Baker residents touch the heart of El Salvador

Fifteen Baker residents, from all walks of life and a variety of ages, traveled 2,668 kilos (1,658 miles) south of the border to the country of El Salvador to volunteer their time and talents to help the impoverished people of that country.

By Sherry Vogel

Fifteen Baker residents, from all walks of life and a variety of ages, traveled 2,668 kilos (1,658 miles) south of the border to the country of El Salvador to volunteer their time and talents to help the impoverished people of that country.

This weeklong trip that began on April 1, started when the group flew out of Logan International Airport in Billings. After a 10-hour flight, the party disembarked in San Salvador, the capital city.

Members of the Baker Crew standing beside one of the small homes they constructed in El Salvador.

Many of the Bakerites were in culture shock as they stood on the sidewalk outside of the air terminal. Everybody around them was speaking Spanish and although it was night when they arrived it was “very mucky” and “very hot” outside. This was just a small portion of the culture shock they would experience once they arrived at their final destination.

Many members of the party had never been out of the United States before. Others who had experienced travel to resort destinations had never visited a third world country.

The party loaded into a bus to travel the 1 1/2 hours to reach the city of Santa Ana. This would be their home for the next week.

Poverty and unsanitary living conditions were prevalent all around. The city was dirty, the streets were lined with garbage and litter and the smells reeked. Another strange sight was seeing guards with rifles posted outside their hotel.

How did a group of Bakerites get involved in volunteering in a foreign country? To make a long story short, Pastor Rod Kilsdonk had coached a junior high student in Havre, Mont. when he had taught school and coached there. This young student, Lance Lanning had grown up and had become the president of Provision International, a Billings- based Christian ministry.

Provision International sponsors teams of volunteers on short-term mission trips to meet the needs of the desperately poor and hungry in many areas around the globe.

The group from Baker consisted of Eric, Alyssa and Alexis Mitchell, Kayla Brott, Noah DeBuhr, Ryan James, Larisa Fahrenbruck, Fayth Rohr, Kendall Sieler, Allen and Jan Rustad, Scott and Michelle Kilsdonk, Joe Epley and Rod Kilsdonk. They had arrived with 78 bags of not only their personal belongings but also medical equipment and other supplies.

Their main goal was to help build two houses for two needy families and to help out wherever they were needed.

The party was lodged in a hotel in Santa Ana, the second largest city in El Salvador. It was located just a 15 minutes drive from the Center for Hope ministry complex.

Fueled by severe poverty and lack of education many city dwelling Salvadorans find themselves having to deal with a dangerous scourge of street gangs that try to extort the locals. While carrying out these crimes, the gangs have claimed the lives of a number of adult men with their machetes.

In response to this cycle of depravity, Provision International has come into the city and developed Center for Hope. This complex has a number of ministries that they have developed to meet the needs of the downtrodden. Besides supporting a local Salvadoran minister in his Church, they have built Hosanna School, which has an attendance of 389 students. The latest outreach they’ve developed is a restaurant/internet cafe. This business helps to employ a number of people and also feeds a multitude of the hungry. The outreach has also constructed a number of homes throughout the Santa Ana area. The homes are perhaps the equivalent of one of our garden sheds. They consist of a 10 x 20 rough wood structure with one door and two windows topped off with a corrugated steel roof.

The poor people that receive a home such as this feel very blessed. This is much more than many of them could ever obtain on their own.

Besides building two homes while the Baker group was in Santa Ana, they also helped complete the second floor in a medical clinic that is under construction.

Many inspirational stories have emerged from this outreach to the Salvadorans.

      



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