to inspire > to impress

Is my social media being used to bless others with encouragement and love or am I really just boasting on myself and feeding others’ unhealthy comparisons to me?

Well isn’t that a heck of a question?! Over the past month or so, I have been churning through Lysa TerKeurst’s (I can never spell her name without looking!) book, Uninvited. This book piqued my interest because I came to El Salvador with the expectation of former friendships made here to immediately grow and for everyone to become my bestie, available 24/7…and that didn’t exactly happen. My friends had lives they were living that needed tending to. They are college students, professionals, missionaries…they have job titles other than Ashley’s Friend. Add that unrealistic expectation to the feeling of being an outcast when in groups because I couldn’t understand what everyone was saying (#spanish), and pretty quickly I began feeling left out and lonely. And that is exactly what Lysa’s book speaks to – “Living loved when you feel less than, left out and lonely.” As you can imagine, I’ve underlined basically every word of this book. 

This particular chapter talks about how the devil uses our feelings of left out-ness and not good enough-ness to tear us down and attack us at our weakest. I have been both the victim of comparing myself to someone else’s perfect Instagram feed and the culprit, trying to make my life look lovely and shiny and full of beautiful, God-fearing unicorns (yes, my vision of a perfect life includes unicorns). And there have been times when I am both the victim and the culprit simultaneously. With one post, I am desperate for affirmation from friends and strangers and possibly causing those same friends and strangers to fall into the trap of comparison.

There is nothing we can do to control what others post. But what we can control is our intentions and how we react to others’ posts. What is my intention for going to social media? Am I bored? Looking for inspiration? Wondering what my friends back home are up to? Or am I looking for proof that someone else’s life is just as sucky as mine in that moment and desiring affirmation for my sucky feelings?

If I can identify in the moment why I am mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, I may be able to save myself a good amount of emotional stress. If I am looking for affirmation of my negative emotions, perhaps the better thing to scroll though is my Bible. That book is full of people who have felt rejected and left out. David for example – his own father didn’t even think he was good enough to be considered for king. Our parents are supposed to see and proclaim our wonderful abilities and qualities, but all David’s father saw was a scrawny shepherd. Yikes. Parental rejection is the worst.

Of course, there are many, many encouraging posts on Instagram that can help us learn to look to God in the tough times, become better prayer warriors, get closer to God….the list goes on of the amazing posts I have seen and leaned on in times of weakness. But before turning to the bloggers, I should turn to the Great Writer.

And then there are the times when I am truly just bored, scrolling through, looking at pretty pictures of flowers and adorable puppies and being inspired by insightful Christian bloggers and BAM! Yet another person engaged, who, really, I never in a million years thought would have a boyfriend, let alone get engaged before me! Really God?!? Like, do you even know what you’re doing up there?? I’m 32! THIRTY-FREAKING-TWO! I should be married, have 2 kids and know how to make the perfect pupusas and delcious browies all in the same hour! But NOOOOOOO….!! WAHHHHH!  This, dear friends, is the perfect (and oh-so-real) example of an unhealthy response to a friend’s happiness. And this can be controlled by choosing to flood my spirit with God’s truths. Immediately, the lies of not good enough-ness and never going to happen for me-ness flee in the presence of God’s truth. The truth that God DOES love me. God DOES care about me. And above all, God DOES have a plan for this life He created.

So friends, let’s be careful about what we post on social media. Let’s ask ourselves if we are hoping to encourage others or show off how immaculate our lives are. Because let’s be real – life is messy and it helps to know we aren’t alone in our mess.

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love love love

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Hola Hola, amigos!

February is a month all about love, and I have certainly been learning a lot about what it means to love as a missionary!

Really, the overarching goal of my job is to love people. It’s pretty much the best job description ever. I get to dole out hugs, kiss the tops of heads as tiny bodies cling to my legs, and some days I get to share life stories over salted green mango slices. Those are the really good days.

But my job isn’t always tiny-human squeezes and long afternoon conversations. Loving like Christ means I agree to be inconvenienced by love. Loving like Christ means loving people even though you know it might very well break your heart.

