365 Days + Counting

Hola Hola, Ashley!

HOLY CRAP IT’S HAPPENING! You’re on the plane, headed to a new life in San Salvador! This is IT! This is what we’ve been working and praying and crying and thinking about for almost 2 years now! And here it is! IT’S HAPPENING!

Okay woman, calm down. I’m you 365 days from now. It’s April 21st, 2017. You’ve lived here in San Salvador for a year now and it’s been a heck of a year. I know you’re all “LIFE IS AMAZING – EVERYTHING WILL BE WONDERFUL – LET’S GOOOOOOO!” and that’s great and you’re right, but I am here to give you a head’s up about a few things.

First of all – Spanish. Santo Dios, Spanish. This is going to be your greatest challenge this year. As it turns out, you’re not going to learn Spanish through osmosis. Immersion is a thing and it certainly does help, but you’re going to have to put in some serious effort. And you’re going to want to quit approximately 7 times a day. But woman, you live in San Salvador now! They speak Spanish! So DON’T QUIT! But guess what – you’re going quit. Like 17 times this year. You’re going to hit a plateau of ability, get frustrated that it’s not coming easier and you’re just going to stop trying to learn anymore. It’s ok. Spanish is hard. But quit quitting! Your mama didn’t raise no quitter AND she told you like 18 years ago that you should learn Spanish (and you chose French 🙄). So remember who you are and why you need to learn Spanish (y’know- so you can love people in their own language!) and JUST DO IT!

Second thing – relationships. You are going to strengthen the friendships you already had here and you are going to be able to make new ones with some pretty amazing people. Salvadorans are a beautiful, loving, kind people who will pretty much do whatever they can to help you when you need it. Ash, we have always been good at loving people. It will be a little more difficult to love people the way you are used to due to language barriers and culture differences (for example, I think Lelys thinks we’re hilarious simply because she doesn’t understand our Spanglish 85% of the time!), but you will learn to love people in ways you never have before. Enjoy that!

Third and last thing – God. Your relationship with God is going to be chaotic. At times it will be passionate. You will see God working in everything and everyone. You will find God in the unrelenting grasp of a child’s hug, in the sound of hundreds of Latino youths worshipping Him, and you will definitely find God in the taste of Easter Torrejas! But I’m going to warn you – those are going to be rare times. Most of the time, you are going to question if God even knows where you are, if He’s doing anything in your life and why He’s not speaking to you. Ash, this is normal. It’s not fun, but it’s normal. The truth is, God knows exactly where you are every moment of every day. He is using every success and every failure for your good. And He is always speaking to you. You must learn to listen! These are only dips – they will not last forever. Keep searching for Him. Keep your eyes peeled and He will show you His presence.

You are about to begin an amazing year and I want to tell you some of the really cool things that are going to happen:

  • Moving to another country! Some people never leave the city they were born in! But you?! Florida? Nope. California? Nope. Colorado? Nah. EL SALVADOR? Why the heck not?!
  • With your help, a beautiful Dental Clinic at the Children’s Center will be constructed so that the people of the Volcano can live longer, healthier lives.
  • Inspiring short-term missionaries to dedicate their lives to serving God in their own country. This one you aren’t going to be verbally assured of very often, so you just need to know it in your soul – God is using you to inspire people. Through you, God is demolishing the fears people have about completely surrendering their lives to Him. They will see you and God will instill a sense of “Hey if she can do it, I can do it!” in their spirits.
  • Loving people! Ash, the truth is, there aren’t going to be a whole lot of “LOOK WHAT I DID!” moments this year. This is a year of learning and adjusting. But oh my goodness, you will love people as much as you possibly can. And they will love you back! That’s the best part! So soak up all those little kid hugs, say yes every time someone invites you to coffee and thank God that love really does transcend spoken language.

This year was pretty great, Ash. WE DID IT! You persevered through what I am pretty sure will be one of the greatest challenges of your life – adjusting to a new country with its culture and language, a new job, new home (living with your boss/pastor and his family!), new everything.

I’m not sure what this new year will bring, but I have a hunch that it’s going to be even greater than this year. Keep up with the Spanish and you’ll be able to serve more, connect more and love even more than before. And above all, let go. Sure, God’s driving the car, but sometimes you seem to think you still have the map! Sweetheart, move to the backseat, roll down the window and enjoy the ride.

