Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Wow... just 12 days left in El Salvador... That's a weird feeling. It really hit me as we were walking through the streets during soul-winning on Tuesday. The neighborhood we were handing out tracts in was one of the first neighborhoods that I went soul-winning in when I first came to this country. I remember those experiences, I remember those days... I remember being enchanted by the plant life and the houses, the people and the places... I'm still very fond of it all.

Teaching. That was the only reason I didn't want to be here when I first came. I didn't realize how much they wanted someone to teach the kids about the language of English. I can't teach, I couldn't teach, I was afraid to teach... but I learned and adapted. The only way that any of those kids will retain what I taught is by God's grace. Teaching frightened me above all else; I loathed it. I loved inviting others to church, I loved helping in services, I loved being in the ministry of the church. School? I was afraid. Teachers have a responsibility that is higher than most. They are part of the force that drives the world. My world looked so much like chaos that I was afraid of passing anything on to others. Why should I be chosen for this task? There are others more qualified for this than me. There are those who *want* to teach, that is their passion. But then I realized, others didn't come, others were not here... I came, I was here, I was... available.

God likes availability over qualifications or degrees. I'm still learning that. I heard it over and over again in college: God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He called me into ministry and forced me to do what I thought was impossible. I still don't believe that I'm fit to be a teacher, but the real lesson here was not to become a teacher. The lesson was about being available.

Life teaches us all kinds of things. Practical things, impractical things, what works, what doesn't. College was the book work; El Salvador was the field test. This is one of those places that I would *love* to return to someday and, Lord-willing, I shall!

I have learned in the short (almost 24) years of my life that every place you go will teach you something and/or become a stepping stone in shaping you. The Christian school I grew up in taught me the basics of life. My church taught me the doctrines that would shape my beliefs. The mission trip I took to the Philippines in Jr. High led me to go to West Coast Baptist College. There were many lessons between high school and my 2nd year of college that reshaped my disciplines. I learned maturity and willingness to let God lead my life. My jobs in college taught me skills and how to work with others, even if our beliefs didn't exactly coincide with one another. West Coast taught me the book work, the ability to study God's Word, the proofs that would carve my beliefs in stone, the will to keep going despite fear and personal doubt.

El Salvador. This has been my most recent lesson. A lesson in patience, a lesson in willingness, a lesson in leadership and initiative, a lesson in thinking creatively, a lesson in cultural difference and language studies, a lesson in taking things as they come and not becoming wrathful about changed plans, a lesson in independence (every place teaches me something new about that!), and a lesson in grace.

I know not what my next step will be. Where I will go, what I will do... but God knows. God knows and He has a plan. You don't have to know God's plan to follow Him.
Stay in His will, He'll show it to you soon enough.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

An update... FINALLY!!!

It's amazing how your mind can just put things off like it's nothing sometimes. Five months in El Salvador and I haven't posted an actual written update.
I apologize, everyone.

I've been meaning to post something and I have a couple of unpublished notes, one that was completely political and unnecessary and one that was so full of my updates that it could've been a book! El Salvador has truly been a blessing and I feel like I've done so much that I've completely forgotten that there's another world away from this. Obviously, Facebook brings me back to the reality. We have presidential candidates that people can't stand, police are being targeted, and everyone who's anyone is considered a bigot for something. It's tragic really... watching my country from the comfortable distance of about 1500 miles away.

I love El Salvador, I really do. I remember when I first came here... There was another girl here 2 weeks before me and she left 2 weeks after I arrived. I have to admit, I was jealous when she left. It wasn't that I didn't like the country or the people, but teaching? It wasn't my forte, I wasn't comfortable with it. I didn't want to teach, the kids didn't even seem to want to listen to me! I confided in one of the ladies at the school, "Honestly, I'm jealous that she gets to leave! I don't think I can teach by myself!"

Fast forward to 5 months later: here I am at the end of the school year, finals are in a little over a week, and all of my lesson plans, quizzes, and tests are completed and ready to go! (What a difference planning really makes!) The kids still have trouble listening sometimes and I still struggle with classroom presence, but they and I are learning from each other. Some grades are easier to teach than others. Some kids are more self-disciplined than others. I've been forced to learn a lot about myself while I've been here. I suppose I can see why I scored so high in teaching on a spiritual gifts test, but I also scored high in mercy which means I'm a little too lenient in the classroom sometimes... They just test the small amount of patience that I do have so much!

