Sunday, July 31, 2016

Photos of Coffee Tour and Mayan Ruins

 Jim Hack on the bus from the airport Sunday.

 Common to carry a 150-pound bag.  An additional guy helps you get it on your back.  The worker wears a sizable sheet-like towel on his head to keep the dust from going down his shirt.

 Inside the coffee warehouse.

 Picking out the bad beans.  8 hour shift with 2 breaks plus lunch.  $4.25 per day.  20 women on each side of the conveyor belt which moves rapidly, the stops for about 30 seconds.  Repeat.

Coffee beans in canvas bags in the warehouse.

 The finished product ready to be shipped, mostly to England, France, and Italy.  Often shipped as whole, roasted beans.  Francis acting like a tour guide.

The coffee tasting.  A great deal of work goes into every innocent-looking cup of coffee.  It is a challenge to grow, process, ferment, dry, clean, and roast.

The Mayan ruins near Ahuachapan.

Acting Like Sunday Tourists in El Salvador - Devotion and Prayer for Tonight

Sunday, July 31, 2016 (DLO)

Check back in a few minutes for some photos of the day.  Lutheran church services were unavailable this morning due to Pastor Carlos having heart surgery and a pacemaker.  He is recovering, needs time off, and does not have a substitute.  Instead, Roman Catholic mass was at the Church of the Ascension just steps from the Casa de Mamapan (

Today after church, we went on a coffee plantation tour.  VERY interesting, and we were all quite impressed with the place, the work, and the people.

After that, we visited some Mayan ruins, ate lunch at a place called Pollo Campero, then went back to the hotel to meet up with Jason Fisher and Nathan Hack (grandson of Jim).  They had a good trip down, and, like us, met many people on the plane also doing volunteer work in El Salvador, many in the capital city, San Salvador.  Herewith tonight's devotion and prayer.

Sunday, July 31

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands.
-           Psalm 90:17

 “Can you give me a hand?”  We ask when we need assistance.  You might hear it when a test is given to a student, or when someone has nothing to eat, or maybe, just maybe, when in El Salvador to help build someone a home.

The psalmist knows that for our energies and efforts to grow and prosper, we need to know the fullness of God’s blessing and favor, we need to be doing God’s work, not following our own desires.  Before this psalmist asks for God’s prosperous blessing, a prayer is offered:  “Let your work be manifest to your servants” (verse 16). We pray that we might know God’s work, and we ask that it might be done in and through us.  We strive to live out our prayer, “Thy will be done.”

The ELCA logo contains this phrase: “God’s Work, Our Hands.”  It’s a commitment to discern God’s will in the world and the work God calls us to do.  It’s a call to get our hands busy doing God’s work in our daily lives.

Let us pray.

We thank you once again Father for giving us the opportunity to celebrate and praise you with the people of God's Church.  Be with us as we set out tomorrow to make our hands busy in building new homes for these friends here in El Salvador.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Arrival at Ahuachapan and the Big Street Party

We arrive at the hillside restaurant in San Salvador that we are always taken to the Saturday we arrive.  Left to right:  Dean Olson, Jim Hack, Peggy Olson, Bob Olson, Kara Greer, Tyra Greer, Jenelle Keene, Francis Padillo from Habitat, our daily host and companion.  Jason Fisher and Nathan Hack are flying separately and will join us Sunday.

We will be working in Ahuachapan in western El Salvador.  We're staying at the Casa de Mamapan, where the WiFi is pretty good!  (Say "aw-wauch-a-pan").

A street party right in front of our hotel.  It was a celebration for a local private school that was 100 years old.  All kinds of kids danced, sang, and there was a marching band.

The street party had a big crowd.

This group had just finished performing.  We were impressed with their costumes and how much fun they were having.  Francis says school is currently in session, and the vacation months are October, November, and December.

We took a quick visit to the bakery owned by Francis's mother, just down the street.  Dinner at 6:30 at the hotel, followed by devotions.  Breakfast at 8 a.m. Sunday.

Safe Arrival and First Devotion and Prayer


Saturday night, 30 July 2016

We are in El Salvador.  Jason Fisher and Nathan Hack are flying separately, and will join us tomorrow.  By the way, the time in Illinois is 1 hour ahead of El Salvador.

Here is today's devotion and prayer.  Photos later.

Saturday, July 30

Then I heard the Lord say “Whom shall I send?  Who will be my messenger?”  I answered, “I will go!  Send me!”  -  Isaiah 6:1.

You might be thinking:  Who, me?  What was I thinking when I made the decision to go to El Salvador this year?  Jim, Dean, and Jason have been on this trip before, but not me.  But why are they going back?  It’s hard work, a lot of sweat, maybe some blisters and a sore back. 

Our El Salvador Mission Trip is a major step in service as we fulfill the Lord’s command to love our neighbors and put God’s words of love into action.  You will experience joy in traveling with a group from our home base, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, to form a partnership with our southern neighbors to build decent, durable homes for them.  This trip gives us the opportunity to share our love and see what we can do together.  Loving one another is important.  People are different but we are all children of God.  You may not be able to have a conversation with our friends in El Salvador but a touch, a thumbs up, or a big smile all go a long way. The folks you will be working with have huge hearts of love. Do things humbly and sincerely with an open heart, and everyone will be paid back in many ways.

Let us pray.

We thank and praise you dear Lord for bringing us all together in one place to do your work.  Prosper the work of our hands this week, O God.  May your work and your will be done in us and through us while we are here in El Salvador.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Upcoming El Salvador Trip

Our annual El Salvador mission trip this year will be Saturday, July 30, through Sunday, August 7.  We’ll depart from the church parking lot at 3:45 a.m.  People have shown up in the past to bid us farewell, and you are welcome to be among them.  

We drive to Bloomington, IL, then fly to Atlanta and San Salvador, the capital city.  Our Habitat for Humanity work will likely take place in a small mountain town called Ahuachapan, if you’d like to look it up.  Check the blog daily for updates, including photos and our evening devotions and prayers that we’ll use every night.  The blog link is:  Thank you for your support!

The 2016 El Salvador Mission Trip Group:

Jim Hack
Nathan Hack
Jason Fisher
Bob & Peggy Olson
Jenelle Keene
Tyra Greer
Kara Greer
Dean Olson

        Mission Trip - October 2016, Ahuachapan, El Salvador