A Gang of Eleven

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Me and my sponsor child Ericka. We are reading a book that she made for me.

On a recent visit to El SalvadorI learned that gangs are a huge problem in the city of San Salvador. I also learned that children living in poverty are prime targets to be recruited into gangs and sometimes parents will send their children off to school and they never return home because they have been recruited by a gang.

Something else I learned while in El Salvador is that a gang will not recruit someone if they are a Christian. There are parents who will put their child in Compassion’s program to try to help keep them out of gangs. Gang members will even put their own children in the program to keep them safe.

Children go to the Compassion project, learn about Jesus, and bring home what they learn to their family members.  Some parents who were gang members have become Christians and left gangs.

Because of the gang problem in El SalvadorI have started a campaign to try to help children in the country who are waiting for sponsors. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see as many of them as possible to be free from the violence that could await them in a gang? Also with a sponsor to share the love of Christ with them they also will know just how truly special they are!

My new campaign can be found at this link -> A Gang of Eleven.

Please take just a few minutes of your time to check out my page and say a prayer for the children on the page.

Also, if you have a facebook, twitter or any sort of place that you can share the link, please please please share it.

Thanks so much for reading and also thank you for your prayers!

In case you missed the link here it is again – A Gang of Eleven

Have a great weekend!

Terri Siebert

 

Trusting is Believing, My One Word for 2016

20160102_202806-1In 2009 Compassion started a tradition that focused on one word  for the year. Two weeks ago I received a blog writing prompt that encouraged me to spend time with the Lord and ask for his guidance as to what word he would choose for me in the coming new year. Though I have never really chosen a word in advance usually by the end of each year I find that there was a particular theme that my year seemed to have taken on as the year progressed.

Even though I have not chosen a word for this year I do know without a doubt my theme and word for 2015 was ‘TRUST’

As 2015 started I began the year with a whole lot of new things on my plate. Now as I look back I can see I had many more things coming my way that I really had no idea were going to be coming. All of those things made way for a whole lot of times I found myself having to Trust the Lord in his guidance and his strength.

There were also many times this past year that He showed me that big things can happen if I just let go of myself and put ALL of my trust in him.


With that said now I will say this has probably been the hardest year in my Christian journey.


I started the year off full of excitement and ready to dive right in to whatever God had in store. But as the year progressed things seemed to get more and more confusing and I will admit it there were times I felt like he was far away, and also sometimes oddly silent.

At one point even though I knew God had led me in to the place I was, things didn’t seem to be going quite as well as I thought they would have been going. I also had conflict going on around me and many times found myself feeling as if I was caught in the middle and for some reason I began to feel as if somehow I was to blame for it. I know now it wasn’t my problem or my fault and also know I did not put myself in the middle of it at all. I can’t really go into detail here but will say that by the end of April my confidence in trusting to what and to where God was leading me was beginning to fall apart. Yet at the same time, he still kept showing time and time again that I was where he wanted me to be.

In April I went on a mission trip to Haiti. While I was there it was really good yet at the same time I had probably one of my worst times ever of feeling like I had somehow messed up and had heard God’s plan in this for me all wrong. Strangely even though I felt that way, at the very same time things happened while I was there that soon proved to me I was actually right where God wanted me to be….Ya I know it sounds totally confusing and weird. It’s a very long story I could never put into words, so I will just say as I now reflect back I can see God’s hand prints all over the place on that trip but at the same time it’s like the enemy somehow was able to distort my vision part of the time that I was there and make me feel really confused.  Another thing that happened while on that trip is I was notified that a really close friend of mine had died and I kept a lot of my emotions about her death bottled up until I returned back home.  I also think maybe the sadness I felt about her dying may have put a bit of a dark cloud over the trip too. I remember coming home knowing that I was supposed to have been on that trip yet also at the same time feeling even more discouraged.

But here is the cool part….

What I didn’t know at the time was that just a week after returning home from that trip I was going to be invited on another trip. On April 23 I received an email inviting me to attend a vision trip in El Salvador with Compassion International. I know this may sound crazy but even though I was at that time doubting my confidence in discerning what was God and what wasn’t God I clearly heard him say to me “GO on the trip.

So I signed up.

After I signed up for the trip my confidence still continued to plummet.

Yet God still kept throwing things out there that said I was in the right place but by then I was even more confused and feeling as if I was losing my ability to trust in what I heard from Him was really Him.

I also felt ashamed of my feelings and I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on so I spiraled through most of it feeling very alone.

