I am thrilled to announce that I'll be traveling to El Salvador this March with former team members, Stephanie Keenan and Valerie Anderlik. The purpose of the trip is to attend the quinceanera (a traditional Latin 15th birthday celebration) for one of the missionary family's daughters and to provide missionary care for Sus Hijos. Both Stephanie and Valerie have a deep passion for El Salvador and will be serving on our 2015 summer teams. The March trip will be Stephanie's sixth trip to El Salvador and her son, Stephen, is hoping to serve in El Salvador for nine months in 2015. Valerie and her husband David recently started hosting monthly prayer meetings for El Salvador in their home.
What's so special about a quinceanera?
In 2011 our summer team was spending time with teen girls living in a government center. It became glaringly clear that one of the greatest heartbreaks of these young women was the fact they would never have a quinceanera. Quinceanera celebrations are a rite of passage into adulthood for Latin American girls. They are often more significant than even wedding celebrations. Sadly, many of the kids who live in government centers have never had a birthday party. Some don't even know their date of birth. We committed to return the following year to host a quinceanera for the teen girls and the event surpassed our wildest dreams. Our short-term teams have been so honored to host two large quinceaneras over the past two years. We will be throwing our third quinceanera in July of 2015. To read about those quinceaneras, visit the July posts below in 2014 and 2012.
The Knepper Family
Our team met the Knepper family in 2011 while serving at a boys' home (run by Calvary Chapel, San Salvador). It was truly a "divine appointment" since they were not originally planning to work with our team that week. We quickly fell in love with their family and they have been partnering with our teams for the past four years. They Kneppers are sent out by Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. Our team members have been so blessed to spend time with them on their home assignments in Southern California. Kathy was able to attend our daughter Hailey's adoption court hearing in June of 2013. It was so special to have her there!
The Kneppers pastor a church in San Ana, El Salvador. They are also involved in a number of ministries including hospital visits and orphanage work (in partnership with Sus Hijos). The Knepper's oldest daughter, Katie, will celebrate her quinceanera on March 7th. I have developed a very close relationship with Katie over the past few years and am so excited to celebrate her quinceanera in El Salvador! Katie is pictured below (in the gorgeous, yellow dress) at the 2014 quinceanera celebration for teen girls:
Our team is also looking forward to providing missionary care and encouragement to Sus Hijos, the organization that we partner with in San Salvador. The staff of Sus Hijos are an incredible group of Salvadorians and North Americans. They labor selflessly day after day to provide spiritual, physical and emotional support to men, women and children who have been marginalized in El Salvador. We are looking forward to spending one on one time with their staff without a large team during this trip.
We are currently talking with a missionary who provides missionary care and support to missionaries, pastors and church leaders about possibly traveling with our March team. This amazing woman loves to come alongside church leaders and missionaries. She has been speaking with Sus Hijos to determine their needs and to see how she can best serve them. Our hope is that she will be able to help Sus Hijos develop a long-term plan for discipleship in the government centers and provide care their staff during the trip. We are raising support for her trip costs (approximately $1200). If you would like to help with this need, you can send a tax deductible check to All Blessings, 95 Spring Valley, Irvine, CA 92602. Thank you for your prayers and support as we continue to serve His children in El Salvador!