This week, our El Salvador Global Mission Team is at work with our friends and partners in the communities surrounding Ahuachapan. This post was written by Charlie Shaffner.

We are hustling back to the van in the pouring rain after an exhaustive day of pickaxing, shoveling, and painting. We catch a quick glimpse inside the neighboring house. A mother and her three young kids are hanging out on a chair and an elevated bed as a stream of water flows underneath on the mud floor as another heavy rain rolls in. Three days later, we are playing with two of those kids, Carlos and Alejandra, as their mom is attacking another day’s chores. The dichotomy of intense living conditions versus familiar daily pleasures and struggles is real.

This isn’t easy to take in, 1 trip or 8 trips. It’s heavy. But it’s healthy and inevitable to be struck by the asymmetries to our day-to-day. We see injustice and want to act. Or we see little Adriana’s glowing smile and our driver Ramiro’s contagious excitement to help shovel during our last stretch of the day, and we see a better version of ourselves respond.

This week, we have learned that we are all wrestling these same thoughts in our own ways. That tension is okay and can be a very positive thing. It allows for our team to be open, present, and honest with each other. There is a recognition that we can’t replicate this environment. But there are ways to appreciate what has triggered us to thrive and best utilize our gifts, whether it’s intentionality in conversation, recognizing the underappreciated, or bringing out our inner youth playing with pipe cleaners.

In 2011, a good Salvadoran friend told me, “So many say they will come back, and many rarely do, but your team did.” The consistency and hope bred from this partnership is an incredible sight and persists from the love of old and new relationships. We just have to take the leap. God continues to show up here. We need to find those moments to pause and take it in. The wave of love, gratitude, and community has never been more present on this last day here.