Journal

breathing again

ashley_blog-breathing-again

hola_hola.4Ohmygoodness – it has been since July that sent out an email update and since JANUARY that I posted one here! Let’s just say between our dreamy marriage and my new teaching job, life is busy!

On December 12th, I go on Christmas break until January 3rd! PRAISE! I plan on spending lots of time updating the blog! Hopefully, that first week of break (maybe sooner…Let’s not promise tooooo much here, Mrs. Ramírez!) I will post an update on the past five months!

I am reaching out now because I have a serious prayer request. Well, it’s a praise that has turned into a request.

As many of you know, my heart beats for youth ministry. Before moving to San Salvador, I was a youth leader within Rock City Youth and it was my jam. Those girls were my life and it devastated me to leave them.

When I moved to San Sal in April 2016, youth ministry was not in my job description. For the past two and a half years, I have yearned for an opportunity to get back into it.

About two months ago, I felt a spiritual nudge to reach out to one of my 11th grade students and begin a mentorship. We tried to meet up, but when it didn’t work out, I backed off, waiting for another nudge.

This time the nudge wasn’t so gentle. This time, God had me gasping to breathe. I jolted awake at 2am one morning, desperate for air. If I was to keep breathing, I needed to begin a girls’ ministry within the walls of my school.

This wasn’t an idea. This was a calling.

Unsure of how to begin, but totally sure I had to, I prayed and spoke with the school administration. Step by step, I moved up the ladder until I got to the school director, aka The Boss Lady. One day, she called me into the hallway. I don’t care how old you are or how long you’ve been teaching, when the school director calls you into the hallway, fear cascades down your spine.

“Hello Ms. Arend…” (the school already has a Mr. Ramírez, so to avoid confusion, I kept my maiden name at school) “…tell me about this girls’ group you want to start.”

“OH! Well – here’s the vision…”

And here it is friends.

• the vision •

Being a girl is just plain hard. We wonder if anyone else is going through the same thing and we wish we had someone we could be really real with.

Sisterhood is a girls-only group starting at our school, where girls searching for real friends and real talk can come together in a safe space each week to laugh, share, ask questions and just do life together — all to encourage each other on their own journey to becoming the confident, beautiful and strong women God designed them to be.

The Boss Lady loved it. I was told I could invite 25 girls from 10th – 12th grades (the classes I teach). This past Thursday, through our school’s holiday grams delivery service, I sent out 15 invitations to the core group of girls. The night before, Mario and I prayed over each invitation, we prayed for each girl by name.

As I watched the invitation delivery, my spirit was filled with fear.

Will they want to come?

Will they think this is weird?

What if no one shows up?

A short 10 minutes after delivery, one of the girls emerged from her classroom, smiling. “Thank you Miss Ashley!”

“YAY! You got it! Are you gonna come?”

“YES!”

Ohmygoodness. I got one. Just one out of 15 girls was a win.

But God had bigger plans.

By the end of the day, THIRTEEN girls responded yes. And four of those girls weren’t even officially invited, but wanted to come because their friend was invited.

Friends. I am so excited. God is doing something here. He is getting ready to change lives. And I get to be a part of it.

Guess who’s back, back again

Ashley’s back, tell a friend…

I’m back in Youth Ministry. I’m not sure exactly what I am doing, but I am trusting God’s leading. That midnight gasp thrust purpose into my lungs and I finally feel like I am breathing again.

Our first Sisterhood meeting is tomorrow, Monday Dec. 3rd at 4pm eastern time. It will be our only meeting before Christmas break. Will you please cover us in prayer tomorrow?

  • That all the girls that said they would come, come!
  • That other girls feel encouraged and welcome if they want to join us
  • That God would use me to meet these girls where they are and cover them in love and Godly wisdom
  • That I am filled with boldness and confidence and not fear. Fear is a liar.

Back in January, something told me to back to teaching. Against everything I had told myself when I quit teaching in 2015, I voluntarily went back. I think now I know why…

Thank you friends for your prayers and encouragement. God is moving.

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Monthly Update • January 2018

 

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31 days of 2018 came and went in a whirlwind!
Grab some coffee and let’s catch up!


ABC + 123

January was a month of planning! The Children’s Development Centers (CDCs) have been on vacation and our English Academy was on break, so I had time to devote to lots of dreaming!

