Monday, July 25, 2011

Jenni's Response to the El Salvador Article Printed in The OC Register


We are grateful to The OC Register for printing a story about Aidan's Silly Bandz outreach project. The article was titled "North Tustin brothers would rather give than receive."

To read the article, click here:

http://www.ocregister.com/news/salvador-309547-aidan-jenni.html

The original article (printed on July 23rd, 2011) contained a number of errors. We are grateful for the immediate response of the OC Register staff, who corrected the errors. The article will be reprinted in The Tustin News this week. I have included some additional information below which was not printed in the article:

(1) Our background in outreach/humanitarian aide. Mike and I have been honored to serve overseas in relief, development and outreach for over twenty years. Together we have served in over sixty countries. I am blessed to serve as the Missions Director at The Village Church of Irvine. Mike serves as the Elders of Missions at The Village Church and we have both lead many international outreach teams all over the world. Mike first visited El Salvador in 2006 to participate in an orphanage dedication and my work in El Salvador began in 2009.

(2) Our Adoption Journey. The writer did not include detailed information about our adoption. He only mentioned that our orphan outreach trips started through our desire to adopt in El Salvador. Unfortunately, we withdrew from the El Salvador adoption program last year after experiencing ongoing delays and corruption in our case. It was a heart breaking and devastating decision to withdraw from the program after waiting for over three years. We lost $15,000 when we withdrew from El Salvador and had to begin the process of adoption all over again. Last fall we were accepted to adopt from South Korea, and our family is anxiously waiting to be matched with a baby girl. We are currently raising funds for our adoption in Korea. To read more about our adoption, visit our family adoption blog at:

www.ramseyfam.com

While we originally hoped to adopt in El Salvador, we believe that our orphan work in this country was part of our destiny. Our "eyes were opened" to the tremendous needs of El Salvador's orphans through our adoption journey. We are deeply passionate about adoption, which is why I work for an international adoption agency. We strongly believe that adoption or family reunification is the best outcome for every child, and that no child should grow up in an orphanage. Every child deserves a "forever family." We are honored to partner with two Christian ministries in El Salvador, which passionately care for the interests of orphaned children. The families that we serve under truly work "on the front lines of the battlefield in El Salvador" and we are privileged to bring "relief and support" as we serve them through our trips

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Re-entry, Culture Shock and Yucky Tummies...

Post written by Jenni Ramsey

This blog post is specifically written to the friends and family members of our super-sensational El Salvador team! You may be wondering how to support team members this week as they process their life-changing experiences abroad. Many of the team members are experiencing culture shock as they adjust back to "life in the OC." Some of us are battling "bugs" in our tummies (including me). Mike is on his way to pick up my prescription as I write this post snuggled beneath the cozy sheets of our bed. My advice in supporting team members? LISTEN!!! Each team member will process their trip in various ways, but everyone needs to talk, share stories and photos. I encourage you to invite a team member to coffee and listen to their stories. Or call a team member on the phone and be prepared to listen. Be intentional and try not to give advice. This is exactly what each team member needs at this point in time.


Mike had a great word picture the other day that described our adventure perfectly. He said that "he felt like he had just seen a train wreck in El Salvador. He bandaged a few of the injured passengers, prayed for some and distributed gifts to the 'lucky ones.' Then he left." Our hearts are torn as we remember the devastating needs in El Salvador and adjust to our "comfortable lives" in Southern California. Please pray for our team members, listen and encourage them. Thank you for being part of our support team!

We also wanted to share a quick update on the opportunities that we have had to publicize our trip. Before our departure, we sent some photos of Aidan with his silly bands to our local newspapers. When we arrived home, we were thrilled to see Aidan's photo included in our local paper, The Foothills Sentry. This afternoon three staff members from The OC Register came to our home to do a story. They visited with us for an hour and a half, taking photos and asking questions. Jordan was also able to share about his trip to El Salvador last year. Their stories will be printed in The OC Register and The Tustin News in the next week! We are so grateful for these opportunities to share all that God is doing in our lives! Please continue to follow the blog as we'll continue to post udpates!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

HOME SWEET HOME!!! Team Dessert Wed, July 27th!

