September 2015 Update

Highlights

  • Dewey’s Birthday
  • Yard Sale
  • Signed up for COMPASS Culture Training
  • Hillsong Concert
  • 23.5% increase in 5 weeks

Hola Hola, amigos!

Our Ohio summer was too short for my liking! I suppose it’s a good thing I am moving to the land of eternal summer – San Salvador! September was a little less busy than August, but that’s not to say that the month wasn’t filled with fun and God continuing to do amazing things in my support raising adventure!

At the beginning of the month, my sweet little Dewdlebug turned FIVE! For the past five years, this little dog has been my comforter in sadness, my keeper of secrets and the joy of my days. Adopted after my mother passed away from cancer, Dewey’s initial role in my life was to lure me out of bed each morning to make sure my little puppy had a happy life. As the years have passed, he has added more happiness to my life than I could ever add to his! Where will Dewey live when you leave?? Alas, I cannot take the Dewster with me to San Salvador. Believe me, it’s almost enough reason not to move. Almost. Dewey will move into Tom’s Steakhouse, aka, Dad’s House. He will be loved on, walked daily, and fed the finest meat Weiland’s Market can provide. I know that Dewey will be in good hands with my dad.


Just like I can’t take Dewey with me down south, I certainly can’t take all of my belongings either! Amanda and her husband Josh graciously allowed me to team up with them for their annual neighborhood yard sale and sell most of the Barbie Dream House’s glamorous merchandise and fabulous crap! I was able to sell (after some exhausting haggling) my dining room table, kitchen table, futon, a handful of books and movies, some of my Ashley BC (Before Christ) wardrobe, a mini fridge and even my 8 ft tall pink Christmas tree! After everything was either sold, thrown on the free table or packed back up for better luck elsewhere, I made an impressive $731.25!

Slowly but surely my home is emptying of all my material goods, and slowly but surely my heart is beginning to ache for this place that I have called home for eight crazy, beautiful years.


As part of my preparation for mission work in a foreign country, Reliant requires me to attend Mission Training International’s COMPASS training in Colorado for 4 weeks. It is there that I will prepare to leave my culture and enter into one possibly much different from my own. I will learn how to deal with culture shock and missing home, how to say a good goodbye to my friends and family, and receive Spanish lessons! Honestly, beyond that, I don’t really know what to expect from the COMPASS training. But Colorado is a gorgeous place, so I could be told to go there for just about any reason for a month, and I’m there!

But the most exciting part of this upcoming trip is that I will get to spend 24 hours with my high school best friend, Heather! After high school and college in Columbus, Heather confidently stated the “mountains called” to her. So she moved to Boulder, Colorado, fell in love and married a mountain man, had a couple mountain babies and lives the Colorado mountain life! I was blessed to be in her wedding in 2008 (on the side of a Colorado mountain, of course!) and visited again in the spring of 2010. I haven’t been back since and the last time I say my girl was in 2012! Needless to say, I am more than a little bit excited!

Before a missionary can register to go to COMPASS training, they must have acquired 80% of their monthly support commitments. A few weeks ago, with just about 65% committed, I took a step of faith that by the time training starts on October 26th, I would be at 80% and registered. Being me, not ONLY did I register, but I booked a flight as well. Alright God, the ball’s in your court now!


This past Saturday night, I packed up my Honda CRV with a few friends and drove north to Canton, Ohio to see the Hillsong Worship team! If you have ever been to Rock City Church (my home church), chances are pretty good that we sang a Hillsong song. The group is based out of Australia and is now touring the country sharing their gift of worship. It was an amazing experience to sing my heart out to God as Hillsong played my favorite songs.

The highlight of the night was standing up front by the stage, arms up and soul surrendered to God asOceans resounded through the auditorium. There was something so powerful in pleading for God to “lead me where my trust is without borders…wherever He would call me” as Taya Smith belted her heart out. But…truth be told, I’d prefer to worship at home at Rock City Church, surrounded by people who have been encouraging me in this Salvadoran journey for over a year now, as Brooke, one of our Rock City singers, cries out to God on my behalf with her passionate, heart-piercing voice.

But yeah…Hillsong was pretty good ;)

ps…if you’ve never heard Oceans, do yourself a favor and set aside 8 minutes today to listen to this song and give your heart to God – again and again and again.

These past four months of building up my team of people who are going to be encouraging, praying and supporting me as I continue to prepare and eventually live in San Salvador have been a true opportunity for God to stretch out His arms and show me just what He can do when I surrender my life to him.