I began learning the inconvenience of love two and a half years ago when my heart started falling for a ragtag group of 9th-grade girls in Rock City Youth. I knew that not long after making them a priority in my life, I would be leaving them for my ministry in San Salvador. But they needed a leader and I needed somewhere to place the love of Christ that I had finally identified in my heart. So I pushed on, knowing that each passing week was a week closer to heartbreak.

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Last summer, I met a sweet boy named Steven and his adorable abuelita (grandma), Virginia, at our Development Center in Soyapango. Every time I went to Soya, she would be there waiting with a hug and a loving word to carry me through the day. One time, when she realized I was going to be at the Center all day, she went home and returned to the Center with a fresh, hot batch of fried yuca for me! Another time, she brought a beautiful, floral pillowcase from her bed for me to keep on mine. A few weeks ago, we discovered that one health complication had led to another and she passed away. Steven lived with Virginia, so I could only imagine his heartache. The next time I saw him, we held each other and cried. Loving the two of them meant allowing my heart to break alongside Steven’s.

But being inconvenienced by love isn’t always so tragic. Sometimes it means in the middle of a solid Jane the Virgin binge with a friend, giving her younger sister a ride to worship team practice in my new car that I did say was to help drive locals around. (side note: if you haven’t seen this show, do yourself a favor and check it out on Netflix!! #rogelio) Sometimes it means becoming fast, close friends with the people who come on mission teams from the States, and loving them with abandon even though it might be a year until/if I see them again. And sometimes, it means supporting one of my closest friends to move back to Maryland with her husband and kids, even though I know our friendship won’t be the same.

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Michelle, Murfatt & I – Two girls who will definitely be in my heart forever!

Loving people is what we are each called to do, no matter our circumstances and no matter the cost. And the thing is, even though love almost always hurts, it is worth it 100% of the time to open your heart to another person. I’m pretty sure that Jesus knew that Thomas would doubt Him, Peter would deny Him and Judas would sell Him out. Even so, He gave His heart completely to them. Why? Because love isn’t about what we can get out of the transaction. Love is about what we can give to the other person that they might so desperately need. Thomas needed someone to prove him wrong, Peter needed to be confronted with his uncertainty and Judas…well, Judas needed Jesus’ love possibly more than any other disciple but was unwilling to accept it. And Jesus did it all in love.

So this past month, as is every month, every day, was a lesson in love. Each lesson is a story tucked away in the corner of my heart for days when I over scrutinize myself and become convinced that I’ve messed it all up and the only logical next step is a one-way flight home (I’m pretty sure every missionary has those days, right guys?? 😆)

One of my most recent stories that will stay in my heart forever happened just last week. Our church was hosting our first mission team of 2017 – Total Health. They provided free medical clinics in three different cities for five days in a row! Part of my job was taking photos and “directing traffic.” I helped tell the patients where to go and when. So most days, I was on my feet for a looooong time. One day in Soyapango, Marina, the Center cook, noticed I was dragging and needed a pick-me-up. So she fed me an extra cup of coffee and snuck me a second bag of salted mango slices. “Come, muñecita! Eat, little doll!” And again this week, Marina treated me to a delicious bowl of salty mango. She and I can’t give each other much, but a tender hug and a little fruit go a long way in the heart of a missionary.

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A lot of my work the past two months has been behind the scenes – I accepted Pastor Victor’s challenge (“You have a blog, so I know you can do this!” ooooookay!) and created a brand new website for Great Commission Church San Salvador! Check it out here!

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And as always – please stay in touch! There are a number of ways to contact me!

Email: ashley.arend@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AshleyElaine85
Skype: ashleyelaine85
Mailing Address: Condado Santa Rosa, Condominio Aclaraban, Pasaje Pacún #42. Santa Tecla, El Salvador (simply stop by your local post office to purchase a Global Forever stamp, only about $1.25! Just give it about 2 weeks to arrive!)