God is good and He is good to you.
Blessings,
2017 Ashley


Thank you to each and every one of you for your continued encouragement! I believe that the word over not only this past year, but over my life, has been PERSEVERANCE. I would not be able to persevere the valleys of life without the support of the people around me. Thanks to each of you, I celebrate more, laugh louder and smile bigger (and occasionally speak Spanish better 😉),

The day I moved to San Salvador, I posted a photo and wrote a caption that remains true 365 days later – I may be God’s hands and feet, but you are His heart. 


And as always – please stay in touch! I have received a number of cards and care packages this year and each one brings such genuine joy to my heart!

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 next 365 days! Only God knows what they will bring, but please pray that I would be obedient to His will and open to hear His voice.
  • For a renewed spirit of motivation to continue learning Spanish! My mama didn’t raise no quitter! 😝💪🏼
  • For José Valle, a brother in our church and my dear friends Meli and Florence Valle’s father. He was hospitalized last week for an infection in his leg and respiratory issues. He seems to have stabilized. Please pray for a miraculous healing and peace for his wife and daughters.
  • For ongoing fundraising for our Dental Clinic at our Volcano Children’s Development Center.  In 2016, we were blessed to be able to raise $40,000 to build the clinic above our current Total Health Clinic. Now, we need $18,000 more to purchase dental equipment. The need for dental care, hygiene and education is great at the Volcano.

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

Thankful + Blessed to Work with You,

     -Ashley (2017 😉)
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Hard + Holy Things

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“The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things.” – Ann Voskamp

I can’t tell you that I know what I am doing, but each morning, I wake up, (maybe) workout, down a mug of coffee and set my eyes on the His. Sometimes I’m zoned in and my gaze doesn’t detract from God’s. And other days – most days – the things of this world distract me and I am constantly refocusing my vision. But God is never changing, always there, looking at me with love and devotion.

Living this life of a Christ-follower isn’t easy, but it is oh so necessary and oh so holy. Girls, God wants to use us to make Heaven full, no matter the state of our hair. Refocus. Take a step. He is there.


You keep her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because she trusts in you. Isaiah 26v3

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I don’t think anyone would describe me as “peaceful.” Even as a child, my parents had me tested for ADD. It turned out they were just raising a hyperactive daughter. #blessed

In Isaiah 26, the original Hebrew word for “stayed” is “sawmak” and it gives us a visual of propping something up. So in order to find perfect peace in God, it is essential that our minds are “propped up” by thoughts of our Heavenly Father. His Word is ripe with verses about setting our minds on Him. First and foremost, Jesus tells us to love the Lord our God with all of our minds (Matthew 22v37). And He tells us to set our minds on heavenly things (Colossians 3v2), for the end is destruction for those who set their minds on things of this world (Philippians 3v19).

Today I thought a lot about the future – what my life here in San Salvador will look like 6 months, even 5 years from now. Not having control over the future is what ultimately causes me the most uneasiness.

I do not think it is bad to plan and dream for the future, but those desires must be propped up on the will of God. I don’t know exactly how God’s plan for my life will unfold, but I can but I can extinguish that fear and experience perfect peace if I place my plans and dreams in the palms of God’s hands.

Believe me – I am the first to say this is easier said than done. But I also know that God has the power to transform our minds – even the mind of this Type A control freak (Romans 12v2). If a wild & crazy girl like me can find peace in the midst of a world of unknowns, even for just 7 minutes a day, I believe with all my soul that perfect peace is available to you as well. As we practice setting our minds on Christ, what was once a difficult task will one day become a habit and eventually a normal state of mind.

We cannot only occasionally encounter God – He must be what continuously sustains our minds.
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What is propping up your mind today?

It ain’t easy.

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Woah. This post was a truth bomb to my soul today. “Just because it’s God’s will for your life DOESN’T MEAN IT’S GOING TO BE EASY.” Woah.

I’ve been living in San Salvador for 5 months now. Holy cow. 5 months. Time has FLOWN! And I love living here. But I can agree with this post with every fiber of my being. I know that God has called me here, but it definitely has not been easy.

