Update Mid-August 2012

Emails and progress reports from El Salvador  prompt me to write a quick update here.  The pace of the Project continues to be slower than I would like to see it, but there is progress.  Huizucar reports upcoming reception of about a dozen new members, including some children by covenant baptism.  Santa Tecla is giving classes on Saturdays in topics from theology to new skills.  They have also held conferences designed to attract new people.

Both churches are processing capital expense requests:  Huizucar for roof materials in the new community where they are evangelizing and seeing new converts; Santa Tecla to finish bathrooms they started but have not been able to complete.  While capital expenditures are technically not contemplated in the Word and Deed project, some funds “over and above” have been raised and will soon be disbursed.  These improvements will enhance ministry and lend encouragement.

 I’m in communication with not only the CRC pastors but also other reformed leaders about a possible visit before the end of the year, possibly in November.  

Update January 2012

This is a copy of a letter sent recently to donors:                   

 January 6, 2012     
1753 Elser Lane, Escondido CA 92026
Dear friend of the El Salvador Christian Reformed Word and Deed Project (ED-DD*):
Greetings, and God’s peace to you, in these opening days of this New Year, 2012.

Right off, I do here want to “publicly” thank Jerry and Dorothy Deters and the ARMA committee, along with Phil Michmerhuizen who sends out the receipts, for their faithful contribution.  I here want to give you a picture of where things have been and are “at” regarding things with our El Salvador involvement.  This letter is to ask you for your prayers;  and yes, while I can report to you that there is a small “cushion” of funds in the ARMA account for the time being, something else came up: flooding (more below).

If you think the USA is becoming somewhat dysfunctional in its public life, you should visit El Salvador.  While the new administration under President Funes has tried to make some needed changes, there have also been both missteps and blockages.  I mention this, because that seems to be somewhat the pattern for many institutions in that country, including the El Salvador CRC.  They have a hard time “getting their act together,” let alone keeping it together!  OK, I know that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in a project you have been supportive of, but Lou Wagenveld usually “tells it like it is.”  What do I mean?  And what can be done to move things forward?

It was hard getting good reporting the first half of the year; meetings there were postponed or missed, there was evidence of poor communication between the leaders, and to some degree ignoring the person that in effect represents us there and coordinates planning and reporting.  That is Alba Lopez who worked for CRWRC and is very capable; and it didn’t help that she got a very good job with the government which then didn’t allow her to follow through on some things either.

On paper the Project came to its two year conclusion in early June, and without bothering with details I’ll just say that they were supposed to work up both reports and a proposal for continuing if they so desired.  The above mentioned dysfunction led to my traveling there in October.  The short version is that in two forthright meetings we came to a signed agreement to re-start the Project.  Some of you may have read/heard of the terrible flood-ing that occurred right while I was there, so the $2,000 I carried in case we came to that agreement….well, we re-designated that for immediate disaster relief.  And then upon my return after being turned down by CRWRC/DRS (who sent money to a Catholic NGO they had worked with years ago) another $2,000 was forwarded.  Thankfully there was enough on hand to forward those emergency relief amounts, and some churches and individuals have stepped up and in part replenished the balances for the meanwhile.  The Lord and his people are faithful.  Thanks be to Him, and to you among them.   

Prayer then…well, there could be so many things… 
  –  for better communication between the leaders, and responsiveness to Alba.  
  –  for the personal finances of both pastors; recently I was asked to send money so the electricity would not be cut off in Huizucar! “Dependency!!” At this point some may be thinking: “why do you continue to try to work with these people”?  One response is 1) Christian solidarity; 2) my being convinced that El Salvador needs a Reformed presence; and I guess just my 3) liking challenges – and this is a big one, for which I have experience, relationships, and am perhaps uniquely prepared.
  –  for the economic situation of El Salvador –and our sisters & brothers in the churches there; with the loss from floods just at harvest time of significant amounts of the corn and bean crops the food prices jumped considerably.
  –  for the CRCNA agencies’ new strategies in Central America, with various partners.  

Funds: if you wish to contribute at this time, please see the information at page bottom.