Please Pray:

  • Raw, honest moment: A few months ago, Pastor Victor gave me the responsibility of creating an English Academy out of the church. The real goal would be to share the Gospel and get people connected to our church. When he initially challenged me with this, my heart immediately said no. I tried teaching English. I was terrible at it. It was awful. Actually, I hated it. So the idea of doing that again turned my stomach and definitely did not inspire me. So for the past few months, I have been dragging my feet on this project. But maybe, just maybe, God is asking me to trust Him by trusting Victor. Maybe this is a doorway into youth ministry. Maybe, if I can be faithful in this, God will trust me to be faithful with more. So please pray that I would be courageous enough to completely accept the challenge and create an effective, heaven-filling English Academy.
  • This past Friday night, I had a new Salvadoran experience – my first night in a Salvadoran hospital! I’M FINE! After spending a week with clinics full of sick people, including one projectile vomiting baby, I contracted some sort of virus and spent about 7 hours throwing up Friday night. Around midnight, Victor and Silvia decided it was time to call in the professionals and we headed to a local hospital. Really, it felt more like what in the States we would call a 24-hour emergency clinic. Finally, after two rounds of IV medication for nausea, the vomiting stopped and I was able to sleep. I woke up feeling better, so they pumped me with one more round of meds and sent me home to rest the remainder of the day. I made a few risky diet choices this week (a friend’s birthday was Monday and we went out with a few folks to McDonald’s!), but I’ve survived them all without a relapse! The worst part has been an awful pain in the vein in my arm from the medicine, but it’s getting better each day. So please pray that whatever it was is gone and that I can stay healthy the rest of mission team season!
  • For the next three teams! We have one from City Church coming tomorrow and two teams, ROCK CITY (!!!!) and Bay Area, the week after!
  • My dad. I really miss him. Our relationship has stood the test of miles and technology, by I miss the big guy. I am praying and I am asking you to join me in praying that he would come for a visit soon!
be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.
Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
     -Ashley

Love, Ashley

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Amigos!

For many people, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the one you love and remind them of your affections. Some think it’s overrated and just an excuse to have to buy a card, gift, and candies for your significant other. Call me a romantic, but I think everyday should be Valentine’s Day! Sure, it definitely is a little rough for those of us without significant others (YET! Don’t give up hope!), but hopefully, we all have people in our lives we can say, without a doubt, that we LOVE. Maybe it’s your best friend, your siblings, your parents, or maybe even your dog (Dad + Dewey have been my Valentine’s Day power couple for YEARS!).

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They say it takes a village to raise a child. I have learned that it takes a multitude of people to support a missionary. It takes prayer warriors, financial supporters, encouragement bearers…the duties are many and each one is incredibly necessary (especially you, peanut butter senders! 😍).

Each of these people is an unsung hero of my ministry, and this Valentine’s Day, I want to sing of my love for my tribe, Ashley’s Amigos!

This year, I am committing to reading the entire Bible. I recently re-read the story of Moses and the Israelites fighting off the Amalekites in Exodus. God told Moses that as long as he kept his arms raised, the Israelites would stay on top, but as soon as Moses lowered his arms, the Amalekites would begin to take over.

Any good missionary knows the physical pain of keeping your praise arms raised high for the entirety of Oceans 😉 🙌🏻. If you’re feelin’ real spiritual, you might be able to make it to the “Spirit lead me…” bridge, but it’s gonna take a few fist pumps ✊🏼 to keep those arms up there. (If you’re not familiar with Hillsong’s song Oceans, check it out HERE. It’s an amazing cry to God to take us where we’ve never been before as we put our complete trust in Him.)

So I can only imagine the ache in Moses’ arms. And he wasn’t just dealing with an 8-minute praise song. He was dealing with a full on army BATTLE. So God gave him friends to support his arms – Aaron and Hur. When Moses’ arms started dipping, they were there to hold them up. We don’t hear much more about Hur beyond this story, but without his support, the Amalekites may have won and changed the entire outcome of the Israelites getting to the promised land. An unsung hero.