Post written by Jenni Ramsey

Our team had an adventurous travel day today! It started when the alarm "neglected to ring" in the girls' bungalow! We set a record time in packing and loading the bus, only to face a flat tire just a few miles down the road. We made it to the airport with time to spare in our bright blue t-shirts (which were printed by Kurt and Susan Ackermann's ministry, "His Children"). They say: WORKING FOR THE LORD, WORKING FOR HIS CHILDREN - El SALVADOR 2011 (in English on the front and Spanish on the back). The shirts sparked many interesting conversations in the airport and on the plane.


There was a short delay on the plane due to a cargo door problem, but we finally ascended into the air with tearful eyes and our hearts and souls filled with the wonders of the week. One of our team members, Stephen Keenan, is staying in El Salvador for two more weeks to serve alongside Kurt and Susan at the government orphanage. Please remember to pray for Stephen and all that he will experience in the next two weeks. He will be posting on the blog.

We will be hosting a dessert and report for our team on Wednesday, July 27, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Ramsey's home. PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND JOIN US as we share stories, photos and videos from our week of service together. Please contact Jenni at jenni.ramsey@cox.net for the address.

Please continue to follow our blog as we will be posting ongoing updates, thoughts and inspirations. Many of our team members are already dreaming about the next trip scheduled for July, 2012. God has placed a vision in the hearts of some of the women on the team to minister in a specific way to the teenage girls in the government orphanage. Please be praying for us as we consider this vision in the days, weeks and months to come. We have a sense that many of our team members will be returning to El Salvador for ongoing short-term, and possibly long-term missions service. Stay tuned for more!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finding God in the Midst of Suffering


Blog written by Jenni Ramsey

This week our team has encountered stories of poverty, abuse, incest, unwanted pregnancies, abandonment, addictions and other atrocities in the faces of children too heart breaking to post on this blog. For most Americans, these issues pose the question, “Where is God in the midst of suffering?” I do not presume to have all of the answers to the deep things of God. But I do know this. In the past seven days God has been right here in our midst.


Our team has been reading through David Platt’s book, “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.” In chapter seven, David Platt submits that God’s people are the answer to the pain and suffering in the world today. He says that Christ’s followers “are the plan of God, and there is no plan B.” As I was reading through this chapter on the flight to El Salvador, God gave me a name for our team, “The Plan A Team.” It has been overwhelming and humbling to realize that we have truly been “God’s Plan A” for the people of El Salvador this week.


I saw the perfect plan of God as I watched my eight-year old son hold, feed and hug abandoned babies. I saw the gracious plan of God in a homeless man’s smile as he shouted “gracias!” and grabbed a bag of food from our truck. I saw God’s plan as my friend Tanya listened to and counseled a teenage mom. Later she cut her hair, and struggled to let her go in an unforgettable good-bye embrace.


I saw the plan of God as the men on our team worked tirelessly in life-squelching heat building a home for elderly men and women who have been forgotten. I saw God’s sacrificial plan as my friend Carin removed the shoes from her feet and handed them to a construction worker in desperate need of shoes. The stories of God’s plans being accomplished through our team are endless. It has been a privilege to be His plan of mercy, compassion and relief to “the least of these.”


We’ve spent a lot of time this week reflecting on God’s plans for our lives as “The Plan A Team.” Proverbs 19:21 says that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Psalm 33:11 tells us that “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purpose of His heart through all generations.” And Psalm 40:4-5 says “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you, were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”


Our world is broken. No doubt about it. This week we have been reminded that God is a Redeemer, and He can heal anything that has been broken. Anything. By His grace, He has chosen to use us in bringing hope and joy to El Salvador this week. As we return home, we have a heightened awareness of the fact that we are His plan for the hurting world around us. As one of the team leaders, my heart and prayer is that each team member will return home remembering that they are God’s Plan A to reach the suffering souls surrounding them. And Lord willing, many of us will return to serve His people in El Salvador one day soon.