A few of my more notable challenges:

  • Getting my temporary residency visa. It took almost 3 months, and if it took 2 days longer, I would have had to leave the country!
  • No transportation. I went from being an independent woman in the States who went where she wanted when she wanted, to a super-dependent woman who has to ask her friends to take her anytime she wants to leave the house.
  • Sharing the Gospel. I know, I know, I know. I’m a freaking missionary! And yet sharing the truth of God’s love and salvation remains one of the most difficult challenges for me. What if the person has questions I can’t answer? What if they say no to God’s gift of eternal life? What if I forget the Bible verses that prove everything Jesus said was true? What if…? And the list goes on.
  • Spanish. Ok, I’m sure I’m beginning to sound like a broken record with this one, but it’s a huge challenge to not be able to understand what is being said around me, to me, and about me. And I’m trying. Lord knows (literally!) that I’m trying. And even when I do try to speak Spanish with my bilingual friends, they eventually get frustrated with me and just give in and relent, “Ok…just speak English.” #cantwin

I haven’t questioned whether or not it is God’s will for my life for me to be here in San Salvador. But I have questioned if I’m doing it right. Am I serving enough? Am I learning Spanish fast enough? Am I even helping? Are people’s lives being made better because they know me? Or…Am I being lazy? Am I too old and stupid to become fluent in another language? Am I making more work for people to do instead of less?

Am I just a complete failure as a missionary?

And that, sweet friends, is the question and the accusation that sits heaviest and many days, rings most truthful in our hearts – what if we have failed? Whatever our calling – missionary, parent, student, youth leader – what if we worked so hard to identify God’s call on our life and chase it down, only to fail Him?

The Devil has placed a target on our hearts and he will use his weapon of accusation to end our career as believers and bearers of God’s goodness. Satan will use every tiny defeat and remind us daily of every one of our shortcomings in order to convince us that this work is better left for someone else; better left for someone stronger in her faith, someone more fluent in Spanish, someone better prepared.

But here’s the truth…

Here’s the good news…

There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more than He already does. No matter how many times I share the Gospel, no matter how much time you spend reading your Bible, and no amount of fancy-worded prayers will draw us closer to His heart, because we are already there. I don’t know how many people who love me would send their child to die for me, but God did. He did it for you and He’d do it again.

Look, God is quirky in the fact that He chooses to use people who are screwed up, have filthy pasts and to the human eye, seem completely incapable of doing anything right – let alone proclaiming the most important news in the world! But He does this for a reason. First of all, He wants to use us to show His life-changing powers. Hop on down to San Sal and buy me a mug of chai (I know I’m in the homeland of amazing coffee, but I can’t live without my chai!) and I will gladly share with you my sordid past. Not because I am proud of my decisions, but because I am proud that I can boast about a God who took a self-centered woman living for the physical pleasures of this world and turned her into a Jesus-centered (most days 😉) woman living for the pleasure of serving people whose only form of payment is their genuine affection.

Second of all, God uses people who know they are inadequate for their God-given calling. But in the awareness of their weakness, they are also aware of God’s strength in them. Yes, we can get some things done by our own power, but with God, all things, anything, everything is possible.

Do what you can and let God do what you can’t. By giving God access to the fractures of our strength – the fractures we are so ashamed of and do our best to hide from even those closest to us – we allow Him to step into those gaps and show His power.

Those Oh my goodness…I’m not sure how I finished that / accomplished that / overcame that…moments are sacred when you know the answer…because God.

Sweet friend, you do not disappoint Him and you have not failed Him.

In my moments of weakness, when I know I am completely incapable of the task at hand (sharing the Gospel with a new mom at our Children’s Center, or asking the pastor for advice in Spanish, or being okay with missing a night with friends because I couldn’t find a ride…), I must take a moment to invite God into my weakness. I cannot do this. Lord, I am unqualified! I need you here NOW.

It is at that moment when we admit our frailty that God will step in, grow us and change us. THAT is when we will experience our sacred “That was only God” moment.

