Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 Trip Videos

Our summer of ministry has officially concluded and we are praising God for an unforgettable summer serving "the least of these" in El Salvador.  We were privileged to lead sixty-one North Americans to serve for three weeks in Central America and the Lord moved in powerful ways.

Please continue to pray for our ministry partners, Sus Hijos/His Children, as they serve the orphaned children of El Salvador day after day.  Next week a team of four counselors and missionaries from ReNew, an organization whose vision is to strengthen the souls of Christian leaders and their families by providing safe places for rest and renewal, will be leading a retreat for the Sus Hijos missionaries at the Sus Hijos Mission House.   Pray that this is a deep and healing time of refreshment, reflection and encouragement for the team.

Click here to watch our 2015 summer team videos:

The Village Church of Irvine Summer 2015 Trip Video

Young Women of Vision Summer 2015 Trip Video

The Crean Lutheran High School Summer 2015 Trip Video

Please pray for the Ramsey family as they prepare to move to North Dallas in early October.  Jenni will continue to lead teams to El Salvador from the new HIS HANDS HIS FEET home office in Dallas and she will be traveling back to So Cal to recruit and train the 2016 summer teams.  Pray for HIS HANDS HIS FEET as they continue to raise up workers for the desperate and ripe harvest fields of Central America.

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in to his harvest field.” - Matthew 9:35-38

Monday, August 24, 2015

Village Church El Salvador Team Report

Yesterday The Village Church team shared about the trip in the church services and hosted a dessert for their supporters.  It was awesome to hear trip highlights from each team members and we're excited to see how the Lord continues to work in their lives this year.   We're thrilled to announce that Village Church Elder, Mike Langdon, will co-lead the team next year in partnership with Jenni Ramsey.  Jenni will continue to direct His Hands His Feet from her new home in Dallas and plans to travel to So Cal throughout the coming year to train the 2016 teams.  The Village Church 2016 team dates have been confirmed for June 25-July 1.

We're grateful to Justin Shieh for putting together our awesome team video. Click here to watch - Village Church El Salvador Team Video - 2015.

Please pray for the team members as they continue to process all that the Lord did in their lives during the trip.  Pray for our ministry partners, Sus Hijos, as they prepare for a retreat during the first week of September.  Ellen Burany, who serves with ReNew, will be leading a team of four to El Salvador next week to provide support, spiritual direction and encouragement to the Sus Hijos ministry team.  Pray for a deep time of refreshment and for the Holy Spirit's leading as ReNew empowers the Sus Hijos missionaries to reflect on the past year of ministry and prepare for the year ahead.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Crean Lutheran High School 2015 Trip Video

This week the Crean team gathered amidst family, friends and supporters to watch the trip video and to share the amazing things that the Lord did in our midst.  It was so wonderful to watch team members embrace, laugh and reminisce over their experience together.  The impact of the trip was evident in every team member and it was especially touching to hear testimonies from team members' parents on the changes and passions they've observed in their children as a result of serving in El Salvador.  Click here to watch the trip video - Crean 2015 Trip Video

Two of our team members, Lauren Ludovico and Alyssa Rikimaru, have already moved out of state for college and Lauren was able to attend the meeting via FaceTime.  Please pray for these students as they adjust to college life and carry a deep burden for El Salvador in their hearts.  Pray for all of our team members as they continue to experience re-entry and process all that they Lord did in El Salvador.