You – my tribe, my friends, my people, my supporters – are the unsung heroes of my ministry and for you, I am incredibly grateful. Because of you, I am learning to trust in God even when I can’t see the future and don’t understand the present. I am learning to support the vision of my pastor so that one day I will know how to foster my own. I am learning that just because I am called doesn’t mean the work will be easy. Above all, I am learning that God is preparing me for the thing He has prepared for me (very wise words from the amazing Christine Caine).

A career in ministry is so very difficult, but it is so very worth every moment of doubt, confusion, and frustration for just one moment of joy on a person’s face when they fully understand and accept just how much Jesus loves them. This is truly the best job a person could have and it is thanks to you that I get to do it.

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– Lysa Terkeurst

Thank you for every prayer, every dollar, every word of encouragement and every jar of peanut butter 😘 None of it goes unappreciated.

With all my amor this Valentine’s Day 💜,
Ashley

“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Romans 1v12

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Because He Said So

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Hola Hola, amigos!

The new year is off and running around the world and here in San Salvador! The first month of the year was a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Ali, Adriana and I have been preparing everything for Mission Team Season, which starts on February 18th, when we have our first of TWELVE teams this year! I have also been spending hours on end behind the screen of my trusty MacBook completely redesigning the Iglesia Gran Comisión (IGC) website!

For many people, our website is their first peek into what a mission trip to San Salvador will look and be like. We also have many supporters in the States who have never been here, so we want to give them the best idea possible about what our visions and dreams are for the Children’s Development Centers. All this to say that in our technology focused world, a chivo (Salvadoran slang for “cool” 😎) website is super important to our church.

Since most my time this month has been spent at the kitchen table or at various coffee shops, rather than detail for you every time I high-fived myself for accomplishing something on the new website (Just today I figured out ON MY OWN how to put the dark church logo on the dark website background in a section that was NOT image friendly. HIGH FIVE!), I thought I would share with you a bit about what God has been teaching me this month through His Word, His people, and prayer.

Every Sunday, I wake up early to watch the Rock City Church message from the week before. Pastor Victor’s weekly messages are still not much more than Spanish lessons. It’s getting better every week, but I am more focused on understanding words and phrases rather than internalizing ideas from the Holy Spirit. Plus, I must also admit that I just seriously miss Pastor Chad’s style of teaching.

For the past 4 weeks, Pastor Chad has been using the book, Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick as the basis of his preaching series. I actually read this book about a year ago. It was a gift from my dear friend “MartyMar.” The premise of the book is overcoming the voices of doubt in our minds and replacing them with the voice of God.

CONFESSION: I’m not good at everything.

Holy cow, Santo Dios, oh my goodness, I feel so much better, don’t you??

Truly, I’ve never really thought I was good at everything, but I’ve always had a few things I was good at that made up for the things I sucked at. Well, turns out, I’m not really good at a whole lot yet down here in San Salvador.

Spanish: Getting better!
Web Design: Fake it ‘til you make it!
Playing with kids: Which one are you?
Taking the drink order for mission teams: So we’re missing four Kolashampan’s and we have seven extra Sprites?!

So needless to say, I needed to re-hear the Crash the Chatterbox message. Right from the first message, God was speaking to me, Spirit to spirit.

{Most of these ideas are taken from S. Furtick’s book and I am sharing my interpretations #ForeverAnEnglishTeacher} 

Did you know that 80% of the 60,000 words we speak every day are discouraging?! Either to ourselves or to other people. 80%!!! So I am going to speak some encouraging words to myself and to you right now – Even if I don’t think I am wonderfully made, God says I am. 

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalms 139v14

It doesn’t matter what I think about myself as long as I believe what God says about me.

