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Doorknobs Bring Happiness

A photo of some of the members of the CAA/Vancouver SDA mission group repairing the on-campus bridge while volunteering at the ICC project in El Salvador“…just how important these people had become to one another was shown when it came time for the volunteers to leave…”

The Hogar Escuela Adventista campus in El Salvador does not have a maintenance person on staff. So necessary jobs like painting, campus improvements and home repairs can often go undone for quite some time.

That is why in March of 2014 a group of high school students from Columbia Adventist Academy and the Adventist Community Church of Vancouver, WA, spent their spring break in El Salvador. As a combined group of volunteers they helped the families of Hogar Escuela Adventista accomplish those tasks which had been left undone due to lack of resources and manpower.

A photo of some of the members of the CAA/Vancouver SDA mission group building their part of the cinder block wall which will eventually enclose the campus while volunteering at the ICC project in El SalvadorThe students worked on a number of repair and improvement projects while in El Salvador. They constructed 60 feet of the 12-foot, cinder-block wall that encloses part of the campus, painted the staff office complex, made electrical repairs, made plumbing repairs and rebuilt an entire bridge.

They also installed a radio-controlled pump that will automatically keep the holding tank for the campus water supply filled. No longer will the hours necessary to have a staff member monitor the filling of the tank in person be needed.

All of that while working in extremely hot conditions. Drinking water was a very popular commodity. Yet many of the residents of the children’s village commented on how hard the volunteers worked, not wanting to quit till each job was completed despite the heat. The strong servant attitude demonstrated by the students deeply impressed the families in El Salvador.

A group photo of the members of the CAA/Vancouver SDA mission group standing on the bridge they rebuilt while volunteering at the ICC project in El SalvadorBut this trip was so much more than just fixing things. We talk a lot here at ICC about making a difference in, and having an impact on, the lives of others. It was those things, having an impact and making a difference, that were the real benefit to the volunteers and the families in El Salvador.

The impact the volunteers had first became evident during the daily evening worship held for the volunteers. Once the day’s work assignments had been completed the students gathered in a lawn-covered common area on the campus. A group leader would then conduct worship for the volunteers.

During the first worship a few of the residents of the children’s village observed. As the days progressed, more and more residents became active participants. The final few days saw the entire campus as well as the volunteers worshiping together.

The difference made by the volunteers was further manifested in the children living at Hogar Escuela when it became apparent that the volunteers and the kids enjoyed spending time together. Even though few of the volunteers spoke Spanish and even fewer of the Salvadorian kids spoke English, they still communicated and, in just a few days, formed strong friendships.

These friendships resulted in a very special music being given during the second weekend of the group’s stay in El Salvador. A number of volunteers and kids joined together that Sabbath to present music during church. The same song was sung simultaneously in two languages by both students and kids from Hogar Escuela. The music blessed all those who heard this wonderful collaboration.

A photo taken through the window of an airliner showing the aircraft's right wing, part of the frame of the window, the azure-blue sky and a solid layer of clouds far belowThe ultimate expression of just how important these people had become to one another was shown when it came time for the volunteers to leave. With their flight departing in just hours at three-in-the-morning, the volunteers and residents were up very late still talking and sharing (and crying), not wanting to miss a moment of time together.

Parting gifts of hand-made cards with personal messages were given to each of the volunteers as they prepared to leave. Many of the students could be seen still ‘reading’ and enjoying their cards long after their plane had left El Salvador.

So what was it with the doorknobs? Imagine having no doorknobs in your home, including the bathroom door, for years. Even a small breeze could render privacy moot. Not to mention some of the few doorknobs that were actually installed tended to lock you in and trap you in the room you had just entered. That is why the families were very happy to have proper, functioning, useful doorknobs installed in their homes.

It was the admonition by the group’s leadership at the beginning of the trip to follow the words of the Ultimate Example and just “love one another” with a servant’s heart that set the tone and tenor for this adventure. As the students lived out this concept the results were evidenced in changed lives.

You too can have an experience such as these folks had. You can encounter what it means to be physically exhausted from manual labor yet be empowered by spiritual fulfillment.

We mistakenly believe that it is great leaders who change the world. They do not. It is the servants who effect true change by transforming individual lives. Those we habitually assign as leaders too often are powerless to change much more than circumstances while leaving lives untouched.

We may see the servant as being too inconsequential to change circumstance but the servant will, by the virtue of sacrifice, a singular focus on the task at hand, and a willingness to toil regardless of reward, change lives.

If you would like the opportunity to serve and to change lives, to create a mission group whose effect will be felt far beyond any physical accomplishments, you can do so by forming a mission group of your own and contributing your time and labor at one of several ICC’s children’s villages.

To establish an ICC mission group, Contact Jenny Reyes at ICC HQ through her email [] or by telephone at; (800) 422–7729. We look forward to, and deeply appreciate, your service and as always, thanks for all you do for “His Kids!”

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© Copyright April 2014
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