It is with the deepest sense of appreciation that the team would like to thank you for your pray and financial support. We believe that we made a difference for Him. May God continue to bless you.
These emails are in reverse order of the trip.
Friday, May 26
This was fun day. Our kids are excited. While missing the chance to do ministry, the team is ready for some fun. I guess we are all kids at heart as I am also ready for some rest and fun.
After an early breakfast, we went shopping at a local area with vendors. The place had mostly locally made items. The kids had a blast shopping for an hour and a half. It was really interesting to see what the students bought. Everything from knives (um, wonder what mom will say!) to shirts were purchased. I guess our bus pulling into the bazaar made the merchants' day. Our bus driver makes $60 a week and the cooks make $30 per week. When our students were spending $40 and $50 each, this was more than most Salvadorians make in a week.
We then began a trip to the beach. It was delayed because one of our students had an upset belly. The ride lasted about an hour and a half, but it was well worth the time. The club they took us to was on cliffs just above the beach. There were stairs going down to two different beaches on either side of the cliffs. There were three salt water pools that were right up against the ocean. Because the undertow was so bad, we limited the swimming to these pools. As huge waves came into the cliffs, the splash would spill over the pools making them a really popular place with our students. The club served us a steak or chicken for lunch. Every plate was empty! There was also a water slide that we had opened for one hour. The fresh water pool was gorgeous and very pleasant to swim in as it was shaded under palm trees. Finally, there were the hammocks… um um um. They were great! It was hard to believe that the cost for all of this was only $10 per person. This place seemed so out of place in the context of everything else that we had seen in the country. While I have traveled enough to know that this is how it is in
We left this special place at and traveled back for a pizza fair well party. The pizza tasted so good. It was a great treat. The host showed us the video that they had made for us. During the week, they had been taking film to use for the presentation. The team really enjoyed watching themselves in action. Tears were in almost everybody's eyes as we watched the children that we had ministered to during the week. The nationals then did a human video for us reminding us of why we came to the country. Again, many were moved. Another human video for the four adult team leaders, "Thank You" by Ray Bolts, left me and the other leaders very humbled. The host then presented me the team gift. Wrapped in brown craft paper with handmade cloth flowers was a picture of a little girl holding her little brother. As I opened the picture I could not help but cry. When we went shopping, I was desperate to find a picture of the children of this country. While unsatisfied with what I bought, it was better than not having some reminder of the impact that they had on me. The picture in my hand was exactly what I has looking for in the market as it will forever remind me of the love these children show each other while they live in a desperate situation. I was asked to read the note on the back. This simple passage written by the author took me four minutes to get through. I think you may enjoy what it says:
The children of
My heart as I have visited this country 19 times now to work
with King's Castle Ministries. It is an amazing feeling to give
of myself to these children… a feeling that can only be
understood when experienced first hand.
In a country where the population is 6.4 million and
the median age is only 14, children permeate. Sadly, 70% of
those children do not live with either birth parent. It is
estimated that 240,000 children work on the streets as
vendors, windshield washers or just beggers… while 400,000
more work full time and do not attend school leaving a
literacy rate of only 58% in those under 25.
Little Mother is a painting that I did on one of my trips
Brother. This is such a common sight there as many times
The parent or guardian is working or simply does not care,
leaving children to take care of the children. But in a culture
Where kids are victims, there is an inner strength that
Can not go unnoticed as siblings show love and care that they
themselves have many times not been shown. It reminds me
that we each have the power to overcome our past and
change our future… as well as the future around us.
Michele E. Struss
The fair well meal ended with hugs and a great time of fellowship. Again, the bus ride home was almost silent.
Thursday, May 25 (Posted upon our return.)
The day began at the crack of dawn today. The roosters around here start their thing well before sunrise, so I seem always to be awake early! The team went for breakfast at . This involves the bus picking up the girls and then the boys. We then go to the training center that is about a five minute bus ride away for breakfast.
After breakfast, we all went back to the children's church to finish painting and scrapping the four rooms. We were able to start on the exterior courtyard also. This is actually were the children have services each week. We were finished by , had lunch and then went and took showers to get ready for another ministry program. This, as it turned out would be our last program on the street. The Lord allowed it to be something special as over 20 children and adults came forward to accept the Lord. I watched one little seven year old girl never take here eyes off the program for forty minutes. When the time came, she raised her hand and was taken forward for prayer by one of our students. What a precious sight.
