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!


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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,

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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,