El Salvador, Day 6

day6-1I am afraid I don’t have much to say tonight!  We all have to get up in a few hours and head to the airport for the flight home.  But, it was a great week and we were so blessed by the hospitality of everyone down here.

Today was mostly a day of rest.  We got up early and left for the beach at 6:30.  We spent the morning on the beach.  Some of us rested in hammocks (that would be me!) and others played in the surf.  Needless to say, it was quite a sight to see a bunch of snow white gringos running around in the surf!

Tonight, the Discipleship Conference came to a close.  It went well and it was a wonderful last night together.  I taught on the necessity to not sit and watch ministry, but to get involved in ministry and be a part of ministry.  Acey then shared his testimony of growth.  After the conference, we had one more dinner together at a pizza place with the Blackstocks and Pastor Mario and his family.

We are grateful for the time to get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ down here and get to spend time with them for the last four nights of the conference.  The trip was well worth it.  Well, I really can no longer think for I am very tired!  Enjoy a few pictures from the day!

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El Salvador, Day 5

day5-1You always wonder how the day is going to go when it begins in a doctor’s office.  This is how this day began.  We arrived there at 8:30 for Acey’s appointment for his aching tooth.  While we waited in the waiting area, the dentist examined Acey and determined he needed several fillings, a root canal, and a crown.  He sent him out to go get some breakfast and then come back.  Pastor Mario decided that we needed to go to Pizza Hut.  All of us assumed it would be breakfast pizzas.  However, when we walked in, it was like walking into IHOP: A full breakfast experience complete with all you can drink coffee!

With the Pizza Hut breakfast complete, we took Acey back to the dentist where he then stayed until 4:00.  Really, it is difficult to top 6 hours in a dentist chair!  In fact, Acey asked to stay until 5, but they had other patients.  Currently, Acey’s jaw is still hanging open, leaving his mouth available for spelunking flies.  Other than being a little awkward while eating, the situation is doable with his new bib to catch the dribbling food.  Thankfully, it is likely his jaw should close once again by Friday.  In all seriousness, we are thankful to the Lord, for the time in the dentist went well and Acey was able to get everything taken care of at a fraction of the cost in the US.  It certainly beat option two, which involved an ice skate and a Wilson volleyball!

While Acey sat in the dentist, the rest of us lounged at the pool and drank bottomless lemonade. (Just kidding).  Once Acey was situated at the dentist, the rest of us went over to a house that is home to a dozen or so college age students from the US who are here on a 9 month mission trip.  We spent some time with them and then I taught from James 3:13-18.  It was a great time and it was the first time teaching without a translator since we got here!  What a blessing to meet with young people who are here serving the Lord for an extensive period of time.

Today we decided to do something fun, exciting, adventurous, and daring.  We sat at the Blackstock home while Ryan got on the internet and we all gave him our orders for………McDonalds.  And then we waited.  15 minutes later, the doorbell rang and lo and behold there was…………McDonalds!  Once that moving experience was over, Blaine once again twisted our arm and got us to go over to Vive Espresso for some afternoon coffee.  After another “Divine Coffee” (in the words of Ben) we got to work on the different teachings we had to revise and work on.

Day 3 of the Discipleship Conference began with Champ teaching on the importance of being involved in the local church.  Not in the sense of just having something to do, but having yourself truly invested in the people there.  He did a great job and gave all of us a lot of good things to think about.  Ben then followed that up with his testimony of growth which was very encouraging to hear. Once again, it was a rich blessing to spend time with everyone and our times in discussion were a blessing.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is already our last day here.  We will spend most of tomorrow at the beach as it is the one day where nothing is going on during the day.  We also want to do some research on the amount of time it takes for winter Montana Gringos to turn a bright crimson red.  Right now, the hypothesis is 13.5 minutes.

Tomorrow night will be the final night of the Discipleship Conference.  I will be teaching, followed by Acey sharing his story of God’s work in his life.  I am greatly looking forward to it!

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El Salvador, Day 4

day4-1Day 4 is in the books!  Almost.  20 more minutes and it will be tomorrow!  Today was another great day with many memories.  We left the house today at 8 and drove out to pick up Ben & Acey.  Unfortunately, Acey got a bad tooth ache was not doing real well when we got him.  Thankfully, he wasn’t to the point of knocking back pints of whiskey to ward off the pain, but it was clear the tooth was bothering him.  As we drove into town, we discussed the situation.  We arrived at the Blackstocks and talked with them and decided it would be good for Acey to go to the dentist.  So, he has an appointment tomorrow morning at 8:30.  The dental care down here is very good.

We went to the Blackstocks for a meeting with a few pastors that get together there with Ryan on Tuesdays.  We had a great time discussing discipleship in the church and how to help people grow in the Lord.  Once again, I was struck with how, despite our different cultures, many of our core issues are the same.  After an enriching and encouraging 3 hour meeting (how often can you say that about a meeting!), we went to a very good hamburger place for lunch.  So far, we have had burgers at two different places and in both places the burgers were better than most we can get in the US.  (I thought we invented the burger??????)  These burgers were so large that only one of us in our group ate the whole thing (I’ll leave you to guess which gringo that was!)  The only difference between one of these burgers and a meatloaf was the bun!

After lunch, we spread out to various areas.  Blaine talked Champ, Ben, and I into going for lattes, so we went over to one of the best espresso places in the world (not an exaggeration!)  Ben and I stayed there for the rest of the afternoon and prepared for our times of teaching.

