Carving out hearts and hillsides

January 12th, 2017

We missed a day of blogging, but it was for the greatest reasons. Yesterday we worked hard, played hard, and came back to home base for a slightly later dinner followed by the annual tradition of hitting up the ice cream parlour. Solid, meaningful conversations have been flowing and time has been vanishing like sand falling between our fingers on beautiful beach.

So everything below is referring to yesterday. But there will be more posts to come – today was a brilliant day too and we’re excited to tell you about it!

Gonzalo and Maria Pedrina with their four children, Gonzalo, Sarai, Angel and Nelson. They run family businesses of bean and corn farming and mechanic work. The sons stopped going to school after grade 6 (very common in this region) and began working with their father. Although all members of this family held a serious mug shot pose for this photo (also very common in El Salvador!), they were quite a joyful group and were thrilled with their new 300 sq ft home. They asked us to pray for their family, that they’d be healthy. 
This afternoon we built a home for Jairo and Susanna and their baby Yeisy.  I was struck by the words of Jairo when he said that this home means so much to them because it would help them to get back their dignity. Jairo is a farmer and work seems pretty good for him right now.  He works for himself.  They would like us to pray for water to be able to get to their home as it cannot right now.  They have to travel far to get water.  They are a beautiful young family and I could see the sincere thankfulness in their eyes and hear it in their words.  So good! – Gareth
Maria Elena and her daughter Daniela, who is 10 years old. Maria Elena was quite shy with us and this might have been the only time we saw her smile. Our conversation with her, through our translator, was a little difficult as we got many one word answers. We made light of the fact that we were a group of sweaty gringos standing around her and that it might not be very comfortable for her, so we asked how she felt. She said, “nervous”. Maria Elena and Daniela will live in this new house alone, until the new baby is born in April. Daniela’s father isn’t in the picture and there’s no father of the new baby to be seen either. When we asked if she had any hopes that we could pray for she didn’t have answer for us. We tried our best to be sensitive to her by keeping the conversation brief. When we finally prayed for her she turned away from the center of our group, to her side, put her hand over her mouth and closed her eyes tightly. We don’t know her whole story, but with how many broken relationships this region is known for with men abondoning their families for new horizons it was hard to not to  imagine what she’s been through and is going through. We prayed that her family would be blessed with protection and that her daughter would grow up healthy and with many opportunities. 


Caleb and Paul climbing down from the corn fields in the very mountainous terrain. They just had to get up in those fields to get a feel for just how challenging the planting and harvesting of the corn must be. The locals use machetes for the harvest and usually have to use a hand crank grinder or a hand operated milling stone to process the corn for tortillas and pupusas (a local delicacy with corn tortillas filled with cheese and beans).
Abel trying his hand at the stone-on-stone corn mill.
Before the house building begins, first we have to layout and dig the foundation holes for the posts. And before we show up to any of the sites they’ve all been leveled off by the local people. This mountainous region provides very little in the way of level surfaces, all flat plains must be created. In this photo you can see the 6′ high ladders leaning up against the freshly carved out bank. 
Paul had been watching for Antonito (blue tanktop) all week and was starting to get concerned he wouldn’t see him. Two years ago when Paul and Antonito had an immediate strong connection, Paul felt like he was interacting a long lost son or something. One time Antonito even ran up from behind and grabbed Paul’s hand to hold it as they walked to the work site. Well after days of watching and even calling out “donde es Antonito¿!” when we’d pass through his village, we finally crossed paths. You can see on Paul’s face how he felt about this meeting.