Final Mission Reflection by Amanda Gordon

Gloria a Dios (Glory to God)
Final El Salvador Mission Team Reflection
By: Amanda Gordon

The vision statement of UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) is “Transforming the world through ‘Christian Love in Action.’” Our Senatobia District Team went to El Salvador guided by this idea of sharing and showing God’s love; we even had 1 John 3:18 printed on our team t-shirts: “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” Guided by God’s grace, our entire team lived out this Scripture in so many ways this past week, but we also were recipients of people in El Salvador living out this verse in so many ways. The people we met in El Salvador were a true blessing to us. They were warm, kind, hospitable and caring. I am so amazed by the connections we were able to make in just one week.

As I write this article, I am still processing my experience, but I do want to share with you my biggest Holy Spirit moment of the week. One morning while passing out food, we visited the home of a woman who had a small store in her home to help support her and her family (this was very common in Ahuachapan). She sold items like eggs, snacks, and basic cooking items. She shared with us that it was so hard to see all the hungry children in her neighborhood, but if she just gave away her food then she would have nothing to support her family. (Keep in mind that most people only make $3-5 a day from their stores.) After we prayed with her, I was able to present her with a food bag. But, before she would even take the bag, she began praying and praising God; over and over she thanked God for this gift of food and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit come over me as she prayed. I stood there holding that bag thinking, “I have no idea what it is like to be this thankful for a bag of food,” and I was so moved by her gratitude. After she finished her prayer, she received the bag, thanked us all and gave us hugs. It was a holy moment indeed, but it definitely was not the only holy moment of the week.

Each of our team members has stories to share and we are working on putting together a dvd of pictures of our amazing week in El Salvador. If you would like to have team member(s) come to your church to share about our trip, please let me know (662-781-1333 or amandaMMUMC@gmail.com). Also, if you are exploring mission trip opportunities, I would highly recommend working with Salvadoran Mission Projects and would be glad to talk to you more. They are truly an organization through which “Christian Love in Action” is happening in El Salvador.

In closing, I want to thank Nathan, Billie, Marcia, Adam, Alena, Annese, Adrienne, Chris, Kayla, Deby, Cynthia, David, Andrew, and Amber for being an amazing team to lead; each of you has blessed my life and thank you for your willingness to step out in faith and go on this trip. None of us had ever been to El Salvador before, but I doubt it will be the last time for any of us!
Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for us before and during the trip and thank you to all who gave financially to make this trip possible. There is no way to know how many lives were touched during our week in El Salvador, but I can guarantee you that for the 15 of us who went, this trip has made a lasting impact on our faith journey!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday Mission News from Annese Jaffery

BUILDING THE CHURCH

By Annese Jaffery
Mission Team Member

Today was an emotional challenge to say the least. It was our last day at the worksite of El Shaddai Iglesia.

When we arrived at the worksite +today, my teammates and I were greeted by all of the amigos we have met the past week. I will never forget the smiles that radiated from these boys’ faces. It was inevitable that a futbol game was going to ensue. They were overjoyed by just playing futbol with us, and that meant so much to me. I continued to play with our new friends for a while and then a thought crossed my mind… “Maybe I should be helping build the church”. I questioned if I was contributing enough. After contemplation during a water break I realized that I was, in fact, building the church. I was hopefully connecting these boys to the church that was being built, and where one day they would be members. I may never know if the boys will attend the church or not, but when they see the church as they walk to begin their daily futbol game, I know they will think of us and the friendships we created.

I am very reluctant to leave the wonderful people I have met. I have been greeted with nothing but smiling faces, and that is something not always found in the US. This experience has strengthened my walk with God, and has given me much more insight on this amazing world He has created.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thursday Mission News from Nathan Hickerson

THURSDAY’S JOURNEY

By Nathan Hickerson- Assistant Team Leader,
UMVIM Coordinator Senatobia District UMC

When we started planning for this trip, I traveled around the Senatobia District spreading encouragement about this trip and all the glorious ways God would use us in El Salvador. I also spoke about how we would also be changed when we did see God in El Salvador. Well, +today a local man taught me more in thirty minutes about God than I had learned in twenty three years. Juan Francisco Mendez married his love thirty seven years ago. They moved into a small house and started a family. His family now consists of his wife, two children, and two grandchildren. Our guide, Fernando, told Juan I was about to celebrate my first year of marriage, and Juan immediately began sharing with me tips on marriage. How in the first four to five years we were getting to know each other. He talked about patience and commitment. He told me how we were still figuring out each other’s characters. Then he told me that after the first five years we would become one. Juan then took this opportunity to tell us about Jesus. “Jesus does not just live in El Salvador” he said, “he lives in the United States too, and in the entire world. He told us how Jesus does not just love the poor, but he loves the rich too. Wow, have you ever heard it preached that way before? Juan speaks at his local church but he won’t admit it, “it is all from God”, he said. It looks like I was correct when I told the Senatobia District that we would be changed in El Salvador. I thought I was going to be a teacher for God here, and instead I was taught by a man who truly had God’s heart.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wednesday Mission News from Annese Jaffery

