Hasta Luego El Salvador!
Blog post written by Lisa Barger from Prosper, Texas
I arrived home two days ago and slept for 14 hours! God carried me through an intense and rewarding week of service. I volunteered in Sunday school yesterday at my church and I felt God in a big way, He's definitely at work here too, but I missed the spirit of the El Salvadorian people. We need some missionaries to come visit US:) We have a lot of material possessions and comforts, but we are lacking in other areas. I am definitely changed. I brushed my teeth this morning with tap water, knowing it was safe and would not harm me. I went to the grocery store to shop for the usual "necessities" for my family. As I filled my cart with flavored water, organic dairy, and even some fun 4th of July themed dishes, I didn't have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness that I have no worries about putting food on my dinner table. Instead I felt very unsettled over the fact that it's harder to justify our prosperity as a "blessing" after the work God has done in my heart.
Is it a blessing that we have good jobs and were born into a country full of opportunity? Does God want me to buy a few expensive luxuries because I work hard? Does that somehow make me deserving of a very comfortable life? Would I be happier....or at least just as happy.... with less? Is it ok because I give more than my 10% and I spend less on material items than my neighbor? What would Jesus do today if he were me? Is my lifestyle pleasing to God? The first day of our mission journal required us to write about something we were scared of. My biggest fear was that God would change my heart too much, maybe even invite me to live out of my comfort zone for more than a week. That was difficult for me to write down, not something Id really like to admit about myself. It was something I feared and embraced at the same time. Today I fear it and embrace it as well. Lots of praying to be done!
On our last day in El Salvador we visited two homes for teen girls. The first was a difficult one. The girls were hardened in a way that I hadn't seen yet in our week. The stares in their eyes and the scoffs they gave us at first were concerning. There was a battle for souls being waged and these girls were the middle of it. I sat down at the table thinking this could be a really hard few hours. But God overcame. He showed up. He worked through our testimonies and opened the girls' hearts and eyes. They asked thoughtful questions. One girl even asked how we could believe in God after going through so much pain in our lives. We had progress and openness from a few girls that didn't believe in God but listened to every word we said. And we lost a few that got up from the table and did not return. At the end we all wrote down our struggles, sins and strongholds on pieces of paper and prayed for God to take those from us. Many of the girls wrote until their papers were full. Some needed prayer and a hug to even get the words out. At the end these painful words were torn up into tiny pieces. I don't know what was on any of the papers. But our God does. And I am continuing to pray for him to take these burdens from those girls and the women on our team as well. "I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket." Psalm 81:6
We had a similar experience at the second home but ran out of time. These girls were believers and their spiritual maturity was amazing! They had struggles but their relationships with God was evident in their lives. God was winning by a landslide in this center. When we ran out of time and prayed as a group my heart was in turmoil. I was upset there wasn't time to get through a few more testimonies, mine included. God spoke clearly to me that this anticlimactic end was intentional. That the incomplete note the week was ending on was intended. God's not done. I'm not done. The mission is not done. There is no finale. Another His Hands His Feet will return to this center in three weeks and these girls will be invited to an incredible quinceanera celebration, where they will be encouraged, valued and reminded of their beauty and worth. Missions will continue until all of the earth celebrates the glory of God. So on that note I went home feeling moved and yet very, very unfinished.