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 😉

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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!

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 😉)

fri-YAY FAVORITES! March Monthly Update

Another month has just FLOWN by us! March was filled with Mission Teams and fun with friends! To change things up a bit this month, I am giving you MY FRIDAY FAVORITES!

FRIDAY FIVE

Five of my Favorite March Moments

  1. My visit from Becke – She is a sweet friend from home who came for a weeklong visit! We enjoyed (SO MUCH) coffee, movies in bed, (SO MUCH) girl talk, and a sweet time of prayer before she left. I have been more homesick than usual recently and Becke was a breath of fresh (Columbus!) air! 
  2. Beach day with the Rock City Teams – That’s right – I said, TEAMS! Plural! We had a team from  Rock City (my home church) here a few weeks ago, and at the same time, there was a Rock City team in La Libertad, the beachside city to the south. We got to put both teams together and enjoy a day at the beach on their last day! It was so much fun to see friends from home. It was truly rejuvenating.
  3. Outings with our youth groups –  Last Saturday night, our lifegroup got together for a night of basketball! Needless so say, none of us are very good, but it was great fun being silly with my friends!  The next day, Sunday, the Soyapango youth group got together and spent the afternoon at a local park playing soccer, basketball, eating junk food from the local vendors and just laughing together! Their leader, Dani, shared about unity and how God created us to live and work together with our different talents and abilities. We finished out the day with a pupusa dinner! OF COURSE!
  4. Bay Area Team – Oh my goodness! This was a HARDWORKING team! They spent 3 days at the Volcano Development Center helping with the beginning steps of creating a soccer field! Basically, it required A LOT of digging in the dirt making trenches. I’ve never seen a team so dirty!
  5. Birthday Dinner with Adri – Adri celebrated her 24th birthday on March 16th! She got to celebrate her day with the Rock City and Bay Area teams and the following week she and I went to dinner to continue the festivities! I am continuously grateful for our friendship and am learning from her as a professional in ministry and as a woman of God.

FRIDAY FIFTEEN

Fifteen of My Favorite Things in San Salvador

  1. Popsicle Flavor: Nutella + Banana. We now have a tradition with mission teams of going to this delicious popsicle place after our pupusa dinner! They have all kinds of amazing flavors!  
  2. Pupuseria: The 3 pupusas for $1 place! Now that I can afford! They’re delicious AND the owners gave me a mug for Christmas for being a regular customer!
  3. Pupusa Flavor: beans + cheese. Pretty standard. Pretty delicious. (ps…Kristen – frozen pupusas ARE NOT real pupusas! #sacrilege!) 

    yup…this should be enough for the four of us! 😂

  4. Non-Pupusa Restaurant: LacaLaca! It’s a Mexican restaurant and OHHH MYYY GOODNESS….the nachos are SO GOOD! You get a plate as big as your head (and are expected to share it with your friends… -_-)
  5. Salvadoran Dessert: Semita Alta made by Pastor Victor’s family in La Libertad! It’s a pastry filled with different flavored jam and the Alta means it’s THICK! And when it’s fresh from the oven?! Que rico!
  6. Nail Salon: Salon Ramirez, jaja! A friend from church and her daughter often offer to paint my nails! Hey, even a missionary wants to have nice cuticles!
  7. Worship Song: Cuan Grande Es Dios. It’s the first song I learned (and understood) in Spanish!
  8. Movie Theater: Multiplaza – they have a candy gummies section AND caramel popcorn!
  9. Place to Work on the Computer: The Coffee Cup at La Skina shopping center. I can walk there and they know my order! I’m a regular!
  10. Coffee Shop: Ben’s Coffee on the Volcano! They can make all kinds of designs in your coffee and there’s a gorgeous view of the city.
  11. Drink at Ben’s Coffee: I know I’m in the land of AMAZING coffee, but I will always be a chai tea girl!
  12. Beach Resort: This simple little place close to the Atami beach resorts. Some friends and I went there for the Christmas morning sunrise and it was beautiful!
  13. Salvadoran Dog: CACHUN! He’s a Boston Terrier that belongs to my friend Lelys! She lets me pretend he’s mine.
  14. Salvadoran Slang Word: Puchica! It basically means DANGIT!
  15. Place: Anywhere on the beach. The beach will forever be where I feel most connected to God and most at peace with His presence.

I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah. Philippians 1v12-14 (The Message)

FROM HER BINDER PROJECT MARCH DEVOTIONAL:
Walking along the beach, you may find treasured sea glass. Some pieces are big, some small, and each is a different shape, size, and color…Each piece has one thing in common: they are all broken. Tossed in the ocean, they have experienced rough waters, storms, and rough sand. All of which has smoothed and re-shaped the piece of glass into a treasured item…We are also like the treasured piece of sea glass. Broken, we have experienced storms, rough waters, and heartbreak. We are also treasured in God’s hands…Our stories can also be used to point others to God’s healing grace. Our scars and storms are a part of our story, an intricate piece that brings us to where we are today. They reflect the love, redemption, and healing power of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friends, who can we share our brokenness with today? Who can we encourage? Who can we assure that they are not alone?


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!)


As always, thank you for your continued prayers and support! And an extra HUUUUGE thank you to those of you that sent care packages with the Rock City team! Your letters and cards and gifts have spoken such love to me! My heart smiled as I opened each package! My heart is filled with jewelry, beef jerky, lemon Oreos, and SO MUCH peanut butter (that’s an odd food combination! ha!)!

Please Pray:

  • For our mission team coming from New Life Church in Michigan tomorrow. They will only be with us for two days before heading to La Libertad for the rest of the week. This is much shorter than normal! Please pray that in those two days, God would speak to them and they would hear His voice!
  • For our church family as we drive to San Pedro Sula, Honduras on April 12th for the annual Great Commission Latin America Conference! Please pray for safe travels, lots of learning, and quality connections!
  • 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.
  • For my relationships here – that they would continue to grow and always be God-honoring.
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 an Empiñada! It’s basically just sugar and starch that’s been rolled suuuuuuper thin. It reminded me of a giant communion wafer, but tastier!