CICS

CICS

Deaf Ministry of El Salvador

Newsletter June 2016

Greetings again from CICS. Just a few lines to let you know what has happened in recent months.

IMG_0231We ended the 2015 school year and at the closing program the students acted out the story of the Biblical character, Naaman. Our desire was that all those in attendance could learn of God’s great power. It was a joint effort of both the students and teachers that turned out well.

Mauricio, who was a student since he was eight years old, graduated this past year. He will be greatly missed as he was a model student. I think none of his teachers had complaints about him. We are glad that he is a young man that loves the Lord and is faithful in attending services at the local Mennonite Church and hope to see more of him.

Sadly, because of bad conduct, two of our students were suspended from school and didn’t finish out the year, namely Silvia and Carlos.

Silvia struggled with wanting to take her own way and after talking with her mom, we decided it was better to have her terminate before the school year ended.

Carlos decided that a life of freedom would be best and left the Strong Tower Children’s Home. At sixteen he feels old enough to IMG_0444live on his own; things haven’t really worked out for him and he has lived with some of his former classmates but does not want to be responsible in helping out with anything, so his stays have been short-lived.

IMG_0258Also three of our volunteer staff terminated at the end of 2015: Matthias Beachy, Melody Eash and Lidia Alfaro. Their respective service was: four, three, and one year. We appreciate their effort and dedication and desire the Lord’s blessings on their lives; may He add His reward for the service.

This brings us into the 2016 school year.

We thank God for the opportunity of another year. Classes started on February 8 with 9 students; 8 have been part of the school, before, and one new girl. 3 more students were expected to attend, but unfortunately their parents decided not to send them. Hopefully by next year their parents will see the value of their children receiving an education.
We have 6 volunteer staff for this year. Four served already last year (Veronica, Elmer, Samuel and Paty) to those were added two young ladies, (Liz Jara and Bethany Thompson)

There are three different classes being taught this year:

IMG_3188The teacher of the first class is Liz Jara. It consists of two students: Maria who is 17 years old, but is attending school for the first time, and Antony, a 7 year old. This is a big age difference, but they are almost on the same academic level. Antony studied last year, but unfortunately he missed a lot of classes and that delayed his learning. Maria is in her first year at school, but is eager to learn, attends school every day and is very attentive in class; it seems as if she wants to learn everything she missed out on, in previous years.

Paty Vasquez is the teacher of the second class and this is her second year teaching at the Deaf 20160223_092037School. Her students are: Joel, Jairo and Miguel, and they are between eight and ten years old. These boys keep their teacher hopping. They are all high energy and need lots of love, discipline, correction, and teaching.

And for the third class, the teacher is Samuel Stoltzfus and his students are: Teresa, Paola, Beatriz and Eduardo. Teresa is at a more advanced level, then Beatriz and Paola are on the same level, and Eduardo is the less advanced of the class. That gives you an idea of how much effort the teacher puts into preparing classes that are relevant for the different levels of learning; but he does very well and, although the IMG_0245students say he is very strict, I think they’re learning a lot.

IMG_2267Bethany Thompson is the Dorm Mother and this is her first year at the school, which means that she is learning Spanish and expanding her Sign Language abilities. She is responsible for Beatriz’s care in the afternoon and helps her develop life skills.

Veronica is again back in the kitchen this year and has the big job of feeding many hungry people.

Elmer is again in charge of maintenance and in the afternoon is responsible for Miguel, helping him learn different skills.

Thanks to each of you for your prayers and financial support, it is a great blessing to have what we need for each day. May God reward you greatly!

Antony

IMG_0217Antony is a second cousin to José Eduardo, our first student here at CICS. His deafness is genetic since he has a deaf grandpa. His mom had asked to send him to school last year, but we felt that he was very young and still needed to be with his mom. He is now five years old.

In contrast to many of the deaf that come here, he is extremely quiet and needs motivation to play and do any type of exercise.

Anthony is very sociable, enjoying greeting other people and shaking hands. He explains with great IMG_5309detail anything that happens.

