by freshman Lindsay Brent
Wow. God is so good. It is only day two of our trip, and I am unbelievably amazed at what God is doing in this community. Whether it was cheering on kids with Down syndrome this morning or eating at Burger King for lunch, God’s love is everywhere.
I’m Lindsay, a freshman here on the soccer team, and I have the honor of telling you about an incredible day we had here in El Salvador. Today was an extremely special day for me as it was my birthday, and what a birthday it was! Upon waking up this morning, I came down to breakfast to an awesome surprise. Banners and balloons were strung all over the room where we eat to celebrate my special day. This was the first place I saw God’s love today. Just the thought of celebrating my birthday in a foreign country was awesome, but to actually celebrate with balloons and cake was amazing. This team’s love for one another is so amazing.
After having our first Salvadorian breakfast, we heard a word from one of our group leaders that really shaped the day ahead of us. He talked about Zaccheus from the book of Luke, and how God had called him by name, even after all of his sinning, and he decided to repent and turn to a Christian-centered life. After hearing this we headed out to play some futbol with children who had Down syndrome, and that experience warmed my heart. This was the second place I saw God’s love today. As soon as we arrived to the field where the kids were, they ran up and gave us huge hugs. The kids were so unashamed of who they are, and it was extremely inspiring. I made friends with so many new people who will leave an everlasting impact on my life.
The day got even better when we had the opportunity to head to a neighborhood called Thomas Rodriguez. This town is where most of the girls have sponsored children, so it is nice to be able to return and see how the kids have changed and grown since the last time we saw them. This town was the third place I saw God’s love today. We had so many eventful occurrences happen at Thomas Rodriguez, but the one that stuck out to me the most was when we met Carlos. Carlos has a very impactful life story that I am going to have to trim down, but please stay with me.
Carlos is 15 years old. Remember this as I go on, he is 15! Unfortunately Carlos has grown up in a not-so-good area of El Salvador, and about 6 months ago a gang approached him to join them. You need to understand that when a gang approaches you to join them in El Salvador you either say yes or you die. So Carlos said yes. At age 15. He was a Christian before, and had met leaders and girls that went on previous trips, but he got involved in an environment he shouldn’t have.
Fortunately Carlos came to his senses, and this is where God’s love comes in. Carlos’ story reminds me so much of Zaccheus’ based on the fact that God called them both by name out of their sinful ways and into a life that is more like His. Even though Carlos has committed all these tragic sins, God still loves him, and God will always seek after the lost. Unfortunately, Carlos is still in a lot of trouble, the gang is continuing to search for him, so the prayers over him and his family need to be continuous.
After visiting the community, we headed to lunch. But this lunch was like no other. This lunch was extremely special. For the first time in my life I had the opportunity to indulge in Burger King! I was pleasantly surprised with the food, but even more surprised in the conversations being had during our lunch. Both the girls and the leaders were talking about ways we have seen God throughout the day. Stories were being told and laughs were being shared. It was a great time of fellowship. But the best time of fellowship came after lunch.
Around 2 pm we headed to the Sports Outreach Ministry’s school where we met about 30 boys and girls who were ready to play futbol with us. We played for hours! The kids were absolutely amazing and the language barrier was completely broken all thanks to the beautiful game. We even had the chance to share a little piece of the gospel with the kids after our session. This is the fourth place I saw God’s love today. The children outpoured their love on us as if we were their next door neighbors. But what was even more awesome was that we didn’t have to just share the gospel from the Bible, we could show God’s love through the love we poured out on the children while playing. These kids are so amazing! I cannot express to you how much joy I experienced today just from playing with these children. God’s love is so good!
After playing soccer, we got the chance to meet a 107-year-old woman named Matilde. She is literally an angel. So wise and so well spoken, I could be in her presence for a lifetime. I loved getting to hear about her love for the Lord. After a busy day we got dinner and settled down at the hotel to have more fellowship, which included worship and a word from our Coach. She spoke on freedom and vulnerability, and I don’t think there could be a better word to sum up our day. This day has been so amazing and it is only day two! God has so many plans in store for this team and this community and I am honored to be a part of it!