CICS

CICS

Deaf Ministry of El Salvador

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…

Miguel

IMG_5050Miguel is a typical, very mischievous little 6 year old with seemingly boundless energy. He is one of those kids that you need to watch constantly or he’ll get in trouble. However, his broad smile and sly grin, combined with his obvious need for someone to give him love and attention, makes it all worth it! Sure he can be bad and cause many problems, but if we can be of help to guide him towards a relationship with Jesus Christ, what does it matter the costs here on earth?

We don’t know much about Miguel’s early life, but we do know he was born into a family that rejectedIMG_0779 him. His mother left him when he was young, upon which his aunt took upon herself the responsibility to care for him. His aunt had another child by birth, who is essentially a younger brother to Miguel, although not by blood. This is pretty much the extent of his family–his birth mom, as far as we know, has no contact with him whatsoever. He probably wouldn’t even recognize her on sight. The place where Miguel lives with his aunt isn’t what you would call an ideal home. The house is next door to a little comedor (restaurant) where lots of men come to eat and drink beer. Somehow Miguel developed a taste for the vile stuff and he has told us already that it’s his favorite! He has come to school already acting a bit woozy, most likely from an alcohol hangover.

Miguel started school here at CICS in May of 2013. He was very intelligent with lots of energy. A (then) 5 year old little boy, it took some time for him to adapt to life here. The first week he would cry himself to sleep each night, because of homesickness and the strange new environment.

Miguel has learned a lot since he first started school, however, he still needs frequent reminders about different conduct issues. He struggles a lot with respecting authority and doing what he is told. His boundless energy and rambunctiousness also creates problems in his relationships with the other children. But when he is in a good mood, he is a joy to be around. He likes to show off make other people laugh. He achieves his goal quite often with his outlandish facial expressions and toothless grin. We try not to laugh at him too much, but sometimes it’s a little hard to restrain our mirth.

Since he lives so far away, Miguel stays here at CICS all week, until the weekend, when he goes IMG_2559home to be with his aunt. He is fairly young yet, so he doesn’t have a lot of responsibilities, but he has learned how to care for various animals and doing small things like washing dishes. Doing the dishes with him means you’ll probably have some water splashed around at some point. He also helps Elmer, his dorm dad, with any other projects that he can do. Miguel likes to tag along after anyone who will let him. In the afternoon, one of his favorite pastimes is riding bike. It’s quite amusing to see this small, skinny kid, with pants not reaching down to his ankles, riding this bicycle about as tall as he is.

Pray for Miguel as you think about him. Pray that he could grow up to know Jesus as his personal Savior. Pray that he could be an example to others who look up to him when he grows up. Pray for his teacher, Melody, and his dorm dad, Elmer, as they try to teach him practical things and also about God. Pray that he could use his difficult early life as a platform to demonstrate God’s power of healing and restoration. Pray for Miguel…

Newsletter April 2014

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to all our brethren, friends, and acquaintances that have supported us in different ways in this ministry. May the Lord shower on your lives abundant blessings, the same as He has on us.
I’d like to share a little of what has happened, around here, starting from the end of last year and including the beginning of this year.

The last time we wrote, we were getting ready for the end-of-the-year school program. It was a very busy time, especially for the teachers.

IMG_6246We dramatized the story of Daniel, his three friends, and the fiery furnace. A lot of the student’s families, CICS committee, students from our Church School, and other visitors came. We trust that God’s message touched the hearts of those that attended.

Another thing that affected the ending of last year was that it felt like Satan was trying to disrupt the work here through some difficult situations. We praise God that we finished the year and were able to start enjoying our vacation, expecting it to be relaxing, but God had different plans for us, as a family. Some tough situations were part of vacation so that in the end, we were very busy and vacation time was tiring. At least our daily routine changed a bit.

During our school vacations, we always stay in contact with some of the deaf children, especially with those that regularly attend IMG_6244Sunday church services. Part of our interaction with them is to help them work through problems with their families; we encourage and also admonish. The former students often come to visit, either to just talk, or to help mow the lawn.

