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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 […]

Celebrating – Celebrando

  It feels like we are already knee deep in the new year and things have definitely ramped up around our office as we get ready to launch a new initiative in just a few weeks! We just wanted to take a moment to share how we wrapped up 2018. We ended the last year with lots of celebrations. Celebrations of goals reached, of expectations met, but also of surviving some hard things with our clients this year. There was much to celebrate, but one thing really stands out. Perhaps our biggest milestone reached this Christmas was that all of our parties were provided by our local donors and volunteers! It was wonderful to have to do zero fundraising on the outside, because our own community came together to provide […]

The Work of Christmas – La Obra de Navidad

It’s the day after Christmas. The house is a mess, the presents are unwrapped. The shopping and rushing and gathering has stopped. The anticipation and magic and waiting is over. This is when the real work begins. The coming of Jesus, God Incarnate, was just the beginning. After his life and death and return to heaven, our calling, our work began. So today we consider…what is our task? The following poem was written by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian and civil rights leader. He was one who understood that because of God with us, there is much work for those who follow him. Let us begin. “The Work of Christmas” by Howard Thurman When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when […]

One Big Story – Una Gran Historia

Sharing a story is no small thing. Earlier this month, Jon and I stood in front of a packed room to share pieces of our story, and pieces of our clients’ stories all woven together. Sharing a story is a sacred and holy thing. Especially when those stories pull in pains and joys and successes and heartaches. We were at our 2nd Annual Gala for Growth and the purpose of sharing those stories was to remind us all that we are part of one big community, we all have a part in that story. Our gala was held just north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is far removed from the streets of San Salvador but there is still a community there because so many who packed that room have given, have […]

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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