El Salvador Relief 2002 Mission Trip
A Sonoma couple, members of the St. Andrew congregation, already had a disassembled prefab metal building on their property here in Sonoma – just the kind of structure needed by the village of Buenos Aires for use as a new schoolhouse. They agreed to sell it to the Church at a price below its original cost. An additional section was obtained from the manufacturer to create a structure 30×80 feet.
The Appeal: The Church then issued an appeal to congregation members and the community to make additional donations to the El Salvador mission in both cash and gifts and the response was incredible. The outpouring of support helped us fill a 20-foot and a 40-foot shipping container with donated items and transport them from Sonoma to El Salvador. Meanwhile, additional contributions raised in Sonoma and in El Salvador were used to pour a concrete slab foundation for the building in Buenos Aires.
Columbus Line (link), an international containership operator based in New Jersey, agreed to transport the building and supplies in company-supplied containers, at no cost and to donate one of the containers for the village to use as storage space. SF Enterprises (link) of San Francisco generously agreed to truck the empty containers to Sonoma for loading and return them to San Francisco.
The containers were taken by containership from Los Angeles to Puerto Quetzal in El Salvador’s northern neighbor, Guatemala. From there, the materials were trucked to Sonsonate and eventually to Buenos Aires.
Donations of cash, goods and services were made not only directly to the Church by our own members, but by outside individuals and companies. A new non-profit 501 (c) (3) foundation named USA New Horizons, was created to receive donations from those who cannot give directly to the church. This gives the El Salvador mission greater flexibility in working with the growing number of individuals, businesses, for-profit and non-profit organizations who have expressed interest in helping our efforts.
USA New Horizons has an initial Board of Directors: Rev. Richard Gantenbein, Guilleromo Gonzalez, Whitney Evans, Jean Hopeman, Fred Nielsen and Doug Webster. It is anticipated that the membership of this Board will be expanded in future months to offer opportunities for community representation in what we hope will become both a Church and community program of assistance. If you would like more information regarding USA New Horizons, please visit their website at www.usanewhorizons.com.
Construction: A 13-member team of church volunteers travels to El Salvador, to assist in the construction of the building itself from October 6-16. With the goods donated, we expect to erect the building, install interior fittings for staff offices, classrooms and rest rooms. Donated classroom furniture, shelving and supplies will provide the initial resources for the village to, for the first time in its history, have its own school and to petition the government for a full time teacher.
We do see this as an ongoing mission project of St. Andrew with opportunities for future contributions and on-site participation by interested congregation members. We are also exploring future programs to serve the needs of the village and the area. For example, we are considering possible donations of medical and dental services by congregation and community members, as well as coordination of another St. Andrew mission effort – The Heifer Project – with the villagers. Our goal is to provide them with the resources to gain a greater degree of economic self-sufficiency in the years ahead.
God has demonstrated many times the power of the St. Andrew congregation and the community when it pools its skills, knowledge and contacts to do good for others. With additional community assistance, we can’t help but succeed.
As one congregation member put it· “None of us can solve all of the problems of the world on our own, but if each of us individually and working together, concentrates on helping someone else, collectively, we can make the world a much better place for everyone.”
In the meantime, we encourage additional financial and material contributions to the overall fund for future programs. If you would like to contribute to the ongoing mission in El Salvador, please contact David Irvine at [email protected]