Testimony by Lauren O'Brien
El Salvador team member - 2015 & 2016
"Going into high school, mission trips were last on my list of things to worry about. Freshman year in a new city meant I was focusing on classes, friends, extracurriculars, and usual teenage issues. I wasn’t born into a missionary family, I didn’t speak another language, and I didn’t feel that I needed a “life-changing Jesus experience,” so I had never labelled myself as someone who was really obligated to go on a mission trip. I would later realize that God often laughs at our labels, because one day in the July of 2015, I was suddenly stepping onto a plane headed for El Salvador.
“He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” - Luke 2:10
Thanks to Jenni coming to Crean to talk about the work being done in El Salvador, I was called to be on the team that year. The training process began early in the year as our group started meeting at school and began reading David Platt’s "Counter Culture." The 5 month-long process left me feeling at peace and prepared for whatever may lie ahead of me. It helped me to arrive at a place where I was ready to surrender myself to God, to let him work in and through me. What was most important to me was that I was knowledgeable about the situation when on the trip. By the time I stepped foot in San Salvador I knew exactly what and what not to do, thanks to our thorough entry training. With some help from the awesome team of translators and full-time volunteers, I had no doubts about my safety.
One of my favorite parts of that trip was that I was fortunate enough to be able to experience it with my mom. It was a time when we bonded together as we served side by side at the orphanages and construction site. We learned a lot, and it is something that we will never forget. Additionally, I love that we all become so close with the translators. It is amazing how God can cultivate such wonderful relationships through service, and how on the last night before our departure we instantly understand how difficult it is to say goodbye to family. Even though we were all on the trip together with pretty much the same schedules, everyone in our group had a unique experience. Before going on a mission trip, it is essential to remember that God knows each and every team member, every translator, and every child and adult we meet in El Salvador personally. He knows our hopes and our fears; he knows what is best for those who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). He will challenge us and reward us accordingly. What is most important for us is that we ask the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts so that the Lord can work in us when we serve him. Once I was in El Salvador, I realized that—while I might be playing with the kids at the orphanages or praying over families in need—it was just as much of a privilege and a blessing for me to serve than for those who received my service. As Jenni often says, “I needed El Salvador more than El Salvador needed me.”
Although, at the end of each day, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, the hole left in my heart was always refilled by the fellowship I had with the team and the fire given to me by the Holy Spirit. Even after our return flight to LAX, after our re-entry training, after adjusting back to daily life, that hole never left me. I have a constant craving for service, for fellowship, and for God; but the Lord has used that hole to motivate me and produce fruit from me. God changed me in ways I never knew I needed to be changed. Thanks to that mission trip in the summer of 2015, I now run the Crean Missions Club with two friends, and will be joining the Crean team to El Salvador for a third consecutive year." - Lauren O'Brien
Testimony from Lexi Ramos
El Salvador team member - 2014, 2015 & 2016
"A piece of my heart will always be in El Salvador. I went for the first time when I was a sophomore in high school. While this was my first time serving overseas, I was never afraid. I felt prepared by the team meetings that we had leading up to the trip. This is where I felt like I was able to bond with my team and get to know them better through hearing their testimonies. Any questions my parents or I may have had were able to be answered. One of the things I found most beneficial was reading Radical as a team. This helped me understand why I was going on this trip and challenged me in my faith. I understood what I was going there to do but never imagined the impact it would have on my life.
During my trip I saw the hurt and need in the world that only God is able to satisfy. I knew that this was not supposed to be a once in a lifetime kind of trip, but rather something I need to do if I am to call myself a follower of Christ. God broke my heart for the people of El Salvador, and for the first time in my life I understood the love God has for the world. I returned to El Salvador the following summer and the summer after that for the third time. One of my favorite parts of El Salvador is getting to see God work in the lives of the people we came to serve. When my team hosted a quinceanera for the special needs women and kids, we were able to witness the reunion of two sisters that had been separated for many years. We could have never planned that as a team, but God had the whole event under control. He used our team to bless these ladies and the joy on their faces made it clear why we came. After having so many life changing experiences it can be hard to come back home to family and friends that go on with life normally. That is why on the last day of every trip Jenni is intentional about preparing us for reentry and allows for us to prayerfully process through the week. Instead of feeling guilty about my life, I redirected those feelings to fuel my passion for spreading the Kingdom of God." - Lexi Ramos
Testimony from Christella Hudson
El Salvador team member - May, 2012
Testimony from Amanda Deal
Long Beach, California
El Salvador team member, July 2011, 2012, 2013