Then to top off all those bad feelings in July I started having some serious knee issues and I realized I most likely would not be able to go on the El Salvador trip.

I sent an email to the trip leader explaining to her the situation and I told her that I would not be able to go on the trip. I knew from past experience of going on a trip like this that I may have to walk in places that I couldn’t walk such as rough terrain or long periods of walking which I knew I could not do. I figured most likely they wouldn’t let me go with my knees like they were anyway.

Once again I found myself doubting and I began to tell myself  that maybe I had made the decision to go in the first place because I had most likely heard God’s voice wrong.  Why would God tell me to sign up for something He knew I wasn’t going to be able to do?

After I sent the email I soon received a reply and a phone call from the trip leader. During the phone call we talked about a lot of things, including the fact that I could possibly have another trip coming up with my church to Haiti, (I forgot to mention that earlier) that I worried if happened the dates may conflict.  As we spoke I began to feel as if she was someone I had known forever even though it was my first time ever talking to her by phone. She told me that the trip would not be very physical and that I could still go with the knee problem if I wanted to. She also prayed with me for discernment I would be able to know what God wanted me to do.

We ended the conversation with me having a few more days to pray about my decision which I did and soon I knew without a doubt that God still wanted me to go to El Salvador!

So once again I said, “yes.”

I felt such relief once I made that decision and then suddenly at the end of July I found out that I would have the trip to Haiti but it was not going to be anywhere near the El Salvador trip dates.  It was so exciting to know God had worked out the dates!!

But suddenly I had another problem… There was no way I could afford to pay for a trip to El Salvador and also a trip to Haiti.

I felt a loyalty to my church, because I was the new Mission’s director plus I had been a part of setting this trip up. Suddenly I felt like I was torn between the two trips and found myself trying to choose once again.  I knew if I was going to have to choose I had to choose my church because I felt a loyalty to our mission there. But God still said to do both! Once again I began struggled with God because I knew I did not have the money to pay for both of these trips!

I made a decision on my own even though deep down I knew God wanted me in both places. I decided I was going to drop the El Salvador trip and I even went so far as to tell a couple of people I would not be going to El Salvador anymore.

As soon as I made that decision suddenly I could not rest.

And God still kept saying, “GO to El Salvador!”

I knew God wanted me to trust him.

I also knew I still had to go on that trip.

I changed my mind and I said, “OKAY, I will go!” but this time I did it differently and I finally gave up my own feelings on the matter.  This time placed it back into God’s hands where it belonged; And guess what happened the very next day????  I found out I would not have to pay for my trip to Haiti!  Wow! All I had to do was say yes and what I thought was going to be a problem was never a problem at all.  God had everything under control!


I know this story is getting really long so if you are still here thank you for hanging in there.  I will now try my best to finish this as quickly as possible.

We will fast forward to September….

Since July things had been going really great but then two days before I was supposed to leave for El Salvador something horrible happened.  I cannot say much about what happened here because I always try really hard not to put things on the blog that may tell something personal and could possible hurt others. What I will say is that what happened totally threw me for a loop and almost threw me back into my mode of not trusting my ability to truly know what God wanted me to do. I spent the whole next day and night in tears, doubting who I was now and for that matter also doubting who I had ever known myself to be. Its may sound crazy but sometimes old wounds can be opened and when they open you may find new ones you never even knew you had. In a matter of a couple of hours of time I went from feeling closer than I had ever been with God to suddenly feeling like a horrible person. At that point I wasn’t sure how on earth I would ever be able to get myself on that plane to El Salvador.

The day before the trip, I talked to God asking him if what had happened to make me feel that way was true?? I had searched my soul and honestly felt like what I had felt the day and night before was because of lies created by the enemy. But I still wanted and needed God’s input very much.

“Please just give me something to let me know I was truly where you wanted me to be!” I prayed.

As I prayed I opened my Bible and this is what I saw hi-lighted inside –  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45  That caught my attention and as I recognized the rest of the story suddenly peace just wafted over me.

The next morning as my husband dropped me off at the airport I was still at peace and never one time did I ever find myself thinking that by going on this trip I was making a wrong decision.