My dear mentor Pam once told me over a glass (or two) of red wine, “Honey, international missions ain’t easy and it ain’t for wussies.” AMEN AMEN and AMEN! I am a wuss and I have experienced moments of failure…but if any of this was easy, why would we need God?

a song for you today: You Remain by Saints
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Though I have fallen, I will stand up;
though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.


✝ Want to know more about how Satan targets us and how we can fight him off? Check out this great series from Pastor Chad at Rock City Church: Angel of Light

Mission Team Season in San Salvador!

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Hola Hola, amigos!

I am sorry that this email is coming a little late, but July was a crazy busy month! But down here, crazy busy is a good thing because it means that Iglesia Gran Comisión (IGC) is having lots of mission teams and lots of people serving the people of San Salvador! I am loving “Mission Team Season” because it means a weekly pupusa dinner, regular trips to the beach (my favorite place on earth!) and igniting fires in people’s hearts for the country I love so much.

First and foremost, the most important thing that happened in July in my personal life is that I FINALLY received my Temporary Residency Visa!! PRAISE BREAK! God is always teaching me patience in one way or another. I received my visa only TWO days before my 90-day tourist visa expired! If I hadn’t gotten it by then, I would have had to leave the country for a few days in order to renew my tourist visa! But God is NEVER late! After approximately eight visits to the Immigration Office (no, I am NOT exaggerating!) and three trips to various lawyers and notaries, they finally approved my paperwork and issued me a one-year temporary residency visa! Next summer I will go back to Immigration and renew my visa. Hopefully the process of renewing it won’t be nearly as frustrating as getting it in the first place!

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The week before I got my visa, there was a Rock City Church team serving in La Libertad, an oceanside city about 40 minutes south of San Salvador! I convinced a few amazing friends to drive me down so I could see some familiar faces from home and get a handful of the best Rock City hugs! Nate Eckhart, the Rock City Church Beyond Our Walls (Missions) Director was leading the team, and it was especially awesome to see him this side of the border and say, “Look! God did it! Our hard work, my patience and everyone’s prayers paid off!”


The last week in July began for IGC a busy, busy mission team season! On July 23rd, we embarked upon a 5-week period of mission teams, back to back, to back! We began with a team from Bay Area Community Church (BACC) in Annapolis, Maryland. This was a special team because BACC is Sarah’s, our IGC Missions Coordinator, home church! One of the best parts of their trip happened on Saturday, Beach Day! The two team leaders, Nylca and Diek, had decided to be baptized in the ocean! Nycla and Diek are married and have been walking with Jesus for many years, but had not yet made the public declaration of their inner transformation! So Sarah and Vladi braved the Pacific high tide and baptized Nylca and Diek! Hallelujah!

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The following team was my favorite yet (yes, I know I’m biased 😉 )!! ROCK CITY CHURCH!!! Not only was this team from my home church, but 14 of the 19 team members were people I know and love! My sweet girl Olivia from Rock City Youth came for the second time, along with her dad, Doug, and younger sister, Tatum. Also returning to San Salvador for another time was Ali!!!! Ali has been support raising to move her full-time since February, and she got to have a little break in the action to visit the people and places she loves in San Salvador! It was so, SO cool to watch Ali jump right back into serving San Salvador. She remembered every child’s name, served without being asked and spoke Spanish like a local. I am beyond excited to serve alongside her soon!

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My week with Rock City was simultaneously the best week and the hardest week of my 4 months here in San Salvador. It was the best because I got to serve alongside some of my most favorite people in the world. And when you’re serving people for Christ and sharing His love, it just doesn’t feel like work. It feels like the most necessary and most joyful thing in the world.

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{the Shank family // Tatum, Olivia + Doug}

 But those past seven days were also incredibly hard, because each passing day meant another day closer to the team leaving, many of whom I do not know when I will see again.

Rock City Youth has been one of the things that I have missed most from home. I knew how Rock City Youth worked. I knew how to do it and I knew I was good at it (but always with much room to grow 😉) and I LOVED it. But I’m not there yet with my job here. I love living in San Salvador, but it’s going to take a little more time to become adjusted to life and work here.

That week was a resuscitation of my heart a little bit. I felt happy and normal to be living life together with so many people whose lives are a permanent part of my story. So thank you Rock City Church and Rock City Youth for breathing new life into my lungs and restoring my heart to its full and joyful state once more!