Starting tomorrow, February 3rd, Iglesia Gran Comisión will begin its second semester of our English Academy (Academia Gran Comisión)! The heart of AGC is to appeal to the people’s desire to learn English and use that to share with them the love of Christ. Not only are students receiving English classes, but they are also receiving Jesus’ Gospel truth and tangible examples of His love. I will be teaching the advanced level classes. I am excited to see returning students and make new friends!

Along with teaching in the Academy, I will also take over teaching English in both of our Development Centers! I have been fortunate to build strong relationships with the staff and children in our Soyapango Center, but I honestly didn’t spend much time at our Volcano Center. I am looking forward to building friendships with the children and parents there!

I have spent the past few weeks lesson planning for both the English Academy and the CDCs. As are most things in my life, I am learning as I go – hoping to provide an imperative skill to people and children I love while showering them with the love and grace for mistakes God (and my Salvadoran friends!) have has given me.

 


The Wedding Planner

As you can imagine, since December 30th, I have become a wedding planning MACHINE! We are getting married June 8th, a mere four and a half months! 18 weeks! 126 days! So at any moment, I have approximately 27 tabs open to a variety Pinterest searches and Etsy conversations (thank GOD for the internet!).

Planning is going very well! So far we have a venue locked down (toes in the sand, you know it!) and even a few friends from the States already have their plane tickets! Last week, Mario and I even signed a lease for an apartment! It’s fully furnished, so we don’t have worry about buying furniture or appliances! We will start moving our stuff in on June 1st and then our first night in “La Residencia Ramírez” will be after the wedding!


The next six months for me will be a time of transition. Not only will I change my last name, but I will change my responsibilities within Reliant. My last day as a full-time missionary with Iglesia Gran Comisión will be Friday, April 27th. My job as a missionary is 24/7. My life is pretty much my work. And I love that! I love my life and I love my job, so that works out well! There are things I am able to do as an unmarried woman that will become difficult as a newlywed. For example, when our church hosts mission teams from the States, I am with that team from 6:30 in the morning until around 8 o’clock at night. And I love it! Working with mission teams is one of my favorite parts of my job! But there are times when we have two, even three, mission teams in a row. That means 21 days without a day off. As soon as one team leaves, another one is already here. Now imagine I’m just married (soon we won’t have to imagine it!) and that is my schedule for the month. Not so great for the developing marriage. I’d be hurt if that was Mario’s schedule for a month.

At the end of April, I will take a step back from full-time ministry and enter into a new role with Reliant. I still have a heart for missions and want to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ taken to every sunny beach, every dark alley and every unreached person. I do not want the people I serve in San Salvador to suffer because I am unable to serve them with all my time as I was before, and I certainly do not want my marriage to suffer because I am giving all my time to my work.

We have classes at the English Academy until the end of May, so I will continue with those responsibilities until May 26th. I will continue to volunteer with the church, but as a regular church member and not a full-time missionary! I will still be working with Reliant, but my ministry will change. I don’t have a lot of details on this yet, so I am going to leave you in suspense until next month when I hope to have more solid details!

I love that I get to partner with each of you on this journey! Some of you may have supported missionaries before who left their ministry completely after marriage- that is not my case. Although I will not be working full-time with the church, I will still be working in ministry with Reliant (more details coming soon!), so your continued giving is vital during this time! Your support is what allows me to do my job here without having to worry about how I will pay rent to Pastor Victor, if I have enough money to afford groceries and, every once in awhile, your support even allows me to have girls night with the ladies here I cherish the most!

Change is risky and at times, it is difficult. But what I know for sure is that God is with me through it all, and more than anything, change is exciting! Thank you for walking with me through this time of transition! If nothing else, change is best experienced with you all at my side.


 

Hola? Aloha? Χαίρετε? Let’s stay in touch! I love videochatting with friends back home! Send me a message and let’s plan something!

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 the people who will walk through our doors and into our English Academy tomorrow morning – that their minds would be open to a new language and their hearts would be open to the language of God they already know
  • For the children at the Development Centers – that they would continue to know and feel Christ’s love for them in this new year.
  • For Mario and I as we continue planning our wedding and our future. This time can be stressful and fun. We want more of the fun!
  • That we can sell La Gorda (my car)! Mario and I have decided that we will share his car and use the money from selling my car towards our future together. I have posted the car online in numerous places and put FOR SALE signs in the windows…no bites yet.
  • That our wedding would be a reason for people to come together after years apart.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,

Monthly Update 💍 December 2017

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I hope everyone up north is staying safe and warm!
Pour yourself some hot chocolate and see how exciting December was!

