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.
Right now, there are more than fifty incredible poverty alleviation projects that have been designed and partially funded in communities across El Salvador, Nepal and Guatemala.
Local churches partnering with ENLACE maximize their efforts by connecting strategically with local organizations and local volunteers which provide both valuable resources and labor. These churches have learned how to bring everyone together to create projects that solve very difficult problems such as the need for clean water, waste management, adequate shelter, and food and income security. All we need to do is match their donations.
It is hard to believe that in 2018 ENLACE is celebrating 25 years of God mobilizing his Church to transform communities. I feel so honored and proud to be a small part of what God is doing through the Church, restoring people’s spiritual and physical lives worldwide. I am truly grateful to all our donors and partners who have given sacrificially for so many years to help mobilize the churches to transform the lives of so many in great need.
Had I known what God’s plan was for my life, I would have paid more attention in English class. Never in my wildest dreams did I, a small town girl from a primarily Afrikaans-speaking community in South Africa, envision living in the US, working at a church and going on Outreach trips.
Back in early 1993, as the idea of ENLACE was just taking shape, we knew we wanted a logo that reflected our values.
ENLACE has empowered church coaches all over the world to help churches engage with their communities since 1993.
2018 marks **ENLACE's 25th anniversary**, and we thought some of you might like to know about a few independent sources that talk about what ENLACE has been doing over the years. These scholars are highlighting the fact that a growing number of Pentecostal churches are engaging in community development activities and that they are in effect contributing to broader social change. They also suggest that ENLACE has played a vital role in preparing and equipping these churches to work with community associations and government entities to develop effective solutions to poverty.
All year long we have learned together about El Salvador, Nepal, community transformation, and impact. Here are the top five most read blogs of 2017. If you missed them the first round, now is your chance to equip yourself and share with a friend.
Every year, just before Christmas, ENLACE hosts a Pastors and Leaders Retreat. It is the one time when all of our local church partners and staff get a chance to learn together, pray and encourage one another, and have a lot of fun! Every year it has been something special. There was one year, however, that stands out and continually reminds me of ENLACE's purpose and vision.
“These people seem so happy! They seem so thankful, even though it seems that they have so little to be thankful for.” This is a sentiment that I have frequently heard during my 15 years of introducing North Americans to people in rural El Salvador. While El Salvador does indeed rank very high on the “happiness index” there is something disconcerting about calling impoverished families “happy” and “thankful.” I think something else might be going on here. Could it be that visiting an impoverished community simply shifts our baseline for how we measure happiness and thankfulness?
In a few days' time, people all over the world will commemorate two Catholic feast days, All Saints and All Souls, with exuberant parties, celebrated with special foods and dances, and quiet candlelit vigils, marked by contemplation and prayer.
The history of these days is fascinating, but having grown up in a Protestant household and community, these celebrations were not a part of my religious or cultural experience. For me, it wasn’t until November 2001 that I was able to see the power that these remembrance days could have.
32 families will have life saving latrines along with health education and technical assistance for building and maintaining their composting latrines. Over the last few weeks you have jumped on board the potty train. You have done your doodie! You paired your potty.
We are celebrating 12 families, individuals, churches, and schools who stepped up as Doodie Directors to raise funds for a latrine. Many others of you gave directly to the campaign. Thank you!
This two minute video gives you a quick overview of the process and benefit of latrines in communities in El Salvador.
Although we have wrapped up the Pair Your Potty campaign and won't keep pushing right now, churches in El Salvador continue to identify families in need of latrines as they work toward healthy communities. There are literally thousands of pottys still to be paired. You can support them by starting your own Pair Your Potty campaign at any point. It's a fun way to get kids, groups, teams, and families engaged in making an impact globally. All the resources you need to start your campaign are at www.pairyourpotty.org
Thank you for giving a crap!