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Thank you to all the folks who sent care packages along with the team! Receiving gifts has been my biggest love language for years, and your gifts filled my heart with love! From coffee creamer to my favorite journaling pens to Reese’s Pieces – it was ALL AMAZING! And an extra special thank you to Lindsey for lugging the giant goody-filled suitcase from Columbus to San Sal!

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OH! I can’t forget to mention that Staci, one of the team members, decided to be baptized! Unfortunately, our beach day was canceled due to bad weather, but the sunshine came out in time for us to have a pool baptism at the hotel! GOD IS GOOD!

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Last week, Iglesia Gran Comisión hosted a team from Total Health. Total Health is an organization of doctors, nurses and people who have a heart and passion for bring affordable healthcare to people who need it the most but can afford it the least. Total Health built and maintains a health clinic at our Children’s Development Center (CDC) in Guayabo and they will be opening one around November at our CDC in Soyapango!

This was my first medical mission team, so I had no idea what to expect! The team was made up of people from all over the country! It was so cool to see people from different parts of the States come together for one common goal – to bring physical and spiritual healing to the people of San Salvador.

All but one person on the team were “returners” (people who have been to San Salvador before and are returning again), so I am excited to know that even though it might not be for awhile, I will get to see all of their faces again!

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Our church is actually beginning a weeklong break in mission teams because one of our partner churches, Wellborn Church in Texas, had to cancel their trip last minute. Team leaders, Chad and Amanda Whisenant, were going to be returning with their 18-year old son, Nolan. On Wednesday night, August 10th, Chad and Nolan were in a terrible car accident. Their car rolled over and Nolan was thrown from the car. Chad has been released from the hospital, praise God, but Nolan remains in critical condition. At this moment, the latest update I have is that Nolan was rushed into surgery this morning. I don’t have a lot of information about his condition and I don’t know Nolan, but that doesn’t matter because God hears my prayers and will answer them according to His will. Please join us in praying for this family in their time of incredible need.

An extra important prayer request

Sarah Meehan de Solorzano is a fellow missionary here from the States. She has lived and worked in San Salvador for the past nine years! She is now married and has two beautiful children. Almost two months ago, her husband Jorge hurt his back and has been bedridden since. We are asking God for complete healing, but it is looking more like God’s plan is for Jorge to have back surgery. There are many options that Sarah and Jorge are trying to weigh out. We trust that God is using this period of idleness for Jorge’s good and His glory, but we can’t help but believe that Jorge can be better used back out on the mission field. I am including here an email sent by Sarah to her supporters in the States. Please read it and let us know if you or anyone you know can offer help. Thank you for your prayers and your support!

From Sarah:

I wanted to give you an update on Jorge’s back situation.  In 2009 Jorge had an emergency back surgery for a herniated disk. He had lost feeling in his left leg and they operated on him immediately to prevent further damage. They shaved the disk and the operation was successful. This surgery was done at a government hospital because at that time Jorge did not have private health insurance. After this Jorge (and our kids now) have private health insurance however because his surgery was done before getting private insurance, anything relating to his back is not covered with the private insurance because it is considered a pre-existing condition.

Jorge has been on bed rest and disability leave for one month now with excruciating pain. He just recently got the results back from an MRI and he has 2 herniated disks. He has gone to 2 appointments with neurosurgeons and they both said he needs surgery. And needs it sooner than later. The government hospital only does the most basic surgeries which would be to shave the disk and the waiting list would have him scheduled to have this operation around October where he shouldn’t wait that long and the don’t offer the best option of putting in a bracket or some sort of device. They only do that in private hospitals as far as we know.

So right now we are investigating a ton. We are talking with doctors from Total Health that is the organization in the U.S. that works with our Centers here in El Salvador. We are getting opinions from these doctors at Total Health and looking at all the possible options. We are asking specialists here too.

So here’s how you can help:

  1. Pray for complete healing for Jorge
  2. Pray for God to open a door and show us the best option
  3. Let us know if you know specialists we can talk to to get their opinion
  4. Pray for God’s provision because right now it looks like the best option is a private hospital and this means we will have to pay all out of pocket
  5. Pray for Jorge to be encouraged- he knows and is very aware that God is in control
Thank you so much for your love, support, and prayers.
In Christ,
Sarah

Please keep in touch! It fills my heart with gladness to hear from friends and family back home!