Most of December was spent back in San Salvador! I came back right before the super cold hit Ohio, so it was perfect timing! It felt so great to be back in my Salvadoran home, with my Salvadoran friends and my missionary coworkers, Ali and Moriah! It actually did take a little bit of time to get back into the swing of Salvadoran life (toilet paper in the trash can!)!

December was full of celebrations here in San Salvador! The weekend after I returned, on Saturday, I got to go to the beach with friends to celebrate Mario’s sister’s 26th birthday and Sunday was our Lifegroup Christmas dinner! It was great to reconnect with so many friends so soon after returning!


Christmas at the Development Centers

The following week was filled with Christmas parties at our Development Centers on the Volcano and in Soyapango! We were all bewildered by a magician! He pulled boxes out of empty bags, turned three ropes into one, and in Soyapango, he even made one of our girls float in midair! Each child was given a gift selected just for them. For many of the children, it was probably their only Christmas gift. The parties ended with a traditional Salvadoran Christmas meal – panes con pollo (grilled chicken sandwiches)! It was a wonderful way to see the children after being away for so long! I hope to never forget getting out of Silvia’s truck in Soyapango and being hug-attacked by a beautiful bunch of children, yelling my name! It was definitely good to be back!

see more photos…


a little vitamin sea

As a gift to the staff of the Development Centers, we got to spend a day at the beach! The grownups had a chance to be silly for a change! We enjoyed splashing in the ocean, a delicious lunch, and Ali, Alonso (the medical assistant in Soya), and I even had a little rock climbing adventure!


The weekend before Christmas brought our annual Iglesia Gran Comisión Church Christmas dinner! This year, both the San Salvador and Soyapango campuses were together in a giant banquet hall at the Sheraton Hotel! Our worship team performed a beautiful set of Christmas songs, Pastor Victor shared God’s Word, and we all enjoyed a fantastic dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables! For me, the best part of the dinner was having so many people from both churches together in one place!

see more photos…


Feliz Navidad!

In El Salvador, Christmas Eve is bigger than Christmas Day! I spent the day at church in the morning, lunch at Pollo Camero and then in the kitchen cooking all afternoon! Mario’s family entrusted me with the responsibility of cooking Christmas dinner! I don’t have much experience in this area, so I went with a tried and true meal – lasagna and mashed potatoes! I know they don’t usually go together, but everyone loved it and we were all STUFFED to the brim! After dinner, Mario’s sister Monica led dance lessons for Moriah and I (Ali left for Ohio earlier in the week!), and OF COURSE we celebrated midnight with firecrackers! You could hear them all over the country, I think!

click here to see me try to light a firecracker!


#TODOSALACRUZ

(Everyone to the Cross!)

On Thursday after Christmas, the youth from San Salvador and Soyapango loaded into a microbus and headed to the oceanside city of La Libertad for Great COmmission Latin America’s annual youth conference – Infinito! The conference is usually held in Honduras, but because of a presidential election that has led to protesting and riots, it was determined unsafe for us to travel to Honduras, if we could’ve even made it across the border. So Plan B was regional conferences! As much as I love the “bigness” of Infinito in Honduras and seeing friends from other churches, the conference in La Libertad was a giant success. We got to hear messages from Pastor Victor, my lifegroup leader Vladimir, and the youth leader in La Libertad, Giovanni! We worshipped our butts off (literally! I’ve never sweat so much from worshipping!) and two people were baptized on Friday afternoon! I believe that teenagers need a space where they can jump and yell and be the weird children of God that they are, and Infinito is just that. But more than that, teenagers absolutely have the ability to change the world, one neighborhood at a time and Infinito is a place where they can know they are valued, know they can make a difference, and be reaffirmed about God’s love for them.



Hola? Aloha? Χαίρετε? Let’s stay in touch! I love videochatting with friends back home! Send me a message and let’s plan something!

