Before the sun was up on Tuesday morning, a team of 31 people from the Edwardsville and Vandalia campuses made their way to the airport. The destination was El Salvador and the purpose was a family reunion. Since 2010, Metro has had the honor of partnering with a local church in the city of Majucla, and a relationship between the two has blossomed past the miles and language barriers ever since.
The love and commitment each church holds for the other is evident from the moment the team arrives. There are always balloons, banners, and hugs. The church of Majucla could teach us all something about hospitality. They always find creative ways to honor their family from the north.
As the team approached the entrance to the church, another surprise awaited them. The red carpet had been rolled out and cards with each sponsor child’s name inside a star had been created. The individual and their sponsor child were able to put handprints on the card to take home as a gift.
The beauty of this partnership is that most of the team members from Metro are currently sponsoring children in this project. This has created a bond that lasts longer than service projects and programs shared throughout the week. It has also ensured that hugs are plentiful and smiles are genuine.
The continuing relationship with our friends in Majucla allows us to pick up in a more intimate and genuine way each time we return. Some of the stories that have been shared are heartbreaking and some are filled with hope. Yesterday, during one of the home visits, a father shared his story of pain and suffering in front of his little girl for the first time. The young girl sobbed as her papa explained what he had been through. One of our team members was able to share her own health issues with a family that is currently experiencing a health crisis. She was able to tell them to continue to hold onto Jesus for their hope.
Poverty is extreme, young men are drawn into drugs and gangs at an early age, and young women find themselves mothers during their teenage years. There is nothing romantic about the situations we encounter, but it is a faith builder to be able to bring the light and hope of Jesus to our family in El Salvador. In the eight years our partnership has existed, we have seen the church grow, living conditions improve, fathers present in the home, and hearts transformed by choosing to follow Jesus. God is at work in El Salvador and He is changing lives. Please continue to pray for the team today as they host a carnival for sponsor children and their families. The bags filled with gifts and love that many of you sent will be handed out on Saturday. We can’t wait to update you on that amazing event!