Journal

Monthly Update 💍 December 2017

hola_hola.4

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,

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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

💜💜💜

Take a Look – June Monthly Update

Hola Hola, Amigos!

Oh my goodness! June was such a whirlwind! Our church, Iglesia Gran Comisión, hosted THREE mission teams in a row this month! It was super fun but also super exhausting! The teams started with a team from Rock City, led by Nate Eckhart, so that was a wonderful taste of home! Sylvia, one of my friends and a missionary on the team, even took time to give me a haircut! Thanks girl!

Because this month was so crazy busy with mission teams, I decided to do something a little different and update you with a Photo-a-Day series!

And there you have it! A month in photos!
Our A-Team (Ashley + Ali + Adri) has added an M to the Team – MORIAH! We have become an amazing, beautiful, well-oiled machine when it comes to mission teams! Which is great because we have SIX more teams this year! It is definitely a lot of work, but I truly love spending time with mission teams. Not only are they a breath of fresh air from the States, but what I love most of all is showing people just why I love it so much here. El Salvador isn’t just the violence you see on the news. El Salvador is a country literally filled to the borders with people ready and waiting with open arms to offer you an afternoon coffee, pan dulce (pastry), and spend hours talking about life. I love it when people see the spark of a brighter future for this country in the eyes of the children we serve in our Centers. And I absolutely love it when people to commit to helping be a part of the change here in El Salvador.
I don’t have solid dates yet, but I have talked with Reliant and Pastor Victor and it is looking pretty certain that I will be home for the months of October and November this year! I am so excited to connect with each of you! As soon as I have more solid plans, I will let you know!
I’m so excited to see Dad + Dewey 😍

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Philippians 4v10-13 (HCSB)

Selflessness is an area where I am continuously learning to grow. I was raised by amazing parents who were themselves incredibly selfless and consistently put my every need before their own. But what this led to then was an adult woman who isn’t always so good at putting others first.

How’s that for vulnerability in a simple monthly update??

Whereas many people are naturally gifted at seeing needs before they are noticed by anyone else – and then meeting those needs – I must keep my eyes actively peeled for how I can help, especially when I am serving mission teams.

••♥︎••

What about you? In what ways is God growing you this month? How can I pray for you in this growing season? Remember – this life is a constant journey with God of growing and refining who we are.
We are forever beautiful works in progress!


It has been awhile since I’ve gotten any mail! Stay in touch! It will require a bit of flexibility due to our crazy mission team schedule, but I would 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 ENERGY! Even this girl gets drained after being with mission teams 12+ hours day, 7 days a week!
  • That working with mission teams would not become routine and commonplace. I am praying that I can see God moving in and through each of our teams.
  • For the English Academy! It is in the solid planning phase! We are talking with nearby schools to gauge their interest in partnering with us and beginning to plan lessons and work out the logistics! GREAT NEWS! Thanks to the giving heart of one of our missionaries, we now have enough money to begin our Academy and get it off the ground and running!
  • Plans for my first trip home since moving here 14 months ago! There are many details to iron out and I am working on trusting that God already has everything figured out!
  • That we can finally finish funding equipping our Dental Clinic at the Volcano. We now have one dental station but are aiming to get a second so that we can serve not only the children in our program, but the community and the children of Soyapango as well! We have $7000 left to raise!
be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.
Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
     -Ashley

These are some of my besties at our Development Center in Soyapango!
Franklin – Dani – Karla – Kelly – Katy – Jessica

💜💜💜

Here So Soon, June? – May Monthly Update

Hola Hola, Amigos!

May was a wonderfully HOT and rainy month here in San Salvador! Fortunately, the rain doesn’t last long and many times is during the night, so it makes sleeping just lovely! We didn’t have any teams this month, so it was a wonderful opportunity to rest up and gear up for the NINE more teams we have coming this summer!

And now, I present to you,

ASHLEY’S FAVORITE FIVE
My Five Favorite May Moments!

