What an amazing and eventful day! On Friday morning we enjoyed a time of worship and then discussed what it means to have hope, strength, and joy in a broken world. How could it be that the people we’ve encountered in El Salvador are so happy and friendly? By having very little in a material sense, the people here have found wealth in family, faith, and simplicity of life. God allowed us to experience firsthand that socio-economic status has no bearing on the condition of our hearts. We can recognize that true joy may be found in maintaining humility, gratitude, and hope in Christ!
After breakfast, we enjoyed another scenic ride from the Santa Tecla area of San Salvador to our beautiful beach house in an area called Costa Azul. This country is just covered with volcanoes and ridiculous vistas!
After getting settled into “Rancho Marvioli” (the name of our beach house) we were treated to an amazing lunch prepared by our housekeeper and cook, Chaba and her daughters. She served up fresh caught, fried, whole fish with rice, & a tomato/cucumber salad. It was awesome!
Next we decorated the outdoor cabana for a graduation party for our new friend, Jocelyn who will be Love & Hope’s first to graduate from high school next weekend…a special accomplishment for sure! All of the kids, Rachel and some of the staff of L&H arrived a short while later for our planned graduation party with all the fixin’s - all of the kids in tents, hamburgers and hotdogs, bon-fires, music, and lots of laughing! I’m thoroughly enjoying my interactions with these awesome kids, and seeing the warm connections that the rest of the team is making with them.
So after being trapped in an elevator on day 1, and 3 days on a construction worksite without any injuries or setbacks, we were feeling pretty confident and available to the good works God would yet accomplish through us. By mid-afternoon, most of us were out on the beach and having a blast out in the waves without a worry in the world, yet we were completely unsuspecting of the powerful undercurrent that caught us by surprise. We all experienced the scare of a lifetime as David, Melissa, and Brandon struggled to get back to the shore. Quick actions taken by Doc, Brett, Ryan, Scott and others, along with many frantic prayers, brought relief as the waves miraculously stopped for several minutes. There was a moment when I could no longer see David, my buddy of 27 years, in the water from the beach as I was retrieving a piece of drift wood to run down to him. Through heroics and the grace of God, everyone made it safely back to shore. What a scare for all of us! Following such fearful incidents, we are only affirmed in our faith and reminded that God is in total control, and we can trust Him! Then, just a few short hours later, we had the pleasure of witnessing perhaps one of the most beautiful sunsets any of us had ever seen. Contrasting the powerful undercurrent and the tranquility of the ocean at sunset, I’m reminded of how much I’m in need of God as my anchor, my guide, and my hope in this life, and that I can praise Him for His amazing works all the while.
Once we finished our dinner and celebratory cake and singing to Jocelyn, we headed back to the beach to continue the celebration with a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and a game of "Red Rover" under the stars with the kids. Between all the cards games, pool time, and the beach, all of the kids (our team included) have had a blast. We’re all really enjoying serving and loving on some really awesome kids! God is so good!
- Ward Johns
El Salvador - Nov 2016