I don’t know about you, but I have a habit of being my own worst enemy. Once a critical thought locks in, I just take it for a ride down the dark trail of negativity. My greatest battle isn’t with the words of anyone else – my greatest battle is within me! But I have the power to be my own greatest champion! Look at the woman from Mark 5. She had been bleeding for like TWELVE years! And when she heard Jesus was passing through, she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His cloak!” Forget about all the people surrounding her telling her to go home because she was unclean, impure and didn’t deserve to be there. It all started with her own self-talk. “This WILL work…I CAN be healed…Jesus IS who He says He is…”

If I start believing all the negative thoughts that come into my head, they WILL start affecting my life. The more lies of insecurity I choose to believe, the more limited I become in my calling to El Salvador. Every lie will limit me in what God has called me to accomplish! God has called me to do crazy, wonderful things in this country for His people!

How many good things won’t be done because I chose to be directed by the chatter in my head and not empowered by the Word of God?!

The truth is, left on my own, I am completely incapable of the crazy, wonderful things God has called me to do. But the bigger truth is that I have not been plopped down in El Salvador and left on my own. God is with me and God is giving me His strength and His ability.

The chatter in my head will never stop. I don’t think anyone has found a way to make it stop. But I have a choice – will I listen to the chatter or to the voice of God? Whichever one I choose will determine how much God can use me for His purposes. My BEST defense against the chatter is God’s Word and the best way to overcome it is to know God and know His Word.

God’s Word matters more than any other word.

And if God says I am, I am.

How do you fight the chatter? What kinds of thoughts are getting into your spirit these days? Please share with me so that we can be actively praying for one another!

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And as always – please stay in touch! There are a number of ways to contact me!

Email: ashley.arend@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AshleyElaine85
Skype: ashleyelaine85
Mailing Address: Condado Santa Rosa, Condominio Aclaraban, Pasaje Pacún #42. Santa Tecla, El Salvador (simply stop by your local post office to purchase a Global Forever stamp, only about $1.25! Just give it about 2 weeks to arrive!)

Please Pray:

  • For Adriana, Ali and I as we embark upon Mission Season 2017! Sarah left her job in very capable hands, but it’s still a little nerve-wracking!
  • For Ali’s temporary residency. Things were going really well and then just stopped. She is not going to have to leave the country, but it is an exhausting and frustrating process.
  • For the Dental Clinic at our Guayabo (Volcano) Children’s Center. We have a beautiful building constructed for the Dental Clinic, we now need about $18k to equip it. Please pray that God provides that for His people here.
  • For the children at both Development Centers, Guayabo and Soyapango, as they began back to the Centers full-time yesterday! Pray for a new year of learning and growing in Christ.
  • For the 180 Youth group here in San Salvador and Soyapango. Pray that they would be able to show Jesus’ love to their peers and that they would allow God to use them to be a small part of His big plan.

be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.

Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
-Ashley

Merry + Bright

 

Christmas Eve with Sarah
Christmas Eve with Sarah

Hola Hola, amigos!

WOW! December was jam-packed with Christmas celebrations, New Year’s Eve festivities and OF COURSE, Infinito! This was my second Salvadoran Christmas, but my first New Year’s Eve! I hope it goes without saying that this month was filled with the love of the holiday season. It was definitely hard to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s away from home. I miss all the traditions, the decorations and the GIANT tree at Dad’s house! And to be totally honest, it was so weird to experience December in 80-degree heat! I’m certainly not complaining, but it turns out, there’s something special about the chill, December air (but NO! I do not miss cold and snow and ice and sleet and slush and….haha!).

Instead of bogging you down with all the details of each event (and you know I would LOVE to!), I’ve created a little photo collage of some of the highlights from December! I hope you enjoy getting a tiny little peek into December in San Salvador!

1. The Turcios Family, Ali and I took Sarah & Jorge’s kids to a special Christmas program so they could spend the evening packing in peace! I wasn’t even upset that Gito (Hee-toe) only watched about 7 minutes of the show!

2. Ali, Meli and I at the Christmas Eve church service. I Love Christmas songs, but getting to hear them in Spanish was really special.

3. New Year’s Eve fireworks! Basically, every big holiday in San Salvador is marked with fireworks! After an evening of church, dinner, dancing and so much laughing, we set off $25 worth of fireworks (That goes a LOOOOOOONG way in San Salvador!)  in a nearby park! Don’t worry – only a few hairs were lost! After the fireworks, we visited family of friends, ate more and finally headed home around 2:30am!

