Dr. Robert Kiltz event in Skaneateles, NY on 01/24/10

Dr. Robert Kiltz event in Skaneateles, NY on 01/24/10

January 18th, 2010 // 12:21 am @

Skaneateles High School students: Gaelyn Price, Dani Alderman, Ellie Krause, Jeff Higman and Joe Duggan are hosting a benefit dinner and silent auction at 4:00pm on Sunday, January 24th at the lakeside home of Dr. Robert Kiltz.  They were so moved by the children they worked with in El Salvador last summer that they wanted to do more to help the people of this impoverished nation. They’re raising funds for a fully equipped Medical van that will be used by doctors to provide much needed medical and dental care to the outlying villages of El Salvador.

Tickets for the benefit dinner are $60 and can be purchased by calling Eileen Price at (315) 559-1529.   The students will prepare a Salvadoran meal for up to 100 guests.  They are also selling Calendars, Coffee, T-shirts and Sweatshirts (the kids are wearing the t-shirts and sweatshirts in the picture above).

Ellie Krause’s El Salvador Story:
Upon arriving in San Salvador our group got off the plane, packed our bags snugly into the back of a pick-up, and packed ourselves just as snugly into a big blue van (our transportation for the trip). As we drove along the highway I began to marvel at the spectacular landscape: dramatic mountains blanketed in lush green forests forming rigid and unpredictable shapes. But as I looked through the gaps in foliage along the road I soon became aware of the reality of the situation. Nestled amongst the trees lay thousands of tin-roofed huts huddled close. Together they shaped a large metal expanse that seemed to flow with the contours of the landscape. I was in awe. These were people’s homes. Shelters pieced together with corrugated tin and wood. That night there was a hard rain; as I lay in my comfortable bunk, drenched in bug-spray and wrapped in mosquito netting, I couldn’t help thinking about the people living in those homes.

This was one of the first stirring instances of the Youth Pilgrimage to El Salvador, from which I and eleven others just returned. The mission was filled with many poignant moments that have significantly altered my views on life, love, and God. I would like to share a few with you; I know that I will be unable to fully convey the intensity of these moments, but hopefully I can give you a sense of their impact on myself and the rest of the group.

Another occasion that we experienced was another moment in the beloved van. We were passing through an intersection on our way to visit a village and were all moved to silence as we stared out the windows. What we saw was this: an old man sitting in a wheelchair, his legs contorted into unnatural angles due to a severe case of rickets. As we peered through the glass we saw him struggle to wheel himself across the busy intersection, his disability proving to be an extreme hindrance. Afterwards, we all discussed this moment and were all extremely affected by it. We were all amazed that his problem was caused by a simple lack of vitamin D, something that is widely available in the United States.

But my experience wasn’t simply culture-shock; I was given an immense gift, God’s love from people whom I had never met. The people of El Salvador showed God’s love on a level that I had never experienced before. We had never met them; yet, when they first saw us, they welcomed us, hugged us, kissed us, and opened their lives and hearts to us. The first time that we drove into the site of a vacation bible school, the children ran out and swarmed the van. As we stepped out of the van, we were immersed in this sea of smiling kids, all eager to meet us. It was an amazing feeling. The Salvadorians we met were truly remarkable, and they were spreading God’s love to these teenagers and adults whom they had never met before. Our group had no idea what struggles they were going through, no comprehension of what it is like to be unable to feed your family, to work for $0.90 an hour, to sell coconuts at the side of the road in order to make ends meet, to walk seven miles to school, to rebuild your house after in has been destroyed by a flood (again), and so many other hardships. They could have been jealous and bitter, I wouldn’t blame them, but instead they chose to be loving and kind, ecstatic to meet us and share with us their hopes and dreams for the future. They embraced us (I received some of the tightest and most heartfelt hugs of my life) and welcomed us into their homes, community gardens, churches, and most importantly hearts. We were complete strangers, yet we were the same, despite cultural or language obstacles.  We all shared a common acceptance for one another.

Language barriers proved to be neither a setback nor daunting, for everyone understands the universal language of smiles and laughter. Many of our group had a very limited Spanish background, if any at all. However, when we were with the Salvadorian children at Vacation Bible School this proved an insignificant matter. Simply looking into the large dark eyes of a child as they smiled at you, while coloring in a “Doug’s Fish Fry” coloring book, was enough to warm your heart as well as theirs.

I have now returned to the United States with a new view, I see things that I took for granted, I see that material things are worth nothing and relationships with people are worth everything, I see that only you can measure the quality of your life, and I see that you can see God’s face and his love in someone you thought was completely different from you. I went to El Salvador expecting to help the people there, give them gifts, and possibly change their lives. Now I feel that the small trinkets I gave are meager in comparison to what they gave me, their love. The people of El Salvador have changed me in ways that will change how I approach the rest of my life. I know that I have also given them my love, but now I feel an obligation to God, them, and myself to work with them hand in hand to greater improve our relationship as well as their physical circumstances.

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