these kids and bring them home. We heard other stories that are too gruesome and difficult for me to recount on this blog.
However, we also experienced hope, redemption, healing and the beautiful sounds of laughter from the Salvadorian children. We will never forget the hugs and smiles that we shared with these children and the sense of joy that we felt as we brought gifts to the orphanages. After serving in the government home, we were relieved to experience the contrast at the Calvary Chapel home (Potters Field). The children at Potters Field are blessed to be part of an extremely loving family. They are welcomed and embraced in this home unconditionally. They have many “tias” (aunts) who care for them as well as a “madre y padre” (the pastor and his wife) who live on the property and consider them their own. When we invited Pastor Alejandro and his family to join us at the beach, their response was that “they are a family of 21!” and we’d have to bring them all! They don’t go anywhere without all of the boys in the home. This deeply touched our hearts and spoke clearly of their love and commitment to the boys. This was a drastic contrast from the government home and a powerful testimony of the transforming love of Jesus. We were challenged and sobered by the incredible opportunity that the Church has to care for “the least of these.” The Potters Field staff and all of the missionaries that we served with this week are truly serving the fatherless and we were honored to serve alongside them.
We were all impacted by our time with David and Kathy Knepper, Salvadorian American missionaries (from So Cal) who serve with Calvary Chapel. David and Kathy were asked to host our team at Potters Field at the last minute since the orphanage director had emergency surgery. We all believe that our time with David and Kathy was a “divine appointment.” The Kneppers have a deep heart for the children of El Salvador, and are seeking God’s possible plan for their family in adoption. God is doing some exciting things in their lives and we look forward to keeping in touch with them and seeing what God has in store for their family.
We also heard incredible stories of family reunifications and adoptions. Emily and I had an encouraging meeting with government officials and were honored to visit two children who have been matched with families in our adoption agency. It was an incredible experience and I loved wearing my “adoption agency worker” hat! We also distributed meals to 150 homeless and brought temporary relief and warmth to their hearts. I will never forget the smiles and shouts of “gracias” that we received. We held abandoned babies, played soccer with forgotten children, shared our personal stories of God’ healing in our lives and were honored to serve alongside American missionaries and local believers who labor endlessly to change their nation.
One of the greatest highlights of the week was leading the teenage girls to give their hearts to Jesus at the government home. Their hearts were open and they were clearly touched by the testimonies that our team members shared. One of our concerns and prayers was that God would provide ongoing follow up and discipleship for these young women who were so hungry for truth. We were praying about this specifically on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday night we invited a Salvadorian American missionary (Noemi Moore) to join us for dinner. I had connected with Noemi a few months ago through another American family that is waiting to adopt in El Salvador. To our hearts’ delight, we discovered that Noemi is working specifically with the group of girls that we prayed with. The government orphanage has allowed her to meet with these young women and she is teaching them a curriculum on sexual purity. She is also discipling them in the things of God and had actually met with ten of these girls that very afternoon. We were so encouraged to know that God had already placed His people in this desperately needy center to minister to these beautiful girls.
(Noemi Moore with Jenni, Emily & Kylie Ackermann)
The kids on our team did really well and I was so proud of them! Stephen became very close with our driver (Santiago) and he loved playing sports with every child and teen that he met. Many of the kids were encouraged by Stephen’s life and faith after hearing Stephanie’s testimony of raising Stephen as a single mom. Nico also loved playing sports and I was so blessed that he shared his testimony with almost 100 kids! Julia made many, many yarn bracelets for the children. It touches my hearts to know that these kids will remember us every time they look at Julia’s bracelets. Both of the missionary families that we served with have 4 children. The kids on our team became close friends with their kids, and we enjoyed listening to their laughter and watching them run and play together each day.
There is so much more to share, but those stories will come in the days, weeks and months ahead. Thank you again for all of your support, love and encouragement. Our team felt deeply supported and we were blessed and honored to deliver your sacrificial gifts to the children and missionaries of El Salvador.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! We could not have experienced this amazing week without your support!
Please continue to check the blog for future team updates and trip dates!
Jenni for the team
“Learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless.” – Isaiah 1:17