4. Ali and I at the Iglesia Gran Comisión Christmas Dinner. The annual Christmas dinner is always a big event! There was a chicken dinner, hours of Christmas music performed by the church worship team and both churches, San Salvador and Soyapango came together in one place to celebrate Jesus!

5. Worship at Infinito! Infinito is a Youth Conference for the young people (and young at heart!) of Central America. It is hosted at a different IGC Church in Honduras every year. My favorite part of the conference was the worship. I felt like I was back at Rock City!

6. The Infinito Crew! After a long, hot, bumpy ride to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, we were finally there! This was my second Infinito – I went once before in 2014. But this year was different in a few ways. It was mostly different because I could understand and speak so much more Spanish! I was able to make new friends, understand the messages, and I didn’t feel so lost and confused! I got to share a hotel room with 6 other girls (I know, right?? Crazy!), most of whom were from our Soyapango church. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know them better!

7. On the second day at Infinito, we drove to another Honduran city to serve the local people. Our church paired with another church to evangelize in a local village. What a beautiful sight to see teenagers sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ!

8. The girls at Infinito! Pamela, Monica, Meli and Florence!

9. Christmas Morning Sunrise. Christmas Eve is similar to New Year’s Eve. After church, you eat a giant dinner, dance and spend time with friends and family. At midnight, there are kisses and fireworks (maybe it’s a metaphor?!?). Ali, Adri and I stayed up most of the night talking and playing cards. Finally, around 3am, the girls went to sleep and I took a quick nap before a friend picked me up at 4:30am to drive to the beach! We got there around 6am – just in time to see the sun come up. It was absolutely breathtaking. We enjoyed breakfast and bottomless coffee right on the beach. After a few hours, we headed home for a shower and lunch and spent the rest of the day at a local swimming pool club! That’s definitely not something you can do in Ohio on Christmas! (I told you I don’t miss the snow!)

10. The girls and I at our Children’s Development Center Staff Christmas party! We had a Secret Santa gift exchange, enjoyed a spaghetti lunch and each person shared what they were grateful for this year,

11. I was Adri’s Secret Santa!

12. Carlito and I after the December Women’s Meeting. He came with his mom! That little guy NEVER ceases to make me smile!

13. At the women’s meeting, Sarah shared a message about the difference between knowing about God and really knowing God personally. She used a metaphor to explain this! We can tell people from the States about pupusas – show them photos, tell them what they’re made of, etc. But until they actually taste and know that it is good, they don’t really know the pupusa! So of course, I got to be Sarah’s example! I’ve never scarfed down a pupusa so fast! Her directions to me were, “Just really get in there and ENJOY the pupusa!” Boy, did I!!!

14. Sarah’s last night, Christmas Eve, in San Salvador. I can’t begin to explain how sad I am that she and the family have left. Sarah has become a mentor, sister, and best friend to me. I am excited to see what God has in store for them in Maryland, but for a little while, I am going to be a little sad. But Sarah has left her job in more than capable hands and we are excited and ready to pick up where she left off!

ps…Happy JanuAshley! In January’s past, this month is one of multiple birthday celebrations! I am SO excited to finally spend my birthday beachside with some of my closest friends. If you would like to send some extra birthday love, my mailing address is below!

Email: ashley.arend@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AshleyElaine85
Skype: ashleyelaine85
Mailing Address: Condado Santa Rosa, Condominio Aclaraban, Pasaje Pacún #42. Santa Tecla, El Salvador (simply stop by your local post office to purchase a Global Forever stamp, only about $1.25! Just give it about 2 weeks to arrive!)