Thoughts from Mike Ramsey


I am so proud of our team. As Dave Eason Senior stated yesterday, we’ve done in one week what most teams do in two. But I can honestly say that the “doing” has only been a small part of our experience here in El Salvador.

I sat in bed the other night and counted how many short term missions trips I’ve been part of and/or led the past 25 years. I’m fairly certain this trip is #17 for me, not counting vacations and the extended times I’ve spent overseas. But I sit in awe of how Jesus has preserved in my heart the newness and freshness of serving Him. I take joy in seeing the Holy Spirit work through my team members and cherish every moment I have encouraging them to recognize what God is doing in and through them.

It’s been almost 10 years since Jenni and I co-led a team together, not through lack of want. It simply wasn’t practical to drag two toddler boys across the globe while leading teams. One of us would go, while the other would "hold down the fort." But now that Aidan is 8 years old, he’s more than ready to serve alongside the team. I’ve been so proud of his heart for Jesus and the fruit of compassion that has been flowing from it. In fact, all the children on our team, Aidan, Samantha, Taylor, Micah and Rebecca have been a key part of our ministry and they’ve all shown tremendous amounts of love. We’ve been mainly ministering to children, so it makes sense that our own kids would play a big part in reaching the orphans.

Everyone else has done such a great job at sharing the details of our trip. There’s nothing else I can say except that it’s been obvious to me that every event, from visiting CIPI, to feeding the homeless, to mixing cement at the church has been beautifully orchestrated by our Sovereign God! This trip has been, in a nutshell, perfect. Yes, we’ve been busy, but it really hasn’t seemed that way because we’ve been fueled by the Word of God, prayer and encouragement.


Not to brag too much on Jenni, but she is an amazing co-leader and I believe her conviction to help focus everything back on Jesus has made all the difference. We’ve had tremendous unity on our team despite being a big group with a lot of different personalities. I’ve been excited to see the Lord using other team members to help build unity. Yesterday, Amanda stayed home with a stomach ache. My heart broke as we prayed for her, then as I stepped on the bus, I could see the tears in her eyes. I knew she wanted to join us, but it was clear she needed to stay home. And when we got back, it was obvious that Jesus took precious time to minister to our dear sister. So much so, that the rest of our team was blessed in our team meeting last night as Amanda shared scripture verses and words of affirmation the Lord gave her for each and every team member. Amanda’s words have been a tremendous blessing and at a time when teams are usually mentally separating from each other in preparing to go home, our team is still tightly knit in ministering to each other.


My prayer is that Jesus will preserve what He is doing through our team and bless our church through our experience in the weeks and months to come. I pray our zeal for sharing our faith will spread to our church family as we return home to share the Gospel with our co-workers, classmates, neighbors and family. And my prayer is that whoever is reading this will gain a heart to join a future missions trip, financially support a missionary and pray more for missions.

I am extremely grateful for our team, but also the Salvadorians who helped us this week and especially for those of you who have supported us through your prayers and finances. And I have peace in knowing that the people we have ministered to this week will receive excellent follow up from the long term missionaries we have been serving with.

Micah's Memories


This trip has been so awesome! The guys and I have been doing construction at The Potter’s Field, San Martin, and at another place in the countryside. The place in the countryside (Angostura) is a farm land where Calvary planted a new church. While the girls were playing with the kids, the guys and I were mixing and pouring concrete to help build a pond. The pond is going to have tilapia fish that will feed the poor village. Also, the fish fertilize the crops that make them grow better and more plentifully. So, this system is like a cycle that keeps on feeding the village for a long time. When we were mixing the concrete, there were other workers that helped us.



