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.