He is also very intelligent and since he started so young, we hope that he will learn quickly and be able to reach an academic level normal for his age.

We ask your prayers for him.

Elmer Montano

IMG - 5When I began studying at CICS, I was thirteen years old. I was very rebellious and disobedient and many times needed to be corrected by my teachers. As the years went by, I began to understand that it was necessary to change and with God’s help, I have changed. I studied at CICS until I was eighteen years old.

After leaving CICS, I began to look for construction work in Aguilares (which is where I live). I had a very difficult time finding work, but eventually I found some jobs, but the bosses repeatedly fired me.

I always liked visiting CICS even after I left, to see the other deaf, and I wanted to someday work with them. So it happened that IMG_0257after Darin (a young man who worked at CICS a few years ago) left, I took his place, taking care of the deaf boys that stayed at school throughout the week. At first it was Carlos, José, Kevin, and Miguel. Now that José and Kevin left, I only take care of Carlos and Miguel. It’s now my third year working here.

My work consists of getting up early each morning with the boys to do some routine chorese, taking care of the animals, cleaning and maintenance of CICS, sending them to school in the mornings and then continuing to help them develop vocational abilities in the afternoons. My favorite part about my work is talking with them in the evenings, giving advice and praying with them.
I desire that God would bless the school here and that I could do my best with my work for the glory of God.

Newsletter July 2015

IMG_5118What’s been happening at CICS?

Well, at the end of March, the 24-26 specifically, the staff had the privilege of attending IMG_5147a Central American teachers’ meeting in Nicaragua. It was a time of learning, sharing, and meeting others, along with a bit of adventure.

Our family enjoyed a time together as a family. After that came a week of Easter vacation. Each worker had their different activities. After the break, everyone was ready to continue with normal work.

IMG_5695In April, a few of Samuel’s siblings visited. They came planning to install a new plaything for the children–a trampoline! We are grateful to the boys for their work. The children and adults alike have enjoyed it very much. Although there have been a few minor accidents, it continues to be the biggest attraction for the IMG_6156children at recess time.

We also enjoyed a visit from some of our former staff, namely, Caleb and Sandra Mast. They were here a few days, and it was good to remember times gone by and see changes that life brings, including a new addition to their family, baby Desmond. We say thanks for the invitation to eat at Pollo Campero. It was a good time of making memories.

IMG_2837The month of May was full of activities. We had Rebeca Glick here for a week to teach some of the deaf girls how to make rugs out of pieces of material. It was beneficial in opening their minds a bit to something else that they can make with their hands. We thank Rebeca for her work.

Matthias’ brother came all the way from Africa to visit. Also there was a group of youth from a Spanish class that came and visited for a day. We are grateful for their help in different jobs.IMG_0146

There was a group of youth from a university that brought piñatas, ice cream, fruit, cookies, cake, and drinks for the children. It was a fun day with lots to eat. We say thanks.

We had our first spelling competition on May 15. It is always interesting to see how much the children have learned. It is also a IMG_0169challenge for the teachers.

We planned some sewing classes for some of the girls. Already some of them have finished their first projects and are ready to start with something bigger–making their owIMG_1101n dresses! We want the girls to be able to discover skills and learn things that will be useful in their lives.

In the midst of all these activities, I had a gallbladder surgery. We thank God that everything went well. I only need time to recover and regain energy.

This is what has been happening in our small place at CICS.

-Becky Aguilar

Newletter April 2015

IMG_2274Greetings to all our friends and co-laborers in this ministry! We trust that God is filling your lives with blessings as He has ours.

The last trimester of last year, the students went on an outing and visited a children’s museum called Tin-Marin. I believe that everyone enjoyed it immensely, children and adults alike.

At the last spelling competition of last year, we had some surprises. Some of the students, who hadn’t won anything before, put forth lots of effort and won some prizes.

We had a nice closing program, with lots of visitors. It was also a farewell for two of our students, Ana and Kevin. Please pray for them, as they are not living right, that they would remember and live what they have learned in school.