The worker that inspired me the most was a 79 year old man (named "abuelo") who was working as hard or even harder than anyone else. He made me work even harder because if a man who turns 80 in November is working that hard every day, then I could work as hard as him for only two short days mixing concrete on that property. The other two days we were working at The Potter's Field digging trenches. We were starting a bungalow for homeless people. The bungalow will become a home for the elderly who are homeless. It has been really hot when we are working but overall the weather has been really nice. Today is our R and R day and I’m really looking forward to it. We are going to the volcano. That is why this trip has been really awesome.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Aidan's Adventures - insights from our youngest team member


This is my first time out of the country. My favorite thing about El Salvador is giving silly bands out to orphans. I really like being with orphans and helping them. The first day I went into the orphanage they gave us a tour. We went into the baby area first. I saw the team standing there and they didn’t want to leave the babies. Then we went into the sewing area. We said hello, we hugged a girl, we walked through the room and saw the special needs area. Then we went to see the teenage girls’ area, then the teenage moms/baby room. Then we saw the school and looked at a huge painting on the wall. We visited the schoo and I even got to play Legos with a boy. Then we walked back up the stairs.


After that we started to do our projects – painting, helping special needs kids and holding babies. I helped in the baby area and also helped with painting. I felt like I helped so much. I wasn’t painting just for fun, I liked it because I was really helping orphans. God felt happy.


El Salvador is fun because I can sit in the front seat of vans & trucks with no seat belts and the cops don’t care.

The third night we went to bring food to a homeless area. My parents made me sit in the front of the truck. I felt sad because most of the team was sitting in back. My favorite part of that was handing out two bags of food. A man went running super fast up to the truck and grabbed the food out of my hand. I watched him give the food to another man, and run back for his own meal. I couldn’t believe that a homeless person would help someone else. At the end of our night I got to sit in the back of the truck and I was not scared.

On our last day at the government orphanage, we did lots and lots of piƱatas and it was really fun. We put silly bands in the pinatas and the kids loved that.

The next morning we packed up to go to a new orphanage and left Kurt’s house. In mid-day, we left and finally arrived in the afternoon. I went into my room called a bungalow. My bungalow is fun. It’s men only, no girls allowed, just like a "man cave." I like that this is a Christian orphanage. It’s a boys only orphanage. The orphans are regular kids that help each other and play. They seem like they are brothers and friends.

One our first night at the Christian orphanage my mom and dad talked in the church service. I did 2 pinatas with kids and had so much fun. One kid even gave me lollypop. The girls on the team were taking a big group picture. I surprised them and poked my head through their legs for the photo. I was wild and running around at church, being crazy. I was crazy because I was so happy. That night I slept really well.

The next morning we played soccer with the boys. They became my new friends asked me to play. We got ready to go to a poor area out and I found out that Amanda wasn't feeling well. I felt sorry for her, but am glad that she is better today.


I can’t wait to come back to El Salvador again.

Our last day of ministry

Post written by Jacque Younger and Kendall Langdon

As the week comes to a close, we were blessed to wake up in beautiful San Martin at the Potter’s Field orphanage. When we arrived last night there was an obvious difference between CIPI and Potter's Field. Potter's Field is a Christian orphanage that houses 17 boys and provides church services for the community on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. They also host an after-school program. The environment for the orphan boys is that they are a "giant family" to the staff.

The rainforest surrounds the property, which is full of classrooms, gardens, a beautiful soccer field, and a church in the middle.
This morning we woke up to a traditional and delicious Salvadorian breakfast that consisted of plantains, rice and beans, fresh bread, fruit, and scrambled eggs. We now have high expectations for breakfast when we get home (wink wink). After our breakfast we joined the older orphan boys in a game of soccer, including their coach, Alejandro, who played on the El Salvador's national team and is now the pastor of the church. We were surprised to see how talented the boys were at soccer but we embraced the challenge and made fools of ourselves in the process. Because the field was wet and muddy we were slipping around all over the place and covered in mud by the end of the game!

Once the game ended Micah and I (Kendall) were given the opportunity to share our testimonies with the boys. It was an awesome chance to tell the boys that we were in El Salvador to share God’s love with them and to bless them and to be changed from our experience here. Throughout our entire time at the orphanage, the boys blessed us with their infectious and contagious smiles that will forever be ingrained in our hearts.