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 my job! We have recently gone from four people on staff to two! This means that responsibilities have shifted. Please pray for Ali and I as we navigate our new roles within Iglesia Gran Comisión.
  • For Mario and I! Being engaged has already been super fun, but also super overwhelming! Please pray that we would remain a team as we plan our wedding and our future together and that this would be an opportunity for God’s love to shine through our relationship!
  • For Moriah, our fellow Reliant Missionary. Moriah moved back home to Iowa on Christmas Day to continue support raising so that she can move back to San Salvador full-time! We definitely need her here! Please pray that God would bring people to support her ministry.
  • For all the missionaries we will see this year, our upcoming projects and whatever else God has in store for Iglesia Gran Comisión in 2018!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,

Ohio 2017 // Home Again

hola_hola.4“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

After the past nine weeks in Ohio, this quote absolutely rings true. Before I left to come to Columbus, I told people I was “so ready” to be home for a few months. Now, as I sit in San Salvador, I am “ready to be home again.” I now have two homes – here in San Salvador and there in Columbus.

My time in my Ohio home was absolutely wonderful. The entire purpose of my visit was to spend time with friends and family, connect with my supporters and rejuvenate myself to go back to work in San Salvador. I definitely accomplished my mission!

When I reflect on my time home, the overarching theme is that even though things change, they stay the same.

Columbus itself has changed – new restaurants, new highways, new animals at the zoo! – but it still has that lovely, midwestern feel to it. People smile as they pass by, they help you find that totally random brand of soup your wife sent you to buy, and they’re just all around friendly. It felt comfortable coming back to a place I lived for the first 31 years of my life, but exciting to see all the new things!

My people have changed too. Friends have gotten married, had kids, bought homes, switched jobs…It was so exciting to meet my friends’ growing families, hear about new adventures and challenges along the way. But even though the external changes, my friends are still my friends and some things never change. Truly the best part of being home was getting together with friends only to realize that even though years and distance separated us, our friendships remained the same. It was as if no time had passed at all.

And THAT was what I needed most of all.

Being in the United States made me feel like myself again! It’s true that when you live cross-culturally, you develop a different personality in your second home. Different cultural norms, practices and traditions force you to adapt to your new home’s values. I am continuing to learn to blend in with the Salvadoran lifestyle but with my own “Ashley Flair.” Being home was a chance to express my true self in all of my boisterous ways, surrounded by my tribe of people that know and love me.

Columbus and my people within it are not the only things that have changed since I moved 19 months ago. In so many ways, I have changed. I am constantly learning and growing to be the best possible version of myself and this visit home highlighted some of the ways the mission field has changed me.

  • I am more eager to serve. I was fortunate to grow up having all of my needs met even before I could voice them. But because of this, it has been very hard for me to see the needs of others and meet them without being asked. Before San Salvador, I would (usually begrudgingly) help when asked. After San Salvador, I have learned to keep my eyes peeled for ways I can serve without being asked. I am blessed to serve alongside amazing people in San Salvador who daily show me how this is done!
  • I am more flexible in my plans…kind of. This one will forever be a work in progress! To my core, I am a Type A, planning machine. I love to plan events and follow those plans through. But life happens. Rarely do we follow through on Plan A. Life is more frequently lived on Plan L. Before San Salvador, a change in plans threw my life into a whirlwind. After San Salvador, plans changing still freaks me out, but I am learning to handle the chaos like a normal adult.
  • I am in love with Jesus even more. How could I not be? I get to live and work with some of the kindest, most loving people on the planet. It is through them that I have seen God’s biggest blessings – people receiving jobs after months of unemployment, health revitalized, broken relationships restored and people with every reason to exude extreme sadness instead radiating with joy.

And I must mention how wonderful it was having Mario with me for the first two weeks! We had so much fun exploring Columbus! We saw the zoo, ate hamburgers LITERALLY the size of our heads, experienced Rock City church, and most importantly, my Ohio VIPs got to meet one of my Salvadoran VIPs! OH! And we became a pupusa making MACHINE! Toting FIVE POUNDS of pupusa cheese to the States was totally worth it!

I don’t know when I will be back in the States next, so until then, please keep the emails, phone calls, videochats, birthday cards, etc. coming! Everything you do touches my heart and keeps me attached to my northern home. And I love every bit of it!

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:

  • That Christmas would be a time of joy for all the people we serve in El Salvador
  • That the children in the Development Centers would remain healthy and close to Jesus during our Christmas break
  • That I am able to jump back into work with a rejuvenated spirit
  • For the next chapter of my life after this first chapter of serving

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

Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,


A super special shoutout to Lindsey for letting me stay at her house for 9 weeks!
(I know you hate being the center of attention, but you’ll survive 🤣 love yooooou!)