1. Mother’s Day – Mother’s Day is June 10th here in El Salvador. I got to have breakfast with Silvia (Pastor Victor’s wife) and the family! We went to a local restaurant and had unending cups of coffee, pancakes, eggs, bacon – I think we had a little bit of everything! And once I was so stuffed I couldn’t eat anymore, I got invited to lunch with another family from church! We ate burgers and fries until we just couldn’t fit anymore – and then we went for an afternoon coffee and we just had to have sweet treats with our coffee!
2. Adri’s Graduation! – After years of hard work, my friend and coworker Adriana graduated from college with a degree in Industrial Engineering (smartypants 🤓) She asked me to take photos of her family graduation lunch and as a perk, I got to enjoy the lunch as well! Currently, Adri is our church’s Mission Team Coordinator, so we are all praying for wisdom on where God takes her next!
3. English Classes –  My fellow missionary Ali spent a few weeks in the States to be with her family as her sister just had a baby! Ali teaches the English classes at our Volcano Development Center, so while she was gone, I became her substitute teacher! To be honest, I was kinda nervous about going back to teaching, even if it was only twice a week for three weeks. But as He usually does when I am fearful about something, God proved me wrong and I really enjoyed myself! The kids were really well behaved and I loved focusing in on the ones who really have a desire to learn English.
4. Photo Project – As a project for mission teams, Ali and I are working together to take photos of every child at both Centers and create a wall of photos! This will help missionaries not only learn the kids’ names, but it will also be a great way for them to know which ones need sponsors, and they will hopefully be encouraged to sponsor one of our children! I have always loved photography, and this was a fun way for me to learn more of the children’s names myself and build friendships with them!
5. PIRATES – Anyone who knows me should know about my affinity for Johnny Depp. The 5th (and last?! 😩) Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out last weekend and not only did I see it once, but I saw it TWICE! And not only did I see it twice, but I saw it in Spanish AND in English! I am fairly biased, so I’m not sure I am the best reviewer, but I thought it was awesome and the man who does “Spanish Jack Sparrow” does a spot-on imitation!
LOOKING AHEAD
Starting next Saturday, June 10th, our church will be receiving three mission teams in a row! WOO! I am already super excited and super exhausted! Ha! The first of these teams is Rock City, so that will be a perfect way to kick off Mission Team Season! We have a total of nine more teams coming this year! I am really looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.As I mentioned in previous emails, Pastor Victor has had a dream of creating an English Academy out of the church for a long time now. It will be a tool for evangelism and inviting people to church. Being able to speak English can drastically improve a person’s life here, so we want to use that to bring them to Christ. The classes will be super affordable in hopes that teens will come and get connected in. And because learning a language from someone who is native in that language is best, yours truly will be the main teacher! He put me in charge of this project awhile ago, but I was hesitant to do anything because of my previous negative experiences teaching. I knew that God wanted me here and that He would challenge me and grow me through this project, but it didn’t do much to eliminate my fear. About a month ago, Pastor Victor created a dream team of people to make the English Academy happen. As expected, I will be the main teacher in charge of curriculum and teaching. I am still a little nervous about everything this project entails, but I am now surrounded by an amazing team of people that makes that fear a whole lot less. We are hoping to open the doors at the beginning of August! I am hoping God uses this as an opportunity for me to do some youth ministry again! Oh, how I miss it! Who knows – maybe God knew what He was doing when He brought a woman with teaching experience and a passion for teenagers to El Salvador 😏


“I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4v10-13 (HCSB)

FROM EVERYDAY PEACE: STANDING FIRM IN HIS PROVISION by KATIE ORR:

Contentment is hard to come by, it’s not a guest that arrives naturally or stays willingly. Contentment is an enduring peace that is independent of circumstance.

The secret is this: nothing on this earth will ever satisfy me like being with Jesus. Not a different stage of life, a bigger salary, fewer responsibilities, or losing my love handles. Until I treasure Christ as my only true need, my only worthy pursuit, my only fulfilling hope, my soul will remain unsettled. Until I see every disappointment, disease, and difficulty I face as yet another chance to prove the worth of Christ, I will be disgruntled…unwavering peace comes only in the presence of the One who will never leave me or forsake me.

••♥︎••

Friends – what adjustments can we make in our lives this week to move towards contentment?


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:

  • I’ve actually had some sort of stomach bug for the past week! I finally got some serious meds last night and I am praying for a quick and thorough healing!
  • For Moriah Harris! Moriah is from Iowa and way back in June 2015, she and I went to our Reliant training together in Orlando! All in his timing, Moriah is finally moving to San Salvador in two weeks on June 15th! Please pray for an easy transition! She will be living with Ali and I and the Turcios family, so it will be wonderful to have another “gringa” here with us!
  • For energy during Mission Team Season! Working with teams is one of my favorite parts of my job, but our days go from 7am-8/9pm everyday, with no days off when we have back to back teams! Adri, Ali and I will need some serious energy and perseverance!
  • For the tenacity to go after this English Academy with everything I have! I truly believe in its necessity, I just need to believe in God’s ability to do great things through me!
be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.
Thankful and Blessed to Work with You,
     -Ashley

This is Elote (el-oh-tay)! It’s grilled corn on the cob on a stick covered in butter, mayonnaise, ketchup and salsa negra (“What’s salsa negra? “It’s black sauce.” “CLEARLY. But what’s in it?” “I dunno” hahaha!) Elote is super delicious and now that I’m describing it to you I’ve given myself a craving for it! Ha!