We left for church and the 2nd night of the discipleship conference at 5:30.  It was another great night.  Such a blessing to spend time with brothers and sisters in Christ here.  There were about 40 people at the conference tonight.  Blaine and Ben taught and did an outstanding job.  I was proud of both of them.  Champ shared some of his testimony as well in regards to his growth in the Lord and did a good job also.  Tomorrow night Champ will be teaching.

Once the conference was over, we left the church and went to go get dinner at 9:30 (A nightly dinner time for us here).  Ben and I were blessed to go to Dominos with Pastor Mario, his wife, and some people from their church.  It was a good time with many underlying sub-stories that are not appropriate to share in this context.  You can ask Ben later on!  Here, Dominos is a sit down restaurant, very similar to Pizza Hut.  Well, the hour is nearly midnight and this boy needs to go to sleep!  There are some pictures below.  Hope they help capture the day.  If you want to see them enlarged, all you should have to do is click on one!  Until tomorrow night…..

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El Salvador, Day 3

day3-1The air was cool and the sun had just risen when we got in the car at 7:15 and began the 30 minute drive to San Salvador from our home.  Suddenly, brake lights were in front of us and traffic came to a stop.  Thus began a stop and go drive with Salvadorian drivers turning a two lane highway into a three lane highway.  The skill with which people drive here is amazing and thankfully those who drive us around here are very skilled as well!  The traffic was so heavy today because today was the first day of the school year for the El Salvador public schools.  One advantage to driving that slow was it allowed us to really take in the scenery and the sights.  San Salvador sits at the base of a volcano and the fog was gently moving across the top of it this morning producing a beautiful backdrop.

Once we arrived in San Salvador, we gathered together at the Blackstock home for some cultural training and learn how to better approach mission’s trip to foreign countries.  It was very good and we had some great discussion.  I was thankful for the time together.  I was also thankful for the discussion because it created a distraction from a certain couple of “Gringos” who were already at the Blackstock home and were quite disturbed by our late arrival because they felt they could have slept longer.  A quandary, to which the three of us who drove through the traffic, felt no sympathy.

We finished up the training at noon and then went to an Argentina restaurant for a quick lunch.  Then Ben and I went with Ryan over to a house in which 10 American college students live.  They are on a 9 month mission trip to serve here in El Salvador.  Ryan teaches a Bible study there and Ben and I went along to spend some time with them.  It was a great time and fun to hang out with them and hear what God was doing in their lives.  During this time, the previously discussed “Gringos” enjoyed a lot of coffee and solved many world problems, such as which caliber produced the most desired results on prairie dogs at 400 yards.

We had a short time before leaving for church and most of us took advantage of it and prepared for different teachings we were doing.  However, we had a great interruption when the bread man came by and honked his bike horn.  Quite frankly, I have never seen Blaine move that fast and probably never will unless there is a 500lb furry beast growling behind him.  Notice in the picture he did not even take the time to put on shoes!  Thankfully, the Blackstocks had a mop to wipe up the trail of drool that went out the door.

The first night of the Discipleship Conference at the church went well.  Acey did a great job teaching on the necessity for the Word of God to be the foundation for discipleship.  Blaine also did a great job sharing his testimony of growth and what things the Lord has used in His life to mold him and shape into the image of Christ.  I was thankful for both of them and what they shared.  After the times of speaking, we spent 40 minutes in small groups discussing the information.  It was great to hear what was on the hearts of the people here.

Once the Discipleship Conference was over, it was 8:30 and time for dinner.  Everyone went to their homes, except our host family and Acey’s host family, along with a few people from the church.  They took us to a little open street restaurant for some very authentic pupusas.  They were quite good, but what was even better was some great fellowship and great times of laughing with our brothers and sisters in Christ down here.  It was a full day, but a really good day.  Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!

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El Salvador, Day 2

day2-1It is hard to believe another day has come and gone!  Yet, here we are at the close of another day.  The day definitely began with some grogginess!  However, we did wake up and arrived at church this morning at about 9:15.  We had a wonderful time worshipping our Lord and Savior with brothers and sisters from La Iglesia here in San Salvador.  It is a church very similar in size to The Journey.  One major difference is they know how to play their ten stringed instruments and play them with great gusto!  Ben helped lead us in song from a spare electric guitar they had.

I was humbled and blessed to be able to preach from Luke 9:57-62.  It was a joy to be able to share and once again I was impacted with the fact that though we speak different languages and live in different cultures, we love and serve the same God and are equally saved by His Son, Jesus Christ.  I also was reminded of the difficulty of language barriers that God brought as a result of sin (Genesis 11) and I look forward to when those barriers are removed and we can speak freely with one another.  This is something we don’t often think about but it will be yet another rich blessing to experience when Christ returns.

After church we went to a great restaurant and several of us discovered our limit with food consumption and a few of us managed to push past it.  La Burro with pastor especial (Doesn’t mean the pastor of a church….thankfully) is quite good.  It is a burrito that is covered with cheese and then grilled.  There were many….many TVs in the place and all of them had the same soccer game on.  However, near the end of our meal, the TV that faced our table got turned to the NFC Championship pre-game show.  Perhaps they noticed all the gringos at the table and thought if the TV turned to American football, we would stay longer and order a round of beers!

Waddling out to the car was a chore, but one we all managed with the exception of one.  He had to be carried but to protect his identity, I will not disclose his name.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the Blackstock home and enjoyed watching football, eating pupusas, and laughing together.  It was a great time.  However, many of us admitted, after some contemplation, we definitely ate one to many pupusas.

Well, that is all for tonight!  Tomorrow the Discipleship Conference begins at the church and Acey will be the opening speaker for that.  Please be in prayer that the conference goes well and the Lord would use us as He chooses!

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