Before I can leave for San Salvador and begin doing God’s work with His people, I must reach 100% of my monthly support goal. Once I am in San Salvador working, I will be blessed to receive a salary through Reliant, made up of money from people who are eager and excited to financially support me. Most missionaries reach their goal in about 6 months to a year. I am boldly and brazenly praying for God to get me to 100% of my goal within 5 months. It is my goal to move down south in mid-December. The San Salvador youth group heads to Honduras for Infinito, a youth conference on December 26th and I would love to join them. I see this as a wonderful way for me to kick off my ministry, create new friendships and solidify existing relationships.

God is good and God is able. As of clicking publish on this post, I am at 87.5% of my monthly goal! That is a 23.5% increase since my last update, a short five weeks ago! I am asking that God would bring in the remaining 12.5% by the time I leave for Colorado on October 25th. By reaching 100% before the Colorado culture training, I can focus my attention on learning and when I return to Columbus on November 21st, I can spend my last few weeks tying up loose ends, figuring out last minute logistics, packing and saying goodbye.

When I initially began this journey, I begged for God to not only shut doors if a move to San Salvador was not in His plans for me, but to shut them, lock them, Holy Spirit super glue them and put His shoulder into it because I will knock a door down if I want through. I was asking Him to make it blatantly obvious and near impossible for me to get to San Salvador if I was barreling down the wrong path.

But God hasn’t done that.

God has opened door after door and put amazing, generous people in my life. I am asking to raise another 12.5% in 5 weeks. I know God can do it and I am asking you to help. Monthly gifts can be in any amount – whatever gives your heart joy to give. You will be helping me share with Salvadoran youth that they won’t find their joy or their identity in neighborhood gangs and no boyfriend or girlfriend will ever love them the way Jesus loves them. This is important. It is our job to make Heaven full.

“Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly,
for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.”

Deuteronomy 15v10

Please consider giving. You can get set up in five minutes by clicking the “Give to the Cause” button under my photo or by going to reliant.org/ashley.arend

Please Pray:

  • That the Salvadoran youth are able to raise the funds needed to send each and every student to Infinito in December
  • That our own Rock City Youth kids would continue to build lifelong bonds with each other that strengthen them to go out in their worlds and be a light of God’s love
  • That I would have no trouble emptying the Barbie Dream House of the last few items taking up residency here
  • That God will continue to open the hearts and minds of each person I am blessed to share my story with

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

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August 2015 Update

Highlights

  • I got to hug some Salvadorans at Gabi & Victoria’s Wedding!
  • I spent a weekend getting FAT with my fellow Rock City Youth Leaders!
  • I now have robot eyes with lasers!
  • Everyone loves fried chicken. I love San Salvador. Let’s put ‘em together!
  • In the past 5 weeks, we have increased my regular support by 22%!

Hola Hola, amigos!

This past month has been awesomely busy! I’ve been having fun, finally enjoying our Ohio summer and persevering through my first few months of building up my San Salvador support team!

At the end of July, I got to go to Toledo, Ohio for the wedding of Gabriel and Victoria Valle! Gabi is a friend I met in San Salvador. He used to drive one of the vans that would take our mission team from the hotel to the Children’s Center in Guayabo and around the city in the evenings. When I met Gabi, I knew that he was learning English, but I didn’t quite know why. It turns out, for our driver extraordinaire, English was his language of love! Gabi was learning so that he could move to the US and marry Victoria, a beautiful woman he met while she was on a San Salvador mission trip! Their wedding was beautiful and it was a breath of fresh air to be able to see not just one Salvadoran friend, but TWO! Albi was able to come up for the wedding! I hugged her so tightly that I think all my friends in San Salvador could feel it!

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The Rock City Youth leaders spent some time up at Indian Lake for a weekend of fellowship, silliness and learning. We are a “Student First” organization, but sometimes we need to focus on the friendships amongst the leaders and bond over s’mores and smiles. We started our days with leader-led lessons teaching us that FAT is beautiful! That is Faithful, Available and Teachable! We also reinforced that as followers of Christ and leaders of His half-grown humans, we must eliminate our “Say/Do Gap.” What we profess with our mouths must match what we do with our lives. Our afternoons were spent on the water of Indian Lake. I had the INSANE privilege of accompanying Youth Pastor Amanda for her first ever tube ride behind a jet boat! We had a blast, but were no match for the guys at the wheel! After a few hours of tubing, jet skiing and sunbathing, by starlight we sang worship songs to the Lord and giggled until sleep was inevitable.

