Urban Ministry

BBQ WITH A CAUSE

There are many things that we hope for our clients, but I think one of our biggest hopes is that they will dream big dreams. Maybe they will dream for the first time, or maybe they will start dreaming once again. About 6 months ago, I sat down to eat lunch with Oscar. He has been in and out of our programs for a few years. During COVID, he came to our shelter where he was able to jump start his sobriety. Now he is one of our “clients in transition” meaning that he is taking great steps forward in recovery, and working on transitioning back into full reintegration into society. He is committed to spiritual growth through our Bible studies, he is being coached and mentored by our case […]

Keep Dreaming!

This year has brought hardship, but it hasn’t kept our clients from dreaming. There are still goals, and aspirations…there is still hope! It truly is the Salvadoran way, and we are privileged to be “dream facilitators” here at Mission To El Salvador! As we begin this process of reopening, we are working to help our clients reflect on what was lost, and take a moment to regroup and begin to dream and plan for the future once again. We invite you to join us in “listening in” on some of our clients’ own stories of surviving so far this year with dreams intact. When COVID struck, New Dawn had to close down and shift to a virtual model. The boys didn’t want to leave and their families weren’t quite prepared […]

Waving the White Flag

We may all be weathering the same storm, but we are certainly not all in the same boat. I’m not sure where I first heard this sentiment over the past few months but it surely rings true in El Salvador. The unique challenge of this COVID-19 crisis is that it is a crisis unlike anything that we ever expected to face in El Salvador. I suspect that many working cross-culturally might find themselves thinking the same thing. We were tentatively prepared for an intense tropical storm, an earthquake, civil unrest, an uptick in violence, and other possible scenarios. But to experience something so devastating while the rest of the world also was thrown into chaos seemed unfathomable. Yet, here we are living through these extraordinary days. The COVID-19 pandemic has […]

Planting

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  Warren Buffet is quoted as saying those words, and no doubt his intent was to make a point about business investments. But really, those words can speak to any investment. One thing I have learned over the years is that urban ministry is much more about investing than anything else…more about planting than harvesting. It’s about walking the streets to find that one available piece of fertile dirt, perhaps hidden behind a graffiti covered wall or some barbed wire. It’s about digging deep in my pocket for that seed, then casting it, maybe not even believing myself that it will take root. The planting is hot and exhausting, it’s relentless and it feels like it will […]

Independence Festival

Music blaring over the loudspeakers…carnival games with prizes…balloon animals…the smell of popcorn…dancing and laughter. It sounds like a community country fair, doesn’t it? Now just imagine that fair is not far from downtown San Salvador and that the guests include our clients who are taking the morning off of therapy and job training to celebrate independence. As we closed El Salvador’s independence month, it only seemed fitting to celebrate the independence that our community is finding bit by bit. Whether through progress in a therapeutic setting, or simply learning to depend on someone else small steps are happening. Even the freedom to laugh and enjoy life is worth celebrating. There was lots of laughter at our Independence Festival! Prizes were giving out for the ring toss, bingo, and fishing game […]

Default – En Modo

Full disclosure? Sometimes my default setting becomes hopeless. Or frustrated. Maybe discouraged. Or even ashamed. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that there are days that I want to give up. We’ve faced enough hard things as a staff that I know it’s not just me. The thing is there are some days when the broken systems around me feel like mountains that are just too big to climb. It’s like I’m spinning my wheels trying to wind up a muddy slope. It’s messy, and I end up feeling tired and dirty by the end of the day. But some days are different. This past Monday was one of those days. If you follow our work, you know that we launched the Lighthouse Resource Center back in January. We have celebrated […]

Mother’s Day at the Lighthouse Resource Center -Día de la Madre en el Centro de Recursos El Faro

At the Lighthouse Resource Center we serve our most vulnerable neighbors. Many of those neighbors are single moms. Mother’s Day is a really big deal in El Salvador. All businesses and schools are closed as people take the day to celebrate their mothers. But for single moms who lack a support system, Mother’s Day can be a painful time of year. Each year we have celebrated the moms in our community, and this year was no different! Last week we had a Mother’s Day event where all moms were invited to come and receive a word of encouragement from God’s Word, some gifts, a piece of cake, and some special treatment just for them. Our army of volunteers stepped up to make these moms feel special. From a “design your […]

What If? – ¿Y Si?

Two years ago I stood at my desk in the hot and humid upstairs of our first building. Wedged in around boxes of bras, I stood in front of the fan by the window staring directly across the street at a large building. A “For Sale” sign had just been hung up. What if we could somehow get that space?  A year later and we were there. We were in the building, renting it, stretching each month but it was happening. There was room to breathe, to work, to receive clients, to host a small church on the weekends. Then there was the chance to buy it, to make a plan to pay it off, to make it ours. But what if there was more?  Jump ahead six months and my head […]

All The Pieces – Todas Las Piezas

Her head was bent against the woman’s next to her as they quickly pieced together a child’s puzzle on the floor. A look of annoyance flickered across her face when she realized that a piece was missing. The picture was incomplete, the image coming into focus, but still distorted. In that moment, Jon pulled the missing pieces out from behind his back and handed them to each group. Quickly, she pressed the last piece into place and looked up with a smile. There it was, the image in view. Solving a child’s puzzle wasn’t just a moment of amusement, but rather a metaphor to talk to her and our other clients about new things, transitions, opportunities for growth. A few weeks ago we made a big change. We consolidated all […]

Ending the Poverty of Community – Terminando con la Pobreza de la Comunidad

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”  The words above were said by Mother Teresa who spent her life with and for the poor. She lived with those who experienced extreme physical poverty, but she learned that there is a greater poverty still…the poverty of community. We meet so many people who have come to the end of the line, who have come up short after churning through their physical resources. They may come for food or clothing, but they stay because they are searching for a place to belong. A place to feel loved, a place to be cared for and remembered…a community. Perhaps overcoming the poverty of […]

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