In September, we had a staff outing–a good time of recreation and sharing.

By the second week in November, all the staff had left the school grounds and gone back to their homes for school vacation. Two of them left, not planning to return: Andrea Hershberger and Maria Eva, who has been working here for many years.

During vacation time, Natanael made three trips to the USA on business. On one of his trips, he enjoyed a family reunion with his brothers, who hadn’t been together for almost twenty-five years.

In January, the CICS facilities were used to host the Bible Institute for our El Salvadoran youth. We were occupied helping in the kitchen and teaching sign language. Zulma, one of the deaf youth, also helped in the kitchen. Elmer was helping with different stuff and Veronica attended some of the classes. A bunch of the deaf also attended the evening services.

instituto

The staff began to arrive the first of February in time for a new school year in 2015. By the tenth, everyone had arrived. There are two new workers this year: Lidia Alfaro, of Costa Rica, came as cook, and Paty Vásquez, of El Salvador, is here as a teacher. The students began school on February 12. We have two new students for this year: Antony, who is six years old, and Roman, who is eleven years old. In the next newsletter we will tell you some more about them. We are in the process of finding the new normal for this year, so please pray for us:

  • for direction and wisdom in this school year
  • for spiritual protection of the staff and students
  • for health and physical strength for blessing and direction in some new projects

Ana

Note: Ana is part of a family of six deaf children. She is a sister to Verónica, a volunteer,  and Teresa, another student…

IMG_2968_revI remember the first time that I met Ana. She seemed like a very pretty girl, with intelligence and a lot of energy. She always had a beautiful smile, which made me want to try to get acquainted and be her friend. But to my surprise, she rejected me immediately and always tried to do different things to openly show that she didn’t like me–things like disrespecting me, hitting me, or pushing me. It wasn’t easy, but with the support and advice of Nata and Becky, I was finally able to get close to her and she accepted me.

IMG_3014

Ana, Verónica, Teresa

Over the years, I have discovered that Ana has a very strong character and a heart that wants to do what is right. However, she fights against her human nature that wants to lead her astray, and which often does. She has a very brilliant mind and is very intelligent, to the point where academics are very easy for her. I would say she pretty much learns by herself–she doesn’t need much explanation in order to learn something new. Year after year, she wins first place in the spelling competition, although some years her little sister Teresa has won, which has not been easy for Ana to accept.

In these last few years, Ana has struggled with submitting to authority, influencing and making groups between the rest of the deaf children, and leaving her house under false pretenses in order to go to places that wouldn’t be allowed.
IMG_4222She confesses to fighting a lot against the Tempter in doing what is right. She has expressed her desire to be faithful to God, even though she knows it isn’t easy.

Let’s pray for Ana, that she could remain firm in her decision to be faithful to God. Pray also that God could provide a place to work for her. That is another big decision she needs to make next year, since she won’t be coming back to school.
Through faith, I see Ana completely decided to serve Christ, being a useful instrument for the glory of God, teaching other deaf children what she has learned. I think she would be a good teacher!

I am happy to have had the privilege of teaching her these years, and I leave the rest up to the Lord.

Maria Eva

Andrea Hershberger

Some journeys lead us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny. – C.S. Lewis

IMG_6249_revIt has certainly been an adventure! I had no idea what the journey would be like when I arrived in El Salvador just over a year ago. I knew very little of either language I would need to communicate, the people I would be working with, or the culture I would be living in. Yet, it didn’t take long until the kids had wrapped themselves all the way around my heart and I knew I was where I belonged.