Please Pray:

  • Adriana, Ali and I as we prepare for Mission Team Season 2017! Our first team lands on February 18th! Sarah was our Mission Teams Coordinator and we have taken over her job. It will take the THREE of us to do what ONE Sarah was doing!
  • The people of our local churches in San Salvador and Soyapango. Please pray that they would surrender this year to God and allow Him to work in miraculous ways, exceeding even their greatest dreams.
  • Our Youth as they have returned from the Infinito Youth Conference filled up with Christ! Please pray that they would carry that excitement and determination far into 2017.

be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.

Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
-Ashley

#GIVINGTUESDAY

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Today is #GivingTuesday! Giving Tuesday is “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” You can be a part of #AshleysAmigos by supporting the people of San Salvador from the States! Since moving here, my support has dropped slightly. When I moved seven months ago, I was at 100% of my monthly goal. As of today, I am at 91%. THIS IS AMAZING!

It is my prayer that today, new people will step up to support my work in San Salvador and current supporters will increase their monthly giving! I am praying that by December 31st, I will be back at 100% to start the new year without ANY financial worries!

These are a few moments from the past seven months that I am most thankful for:

  • The feeling of excitement, uncertainty, AND certainty as the plane glided through the air from the US to El Salvador on a one-way ticket.
  • Seeing the smile on Jorge’s face as he walked into church after 50+ days in bed, completely healed from his back injury!
  • Watching a busload of kids from Guayabo experience the beach for the first time ever and watch three of them hand their lives over to Jesus as they were baptized!
  • Hearing the women of Soyapango laugh when I called a lychee fruit a “fresa con pelo” (strawberry with hair)!
  • Burning my mouth on a steaming (but SO DELICIOUS) empanada given to me by Virginia, the grandmother of Steven, one of the children at our Soyapango Development Center. Steven is only 10 years old and is already being pursued by the local gang. But he is persevering in his studies and his faith, and Virginia daily walks him through gang territory to the Center. Steven now has a special place in my heart, and I think I now have a special place in Virginia’s!

It has been friendships and moments like these that have allowed me to share Jesus’ love with the people of San Salvador. And that was just the first seven months! I am so excited to see what next year brings! Your continued and increased support will allow me to become even more effective in 2017. I will help fundraise for a new Computer and English Center at Guayabo, where doors to successful futures will be open to our students that have remained shut for years. I will help to create and lead an English Academy out of Iglesia Gran Comisión, helping the people of our church to not only have more successful careers but get connected to our church community as well. I will become a more integral part of our Mission Coordinating Team and I WILL become a translator for mission teams (#goals)!

If you feel led to begin supporting me or increasing your giving, simply go to reliant.org/ashley.arend to create/login to your account at reliant.org! Thanks to supporters like you, God has been working IN me so He can work THROUGH me to change the lives of His Salvadoran people.

AND DON’T FORGET TO TAKE AN #UNSELFIE OF YOURSELF SAYING WHY YOU SUPPORT GOD’S WORK HERE AND USE #ASHLEYSAMIGOS! 📸

#GivingTuesday + #AshleysAmigos

givingtuesday

This year’s Thanksgiving is being spent a liiiiittle differently than in years past. Rather than waking up early to cuddle with Dewey on the couch and watch the Macy’s Parade, I woke up early (at 4:30am!!) to go to the gym with Silvia. 💪🏼 Rather than warming up my stomach with Dad’s sunny-side-up eggs and bacon for breakfast, I enjoyed a typical Salvadoran breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans, and cheese. Rather than setting the table for incoming family, I’ll be meeting with our team to plan the rest of the year. And rather than devouring Dad’s homemade turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (inside AND outside stuffing!) and my own pumpkin pies, Ali and I will be attempting to cook a few of our US Thanksgiving favorites for friends and family here. 🍗

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, November 29th, is #GivingTuesday. Giving Tuesday is “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” Instead of scouring websites for ridiculously good deals (I was never emotionally stable enough to face the thousands of crazies IN the stores), this year, I will focus on using what I have to give back to the country I now call home. 💖

Check back here and on my Instagram over the next few days to find out how I will be giving back and how you can be a part of #AshleysAmigos, supporting the people of San Salvador from the States! 🇺🇸 🇸🇻