The team will be sharing about their trip in the student body chapel service at Crean Lutheran High School, Irvine, on Thursday, September 24th.  Anyone is welcome to attend.  The next trip dates have been confirmed for July 30-August 6, 2016.  Mark your calendars!  We look forward to watching this team together and seeing how the Lord will work in the lives of the team members in the year to come!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

La Playa y Pupusas

Blog post written by Jenni Ramsey

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in to his harvest field.” - Matthew 9:35-38

Today we had a wonderful day processing all that the Lord has done in our midst.  It's been an unbelievable week filled with miracles, tears, laughter, heartbreak and the overwhelming sense of the nearness of God.  In our devotional this morning we talked about the many reasons in which we've felt so near to the Lord this week… the lack of distractions, incredible fellowship, intentional times of prayer and worship, and the opportunity to serve the least of these in partnership with Sus Hijos.  We looked at Psalm 34:18, which says that "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. He cares for those who trust in Him."  We found Jesus this week as we served the brokenhearted in orphanages, prisons and while feeding the homeless on the dark streets of San Salvador.  We felt near to Him because of His nearness to the brokenhearted and the privilege we had to bring His hope to the broken.

The team had their re-entry training on the bus ride to the beach, where we talked about returning home and the many ways in which we may be frustrated with our culture, customs and even our close family and friends.  We also talked about how the trip has impacted our lives and the ways in which we hope to change.  Team members shared how the Bible verses that had been assigned to them on God's call to missions, the poor and the orphaned had impacted them this week.  The team leaders had the opportunity to affirm the team for the incredible ways in which they've sacrificed, served and given of themselves this week.  They have truly been amazing servants.

We were blessed to spend the day in fellowship at an absolutely breathtaking beach house. Our team members had the opportunity to pray for the Sus Hijos ministry staff throughout the day. It was beautiful to see small groups of people gathered together for prayer on the beach, in the pool and seated in lounge chairs.  Team members also completed their devotions and processed the trip experience with one another.   At the end of the day, we heard how the Lord called Kurt and Susan Ackermann, the founders of Sus Hijos, to leave their lives and careers in the US to serve orphans in El Salvador.  They were honest about the struggles they've faced as well as the incredible rewards they've experienced in ministry and the team was honored to pray over them.

We completed the day with a traditional Salvadorian meal of pupusas and a visit to a beautiful vista of the entire city of San Salvador, where team members laughed and took millions of selfies.  The break dancers even joined in on our final team photo.  It was difficult for the team to say good bye to the people who've captured their hearts this week.  The missionaries that we've partnered with have demonstrated the love of Jesus over and over again and it's truly been an honor to be part of their long-term work in this lovely country.

We will never know the impact that our team has had on the souls of men, women and children this week.  Our lives have been radically impacted and countless hundreds received meals, hugs, gifts, Bibles, food and a quinceanera celebration beyond their wildest dreams.  Please pray for the team members as they return home and continue to process all that they experienced.  Our dates have already been confirmed for four 2016 summer trips and we look forward to serving the Lord among the harvest field of the broken hearted in El Salvador and to the ends of the Earth, until the world has been reached with the hope of the Gospel.   

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pure Religion - Looking After Orphans

Blog post written by Alyssa Rikimaru

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27

On Thursday, six of us got the chance to visit children at a Catholic orphanage while the rest of the group went to visit a girls' detention center. To my excitement, my group had the opportunity to help with the babies. When we first walked into the building, my first thought was how nice this orphanage was compared to some of the others we had previously visited. Next came the babies. My heart melted when I saw them and I instantly shifted into "baby mode." All the women on staff were very kind, allowing us to pick up the babies and help change and feed them, and I could tell that they truly cared for the children. Other orphanages and government centers in El Salvador aren't as fortunate to have this kind of care.

As I was holding a baby girl who looked to be only days old, I couldn't help but think how someone could give up their own child, especially a newborn baby. Just imagine holding a feather-light human being in your hands. In that moment, all you can think about is how precious that life is and how you want to do everything you can to make it feel comfortable and safe in your arms. As these thoughts came into my mind, I wondered how God must think of us--His children. For Him, the adoration, affection, and most of all, never ending love, surpasses any feeling or emotion that we could ever experience.