After the program, we went to church. I did a message on living a life worthy of the calling and what that means. The tent was full of people from our team, the Master's Commission Team of nationals, a few pastors and many people from the community. I really felt that a message from Ephesians on how to live worthy of the calling God has placed on our lives was what was needed. The message dealt with unity, purity, harmony, and victory. I spent most of my message on overcoming fear and living in victory as we walk through God's calling on our life. Many came forward for prayer.
Mario, our friend with a drinking problem was again in the tent. While not sober, he was able to stand, talk, and was clear eyed. I could see a huge change. I know our students could also. While his family did not come, I know that God is at work in his life. Pastor Raul promised me again that they would pick up were we left off in ministering to his needs. I know the students were moved to see the change in Mario. As we left the tent, there was yet another stone cold drunken man laid out on the steps that every team member had to step over or around. I heard a student say that we needed to pray for him.
It was sad to leave the tent- a place of so many people receiving God's blessing. The tent will be there for another 40 days as Pastor Raul works hard to minister in this poor and hard area of town. We need to continue to pray for the evening meetings. God is at work.
The bus ride was quite as we drove home for our evening meal.
Thursday, May 25 (sent at , posted at ,)
Wednesday, May 24
Today was a work day. The team spent the day painting the children's church that we ministered at on Sunday. King's Castle just purchased the facility that was once a motel. It was probably a very nice place at one time. Now it is quite run down. It is also the place were the boys are staying at night. The classrooms are in very poor repair. After two coats of paint, the four rooms still need another coat. Having 18 high school students is a very scary thing! Actually, they did a fantastic job, and they really worked hard scrapping, sanding, painting and cleaning up.
The team and nationals were then treated to an ice cream on the way to a camp meeting. We have some great pictures of our high schoolers riding the little marry-go-rounds (like outside of KMart) that were at the ice cream store. I guess these guys are still little kids in some ways, but in large adult bodies!
Pastor Thomas spoke at church. One person came forward to accept the Lord. Several came forward for prayer. It was a very special time as the team worshiped in English and the service was in Spanish. The pastor told me and PT that the people had been blessed by the messages that we had given during the week. This was very encouraging to both of us as we had been given little information on the type messages they needed. We both have just done what the Lord has laid on our hearts. He has had his way.
There is an interesting thing going on this week. The first night at church, our drunken friend came to church. The second night he rededicated his life to the Lord, the third day, he came to one of our programs near the church tent. I had a chance to speak to him at length. We discussed how his problem was probably rooted in a lack of forgiveness. We had a chance to pray with him. That night, he again came to church drunk. He sat next to me in the front pew. Our students saw him barely able to stand for praise and worship. They saw him about fall down and me catch him. They finally saw him lean over and pass out on me just before I did the message. I made him comfortable by placing his feet up on the pew. He was back in church last night. He again came forward for prayer. We have found out that he was studying for six years to be a pastor. He began to drink and lost everything: his family, home, and job. He said that he is ready to reconcile with his family and give his life back to the Lord. One of the nationals is going to call his family to come to church tonight. I do hope that they come. More than that, I know that God can redeem this situation. It is my prayer that our students have a chance to see this miracle. Whether this happens or not, the students have had a part in loving and encouraging a brother in great need. I know that they will never forget this as they live their lives.
Pray for our team. On Thursday, they will again be painting until . The pastor has set up two more programs. He says that they have been so effective that he wants to use us again. The day was scheduled for work all day, but the need is great. I have encouraged our tired kids to run the race and finish strong. God is not done yet. Pray for the team for strength as we are living way outside our physical comfort zone and God stretches us. I want you to again know how proud you can be of the service that your children are giving to the Lord. They have worked very hard for the Lord. Pray for me as I do the message tonight from Ephesians. Thanks in advance for taking time to pray.
Monday and Tuesday, May 22 & 23, 2006 - sent , posted
It has been very hard to get online. When I do, I do not have much time. This will be a quick overview of the last two days.
