March 2020 – Travel plans

Exactly a year ago was my last visit, which then included besides visiting the churches also being an International Election Observer for the fifth time over 22 years.

Now my ten day visit, March 6 – 16 will be focused on the Word and Deed Project.  On my last visit I interviewed Hilda Romero to be the new coordinator of the project; she later accepted.  Now I hope to coordinate more closely with her, as well as meet with the committee that she works with.  This transition year has had some things which still need to be ironed out.  Some monies were held up due to back-logged reporting from the church groups.  I anticipate that we will be working out new guidelines and reporting processes.  It does need to be added here that the Project is blessing many homes and lives.

While there I will also be having conversations with the Director of Casa Semillas, the national agencythat represents the Christian Reformed Church in El Salvador. (There are no direct missionaries theresince we left in 1999).  I also always have conversations with the Director for Central America of TheBack to God Hour, as well as the staff person representing Partners WorldWide. And there are many more ministry people from over the years that I connect with.  So my days will be full. 

I am carrying as many books from Libros Desafio as I can. My lodging is always with a couple who wereneighbors and contiue to be good friends.  Please pray with me for safe travel, good meetings and someadvance in the kingdom purposes that take me there to this conflicted county.  And yes, the churchessuffer somewhat from that latter syndrome as well, so pray for any relational help I can give them.

I don’t have the technical know-how to update this site while in El Salvador, so please come back to this page for another Update in a month.  Meanwhile, there are other background pages/tabs to visit. As you read there, also pray for those dimensions of opportunity and ministry.   

– Pastor Lou

Update 31 de Enero

Yesterday I was picked up by Partners Worldwide staff person Fabiola Bettaglio; I will be hosted by her family for the rest of my stay.  After breakfast she will bring me to the Conference room where the FECLAI visiting observers will be given orientation and training.  FECLAI is the Ecumenical Forum of Christian Churches in Latin America, and we will be will the Lutheran and Anglican coordinated group here in El Savador.  I talked with a leader of the evangelicals but they have no such participation; yes, some are forming an ACTUA group to try to encourage more civic participation.

I will try to back in this site with more impressions, tomorrow.  Meanwhile, in your brouwser, you can search for news about the elections in El Salvador.  And let me know if you see anything on your local broadcast news, please.  Do North Americans hear much about this? (I have been asked that….)

(For information on the Vocational School Project, please go to that page) Meanwhile, on the Word and Deed Project front, yesterday I met with ¨Comptroller Hugo Aguilar.  He is meeting this evening with the two pastors to go over reports and plans;  I will meet again with them later.  There is progress. (later, whoops…no meeting: “difficulties”)

On Sunday I am invited to attend a special occasion; I think it is the 20th Anniversary of Emmanuel Church in San Martin.  If I am to preach (usually a visiting pastor is expected to) I will use the old word Ebenezer – hitherto the Lord has helped us.

A church that was used years ago was the Drenth MI CRC; they gave a $2000 gift to put the roof on the building.  Pray – I will spare you a long story – that a legal property dispute will get solved fraternally, and the church can move forward.

On Monday I will meet with Resonate´s (and Back to God Hour´s) Casa Semillas offices in San Salvador.  Just today the Director, Gerardo Reyes, said on the phone “I have good news…” so I look forward to nudging forward a ball I got rolling during my October visit.  Pray for Brenda Diaz, a new Resonate “Caminante” (cohort/intern) and her service with Semillas; great potential.  She has already preached in the Santa Tecla CRC once.  
Just today over lunch I was asked a spiritual hurt question.  Opportunities to minister and accompany are endless.  Your prayers are so valued as you there, I here, witness to the love of God in the Lord Jesus and the Kingdom
​    —- Shalom—-

Update February 5, 2019

there will be hundreds of Election Observers, both national and international, scattered around the country to do just that: observe.  In so many places in the world, as here, elections are often questioned as to their fairness and transparency.  As you read, this will be my fifth time doing this.  I have come to have deep feelings for this country since serving here with CRC World Missions from 1995-1999; during that time was our first experience with a Presidential Election which by Constitution occurs every five years.  While I return in retirement almost every year, I make it a point to be here to contribute a grain of sand toward constructing a more healthy society/country.    As you read, this is my fifth time of service.

There is way too much to cover, but a shortcut for me is to include this website by the coordinator of FECLAI, the group that I sign up with.  There is a formal government coordinated process for all this; for new observers there is a two and a half day orientation.    For perspective that as a missionary pastor especially interests me, and I hope you, cut and paste:
For more of lawyer Tim Muth´s posts see  An eye on a whole different world!!

Update January 27, 2016

A sad day, a happy day.
While waiting for my ride to a special anniverary church service this morning a worker across the street who I have spoken with before talked to me.  With tears in his eyes he told me of the murder of his 31 year old sister in a western rural part of the country.  I just finished reading the online report; MS-13 gang members are strongly suspected but in two months no arrests have been made.  A side note: last year the security guard across the street was also killed but at another location.   

Then at the special service, which had visitors from three other congregations, the local pastor lameted the violence going on in that neighborhood.  One of his own daughters has left for “El Norte” as well as other families from the church and this dangerous area.  The Huizucar delegation came without most of their youth, owing to the threat of gang conflict should they come on that turf.    But the pastor was also gladdened by the support shown by semi-sister churches.  