It is a true blessing to live and learn alongside the leaders of Rock City Youth. Their hearts are on fire for teenagers and I will carry that fire in my own heart to San Salvador.

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As of yesterday morning, I have robot eyes!!! Okay…not really, but after years of waiting and whining, I was able to receive Lasik eye surgery in both of my eyes yesterday! I have worn glasses since I was 3 years old and contacts since I was 13, and I am over it! Not only are contacts an expense I am excited to no longer have to pay, but more importantly, I am relieved that the eye issues that have plagued me at least once a year for the past 17 years will no longer be a problem! I want my time in San Salvador to be as healthy as possible, so avoiding the eye doctor is definitely exciting!

My vision is still a little blurry, but I am told that is normal and in the next week or so I will notice a drastic difference. Huzzah for modern technology!
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Last week I had a fundraiser at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant! Waylon, the owner of that franchise is a fellow Rock City Church goer and was gracious enough to not only help set up the evening, but give a few lucky Rock City Youth kids a behind-the-scenes tour as well! By the end of the evening, Ashley’s Amigos helped to raise $100 towards my San Salvador Ministry! Ain’t nothin’ better than fried chicken for a mission!
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As I continue on my support-raising path, God continues to affirm that I am on the right path – His path. Since I wrote you last, I have gone from 42% of my monthly goal raised to 64% raised! That’s a 22% increase in 5 weeks! Dios es bueno! God is good!

As I make phone calls and meet with people to share my story, I am continually in awe of people’s support and encouragement towards my ministry. The Bible reminds me that, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.” Luke 1v4-5

I may have 99 problems, but knowing my purpose isn’t one!

The purpose of my life is to help make Heaven full, and God has appointed me to reach out my hands to the Youth of San Salvador.

I know that God will get me to San Salvador in His timing. Before I can begin to live out God’s calling on my life with the Youth of San Salvador, I must reach 100% of my support-raising goal. I have in my spirit a fire of urgency because my days on this earth are numbered and the Youth of San Salvador are at risk. By the age of 20, the statistic is that 20% of Salvadoran youth will have joined a gang. Please consider becoming a monthly partner in my Salvadoran ministry so that God can use me to make a change in this statistic. Many of us spend $20 a month on drinks at the local coffee shop. If just a handful of you commit that amount each month, I’ll be able to spend my days in Salvadoran coffee shops sharing Jesus with students who desperately need Him. Please consider giving. You can get set up in five minutes by going here: reliant.org/ashley.arend

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.
Psalm 39v4-5

Please Pray:

  • That our Rock City Youth students would be shining lights of God’s love as they go back to their respective schools
  • That the Salvadoran youth ministry (180 Juventud) would continue to reach the young people of their city
  • That God would give me perseverance to continue along His path towards San Salvador by continuing to open hearts and minds of the people I get to share my story with
  • I am able to check off the long list of logistics that must be completed before I can move!

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

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Ashley’s Amigos

God is so good. SO GOOD. He continues to bring faithful believers and supporters to my side. Day by day God is fulfilling His promise to get me to San Salvador and do great, big things in and through me.

These are the awesome people who have come alongside me in my journey to San Salvador! Please pray and thank God for them as they give sacrificially towards God’s work in San Salvador!

June 2015

Prayer Requests

  •  I am able to retain all the knowledge and skills I was taught at New Staff Training
  • God will prepare the hearts and minds of the people with whom I share my vision and passion for San Salvador.
  • A God-given sense of serenity in this time of hard work. It will be very easy for me to become stressed and overwhelmed by phone call and appointments for my missionary work, Rock City Youth commitments, my Premier Designs business and all the other unexpected snags life inevitably throws my way. But I know that I am running on God’s path for my life, so the work is not only imperative, but necessary and a divine privilege.
  • Pray for Josué. Josué is a 17-year-old boy in San Salvador. I met him last summer at Colegio Ceren. His past is riddled with challenges. He is truly looking for the  path that leads to salvation and I feel that he is so close. I received an update on him today from Ali, my best friend who is currently interning in San Salvador. She said that she spoke with him and that he is currently living in a church and working on the streets juggling. (This is a very common livelihood for people living in poverty in San Salvador) Ali said that he looks very skinny and not as healthy as he did a year ago. But he IS in school and living in A CHURCH, so those are both blessings. Please pray that Josué would stumble towards Christ and find his happy ending there.

PRAISE!

  • God is doing amazing things already. Look here to see the amazing & faithful people that are now a part of Team Ashley! ➳ Ashley’s Amigos!