Today, we have a special feature from Zoe Lewis, one of the students on our trip. She was gracious enough to take some of her free time to share write and share her view on today’s adventures. Here’s Zoe!
While visiting our worksite, we got a taste of what the rest of our week is going to look like. I could see the excitement in pastor Carlos’ expression. We followed him down a single file path until we encountered our mission. Pastor Carlos explained to us that the tilapia farm we were standing before was one meter deep, 8.5 meters wide, 14 meters long and held about 3,500 tilapia fish.
The environment around the pound was a nice clearing on the side of a hill. We were surrounded by hanging wires and vines. The wires hang low enough that we fear Matt will be clothes-lined by the end of the week. Next to the completed pond was a deep hole of the same size. We found out that this was our work space and we would be working together as one unit for the week. Our work there would provide meals and income for five local families, who we later met. Seeing the site today was a great idea because it allowed for myself and hopefully my teammates to get excited for our work.
Among all the beautiful things we saw today, our experience at church was by far superior. Being immersed in the community of the church was a privilege for the team. Although I couldn’t understand anything that was said, I felt The Lord’s presence in the room as we sang, read scripture, and prayed. We were surrounded by genuine worshippers! The pastor referred to everyone as brother and sister. This put things in perspective for me, because it’s true!
Mario, a leader on the trip, sang a song with the band in the church. He then called up Connor, one of our teammates, to take over the drums. The sound of sweet piano and tense drums filled the room while the voice of Mario and the members of the church were singing and dancing along. It was a small act that went a long way.
Lalo shared James 1:1-10 with the congregation. He then took the verses step by step and applied them to his testimony. Not only did he share it with a group of 18 other crazy team members but in front of people he had yet to meet. This was my daily highlight because I know today he touched my heart, and my hope is that for the locals he did too.
Tomorrow starts trip day 3 and work day 1!
As a leader, it has been so fun to watch the students today as they experienced something completely outside their sphere of “normal.” Today, we had the privilege of touring a bit of Panchimalco, as Zoe mentioned earlier. The community has pre-colonial roots, including a church we were able to tour that was founded in 1750. Pan de Vida church, who we are working alongside, was founded in 1934, and it resides in the middle of the 14 “suburbs” of Panchimalco.
Today, we met and learned about Pastor Carlos’ love for his church, Pan de Vida, his community, and how he desires to not only transform the spiritual muscles of the region, but also help to alleviate the physical needs of the region. Because of what Pan de Vida church has done, Panchimalco has moved from most homes having no electricity to around 70% of homes now having power. Many homes are being built in the area to replace the older style of homes with more reliable brick structures.
Pastor Carlos is not only passionate about reaching his community, but also providing ways for other churches to replicate the projects and impact that Pan de Vida has been able to have in Panchimalco.
In our debrief tonight, some of the major points of remembrance from the day were in regards to what church looked like in Panchimalco. Here’s a taste of how our students described church: “Personable – they knew everyone by name.” “The whole community seemed involved.” “Everything was flexible with the service. They were so open to involving us in the service!”
So far, our team has connected with each other so well! We are becoming quite the hilarious bunch. I’m glad we will all be working on the same project as a team. Who knows…Maybe tomorrow will involve singing while working, laughing while doing masonry, and bonding over cement. I know for sure we will be doing a lot of trekking tomorrow, as we will be bringing supplies from the road down a narrow path to where we are working on the second tilapia pond. Should be quite the adventure 🙂
We would love your prayer for strength and safety tomorrow. Specifically – that we would do just the right amount of work and enjoy the work while we do it.
That we would have boldness to try our Spanish – ask questions of those we are with – and be open to learning.
That we would have eyes to see this community as God sees it.
More photos to come soon!