Post written by Colleen Bowen
As I sit here on the plane and try to put my thoughts into words, there are so many thoughts running through my head that I’m finding hard to concentrate. The pilot’s voice just announced that there is turbulence ahead due to weather in the Houston area, so we need to be seated and to fasten our seatbelts. Gracey immediately started to panic and cry. You see, on our flight down to El Salvador we had a pretty rough time coming into El Salvador, as we landed during a lightning and thunderstorm. She and I sang praise to our Great God, which helped to bring us both peace, and by His grace, we landed safely. So again, we prayed earnestly to our Great God and began to sing and worship the only One who could help as even the winds and seas obey Him. (“And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and seas obey him?” Matt 8:27).
I am reminded of what a good Father He is as the skies have cleared up and we’ve started our dissent. We just landed in Houston and yep, you guessed it, we had NO TURBULENCE, the sky is partly cloudy and blue as we land!!! I pray this will be just one of many times Gracey sees how powerful her God is and it grows and encourages her faith.
While filling out the application for El Salvador, my prayer request was that I’d see God work in ‘Bible sized’ ways as I’ve heard and read stories from missionaries sharing the powerful work God does to help them. God mercifully gave me another Bible-sized miracle as we landed here in Houston.
This was our family’s first missions trip and I confess that I don’t know why God has so lavishly blessed us to be a part of what He’s doing in El Salvador (I’m still ‘processing’ that, I guess.) You see, many on this team had been planning the quinceanera for a year, and I felt a bit lost from time to time. I didn’t really ‘get’ why this party was such a big deal, but by Tuesday night, seeing the girls in their dresses, looks on their faces, dancing, laughing and clearly feeling so special it all came together and made perfect sense.
My ‘job’ on this trip was as the photographer and watching the girls transform from Sunday to Tuesday night through my camera was something only God could do. They were truly like flowers blooming right before my eyes. I don’t know what more I can share that hasn’t already been shared about this amazing night, but God was exalted and I pray these girls know that their Creator is unlike anyone they’ve ever known and cry out to Him in their lives, through both the difficult and joyful times.
Wednesday was one of my favorite days as when we arrived to say good-bye to the girls, their joy and gratitude was so evident on their faces. The more somber faces which I photographed earlier in the week were replaced by radiant smiles from ear to ear; it was hard to say good-bye. Another reason Wednesday was a special day was because our daughter, HannahGrace, connected with a precious little 6-month-old girl. Whenever she or her brother Joshua have been scared, I’ve always sung “Jesus Loves Me” to them. I was so touched to hear her sing “Jesus Loves Me” to this baby, then hear her announce how she was going to pray for God to heal her all year and wants to come back next year to visit her.
Wednesday night and Thursday we served at Potter’s Field and WOW, what a contrast to the poverty we’d seen in the city. It’s such an experience to drive down the street with homes made from cardboard boxes, trash, banners and metal roofs with barbed wire (to protect themselves as it’s a dangerous country), and then these cross through huge, green, metal doors and feel like you’re in an oasis. Potter’s Field has beautiful green grounds and fruit trees everywhere. The radio tower broadcasts Christian radio throughout Central America. The work they are doing for these orphan boys, families and the surrounding community is clearly kingdom minded.
I loved it when our team led their mid week service in “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord” and loved serving these little ones Thursday during their after-school program. I got a good laugh when a boy came running up to Joshua, tapped him and yelled, “Mika!!!” Joshua and I looked at each other, then my smart boy quickly figured it out that the boy wanted to play tag! Mika means tag in Spanish. Joshua joyfully agreed and the game was on!
Friday was our R & R day. We got to visit a private black sand beach, and if I thought the contrast between the government orphanage and Potter’s Field was a WOW – this area was a triple WOW, WOW, WOW! I had no idea that there were such beautiful areas in El Salvador. We felt truly blessed to spend such a great day with this team of faithful, hard working servants and were blessed to pray for all of our translators and missionaries that afternoon.
We’ve seen so many miracles while in El Salvador and met some wonderful people. We have heard some amazing testimonies of what God is doing in El Salvador. My prayer as I return home is that I don’t forget these miracles and fall back into the routine of life unchanged. I always want to remember these servants, who work on the front lines day after day faithfully serving our Savior, who is worth it. We are so grateful to have experienced “Bible-sized” miracles this week and will never forget all that we have seen!