As the breeze gets cooler, the nights get longer, and the difficult year of 2020 comes to an end, I am reminded of how hardship can sometimes bring out the worst in us. But it can also bring out the best in us and make us more beautiful and connected. No doubt, we have endured a tough year collectively and individually and on top of things, it is easy to get lost in the hustle and stress amidst the Holidays.
If you were to travel to the southwest region in El Salvador, you would find a small fishing village called Metalio. This beautiful fishing village gets hit with an immense amount of rain each year that causes long-term problems for its residents. In a community where 40 percent of its population lives in extreme poverty (making less than $2 per capita per day), these severe weather patterns impact the daily lives of people.
For many of us during this pandemic, there have been many dreams that have not gone the way we planned or hoped for. Dreams have been put on hold, re-oriented, or lost altogether. Not only can it be daunting to have to navigate a new world and reality that does not have a firm structure, but it can also be deeply sad to have lost something you were counting on or excited for.
Meet Joel Kelderman. He is a real estate investor and ENLACE Board Member. Read on to learn how Joel began to work with ENLACE and why he values its work of transformation in the world.
It was crazy that just one talk with Mark Haugen would change everything.
Mark Haugen is the Head of Development at ENLACE, and when he mentioned to my mother and me about running a half marathon in October of 2019 to raise money for poor communities in Central America, everyone thought it would be crazy for us to run. But Mark didn't. Mark believed that the race wasn't just about running. It was about the change and difference we would make for communities in need.
Imagine a world in which curiosity and respect for others different from us were normal. What would it be like to live in a community that enjoyed diversity and welcomed a multiplicity of cultures? In some ways, it’s easy to imagine. I like being valued. I enjoy seeing others experience a life of peace and happiness. For me, as soon as I imagine it, my heart expands and my breathing actually feels deeper and easier.
"God will not be in the place that is the most comfortable or
formal, but rather with the most marginalized and forgotten.
There you will find God." -Packard Rozzi
ENLACE’s international church partnership strategy is the backbone of how we support ongoing community transformation efforts in impoverished communities. As part of this strategy, we love to work with international mission partners who want to go deep with a region of a country to partner with multiple local churches to make a true impact. We are always looking to work with partners who want to come alongside ENLACE to support local churches and communities as they are working to transform their communities.
One of the coolest things about working in community development for over 25 years is that you get to see and experience moments in which the world truly acts like a global community.
2019 was a topsy turvy year for many of us. It was a year full of heartache and hope across the globe. From ENLACE’s vantage point, the humanitarian crisis on the U.S. border was an endless source of grief.
Many of you who know my wife Jenny and I are familiar with our story.
We met in college and were married in 2002. For our honeymoon, we were invited to volunteer for a few months in El Salvador. After seeing the incredible work of rural pastors, our three-month honeymoon turned into nearly eight years of living in El Salvador. Our children were born in El Salvador, and we’ve now been involved with ENLACE for more than 17 years. I would have never imagined what God had in store for us when we said yes to a trip to El Salvador.
Over the years of working in international missions, I’ve had a chance to meet so many incredible people who want to make a difference in the world. They often tell me how blessed and grateful they are to live in the U.S., and so, as a result, they want to join a mission trip hoping to spread God’s blessings. After raising their money and going to serve, they come home expressing they received so much more than what they feel they gave.
But I also have found that they emerge from the life-changing missions experience with something else: a measure of despair.
As parents and caregivers to children, we all identify at some point with Elizabeth Stone’s well-known quote, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
The first time we send our kids into the wild unknown at any stage--whether it be their first day of kindergarten, a first sleepover or trip to a summer camp, or dropping them off as 9th graders to High School and then saying goodbye at college--our hearts seem to simultaneously expand and contract with something close to physical pain as we contemplate all the potential experiences that they may navigate without us being present.
We know that obstacles will come in many forms, and we desperately hope they will be able to encounter, steer through, and emerge, if not stronger and wiser, at least whole. And when they do undergo painful experiences, the empathetic pain of our heart living outside our bodies is acute indeed.However, as we grow into our parenting, we come to realize very quickly that as much as we wish we could, we cannot fix every bad experience or minimize our children’s suffering. We are faced with our own limits, and we begin to come to terms with the fact that our ability to protect our children from heartaches, setbacks, and struggles can only extend so far.