Some things I’ve learned since coming here…

  1. There is beauty in every culture and language. I have found it fascinating to watch people communicate in IMG_1556_revtheir native language, each understanding the other perfectly and responding accordingly. Cultures were created to be unique in their own place, yet people from other places can learn to live with and appreciate each other for who they are and where they’ve come from.
  2. Children are important. Children are the next generation. What you are doing today in the life of a child is building or tearing down the next generation. Live wisely.
  3. God uses every circumstance to teach us something. You are where you are for a reason. In being here, God showed me my passion. My passion is to work with trauma children. These children have no choice as to what situation they were born into, yet they must forgive their abusers to be able to live a fulfilling life. I want to help them decide to rise above the challenges, learn to forgive, and go on to be builders in the lives of the people around them.

My time here at CICS is coming to a close. Please pray for me as I continue to follow God’s dreams for my life. Thank you for supporting the mission we have here.

Andrea Hershberger

Newsletter August 2014

We want to share with you, some of the things that have happened here in the last several months.

IMG_0140 2This year, we have butchered chickens twice. The one time we were helped by some family and friends who were visiting Melody Eash, and the other time it was just us with the students. It was very interesting to see how much they have learned about that work and how fast we could finish butchering 86 chickens. We hope that this experience can be helpful to the students in their daily lives.

We have had two word competitions this year and it is satisfying to see some students who before had problems memorizing, now advancing and earning prizes. This is the result of God’s grace and the combined efforts of teachers and students.

IMG_1470In El Salvador, we have a week of vacation from school that we call Holy Week. The workers here went with the Ramos family to a place in the mountains called Apaneca where the climate is cool. Our family had the privilege of going to Belize and visiting family, friends, and deaf friends.

May was a very interesting month for our family. We were invited to go help with a deaf camp in Chihuahua, Mexico. So we decided to go as a family and travel by land. It took four days to go and five days to come back, as well as a week at the deaf camp. IMG_0167 2That is to say, we were gone three weeks. We thank God that things continued normally here at CICS while Loncho and his family took our place. They did a good job. Thank you very much. It was a good experience for our family, making many memories and new friends. We learned to know many more deaf, who now have a place in our hearts. We were again made aware that other ministries also have their good times and their difficult times. It is all to extend the Kingdom of God.

In June, we took an excursion to the zoo. It was good time of recreation for both the students and teachers.

In the end of June, we cancelled school for several days while the youth retreat was held here at our facilities. Some of the volunteers took the opportunity to go home and visit family.

IMG_0135In July, we had help from two young women from the Water program. This gave Andrea an opportunity to visit her family for several days.

Sunday, the tenth of August, we rejoiced to have our first baptism of a previous student, Veronica, who is now our cook. It was a big encouragement and blessing. Our prayer is that we can continue to see the work of the Holy Spirit being manifested in the other deaf youth.

We are always grateful for the support of each one of you that has shown interest in this ministry through your prayers and financial support. May God richly bless you.

Nata and Becky Aguilar

Samuel Stoltzfus

Ever since I was a teenager, it had been my vision to work in a Hispanic country. This desire was compounded after taking four years of Spanish in high school and learning some of the language and culture. My teacher, Daniel Lapp, had been a missionary at an orphanage here at this location, before CICS ever came into being. Hearing about all his stories piqued my interest. Last summer I was also able to come visit CICS for a few days, during an El Salvador trip with Daniel. I had never felt a “yes” or “no” from God about serving here, but the way seemed clear, and I decided to try it. God would let me know if He had other ideas, right? The best way to have an adventure is to “jump off” and see what happens!

IMG_0027And the adventure part sure has been forthcoming! Although it helped that I knew some Spanish and a little ASL before I came, I still have a lot of learning to do. But, the teaching part is the most challenging for me, being a first-time teacher and all. I had substituted before for my teacher friends, but that’s just a very small piece of being an actual teacher. I’ve often had to ask questions from all the veterans around here, but hey I’m learning! (I hope) And I don’t care how much experience you have, seeing a child have a “light-bulb moment” makes the hours of repetition and head-pounding worth it. Hopefully someday I can even change a child’s life for Christ. Wouldn’t that be awesome!