A little while later shortly after the plane lifted off the ground I noticed the sun was rising. I remember trying my best to hold back the tears of joy because at that moment I knew like I’d never known anything before that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. I was so thankful that despite all the detours I had taken to get to this place he had never given up on me. I was so thankful that through all the mess I had said yes.20150912_063228

That trip ended up being one of the best times I have ever connected with God and while there he showed me I truly was exactly where he wanted me to be . Another thing about that trip was it was not just a vision trip it was also a spiritual retreat. I had never been on a spiritual retreat before and had no idea what a treat I was in for. Each evening we would all meet for a couple of hours and focus on knowing and just being with God. In the mornings we were encouraged to spend time with Him. we were encouraged to go where ever he took us by walking the grounds or sitting on our porches or whatever felt right. To just BE and connect with God was what we all seemed to do. Never in my life have I experienced something like the closeness I felt with him on that trip. The whole trip from start to finish was perfect. We were very busy yet at the same time it felt like it was the most relaxed time emotionally I ever remember having in my life.  It was like God had taken the worst parts of me and my life away for that week.

Another cool thing is that just as the trip had begun with the dawning of a new day and a beautiful sunrise, my trips last leg was finished with my plane taking off from Houston on the journey home with the sun just setting and it was beautiful too. I felt as if I had somehow come full circle and I also knew without a doubt that another chapter of my life was now closing because a new one had just begun.

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I knew from that moment on in order for me to do what I am supposed to do for God I had to fully get rid of myself and trust Him.

I also now knew that all the things that had seemed to be reasons for me not to go on the trip were actually all the more reason for me to Go.

Since the trip things have not always been easy but I do now know what God wants from me. I also knew I had to give up a few things that I felt like were getting in the way of what He wants me to do. Giving them up wasn’t easy but oddly once I made my decision and did what I know he wanted me to do I felt relieved and also that peaceful feeling once again.

So my word this past year was Trust

When I looked up the definition of trust it said – the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. “relationships have to be built on trust.”

I also found this part of the definition interesting, looking at the word trust used as in law. – “confidence placed in a person by making that person the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of one or more – others.”

.As I started writing this blog post I had not looked up the definition of trust, though I knew what trust meant I hadn’t really ever thought of it that way. also as I started this post I had no idea what my word of 2016 would be. I had planned to stop this post with the definition of trust and tell you that I still had no idea what my word for 2016 was yet.

But as I read the definition from the perspective of setting up a ‘Trust’ I realized that another lesson I learned in El Salvador was from pastor Carlos when he talked about lending to the Lord (see blog post Casa de Pan Lending to the Lord) somehow seems to go with this definition. Suddenly it has occurred to me that though I place my confidence in God, he also has confidence in me and he has placed me where I am because that is where HE wants me to be. Could it be possible he has made me a nominal owner of HIS property, and now it is my job to use his property for the benefit of others?

As this revelation was flooding over me suddenly I looked up and saw a group of pictures hanging on the wall in my bedroom with the words Dream, Imagine, Love, Hope, Faith and Believe on them. The top word on the pictures is the word Believe. Now I can see that without believing He chose me I can never fully trust myself to do what he wants me to do.

I know God wants me to not only trust him but also to totally believe in his ability to make proper decisions and trust that he can and will make things go exactly as he has planned.

I plan to spend this year focusing on believing that God has my life in his hands and no matter what things may look like from the outside to me or anyone else, God knows the truth, he knows the plan and He is the only one I have to believe in.

I said in the beginning of this post that this has probably been one of my hardest years of my Christian journey. I also know, even though it has been a hard year, it has also been my best year on this journey so far.

I am pretty sure it was a good year.

Now I have a question for you.

Do you have a word you feel as if God has given you to focus on this year?

If so add your word to the comments or share your blog post in the link up below I would love to read it.

Thanks for reading my very long blog post and I wish you a blessed and wonderful new year!

Terri Siebert

P.S. Don’t forget to share your ‘One Word’ below.

 

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Baking Classes to Help Ericka Become a Chef – 12 Days of Giving Christmas Away

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Today was Christmas cookie baking day at my house.

I started with M & M Cookies.

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Then moved on to Peanut Blossoms.

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And then for the big finish and my favorite, Fudge.

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As I was baking I started thinking about my Compassion Sponsor child ‘Ericka’.  This past September I had the opportunity to visit Ericka in El Salvador.

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The Moment we Met… Ericka and Me

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Ericka and Me at the Water Park

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Heraldo our interpretor, Ericka’s Father Salvador, Me, Ericka, and her Teacher

One of the things Ericka shared with me me during our visit is that she wants to be a Chef when she grows up.

The very next day after visiting Ericka we visited a Compassion project in San Salvador that had a baking class.