The verse at the top, James 1:27, says that true religion is to look after orphans and widows, and to stay unpolluted from the world. I felt that we carried out God's definition of religion in those moments where we clothed and fed those kids. The night before we went to the orphanage, people were deciding whether they were going to the girls' detention center or the orphanage. I didn't choose because I decided that wherever I would end up going is where God wanted me to be that day. Just loving on those babies, I felt so much joy and peace in my heart. That was confirmation enough for me that I was meant to be there. I saw Jesus shine through my teammates that day and I caught a glimpse of the compassion and love God has for us.

A Universal Language

Blog post written by Lindsey Warneke

"A warm smile is the universal language of kindness." -William Arthur Ward

One of my favorite things about serving in El Salvador is playing basketball with the kids in the government centers. While soccer is the sport of choice by almost everyone in Central America, there are always a few boys and girls who are quick to jump in to a game of 5-on-5 (or 7-on-7, in today's case) on the court. After bringing a number of players from the basketball program at Crean Lutheran High School in 2014, I looked forward to being here again.

The language barrier between the Salvadorians and our group from the United States was a challenge at first. Even though my Spanish is limited, I understand one thing very well: a simple smile makes all the difference. I quickly learned that we could reach out to those who played with us through smiles, fist bumps, and "high-fives." Basketball gives me a way to connect, and I love every minute of it.  Throughout the day I observed our team members playing soccer, basketball and cards with the kids.  Language was not required, love communicates all.  At the end of our afternoon, I was privileged to share my testimony with the kids (through a translator) and encourage them with the hope of the Gospel.

My life is a testimony of the power of faith and family. I grew up in a family with a mom and a dad who loved each other very much, and two brothers who are my best friends. It breaks my heart knowing that there are so many around the world that have a different experience. This is why I love serving alongside Sus Hijos: we are able to share the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. While many of these children we serve may never know an earthly father, I am grateful that I can play a very small role in sharing the love of the Heavenly Father. As much as I look forward to eternal life, I am just excited to see those who have lived without a family be part of our home that awaits us in Heaven.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why I Went to Prison on my 17th Birthday

Blog post written by Claire Campo

When you hear the word "birthday," what words come to mind? Celebrations, presents or cake? Well, today is my birthday and I was privileged to do something totally different than most people experience on their birthdays. I visited a girls' “detention center” in El Salvador, and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

When we arrived at the prison, we had to enter through the guarded gates. As we entered the facility, we all experienced a thorough pat down. After entering, I looked to the left and saw young women smiling at us behind bars. To my surprise,  the girls were wearing everyday clothing that you and I would wear. This was not expected because when I think of a prison, I picture everyone in orange striped uniforms. The girls didn't look any different than us and two of them were holding their babies. It made me sad to realize that these babies would spend the first few years of their lives in a prison, even though they were innocent of their mothers' crimes. What really touched my heart was the fact that one of the women was wearing a Crean Lutheran High School soccer jersey. It was cool to see that our donations from last year had been given to those in need and they deeply appreciate it.

After we met the girls behind bars, we went upstairs to get ready for the Bible study.  The girls entered into the room with warm hugs and smiles.  Some of the women sang the song "Oceans" as we started the presentation. Not only did they sing in English, but they had several verses prepared in Spanish. After they sung, two of our team members gave testimonies of how Jesus healed them from brokenness and abuse in their pasts.  One of the testimonies was about a broken relationship with her father.  Despite the abuse that this woman experienced as a child, the Lord had given her the strength to extend forgiveness.  Although I was unable to understand the message since she was speaking in Spanish, it was obvious the that girls were touched.  After the testimonies, one of the Sus Hijos missionaries gave a Bible study about forgiveness, which correlated directly to the testimonies.  It was a powerful experience to watch the teenage girls hearing testimonies and a teaching from God's Word on forgiveness, especially since they come from traumatic pasts.  I'm so thankful that I was able to be part of the amazing ministry that the Lord is doing in El Salvador on my seventeenth birthday.  

Note: we were unable to take photos in the prison.