Family

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas in El Salvador is always so much fun, and this year was no exception! There is a lot of joy to be found in bringing laughter, joy, and hope to those who feel disconnected from family and community during the holidays. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to step in and minister to our clients who may otherwise feel alone during the Christmas season. We want to say a big thanks to our donors for helping to make our Christmas celebrations happen this year! We gave gifts and threw parties for all the survivors that we work with, we had a huge party in the CISNA boys’ center, and we had our annual Christmas Eve party where we invited all of our clients off the streets and […]

Christmas at the Lighthouse Project

This year on Christmas Eve we had two parties to celebrate Christmas and enjoy a Christmas meal with our friends at the Lighthouse Project. It has become our tradition to stay open on December 24th which is the day that Christmas is celebrated in El Salvador. For many of those we serve, we are the only family that they have, and our center is the only place they go for a Christmas celebration. We had a great time giving special recognition to those members of our programs that have stepped up to serve this year, Jon shared a Christmas message, we handed out Christmas gifts, and enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner. Our two seatings were a success, and our whole family had a great time serving together. Thank you so […]

This Year Is Going To Be Different

This year is going to be different.  I repeated that mantra to myself over and over again as I pulled out the Christmas decorations and looked over the December page on my calendar. I set up the Advent wreath with the hopes of remembering what Christmas is all about. The doing is not going to consume me…it’s going to be different.  Here I sit on the other side feeling like a total failure. Oh, we did the Advent wreath for two weeks focusing on the hope and the love. But joy and peace got lost somewhere along the way and my wreath literally fell apart. Buried. Sad and bent under a pile of gifts. They weren’t gifts for my family, but gifts that were donated for our ministry, and they […]

An Afternoon in Ataco

Well, this is not a travel blog, but I still like to share bits and pieces of what El Salvador is like. There is a colonial legacy here that adds to the color and history of the country. Learning about culture and history are important elements to take into account when living and serving outside of our own contexts. There is value in seeking to understand the story that someone else has behind their life. A month or so ago the kids and I spent the afternoon with some friends in the colonial town of Ataco. We really enjoyed just walking the cobblestone streets, and exploring some local shops. I always enjoy when I get to be out of the city and be a tourist in El Salvador. The day was […]

Rest

We just got back from a week long family vacation in Roatan, Honduras. It was the first time in five years of living here that we have gotten away with just our kids. We were able to connect with them after a busy few months, clear our heads of burnout and ministry worries, and spend a whole week not even talking about work stuff. The kids loved having us to themselves, and they declared it their “best trip ever.” I think that we all needed it, and the fact that we are so close to the Caribbean gave us a beautiful place to rest and recharge. We had the island nearly to ourselves since we slipped in at the end of the low season before cruise ships and crowds take […]

Independence Day Weekend

I hate when the blog starts to fall behind, but it’s inevitable with crazy weeks like this past week’s party madness. So, I am finally getting around to an update about Independence Day weekend. Independence Day in El Salvador is on September 15th. On that day in 1821 El Salvador declared independence from Spain. Today it is celebrated through special events in schools, towns, and all kinds of public places. This year we had the added bonus of a three day weekend because the holiday fell on a Monday. Some Salvadoran friends invited us to their “rancho” on the beach in the eastern party of the country where we have never been before. El Salvador never falls to surprise and delight me and this weekend was no exception. The beaches are […]

Just Barely

This month marks 5 years (5 years!!!) since we moved out of the quiet suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and into the new reality of cross-cultural ministry. I remember starting out on our journey and feeling like I was taking my first steps onto a big, tall mountain. The adventure was thrilling and the climb surely seemed possible. God felt so close, like He was breathing there right beside me. So many days He still does, and the adventure is still thrilling. But sometimes the climbing gets rough, and we reach places that we just can’t pass. Things like the death of a parent, a cancer diagnosis, or a tragic accident. These impassable places knock the breath right out of us and bring us to our knees. Or maybe the slow […]

Summer Snapshots

The kids’ summer break was a whirlwind. This past year has been a busy (and good!) one, and the past few months were no exception. The kids got to do a little bit of everything…hang out around the house, translate for volunteers, come to the ministry center with us, and spend some time with family and friends. This morning with prayers and hugs we sent them off to a new school year. The start of a new school year is bittersweet and with the busy season that we are in I feel like I didn’t get nearly enough moments with them this summer. Like it or not, a new school year is upon us! Second grade and Fifth grade here they come! But first, just want to share a few […]

Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano

This past weekend, we did some new, fun stuff in El Salvador. We went to see the national soccer team play (a first for the kids and I), and I will post more on that later. We also finally (finally!) took the time to hike the Santa Ana Volcano. In the native language, it is known as Illamatepec. Jon has done it before but the kids and I haven’t and I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. I wish I had taken more pictures on the climb up, because it was an absolutely spectacular day. However I got a few and you can see the flowers in full bloom. The flowers and trees slowly gave way to a desolate landscape. Santa Ana last erupted in 2005 so […]

Five Reasons Why We Love the World Cup

For all of you who live under a rock, tomorrow is the World Cup final. Our family has thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the matches in this year’s tournament, and we are sad to see the whole thing come to an end tomorrow! So here are a few reasons why we love the World Cup… 1. We get to learn about countries all over the big, wide world that don’t normally come up in everyday conversation.  The kids filled albums with players from all the different countries participating, and they learned a little bit about each country in the process. Now they know where each country is located and what they call themselves in their native language. 2. Soccer is not only a great sport, but also a really, really […]