The team has done seven programs in small public parks. Over two hundred children came forward to accept the Lord. The puppets, drama, dance, clowns, and songs have kept the children's attention and interest. The team has worked from in the morning until in the evening when we finally eat our evening meal. I am really impressed with the organization and follow-up King's Castle does with every person who accepts the Lord. They either bus them to one of their churches or make sure they are in the hands of a local pastor who cares. They also work very hard to meet the needs in the areas of food, jobs, and health care.
Things are pretty rough here as the people only have running water 8 hours a day. Jobs are far and few between. Over 50% of the population of this country is under the age of 14. Some of the most moving memories are 6 year olds holding 2 year olds on their hips. This is a common scene. A grandmothers taking care of grandchildren is also a very common sight. The adults have left the country for
On Monday night, Pastor Thomas preached an evangelistic message at the camp meeting. One person came to know the Lord. He is a man who struggles with alcohol. I have seen him two more times and had a chance to minister to him. We are getting him in the Castle program for those who are in his situation. God has shown me that there is really little difference between me and him. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross.
Last night I had a chance to do a message at the camp meeting on forgiveness. I was amazed to see the Lord work when about a dozen people came forward for prayer. These people were believers who had a lack of forgiveness in their heart that impacted their relationships here and with their Lord. I know God did a great work of renewal in their lives.
Parents: You can be very proud of what your young people are doing. You can be even more pleased with what they are becoming. The have shown the Love, compassion and grace of God to this wonderful people. They have been used for a tremendous purpose- the building of the Lord's Kingdom. You also need to know that I can see the Lord at work in their lives. They are growing to the way they see the world. It is my deepest desire is that the Lord uses this experience to impact their lives for Him.
Please continue to pray. We need strength as the work project phase of our trip is beginning. Continue to also pray for our protection and effectiveness. I know we would all like to thank you for your support.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - sent 10:47 AM, posted
Note: this seems to cover the same activities posted yesterday from a phone call from Mr. Wallace to Mrs. Potter.
Sunday, May 21
What a neat day. The day began at with breakfast and packing the bus. We then drove for about an hour into
We had a treat when we went to Burger King for lunch. It was a great experience for the team to order their meals in Spanish... um. What was that we had for lunch!? :)
Then the team went and did street ministry. The group was at first a bit concerned, but when we went house to house asking for the ninas ninos to come to a program, the concern went away. There were about fifty children who came to a public basketball court, and twenty of them accepted the Lord. The team was jazzed.
We then went back to the mission base and trained for two hours on material that they use for outreach that could be added to what we do. The kids got a real workout as they basically did dance for two hours.
We got back in the bus and headed to a crusade where the team did a short program and watched "Left Behind"; interesting in Spanish. They use every possible tool for outreach here in
Times up. I have to run. You can be really proud of the team. They are doing great! Pray for us.
Mr. Wallace called Mrs. Potter at the school today. There is no internet access where they are at now, but he will try to visit an internet cafe later today.
Paraphrasing his report : "The team did a Sunday service of children's church for an hour and a half Sunday morning. The program went well and our kids did great job.
God is moving in
The team has been moved to the city of
After the morning church service, the team had lunch at Burger King which was a real treat. The next three hours were spent in training with
The team had a short break, and then it was time for street ministry at a local basketball court. After drawing a crowd of 60, the team shared and 20 people came to
know the Lord.
The day was not over yet, they went to a tent crusade in the evening, and were able to share a part of their program. The day ended with five people being saved.
Please continue to pray for our team. All is well and we are blessed to be doing the work for the Lord."
We have arrived in
It is and we are at the compound were we will be staying for this evening. The place is spectacular. King's Castle sits above a volcanic lake. There are no less than ten buildings on 38 acres of land. It took two hours to get here from the airport, but the time was well worth it.
Tonight will be an
We will be leaving for the Zone 2 base in
Once at the new base, we will spend three days in street ministry and then two days painting and cleaning up the base for the crush of team coming down this summer. So we get the blend of ministry and service that we have been hoping for in our team planning.
Pray for the team. Everyone is doing great and has a good attitude!
I will email again when I can. I do not know the status of communications in the city.
(Parents: We have six staff from King's Castle with us. All are well trained in Zone 2 and in street ministry. We are in great hands!)
They got off this morning; leaving the school about for the airport.
Updates will be posted here when received either by email or phone.
I have received word from King's Castle that the team will be spending the night near
This map shows