Later we headed to a community outreach in a poor village where Calvary Chapel has recently planted a church. It was located an hour and a half away from San Martin in the middle of poverty and farmland. Some of the children walked for over 30 minutes to be with us today. We were disappointed that we had given away all of the donated shoes because it was clear that shoes were desperately needed. We noticed that many shoes were broken and falling apart on the kids' feet. We even heard a heart breaking story of two sisters who share one pair of shoes. One waits at home until the other returns, stuck at home shoeless. Needless to say, there is tremendous need here and we hope to return one day with hundreds of shoes.


We led a small church service for the kids where I (Jacque) was able to share my testimony along with Jenni and Stephanie. I also had the opportunity to sing a song with Carin, Becca, and Sam. Mike and Aidan gave a short message on the importance of following Jesus. Throughout the service, the other men on the team continued serving in the construction project just alongside the church. We also hosted a soccer game for the older kids, did arts and crafts and ended with a pinata (filled with candies and sillly bands). Tomorrow is our R & R day. We will be visiting the volcano crater and doing some souvenir shopping. Hasta luego!

Feeding the Homeless

Post written by Tanya Eason -

The evening started at 8pm. We packed 240 plastic bags filled with a sandwich, chips, fruit, and a juice box. We loaded up Kurt's pick up truck (the diesel truck that can be heard in the quiet of the night) and headed off to parts of San Salvador that you would not want to find yourself during the day. On the average there are no less than 15 homicides DAILY. Once the sun goes down, the vendors close shop, the gangs leave the streets, and all that's left are the homeless and the prostitutes.


This particular evening was extremely cold, wet and rainy. We got to experience first hand NO relief from the elements just as the people on the street. It gave us even more compassion to serve. As we made our way down the streets, the people would run up to the truck for their bag. We would say "Dios Te Bendiga" which translates to "God Bless You" as we handed it over. We received huge smiles from the men, women and children with a loud "Gracias". We felt like angels coming with relief. The crazy thing was that not one of us felt the least bit of fear. Some may say "ignorance is bliss" but we know that our "rose colored glasses" came straight from the Lord.


Taken from our team book "Radical," David Platt tells us that Jesus reminded his disciples that their safety was not found in the comforts of this world but in the control of The Sovereign God over this world. We can rest confident in the fact that nothing will happen to us in this world apart from the gracious will of the sovereign God. NOTHING!

This was by far the most amazing thing that my family has ever experienced. From riding in the back of the jam-packed pick up truck in the rain, to driving in areas that looked like a movie set with people you only see on a commercial for a 3rd world country, we were definitely impacted. You can only imagine how wide the doors opened for discussion between the mothers with children:-D

Because this is an ongoing ministry for the Ackermann family, we were asked not to take any pictures while on the streets. Their compassion and heart for the homeless is that all would be feed in a dignified manner and not exploited.

Giving away our shoes...

Post written by Jenni Ramsey -

Last night we arrived at The Calvary Chapel property, "Potter's Field." Potter's Field is a beautiful, lush and tropical "refuge," a sharp contrast from the shantytown located right outside the large green doors and concrete walls. This ministry was birthed by Dave Eason's (one of our team members) grandparents in 1968 and their family has a tremendous legacy in this place. Dave's father, Dave Eason Senior, is serving alongside our team and he has been a tremendous blessing. We have settled in here for the remaining last three days of the trip. The team is currently playing soccer with the boys that live at Potters Field while a few of us take advantage of internet access in the office and update the blog. We do not have internet access in our "bungalows" (sleeping areas). This afternoon we will be serving a children's neighborhood outreach in a poor village about 1 1/2 hours away. We are bringing arts and crafts, pinatas, silly bands and hearts ready to serve.

Yesterday was our last day serving at CIPI, the government center. We brought the kids pinatas and took time visiting each group area to say our tearful good byes. It was also a blessing to bring shoes to most of the children, who laughed, screamed and loved picking their "perfect pair" of shoes. When we opened the bags of shoes in the teenage girls' area, we realized in grave disappointment that we did not have enough shoes for these girls. We had one bag filled with clothes, and some of the girls chose clothing instead of shoes. However, a few girls remained with empty looks, wondering if they would receive any shoes. Then something supernatural happened. We had recorded their shoe sizes, and realized that some of our team members were the exact same size. Amanda, Kendall, Jacque and I were honored to give up our shoes to bless these precious girls, who literally own nothing. Amanda later shared that her shoes were recently purchased (Nike running shoes), but God clearly spoke to her to give them away.