A DEEPER WALK WITH GOD

By Annese Jaffery
Mission Team Member

While constantly Youtubing videos of El Salvador and praying for God to prepare me, I thought I was ready for the experience. I never imagined what would be in store for me and my team. I never imagined that I would fall in love with each and every part of this journey.

Today I had the opportunity to be a part of the food ministry. I was comfortable with construction and manual labor, but the evangelism was a different story. I am not the best at small talk, but I see now it is definitely something I need to work on. The people I met opened my eyes to something I never realized. When we live our daily lives – driving to work, to the gym, home, and then repeat – we don’t realize that there is a world out there yearning for their papa to remember them and come back from the USA, a world where the head of their household is lying in bed because of a stroke from which he never recovered. Experiencing this reminds me that life is “muy bonita,” and our lives may affect one another so much more than we know.

I met some friends by the work site, Katie and Jonathon. I believe God put them in my path for a reason. They taught me so much by doing so little. Their patience with me and my lack of Spanish amazed me. Both were 14, on the verge of young adulthood. I hope and pray that our conversations and fellowship affects them in some positive way.

Consequently, this trip thus far has changed my walk with God in such an eye opening way. While placing all my trust in Him, I’ve allowed myself to experience the most remarkable things. Although I do not speak up much to my group, I can say that I see God in every miniscule event on this trip because of the wonderful group I am with. I am so blessed to have been able to come, and cannot wait to see where this takes me!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Getwell Road Partners with Olive Branch Food Pantry

Canned Goods + Caring Hearts = Full Stomachs and Healthier Spirits

by Jessi Wallace of Getwell Road UMC

Getwell Road UMC in Southaven, Miss., is helping those in need in Desoto County by partnering with the Olive Branch Food Pantry located in their neighboring town of Olive Branch, Miss. Getwell Road serves in a monthly rotation with nine other churches who each help the food pantry give a week’s supplement of food to the needy in Desoto County. Volunteers spend time stocking food in the pantry with donations that have been received and then delivering it to local families. “As a member of Getwell Road, I have seen our church make a huge difference in the lives of the needy in Desoto County by partnering with such a well-organized, effective organization,” said Kim Ball, Assistant Director at the Olive Branch Food Pantry.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tuesday Mission News from Kayla Shaw

My Wonderful Mission Experience

By Kayla Shaw
Mission Team Member

Tonight is my fourth night in El Salvador, and it has been such a blessing to be here. Today was actually my first day on the construction site of the church, and it was a challenge for me and I’m sure all the others too. The workers are what kept me going through the day, just seeing how passionate they are about their work and how excited they are to have us helping them for the week. It was a very tiring morning, but was totally worth it. The second part of the day the construction site became a little slow so a couple of the girls and I decided to play soccer outside of the church in the little village area. We ended up playing with about six other kids that lived in the houses around the church. These kids were so happy and excited to be playing with us and we were just as excited as they were. While the older kids played soccer, I watched over one of the boys’ little brother, Edwin. He was no doubt the highlight of my week so far! Just seeing his face light up to have someone to play with and just do whatever he wanted was really amazing. I’m looking forward to going back to the construction site in the morning so I can work again and also make time for the sweet kids. +Today was wonderful, but I know the rest of the week holds much more, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Monday Mission News from Alena Cushman

SERVING OTHERS IS A BLESSING

By Alena Cushman
Mission Team Member
From Minor Memorial UMC

This trip to El Salvador is my 3rd mission trip, and my first trip out of the country. Each one has impacted me significantly. Nine members of my team, including myself, began working on helping to construct a new church today while the other 6 team members boxed food for the Feeding and Evangelism Ministry. We continued construction in the afternoon, and the others distributed the food to families in need.

I am very excited to have this opportunity to help build a place of worship, and I look forward to delivering food and visiting with the natives of El Salvador. Every night we are encouraged to say where we saw God that day. We have seen Him in the people we are here to serve, and we have seen Him in the beauty of nature and the amazing scenery, and in various acts of servitude by other team members. I am experiencing God in an amazing way, and I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to serve in missions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.