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 Nolan Whisenant and Jorge Solorzano. We know that God CAN heal them both completely with just a touch of His hand. We are praying that He WILL.
  • For continued support as Iglesia Gran Comisión continues to raise money to build a Dental Clinic above the current Total Health Clinic. You can help by sharing this informational video with your friends and family and on social media.
  • As always, for continued Spanish Acquisition! I had to take a break from my weekly lessons because of Mission Team Season, but I will be restarting my lessons this week!
  • For my stomach to adjust swiftly to this new environment.
  • That I would be able to make the changes necessary to have a daily quiet time with the Lord and His Word.

Con todo mi amor y bendiciones,
-Ashley

Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person.
Proverbs 3v27 MSG

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Hey There, July!

Hola Hola, amigos!

I can’t believe how fast June just flew by me! It seems like just last week it was May! June was jam packed with equal parts fun and work – mostly because my job is seriously fun!

Three of the four weeks in June were spent with mission teams! The first of which, I am more than a little biased towards – Rock City! A team of ten people from my beloved home church Rock City came to serve my beloved city of San Salvador! They spent their week here serving our two Children’s Development Centers in Soyapango and Guayabo. But the most amazing day was the team’s last day here – not because it was beach day and DEFINITELY not because it was the day before they left – but because the team got to be a part of something really special – a baptism day! Six people (three kids and three adults!) from our Iglesia Gran Comisión San Salvador/Guayabo location asked to be baptized! So we filled a school bus with families from Guayabo and took them to the beach! Guayabo is a village on the side of an inactive volcano in San Salvador, so for most of these kids, that day was their first time in the ocean! There are few things more joyful than a child’s first steps on the beach!

The day started off cloudy, but we managed to enjoy ourselves anyway! After some splashing in the water and sand between our toes, we retreated to the pool for our baptisms! After six people left their lives at the foot of Jesus’ cross, we celebrated and God pushed the clouds aside and the sun came out!

 

When we have mission teams visiting and serving, my job is to assist Sarah, our Mission Team Coordinator with the team. I help with logistics, making sure everyone is where they should be, kind-of, sort-of translating and just acting as an extra pair of hands. I love serving with the teams because it’s a fresh breath of air talking with people from my own country. The hard part is that I bond with these people, and just as we’ve become close, they head back to the States!

After the Rock City team, we had a week break and then Cedar Creek came down from Toledo! It was an OH-IO month! We ended the month just a few days ago with a team from Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis, Maryland – Sarah’s home church! The Rock City team baptized people, the Cedar Creek team fixed the Guayabo broken-down swings and the Bay Area team repainted the church! WHEW! What a month of service!


When I get the chance to catch up with friends and family on the phone, most of the time, one of their first questions is “How’s your Spanish?!” Well…I’m definitely better than I was almost 3 months ago! Working with the children at the Guayabo Development Center has definitely helped my Spanish because they speak no English, other than the very limited basics that missionaries have taught them! There are many times when I ask them, “Como??” (What??), they repeat themselves and I understand and maybe even learn something new. But there are also times when I must concede and say, “Lo siento mi amor, pero noentiendo!” (I’m sorry my love, but I don’t understand!) Most times, they just shrug their shoulders, offer me a hug for trying and go about playing. They’re some of my most patient and helpful teachers!

I still have frustrations when I am hanging out in social groups and I don’t understand everything, but I’m getting better and eventually I will understand and be back to my old self, laughing along and making my own jokes!


In just three short weeks, on July 30th, another Rock City mission team is coming! This team is EXTRA special for me because a few of my most favorite people are on it!

  • Ali Howard, my best friend who will be joining me in full-time mission work here (hopefully!) in a few months!
  • Olivia, a 16-year-old student from Rock City Youth (you may know Olivia as my very sweet friend and disciple), her sister Tatum and their dad.
  • Carmen, another amazing Youth chica
  • A handful of other people who have been to San Salvador before, but never with me!