Your prayers, please, for those who live, work and witness in hard places.  This afternoon Pastor Carlos and I had a good talk about some of the problems he is facing.

Update December 2017

For several reasons, I was not able to visit El Salvador this past year: I hope to be able to do so in the first quarter of 2018.   I have been in not totally regular contact with the pastors there, and with Hugo Aguilar, the Santa Tecla church member who coordinates the Word and Deed Project.  Monies for that ($8,000/yr) have been sent on a regular quarterly basis.

ARMA (Association for Reformed Ministry Abroad) in Michigan is the non-profit funding channel that assists by receiving and disbursing donations, issuing tax-deductible receipts.   Reporting from the Project committee is expected on a quarterly basis, corresponding to the funds sent the previous quarter and triggering the release of additional funds for the next period.  While at times the reporting is uneven, I keep in touch and see satisfactory advances in the field.  

A very interesting development the last couple of years is the presence of the Multiplication Network, which is our son John’s ministry out of Michigan.  It trains leaders and encourages the planting of new churches, using methods and materials; both churches in El Salvador are participating.  Joaquin in Huizucar has a small network of some 5 satelite groups in the outlying coffee growing areas   Just recently 9 new converts were added to the church.

Pastor Joaquin’s energies are largely going into these efforts, leading to a decision to put the Vocational School project on hold.  There just is not, apart from the economics of it, administrative capability at this time to proceed.

Disappointing to some, but realistic until the Lord points the way to being able to develop that adjacent lot that was purchased last year.
For Contact information or if you are inclined/led to give to support this Word and Deed Project, please click on “You can help”
​                                                                                                                                            Thank you.    – Pastor Lou

Update Report on my February 2015 triple-header: What a trip!

After celebrating Mary Anne’s birthday in Gilbert, AZ (east of Phoenix where our youngest daughter now lives), the next morning I left for Central America via a layover long enough in Houston to make a stop at the nearby conference of Christian Churches Together (Google this).  Reason I stopped was to hear the very best lecture on Immigration that I have ever heard, given by Daniel Groody, S.J.  (look him up also!)

But then on to an overnight in El Salvador, and some contacts at Casa Semillas the next morning before dropping 4 boxes of Tim Monsma’s Hope for the Southern World (Spanish) off at the Libreria Bautista. Please pray for the special promotion we are working up via media avenues to put this reformed world-view material in the hands of local Christians.  Here a word about Casa Semillas, the CRCNA related NGO in San Salvador.  Please pray for a leadership change they are undergoing, seeking a new director.  They are now housed also in a different location.  The Inter-Varsity program continues from there; if you have a heart for University student ministry, you can channel a gift via ARMA (for a tax receipt) or directly to me.  Another program coordinated through Semillas is the Timothy Leadership Institute, with training of trainers taking place in many locations throughout the country.  This modular biblical teaching strengthens leaders in several areas of ministry.  ….But on with my trip….9 hours by bus to Honduras.

I spent a long weekend in Tegucigalpa at the invitation of son John, whose Multiplication Network was holding its continental conference there.  I translated for the few English speakers attending this large gathering from 18 countries and 13 denominations.  The range of speakers and topics covered was impressive; a special feature was the visit of a trio of representatives from the Lausanne Movement doing a survey in Central America on church planting initiatives.   I also took the opportunity to visit with CRCNA mission personnel Casper and Leanne Geisterfer, local World Renew staff, and the Central Church pastor.  Who also was there but Moises Colop of Guatemala, long time CRWRC worker, now in training with MNM!  I bused back to San Salvador a day early for a follow up meeting there with the Lausanne folk who did a “consulta” with 30 leaders gathered at the Evangelical University.  With a very positive endorsement of John’s Network, I was given the floor to explain that church planter training.

El Salvador: a country with continuing multiple challenges. I was there in the week prior to elections for the national assembly and mayors, so there was a lot of talk of that (and afterward of fraud.) There is a fracture line right down the middle of the society in that many elections are decided by very narrow percentages.  E.S. traded places again with Honduras to be the world leader in violence and homicides. My interests were to see a host of people – with only a few days to be there, I maxed that Friday starting with an early breakfast meeting and had eight face to face conversations until 8:30 PM; great!  The Saturday meeting with the various leaders interested in reformed perspective didn’t go as well; low attendance with some people new to the group, others were missing… so more another time.

A very good meeting was held Sunday afternoon with the eight leaders – including now one woman – of the Directiva Nacional of the ES/CRC’s two congregations.  Mostly we went over the progress of the agreed upon objectives of the Word and Deed Project; all in all quite satisfactory.  I heard some stories of progress and growth.  While they asked for a commitment for this present year, due to their owing a couple of financial reports, I made my answer subject to receiving those yet this month of March.  For you who are wondering, my intention is very much to continue, so feel free to continue to send your donations to ARMA (see link).  Last year you helped raise $11,000 of the $12,000 projected. Thanks!

Some years I have made two trips, and now my sights are on October; pray with me about that, please

Central American children and the U.S. border.  
See my translation of a poignant article from El Diario de Hoy that gives perspective; see El Salvador children and youth migration … 
the article begins: “Salvadoran youth are leaving because they have no hope….”