Last year was the first time our women's team attended church at the Hope Center in Pavas. The service attendance was small but the people were warm and welcoming. This year we were invited not only to attend, but also to share a message and help with the children. Arriving in Pavas was like coming home. It was familiar, yet the changes are immense. For starters, the walls in front of the Hope Center have been raised higher, smoothed over, and repainted.
|Smooth high walls|
The courtyard now contains a concrete floor along with a playground and water station for drinking and hand washing.
The floor in the comedor (dining area) now has clean white tiles and the walls have been given a fresh coat of paint. The food preparation area has gone from a run-down home-style kitchen to an industrial professional kitchen meeting today's sanitary standards.
|Women working in their new kitchen|
|New art in courtyard|
|Youth band bonding with us over music|
The afternoons are often our favorite times because this is when we have an opportunity to show God's love to the women in the community. We invited them to a worship time, a message, and a craft. As you may recall, we have done arts and crafts with these women for the past two years, but this was the first time we had a worship time and a message from the Bible. One of our native Spanish speakers on the team delivered the message while several other women helped with the children.
|Speaking on 2 Kings 4:1-7|
|Lydia, also known as "Coffee, coffee, coffee"|
|The woman is in white. We couldn't hug her enough.|
A significant moment I had was with a woman we had prayed for the year prior. A few of us gathered in a room with her to find out how she was doing. She broke down and told us that things with her adult son are still very difficult. It just so happened that we had someone on our team trained in addiction counseling who joined us. I sat and listened as the words were translated back and forth from Spanish to English, but this woman's concern for her son transcended all language barriers and she spoke directly to our hearts - mom to mom. She had been praying for her son but felt defeated and hopeless because she couldn't fix his problem. The details are private, but what I can tell you is that information was shared to help her understand the problem from a physical health perspective and also from a spiritual perspective. She prayed that day with power and authority. We were amazed with her transformation right in front of our eyes. Our time with her made such a huge impact on me and I hope we made an impact on her as well.
Another impact story was with a girl who has become an adopted daughter to all of us moms. She's a real sweetheart and it's easy to fall in love with her. We had such a nice time together. She is helpful, kind, curious, and affectionate. She was also patient with us gringos and our attempts at Spanish. On the final day at the Hope Center she trusted one of us with some information about her life. It was something unknown to the staff and most definitely a burden she had been carrying alone. It happened at the last possible moment literally as we were about to board the bus. With our time having run out, we left not being able to give her the love, assistance, and encouragement she would need. It was heartbreaking, yet God was already busy at work. Later that evening we found out that there was someone at the Hope Center with the resources to come along side and be a support system for her. God is so good.
The final impact story I will share is with a woman who cleans at the Hope Center. Her name is Teresa but we call her Terre. I met Terre on my first trip. She was shy, quiet, and withdrawn. I hardly ever saw her smile. It's taken a few years, but Terre has finally warmed up to us. As a matter of fact, on the last day Terre was wearing a hot pink shirt and skirt with bright pink newly decorated flip-flops courtesy of Old Navy and a big smile.
|Terre's front door|
|Terre's son, daughter, a friend, and Terre (LtoR)|
God is always at work. You don't have to leave the country to make an impact, but sometimes by branching outside of your comfort zone you end up finding something that really puts the exclamation point on it. I hope some of these stories might encourage you to think about the !mpact you can make in the world today.