When I emailed her about 4 months ago asking if I could stay, we barely knew each other except for the few days she had come to San Salvador on mission trips! But bless her heart, she prayed on it and “SHE SAID YES!”

I will forever treasure our time together. We binged on Grey’s, learned how to make lasagna (#pinterestWIN!), cried together, laughed together, shared our stories and on my very last night, her sweet dog FINALLY kissed my nose! It’s official – I’m in the fam!

“Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.”
3 John v5-8

Faithcasting

For the past month, I have been getting up extra early on Sundays (I mean, not that early. I’m talking like 6:45am) to watch Steven Furtick preach live from Elevation Church followed by the Rock City message from the week before. So, I’m like…super holy. 😉 I recently stumbled across a message from Steven that really spoke to me.  In this message, Steven preached about why we get anxious. He declared that “If you’re really good at worrying, you’ll be great at worshipping – it’s the same imagination serving the opposite purpose.”

Woah.

I had to marinate on that one for a bit, but once it clicked, it completely made sense. When I worry, I imagine all the things that could go wrong in a situation and how I will gain control of it to reduce the chance of something else getting screwed up. But when I worship, I dig down deep and let go of the worry and attempt imagine everything God is capable of and how He will take my seemingly impossible situation and turn it into something good. I let go of control and imagine all the incredible things God can do that I definitely can’t, no matter how much control of the situation I have (which, as it turns out, is zero, zilch, nada, none).

We must stop checking the “fearcast” and start checking the “faithcast.” Fear tells me there is a 99% chance of the worst case scenario coming true. Faith tells me there’s a 1 billion percent chance of God coming through.

“If I settle on the far side of the sea, even (in San Salvador!) there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Psalm 139v9-10

We can expect to see the goodness of the Lord! He has been too good for us to stay anxious!

And as it turns out, I am a fantastic worshipper 😉

One Strand of Faith // August Monthly Update

“If there is only one strand of faith amongst all the corruption within us,
God will take hold of that one strand.”

August went by quickly, as the summer months tend to do!
Pour yourself some coffee and see what I’ve been up to!

Academia Gran Comisión

God has a funny way of proving me wrong…a lot. The English Academy at our church was something Pastor Victor tasked me with over a year ago. He figured that because I’m from the States, I was a teacher in the past and have serious “get-stuff-done” abilities, that I was just the person to do it.

Well, I dragged my feet on this project…a lot. I hated teaching in the States, I knew nothing about teaching English as a Second Language and I had no clue how to begin.

read more…


God is So Good!

On Sunday, August 20th, SIX people from our church in Soyapango were baptized! Hallelujah! And even more exciting, TWO of those people are children at our Development Center and one is our cook at the Center! 🙌🏽 God is moving in great ways in our churches here in El Salvador.

read more…


Worship is My Cardio

If you’ve ever seen me “get my worship on” at Rock City Church, you know that I love my worship time! For me, when I have my arms in the air and my life completely surrendered to God, that’s when He plants dreams in my heart and calls my spirit to Him.

This past Saturday, the youth (and young at heart!) of our church got together for a night of worship and thanksgiving. And we weren’t alone! Our churches in Soyapango and La Libertad joined us! It literally brought tears to my eyes to be singing alongside Salvadorans and people from the US. I sang in English and Spanish. God hears us all and He understands every language. Wow.

Vladimir, my lifegroup leader, shared a message about being thankful in every situation – happiness, stress, success, stress, gains, losses – we must remember to thank God for all of it!


Christ’s church is people…

…not a building! This Sunday, Iglesia Gran Comisión San Salvador will move from our current building to an auditorium in the Sheraton President Hotel! The rent at our current location was raised to a point we could no longer afford, so after months of praying and searching, our pastors found our new home for the next year!

 

 

 

We had our last service at the old space last weekend, and it was truly bittersweet. I am sad to say goodbye to the only place I have ever known as church in this country, but I am so excited to see what God does in the new place!


– AS TOLD BY ASHLEY –

Recently, our local church hosted a 2-week seminar on spiritual gifts. I had taken one of these tests years ago, but so much has happened in my life in the past 3 years that I thought I should probably try again. I was tied with two gifts – teaching and faith.

