A mission team from the First Baptist Church in Memphis traveled to El Salvador to work with children there. Pictured in the front row (L to R) are Bethany Barrett, Cinda Barrett, Troy Barrett, Andrew Ebeling, Rachel Barrett and Linda Blessing; Back row (L to R) are Michael Barrett, Mark Barrett, Ethel Barrett, Dan Hite, Lisa Barnes, Darrell Monroe and Rene our bus driver. Not in the photo is Claire Hite, the photographer.

Last month 13 people, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, went out from the First Baptist Church (FBC) of Memphis to the nation of El Salvador to serve in churches in rural communities.

FBC Memphis has had a longstanding partnership with fellow Baptist churches in the rural communities of El Coco, El Tanque and San Isidro, which are located in the mountains along the Guatemalan border. The churches of these three communities have close ties with one another and often times work together to serve their communities.

This was the fourth trip to these communities. Each year the primary focus has been to work with the children in the communities. El Salvador is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and poverty is apparent in these rural areas. The mission has been two-fold, to meet physical needs and to meet their spiritual needs by sharing about God our Creator and Jesus Christ our Savior. With the help of generous donations from many in the Scotland community and some from outside the community, the group was able to give sewing machines from Green Acres, much needed medicines from Scotland County Pharmacy, stuffed animals and yarn dolls and plenty of yarn to make yarn dolls from the Scotland County Care Center and RCF, toothbrushes and toys and nearly 800 pairs of shoes from Skechers Shoe Company donated through Shoe Sensation of Kirksville.

The 13 member group divided into two teams to serve in three rural communities. The schools in El Salvador are gospel friendly and the team that went to San Isidro was invited into the school for their activities with the children and in the community of El Tanque, the school brought the children to the church for activities. Activities included learning and singing songs in both Spanish and English, games and crafts, and sharing stories from the Bible acted out in skits with the aid of translators and student participation.

“This was the fourth consecutive year a group from FBC Memphis has been able to come to these communities and each year the bonds of fellowship grows stronger,” said FBC Pastor, Dan Hite. “The groups of children ministered to each year have grown in number as well.”

This photo shows one of the children in El Salvador who received a new pair of BOBS, donated by Skechers and transported by members of the El Salvador mission team from the First Baptist Church in Memphis. The children enjoyed hand-painting their new shoes.

In the community of El Coco a team of seven people was joined by an equal number of women and men from the local church and with the help of translators everyone worked together to minister to nearly 100 children from the community each day. “One of the greatest experiences of the mission trip was working side by side with Christian brothers and sisters from another culture who share a common goal in serving God,” said Hite. “The two teams also participated in worship services in the evening, which was another great experience. The world gets much smaller when we worship and praise God with other cultures.”

The mission team also had time to worship with the church family at the First Baptist Church of Chaichuapa and to meet with the children who are students at the Christian school affiliated with the Church. The team had the opportunity to spend a morning in activities with the students and teachers of the school and to meet with the children and parents of those sponsored through scholarships. The school continues to grow in number of students and is ranked third in the city among over fifty schools for quality of education. There are currently 270 children attending the school and there are plans to purchase land to build facilities adequate for the growing school.

This year’s trip also brought the community of El Tanque one step closer to attaining a reliable source of clean drinking water. A member of the mission team Linda Blessing is also a member of the Schuyler County Rotary Club. One of the primary service interests of Rotary clubs worldwide is to provide sustainable sources of clean drinking water for people in nations where this is a problem. Linda was able to make connections with Rotary Club members in El Salvador and the community leaders of El Tanque to gain local support for the project and obtain necessary information regarding the project to bring back to share with Rotary clubs in Northeast Missouri. “Mission trips like these can be life changing and it can be quite humbling to be so greatly blessed by those you go to be a blessing to,” said Hite.