During vacation, the CICS Board, along with Natanael, had a number of meetings to plan for the following school year; sometimes the meetings can get long. There are weighty matters that need to be addressed and direction given for the future but they also take time to enjoy fellowship with each other.

We thank God that at the end of last year, we already had all the volunteers that we needed for this year. What a great blessing!
School began this year with twelve students, but soon after starting, one more student came. So the current enrollment is thirteen.

cics staff

Andrea, Maria Eva, Melody, Verónica, Matthias, Elmer, Samuel

Teachers and students are grouped in the following manner:

Matthias Beachy, who is in his third year of teaching, has four young men as students: Mauricio, Kevin, Carlos, and José.

Maria Eva, after taking a one year break, is back. She has four students: Ana, Teresa, Paola, and Beatriz.

Samuel Stoltzfus is here for the first year and has the following three students: Joel, Eduardo, and Jairo.

Melody Eash, in her second year of teaching here, has two students: Miguel and Silvia. They require a lot of specialized teaching.

Elmer, who is an ex-student and last year filled in as dorm dad from August to October, is back, taking on the dorm dad responsibilities.

Andrea, who also filled in as dorm mom the last part of the past school term, is back as dorm mom.

Working in the kitchen we have Verónica, also an ex-student, and this is her third year as cook.

We trust that this year can be blessed, with the Lord’s help. Please keep us in your prayers, so that we can be aware of our enemy’s attacks and fight spiritually.

Melody Eash

I was told to write about my experience here. What I was expecting… What I found… Was I disappointed, or pleasantly surprised? Were my expectations met? Exceeded? Or maybe not met?

Screenshot 2015-02-27 22.17.56To tell you the truth, I’m not totally sure what I was expecting. I came here pretty naive. Maybe I was expecting to fulfill my couple months of service like a good Mennonite. And maybe along the way I hoped to make some really cool friends and touch the lives of a few children and maybe even get the chance to say I changed a child’s life. How cool would that be? Oh yes, I knew I would be far away from my family and have a new culture to adjust to, but life is all about new adventures, right? And yes, I had been warned that I would have to deal with humans, but I had been through that before. I mean, you don’t teach for three years without having a few run-ins with that kind.

Little did I know what I was signing up for! In the last eight months I have learned two new languages and experienced the extremely frustrating and lonely feeling of being surrounded by a chattering group of people and not being able to talk to anyone.

I have missed my mother mountains and mountaineers of West Virginia, but at the same time I have fallen in love with a land where the people frustrate you with their tardiness while teaching you to relax and enjoy each moment as it passes.

I have missed my family and friends at home more than I thought possible, but in the meantime God gave me a group of people who constantly challenge me in my relationships with God and those around me as well as constantly amaze me with how much fun we can have together.

I have met children whom I am not sure I have taught anything, but who have taught me more about myself than I ever thought there was to know, and not all of it was pretty. Children that I want to strangle one day, but the next day I would give my life for. Children that I am not sure how I will be able to say good-bye in a month.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 22.18.21I have learned that a warm shower is a luxury, not a necessity, and that it is possible to take three showers a day and need every single one. I have learned that toilet paper is a luxury and if you want it you better plan on supplying your own. I have learned that geckos are less frightening if you give them names, even the ones that run across your feet during the night. I have learned that in the absence of a car you can usually find a bus that will get you where you need to go. And you’ll have a better story afterwards.

So were my expectations met? I would have to say they were exceeded in every way, because no joke about it, it was hard. Harder than I though tit would be. And the rewards? Yes, I see the rewards every day. The little miracle in my kids when they finally connect the dots; in my own life when I realize that I’ve actually made it to that point I thought I wouldn’t survive. But the big ones, the big rewards of seeing these kids succeed in life–someone else will get to see that. But what I can see now is enough for me, and the promise that one day I will have the opportunity to see these kids in heaven. That is enough for me, and that is why I’m not finished yet.

Melody Eash