Culture-wise, things haven’t been too drastic and I’ve found it pretty easy to handle. I love the food! A meal won’t seem like a meal at home without a tortilla and an avocado to eat. I find the slow paced life probably the hardest to get accustomed to. IMG_0166Previously living in fast-paced Lancaster County probably doesn’t help matters much in that regard. 🙂 Cold showers are also something to get used to, but after a while you won’t want anything else due to the heat.

As I said before I still have MANY things to learn, and I haven’t been living here without any problems, but it am confident that God will help be me, and I can always go to him when I am feeling discouraged. As the Bible says in Jeremiah 29, God has a plan for me. All I need to do is trust and go along for the ride! I would appreciate it very much if you would pray for me as I attempt to do that. God bless you!

Samuel Stoltzfus

Teresa

IMG_1276_revFriend to everyone, giggly, good student, hard worker…these are all pretty good descriptions of Teresa. Not to say that she doesn’t have problems (who doesn’t?), however, she is one of those students that rarely needs reprimanding or correcting. Her general happy-go-lucky attitude, despite everything she goes through, is a testimony to the power of God in whom she confides.

Teresa was born in 2000 as the last addition to a family of seven other siblings born to her parents (she has more half-siblings). Of the eight children in this family, six are deaf! Three of herIMG_0597 deaf siblings have also come to school here, including Manuel, Verónica (currently a volunteer), and Ana. Her two oldest deaf brothers were never able to go to school, and therefore cannot read or write. These deaf children are more fortunate than some, however. At least they have the ability to communicate among themselves. Children that are the only deaf child in a family are, in general, more isolated and less able to communicate.

As is the case in many of these students’ stories, Teresa’s father was, and still is, somewhat of a drunkard. Earning a small living as a farmer, he spent the majority of his money on liquor without much to spare for vital necessities. Sometimes in drunken rages he beat his wife, until finally after a particularly violent episode where the eldest son tried to intervene, the mother had enough and moved away with the children.

Some time later, after promising that he wouldn’t drink anymore, Teresa’s mom moved back, and peace was restored for a while. Her father’s drinking never stopped permanently, though, so even now her mother and the children need to work hard taking vegetables to market in order to have enough to eat. A lot of Teresa’s time, when school is not in session, is spent gathering vegetables and helping mom. She almost never complains, though and usually does her work willingly and thoroughly. Sometimes she wasn’t even able to come to school because of the work she needed to do. One year, her mom decided to keep her at home instead of going to school, and it was only after many prayers, that Teresa was able to come to school after all.

But there always a bright to side to every story, and such is certainly the case with Teresa. As you’ve already read, she’s gone through many hard times, and would have more right than most to complain and wallow in self-pity. Certainly more than I!

However, she doesn’t complain about her past life and a lot of that is due to her relationship with the Savior. Teresa became a Christian about two years ago. Her life reflects that as well, which is exciting and invigorating! What a great God we serve! Afterwards, Teresa decided of her own volition to wear a head covering. No one told her to. However, once she made that step, several people explained to her exactly what it means and she hasn’t taken it off! God has great plans for this young lady, I’m sure, and it’s an encouragement to see her grow in the Christian life.

As for her life now, she still comes to school pretty much every day. She learns fast in school and likes to compete with her sister Ana in the thrice-annual spelling competition. She loves teasing and playing around. She often does things with Beatriz, one of her best friends and companion-in-crime.

So, as you think about Teresa, don’t feel pity for her. Rather, rejoice in what God has doing and will do in her life! It is not my IMG_2688desire to have you focusing on the admittedly rough life she has had, but instead thank God that you had godly parents that got along, and thank God for all the material (blessings??) that you have. She lives with less, but many times she’s happier and has less to worry about, too! Of course, I’m in the same boat with my laptop, phone, car, and nice house to live in, and money in the bank, but it’s just something that’s good to think about. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required…”

Pray that Teresa could continue to show the Light of Jesus to others. Pray that she could continue to grow in her Christian life. Pray that God would touch others in her family that are unbelievers. Only God knows, but maybe someday Teresa will be able to go to church with her whole family! Pray for Teresa…