Permit me one other dimension of my involvement there: an effort both in visiting and correspondence is to bring into conversation and fellowship at some level the pastoral leaders of the four groups in El Salvador who consider themselves “reformed.”  This also is a huge challenge in a conflictive society where everyone wants to be king in his own castle.  So please pray that the Spirit of the Lord work in hearts and minds to bring a vision that together they can achieve more; areas like training and service need joint efforts.  There are some encouraging signs on this front, but also land mines.  An example: Carlos, a CRC pastor offered to help teach courses for MINTS in E.S. (Miami International Theological Seminary, autonomously related [!?] to the United Reformed Church – no congregations in El Salvador – yet!) but was turned down as “liberal”!  

I close mentioning that in early December, some 20 plus CRCNA regional people held three days of meetings in San Salvador at Casa Semillas de Nueva Creacion (Seeds of a New Creation, the NGO that is now the strategy in Central America) without any reformed churches’ representation at the table even just to hear how the groups are doing. (see next report below) Sad; you can make that also a matter of prayer.

Update May 2012

Another “Year of our Lord” find you well and doing your part to advance His Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” 

With fraternal appreciation,  Lou Wagenveld 

* For any who might want a refresher, ED-DD stands for Evangelism/Discipleship – Diaconia/Development.  For more information, beside the web site mentioned above, you can contact me at wagenlma@aol.com   or at (616) 392-9079   or   (760) 738-4696 Donations can be made out and sent to ARMA, 12964 N Bellwood Dr.Holland MI 49424

Update December 7, 2011.

There were sufficient funds on hand to be able to send an additional $2,000 to continue relief help (see next post below).  These were replenished with a wonderful offering from my “home church” Niekerk in Holland MI in November. 

Last night the pastors were to meet with Alba to coordinate future plans for the Project, and to submit reports of what they did/are doing with the emergency funds.

Today is the beginning of a three day series of meetings in San Salvador of CRCNA agencies and their “counterparts”/partners in the whole Central American region.  I’m wondering and praying if they will include the local reformed churches in their talks (see above).

Please continue to pray for the witness/work of the Gospel, especially in its transforming reformed dimensions, in this little country. – Lou

Update October 2011 Trip Report

“Man proposes, God disposes…” is a Spanish saying.
This trip was for just ten days, over two weekends.  Some plans worked out nicely – I must have had 14 conversations with individuals, for encouragement, mentoring, and gather perspective.  They were all the way from a 24 year old youth who desires help in moving up from peddling popsicles, to clothes, to make more money and study to become a doctor (or failing that, to come to “El Norte”!); to a lawyer /pastor in his office in the Supreme Electoral Commission… and in between.
I met with representatives of four very small “denominations” who all aspire to being “reformed.”  But the overweening aspect of the time there, was the tremendous storm at the airport and later in the capital on my arrival; with only a three day pause, it spun off the Pacific tropical depression and hung on for another week.  In a word, it is a disaster for the country (and region)(go to GlobalDisasterWatch.com and see the “tropical storm” section) in loss of life, crops, and to some degree hope.  No, you can’t imagine 42 inches of rain in six days, but that record came in the town of Huizucar where I was  to preach on Tuesday evening.  The service was cancelled and I sent home by daylight; good, because I had to drive around a mudslide; those and flooding rivers have killed over 30 people in El Salvador, and over 100 in the region. In the Reformed Calvinist church in San Salvador on Sunday morning the service also had to be cancelled; buses were scarcely running.
Time and space just now limit what I will write.  Tonight I show the film Return to El Salvador in a local theatre, and will comment this documentary that shows people who had to flee during the civil war and now return, to visit or to minister.  (you can see the “trailer” at ReturntoElSalvador.com)
Below are pictures of a meeting held in Santa Tecla last Sunday afternoon, with rain flooding in the doorway.


This meeting was with the Word and Deed Project group of the CRC ES “Directiva Nacional,” held during the downpour of Sunday Oct. 16, 2011     We came to an agreement for another year continuation of the Project.    On the table with the agreement is the $2,000 that was to have been an “advance” on the projects.  Mutually we decided to share the money between the two congregations for emergency basic non-perishalbe food supllies for families of greatest need in their communities.


Pastor Lou Wagenveld with the leaders; on the right in the brown jacket is Huizucar’s pastor, Rev. Joaquin Ordonez.  He is currently President.

I don’t seem to be able to import the pictures of the foodstuffs and supplies that were purchased and distrubuted.  I have already received some reporting and accounting.  (Jan. 2012)