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Children in Baking Class at a Compassion Project in San Salvador, El Salvador

In the baking class the children were learning how to cook, and that day they were making garlic bread loaves. We were all able to sample them and they were delicious!

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The kids really seemed to enjoy the class and shared with us what they were learning and they told us they wanted to be chefs when they grew up.

By being in Compassion’s sponsorship program they were able to be a part of this class and they were learning a very valuable skill that would not only help them at home to safely prepare meals, but also would help them in the future as a job skill they would be able to use for creating and selling food in the market.

This was something I didn’t realize was available to the children and when I saw this I realized that what Ericka had said the day before about wanting to be a chef someday was actually a possibility and it was something she could learn right in her Compassion project!

How exciting is that?!!

So that brings me to today’s Giving Christmas Away gift the gift of Baking Classes.

As you have just read, learning to cook can be very valuable gift for a child in poverty.

To give the gift of a Baking Class just click the picture below of the little girl in the apron and it will take you to the gifts page

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She is one of the kids I met in the baking class in El Salvador, just look at that smile. She was one very joyful little girl 🙂

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Terri Siebert

Other Posts in the ‘Twelve Days of Giving Christmas Away’ 

Day 1. A Very Special Music Monday –  Kickoff to Twelve Days of Giving Christmas Away

Day 2. Water of Life – 12 Days of Giving Christmas Away

Day 3. Giving Christmas Away ~ Feed  a Mother and Baby

Day 4. Twelve Days of Giving Christmas Away – Good Tidings of Great Joy and the Gift of the Bible

Day 5. Pigs Chickens and Goats

Day 6. No Time to Write Because I Want to Read a Book and Go to Sleep

Everyone Deserves a Fair Chance

Squeals of delight echoed off the walls of our tiny concrete playground as we took our stance, lined up arm and arm, ready to guard the make believe goal behind us.Everyone deserves a fair chance

Our three year old opponent was in position eyeing us up, a look of determination on her face. With her tiny foot posed behind the lopsided pink ball, she counted, “Uno dos tres!” Suddenly the ball was sailing toward us and more squeals of delight erupted as the ball made its way through our legs and into goal. We all cheered as three year old Genesis jumped up and down, clapping her hands in sheer delight. “Score!!! Mine! Mine! Mine!” she said.

 

Her joy was contagious and we couldn’t help but join her in the celebration. There was so much to celebrate today because not only was Genesis winning in this game of soccer but she was also winning in life!

This was my second day El Salvador and that morning our group had visited a Compassion child survival program called “Little Friends of the King” and now this afternoon we were visiting three year old Genesis and her mother Vanessa who are part of that program.

In the area where Genesis was born the infant mortality rate is very high. Many babies never make it to birth and many who are born never make it to their first birthday. If Genesis’ mother ‘Vanessa’ had not been a part of the child survival program Genesis may have been very different from the child we were playing soccer with today.

Being in Compassion’s Child Survival Program helped Genesis’ mother to learn how to take care of herself and her baby during her pregnancy and after by giving her pregnancy coaching, medical care, and emotional, nutritional and spiritual guidance. Vanessa also learned how to care for Genesis after she was born and Genesis also receives medical checkups and her childhood immunizations.

The Child Survival Program also has vocational training such as cosmetology, jewelry making and sewing classes.

Everyone deserves a fair chanceVanessa showed us a sewing machine that was given to her by Compassion and she told us that at the CSP she was able to learn how to sew and she showed us clothing that she makes and sells in the market. Learning this valuable job skill has helped Vanessa to be able to support herself and her daughter financially.

It was very obvious how much being a part of this program has made a world difference in Vanessa and Genesis’ lives and has helped Genesis to develop into the healthy, bubbly little girl we were playing soccer with today.

Our game of soccer continued most of the afternoon with Genesis making the rules. We didn’t mind at all to be playing by the rules of a 3 year old because Genesis’ rules were fair (and also a lot of fun!).  We all took turns playing each position.  There were only two positions, you were either a Kicker or you were a Goalie and you clapped and cheered when anyone scored.

Everyone deserves a fair chance

As each of us took our turn to kick the ball Genesis would place the ball on the spot where we would kick it from. When it was my turn to kick the ball, just as I was getting ready to kick, Genesis suddenly moved out of her goalie position, picked up the ball and moved it closer to the goal. We all laughed and then I took my turn kicking the ball from my new spot which was closer and gave me a better advantage of getting it in the goal.