I am SO looking forward to this team! When they arrive, it will have been over 3 months since I’ve seen these “besties,” and my heart needs the refresher!

This will be the last Rock City team for the year, so it’s your last chance to send any care packages (aka, my love language 😉 )my way without paying international shipping 😃 I am so happy living here, but I definitely miss the States, so notes and packages from home will flood my heart with love and joy!


My current, and most necessary prayer request is for my temporary residency visa. I am currently in El Salvador on a 90-day tourist visa. It will expire on July 19th, in less than two weeks. The process for acquiring my temporary residency visa is quite complicated. It requires a lot of paperwork that must be filled out in just the right way. I went to Immigration two weeks ago with the hopes of being given my visa that day, but was given a litany of things that needed to be revised. For example, on the application, we wrote my nationality as “USA” and the government would prefer it to say “estadounidense,” a Spanish term for a person from the USA. My US background check was translated into Spanish at home in Columbus. The Salvadoran government wants it translated and notarized by a Salvadoran notary. We have since remedied these things and more, and will hopefully have the documents back from the lawyer and ready to go tomorrow, Thursday. I will go back to Immigration on Friday, where they will take all my documents and give me a date (most likely around Wednesday of next week) to come back and be informed about whether there are more changes to be made, or (hopefully!!) they will say everything looks great and they will issue me my 1-year temporary residency visa!

Please pray that everything looks good and that I receive my visa next week! If I don’t, I will request to have my tourist visa extended. But this requires almost as much work and the temporary residency visa itself, so I am praying it doesn’t come to that. The only other option is to take a little vacation out of El Salvador for a few days! Adventure awaits!

Whatever happens next week, I will keep you all updated!


It’s been almost 90 days living in San Salvador (I only know this exact number because that’s how long my tourist visa is good for, ha!) and I am happy, healthy and loving life! Thank you so much for those of you that have called, video-chatted, and otherwise reached out to me. It’s a strange thing attempting to maintain relationships back home while living a whole new life here. Part of my personal struggle is fearing I am losing friends back home while beginning to create new friendships in this country. So again, thank you for your prayers and encouragement – it comforts me to know that I am still in your thoughts and hearts! You can each be sure that you are in mine!

Please keep in touch!

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:

  • As always, that I continue to learn Spanish without frustration and without wanting to just quit. Quitting is not an option here, folks!
  • For the process of acquiring my temporary residence visa!
  • Ali as she continues her support raising journey! She is currently at 75%! PRAISE BREAK! We are praying that she would reach 100% by the time she leaves for Mission Training International on September 19th! You can follow her ministry and support her on her blog, alihoward.co
  • For God to do a great miracle and to bring in $20,000 more by August. Wanna be part of the miracle? Click here!
  • For the Rock City team coming on July 30th! They’ll need health, endurance and love! And I’ll need to remember that I’m still at work – even if it is a little more fun than usual 😜
be cheerful no matter what // pray all the time // thank God no matter what happens.

Con todo mi amor y bendiciones,
-Ashley

There’s a lot of smiling between us because there’s not a lot of talking. Magali is patient as I learn Spanish and forgiving when I don’t understand. I hope there will be a day when our conversations go on and on about life, Jesus and love. But until that day, the silence between us isn’t cold. The silence between us is a short, simple conversation. “Te quiero, hermanita.” “Yo sé, Ashley. Yo también.”

Estoy Aquí!

¡hola hola! 😎

I know many of you (ok, anyone who follows me on social media) may be surprised and even concerned that I have not posted ANY photos since moving to El Salvador last Thursday! But the truth is, I haven’t TAKEN many photos! I’ve been enjoying reconnecting with friends I have not seen in 16 months and figuring out how to live life as a Salvadoreña! But, estoy aquí! I am here! And life is great! My new family (Pastor Victor, his wife Silvia and their two children, Silvita & Victor Raul) have welcomed me with open arms as their adopted (and MUCH taller) daughter! My friends have resorted to speaking only 5% English with me, so I am learning very quickly! I have visited both the Guayabo and Soyapango Children’s Centers and been given more hugs than I can try to count! I will give a longer update later this week, but I wanted to check in and let you all know that I am safe, I am happy, and I am home. 🇸🇻

Soy Salvadoreña