It's one thing to give away shoes that have been donated, but another to gladly take the shoes off your feet and walk away shoeless. I am so proud of this team and the way in which they selflessly give and serve. One of the highlights of the trip for me has been watching God powerfully transform the team members' lives. God is constantly reminding me that these trips are part of the "fruit" of our failed adoption. It is incredible. While our dream of adopting in El Salvador has been lost, we are honored to continue to serve His orphans through leading these teams. And He has not forgotten us. He has led us to wait and trust Him as one day we will finally hold and carry home our little Korean princess.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

God's Revelation....

Blog written by Amanda...

Never in my life have I experienced the abundant love, overwhelming peace, and promised hope of Jesus Christ like I did today in El Salvador. Today God gave me the opportunity to sit on the floor of the teenage moms' room and place hands on three young mothers that desperately wanted to fill their hearts with the love and grace of God. Today I held a one month old baby girl in my arms and prayed over her. Today we brought fingernail polish and lotion and painted the hands and feet of the beautiful girls. Today we gathered a group of 30 young ladies, in the rain, who listened to Jenni, Carin, Stephanie, and my testimonies. Today myself and my team carried out God's plan.


The team and I spent another day at CIPI and witnessed how awesome our God is. Many times throughout the day I smiled and told God how extremely happy I am that I am in El Salvador serving His beloved people. A small group of us (Carin, Jenny [one of our teams AWESOME translators], Kendall, and Kathy Knepper) went to hang out with the teen mothers and their babies expecting to dance, as we did yesterday, and paint their nails. However, God's plan was far better, exceeding all of our expectations. The moms have a "tia," who works for the orphanage and looks after them during the day. She informed us that last night the girls woke up frightened after finding one of the babies on the floor, unclothed, and with a smile on his face. Another girl woke up feeling as though someone was on her suffocating her. They asked their "tia" if the American team were Christians and if so, would they pray for them? We took this opportunity to explain to them that God is bigger than any fear we have on earth.


God is greater than fear. God is our comforter, protector, and ultimate peace. We then prayed over the girls and asked if anyone of them desired to ask Jesus into their heart. As our translator spoke in Spanish, (with the little Spanish I know, I knew exactly what she was telling them) I got up and sat next to three girls who then rose their hands. I laid my hands around them and instantly felt as if my heart was going to beat out of my chest. My hands were tingling and tears rolled down my face. I felt the Holy Spirt entering into those girls. God then told me, over and over, "this is where I want you."


After lunch, we returned and so did the rain. Our plan was to gather the girls, sit with them, and share our stories. We told our intimate stories of pain and hurt; the before God and after God; and then the hope and peace we now have. These testimonies completely shocked the girls. These are girls (no more than 15 years old), who have experienced abuse (in every way), abandonment, unwanted pregnancies and more. These girls never would have believed that people like us had gone through hardships similar to theirs. They never imagined that they share the same God as us. A God who looked down and saw his hijas (daughters) gathering in the courtyard talking about him. We prayed over the young ladies and I was again overwhelmed by the longing desperation these girls have for Jesus and the promises He holds for them. After praying, a 13 year-old girl named Jessica came up and hugged me (I had painted her nails earlier in the day) and asked me (in Spanish), "When are you coming back? " I replied that we were returning in the morning. She said no, and asked the question again. I asked our translator what she was saying. Jenny said that what she was asking was when am I coming back for good?


I love God, the English language, the Spanish language, traveling, teaching, and Latin American culture. God is dramatically revealing His purpose for my life through this trip. What I wanted to answer to Jessica was that I'm never leaving, but I think my family, friends, coach and teammates would kill me. However, this trip, especially today's experiences, have given me a glimpse into God's plans for me.

Today was a success.