Well, teaching totally makes sense. But faith?? I usually feel like Peter walking on water – 2 steps on the water and 1 step drowning. My faith is super strong when I can see what God’s doing and understand His plan! But the other 99.99% of the time, my faith wavers because I have absolutely zero clue how He’s going to take care this situation or restore that relationship, and it’s hard to have faith in what I can’t see and don’t understand.

But I’ve come to learn that just because you have a spiritual gift, doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it yet. I liken it to someone with a natural gift for piano. Sure, she can sit down, read the music and plunk out a pretty good tune on the first try, but if she doesn’t practice day after day, month after month, her gift will go to waste.

So it is with my gift of faith. I can sit down, read the Bible and spout off a pretty good prayer, but if my faith is not tested, it will never become the gift God planted in my spirit.

Oswald Chambers wrote that if I can “Believe steadfastly on God, everything that challenges me will strengthen my faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test.”

I never really thought about that – when we close our eyes for the last time, it is our last test of faith that we will awake in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ. Now, THAT kind of faith I have! My faith is weak in areas where I have to trust that God has already resolved every troublesome situation in my life. My job, friends, marriage, family…God has it all figured out! He could tell me how it all turns out if He wanted to, but that’s the thing – God wants to see if I trust Him enough, if I love Him enough, if I have faith enough to hand over all those situations and the million possible outcomes to Him.

“Faith is absolute trust in God— trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us.” I have faith that God is with me through every trial, every joy, every moment of every day. Even when I cannot feel Him, He is there. Will His plan always be my plan? Absolutely not. Will that hurt? Probably. But is His hand always on my hand? Absolutely yes.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31v6

Hola? Aloha? Χαίρετε? It has been awhile since I’ve gotten any mail! Stay in touch! I would also love to videochat with you! Send me a message and let’s plan something!

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 our English Academy! We are three weeks in and it’s going so well! We have about 15 students, TEN of which are new to our church! This weekend we will be sharing the Gospel with them! Please pray that God’s words fall upon open hearts and that some soul-changing happens!
  • That the last approx. $2,500 would come soon for the Dental Clinic equipment.
  • For this weekend’s church service! It will be our first service at the Hotel Sheraton! There are many perks to this location (free coffee! 😻☕️), but also many quirks we will have to work out!
  • For the health and safety of all our children at our Development Centers in Soyapango and on the Volcano.
  • That my time back home (I’ll be in Ohio Sept. 27 – Dec. 8!) is rejuvenating and spirit filling!
be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.
Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
     -Ashley

Pray • Serve • Love // July Monthly Update

Hola Hola, Amigos!

July was a wild ride here in San Salvador! We hosted three mission teams and finalized plans for our English Academy!

Our three teams were from Bay Area Church in Annapolis, Maryland and Rock City Church (my home church!) in Columbus, Ohio! These teams were especially fun because on the one hand, I got to see old friends, and on the other, I made SO MANY new friends! That is truly my favorite part of mission teams – connecting with people and sharing my heart for serving with them. Usually, by the end of the week, our hearts become one for the people of San Salvador (awww 💞 )

top: Hanging with Juanita + Amie from Bay Area bottom: work perk – beach days with my ladies from Rock City

Another great part about mission teams is how they support our projects. We are currently raising funds to equip our brand new Dental Clinic at our Children’s Development Center on the Volcano. Building the Clinic itself cost $40k and equipping it will cost $18k. It is because of supporters all over the world and especially mission teams, that we were able to build the clinic and are now just about $2,500 short from being fully funded for the equipment! When people come on mission teams, they are able to see the need firsthand and have a better understanding of the visions God has given Pastor Victor for His people here. If you are interested in learning more about our Dental Clinic and how you can help, click here!

Over a year ago, God gave Pastor Victor a desire to create an English Academy through our local church. After months of planning, Academia Gran Comisión is finally a reality! For the people of El Salvador, speaking English isn’t a privilege – it’s a necessity. Being able to speak English can drastically improve a person’s income from an average of about $400/month to as much as $1000/month. Not only are we hoping to improve people’s socioeconomic status, but we are hoping to permanently improve their eternal status! We will be using this Academy to share the Gospel of Jesus and invite people to church! Each student will be paired with a conversation partner – someone who speaks both Spanish and English fluently to practice with over a meal or coffee once a week. Our hope and expectation is that these partnerships will naturally evolve into discipleship relationships!