I didn’t think too much about Genesis moving the ball closer to the goal at that time but now I have had a little more time to think about why Genesis may have decided to move the ball closer when it was my turn.

I have a knee problem which causes me not be able to walk or jump very well and though I never said anything about it to anyone, I think Genesis still may have noticed and I think maybe she didn’t want me to be at a disadvantage when it was my turn to kick the ball.

Something I noticed about Genesis’ game of soccer is that no matter which team we were on we were still all winners and we were all cheering each other on.

Because of the small space we were playing in, the goal was only about four feet away, but I am guessing that in the eyes of a three year old, four feet must look pretty far and when it was my turn to kick the ball Genesis made sure I would have a fair chance at getting the ball into the goal just as everyone else did.

Being in Compassion’s Child Survival program has given Genesis the advantage that she needs too.

Because of the assistance and the hope her mother receives Genesis was given a fair chance at life and now she is a healthy, joyful and thriving little girl today!Everyone deserves a fair chance

Everyone deserves a fair chance

Isn’t she just the cutest?!! You can see the joy just radiating out from her and believe me when I say, her joy  IS contagious! 🙂

If you would like more information about how you can help mothers and babies like Vanessa and Genesis receive a fair chance, you can visit Compassion’s website by clicking on any of the pictures in this post.Genesis3

Thanks for reading and have a blessed evening!

Terri Siebert

 

Something To Do In Your Free Time

If you have a little free time today and are looking for something to fill it with I have just the thing!

How about watching the movie that I put together of the trip I went on this past September with Compassion?

I know you just can’t wait to watch it 😀  Right?

No????

Well I am just totally shocked! How could you possibly not want to watch my movie? 😉

I once heard a rumor that not many people get overly excited about watching home movies unless they themselves happen to be in the movie, but just in case that’s not true or if it is true and you just happen to change your mind, I went ahead and put it in this blog post 😀

I also heard that the creator of this movie says it is guaranteed to make you smile and maybe even shed a few tears (happy tears of course). So why not go ahead and give it a try? 🙂

I hope you enjoy the movie 🙂

Whether you watched the movie or not I am so glad you stopped by because today I wanted to share something else with you…

While I was in El Salvador we also had the opportunity to visit several of Compassion’s Child Development Projects. On the last day of our trip we visited a child project in the city of San Salvador.

In the area where this project is located gangs are a really big problem and most gangs recruit new members at a very young age.  We met a mother who said she feared sending her son to school for fear that the gangs would recruit him. Something else we we learned is that gangs don’t recruit Christians and also the only way a gang will let a person who is a member of the gang get out is if they become a Christian.

These two children are a part of the Compassion center we visited on our last day.

Liis Nahomy

Both of these children are in need of sponsors.

In the video (another reason to watch 😀  ) you will see some of the children baking, playing music, doing hair and also in a computer lab. At this child center children are learning life and job skills such as cooking, music, computers programs, cosmetology, and most important of all they are learning about Jesus.

After our visit to the Compassion project we visited the homes of some of the children. One child’s parent was a former gang member who had left the gang because they were led to Christ due to their child sharing with them what they had learned at the child center about Jesus. Can you believe that?! What an amazing story of how Jesus can change a life!

When you sponsor a child you not only have the opportunity to help change the life of the child you sponsor, but your sponsorship will also affect his or her whole family!

Pretty amazing, huh?

Here is a little information about Luis and Nahomy:

Luis Antonio Ventura Rodriguez – Luis’ birthday is February 7, 2008. He is 7 years old. Luis lives with his mother. His duties at home include helping in the kitchen, running errands and cleaning. There are 2 children in the family.  His mother is employed as a farmer. Luis participates in church activities and Bible class. He is also in kindergarten where his performance is average. Soccer, playing with cars and running are his favorite activities.

Nahomy Michelle Garcia Duenas – Her birthday is December 16, 2008. Nahomy makes her home with her father and her mother. Washing clothes, helping in the kitchen and cleaning are her household duties. Her father is employed as a laborer and her mother maintains the home. There are 2 children in the family. Nahomy participates in church activities and Bible class. She is also in kindergarten where her performance is average. Playing with dolls and running are her favorite activities.

Please consider what your sponsorship could mean for Luis or Nahomy and also for their families. It could mean a world of difference and also have an eternal impact.

If you would like more information about sponsoring either of these children you can leave me a message in the comment section below or email me at tluvs2trvl@gmail.com

Have a wonderful day,

Terri Siebert