My involvement with the English Academy is as a curriculum writer and teacher (my fellow missionaries Ali and Moriah will also be teaching)! Yes, I taught high school English in Ohio for five years, but this is TOTALLY different and TOTALLY out of my comfort zone! This first “semester” (16 weeks) of classes will be a pilot/test class, and next year we are hoping to be able to purchase an actual English as a Second Language curriculum.

Click the image to follow the English Academy on Facebook and even give us a “Like!”

Click here to see a fun little video we made to advertise our open house for the English Academy! Basically, Vladi keeps telling me to change my language and finally gives up and takes over!

Now that mission team season has ended, my focus is fundraising the last bit of money for the Dental Clinic equipment, creating and teaching lesson plans for the English Academy, and…

…PLANNING MY FIRST TRIP HOME!

That’s right, folks – I’M COMING HOME! (cue 🎤 I’m coming HOME – I want the world to know, got to let it show…I’m coming HOME!)

I will be arriving in Columbus in the evening of Wednesday, September 27th and returning back to San Salvador Friday, December 8th.

This will be my first trip home in a year and a half and I AM READY. I truly love my life here in San Salvador, but life without El Vaquero cheese dip has been more than a bit of a challenge! A short list of things I miss from home:

  • Target Dollar Spot
  • YOGA!
  • Patio dining
  • Dewey!
  • But most of all, YOU!

Friends, there have been babies born, weddings, graduations, birthdays…the things I miss about home most aren’t actually things, but PEOPLE. These nine weeks home will be spent connecting with friends and supporters and spending time rejuvenating my spirit with you!

ps…live in Maryland? Are we friends through a mission trip here? I’m coming for you! I’m not sure when yet, but I am definitely taking a roadtrip east to see you guys! I’ll send details as I figure them out! 🚗💨 


– AS TOLD BY ASHLEY –

Have you ever prayed super hard for something? I’m talking like every morning, every night, in the shower, in the car, every chance you have, you’re praying to God for something? I feel that I am in a season of unceasing prayer right now. There is something in my life that I need God to come through on. I have genuinely prayed. I have enlisted my prayer warriors. I have turned to the Word of God for wisdom. But at the end of the day, all I can do is leave the situation in God’s hands and trust that He will come through in His way and in His timing.

I recently stumbled upon a message from Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina. In his message, Coming Out of the Drought, he talks about the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 18. The Israelites were in the midst of a drought, but Elijah was trusting God to make it rain. He believed God for something, but every time his servant went back up the mountain to look for rain…nothing. What he was seeing (nothing) directly contradicted what he sensed (rain).

– I am learning what it feels like to have faith –

When I look for God’s movement in the situation and see nothing –
     I praise Him again!
Still nothing?
     I sing again!
Still nothing?
     I pray again! 

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”
– Hebrews 11v1 


So I stand here praying, singing and praising the One who I trust will make it rain and bring resolution.

How can I come alongside you while you wait for your rain? How can I be your prayer warrior?


Hola? Aloha? Χαίρετε? It has been awhile since I’ve gotten any mail! Stay in touch! I would also love to videochat with you! Send me a message and let’s plan something!

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 our English Academy! Our first class is this Saturday, August 12th! I ask for prayer for our planning/teaching committee and that God would bring us students with open hearts for His word.
  • That the last approx. $2,500 would come soon for the Dental Clinic equipment.
  • For our local church, Iglesia Gran Comisión – Due to a drastically raised rent, we are moving from our current location into a local hotel for the next year. We are currently looking for an office space we can rent to use for storage and as a classroom for the English Academy. Please pray that the move goes smoothly and that God would provide us a location for the Academy.
  • For the health and safety of all our children at our Development Centers in Soyapango and on the Volcano.
  • For plans for my time back home. There are a few logistics that still need ironed out, but the big ones have already been taken care of, Praise God!
be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.
Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
     -Ashley

Our lifegroup ladies have started having regular Girls’ Nights! Hilary recently joined our church after moving here from DC to work with a nonprofit organization here in San Salvador! She has graciously opened her apartment to us for our girls’ nights!

Adriana – Monica – Moriah – Ali – Andrea – Hilary

💜💜💜