I enjoy being here though. I'd love to stay longer if it was in God's will, but for now I believe it is in His will to return home. I've been thinking about that a lot lately... going home. There'll be no end to the questions and curiosities of everyone. "How was El Salvador? Did you like it there? What was it like spending 6 months in a foreign country? Hey, tell us about your trip!"
My response to all of the above: "How much time do you have?"

I know that my pastor is going to ask me to speak in church. For 4 months I've been trying to think of what I'd say. I'll have just spent 6 months in El Salvador... how does one sum that up in 10-20 minutes???

This place is amazing. Sure, I can't walk out on the street by myself, but I'm not a social butterfly anyway... I'm perfectly happy coming home to a quiet house every afternoon! The church here is growing and so are the people! I get to go out soul-winning twice a week with the church family and have even learned a little Spanish that way. "Buenas días! Somos de la Iglesia Bautista Emanuel." They tried to teach me the words for, "Here's an invitation!", but I keep forgetting them so it's easier to just turn to my partner and let them continue the conversation. One of those conversations ended in a prospect for the bus route, praise the Lord!

The church bus routes here are how a majority of the people get to church. Almost everyone in Cojutepeque walks to wherever they're going. There's still quite a few cars in the city; I get awakened every morning by the hustle and bustle of the street (it includes a lot of honking!). The Fridenstines have several vehicles for the routes and other purposes. Pastor told me when I first got here that you always take everything that you don't want to lose out of the car with you when we get to the church/school. Why? Because they're constantly changing vehicles! The day to day usage varies a lot. Recently, the Fridenstines were able to get the paperwork through for their short bus (the only true "bus" on their routes!) and it's been working fairly well after having sat in a parking lot for 3 years! They also just sold their van and are hoping to buy a newer one at some point. All of the ministry vehicles get pretty worn with so much use, but it's a blessing to see all of the people in church on Sundays and Wednesday nights.

Mrs. Fridenstine keeps up with the attendance on Sunday morning. It's such a blessing to have lunch with them on Sunday afternoons. I get to hear about how many were in church (150 on a good day!) and some of the ministry blessings of the week. There's always something going on here; El Salvador is truly ripe for the harvest! With that thought in mind, the Fridenstines would love to have some guy interns come down. HINT! HINT! to all of those men who want to see the mission field for what it is!

On a more personal note, this missionary family has been amazing to work with. Mrs. Fridenstine has a great passion and a love for the people of El Salvador. I recently attended her first time teaching a seminary class: Christian Womanhood. It was a week-long class for the ladies in the church. As always, she was quite transparent with them about what it means to be the wife of someone in ministry. I've heard it said time and time again that how much a man can minister and how successful he is depends on his wife. A more true statement has never been given.
Occasionally, there are moments when I get to really listen to her heart for the ministry here. Sometimes, when her sons are with Pastor and it's just her and I in the car, she talks about ministry. Some of the hopes, some of the sorrows, but always with God's perspective at the forefront. There's a reason the ministry here enjoys the successes that it does. Not solely because of one woman, but because one woman is willing to follow and submit with just as much passion and fervor as her husband. She is a role model worthy of the highest respect and honor that one could give.

I have learned so much here and there is so much more for me to learn! I wonder if I could really be as involved in ministry as the Fridenstines are, but it is only by the grace of God that I could experience the same success in my own life. I'm still struggling to figure out what God wants me to do when I go home. I know that's going to be the biggest question in everyone's mind when I get back (after all the questions about my trip, that is!). This trip has been a crescendo in my life. It's as if, after my one-year avoidance of education between high school and college, God grabbed my hand and pulled me up, higher and higher, through Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years of college, through six months in El Salvador... and now? Well, it would be tragic if He dropped me, but we all know that God is *NOT* in the business of dropping people.

Do I know what my future holds? No. Do I know where I'm going after I come home? No. Do I need to know? Eventually... but I'll leave that enlightenment up to the Divine Creator of the Universe.

"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."
Psalm 40:2

"But he knoweth the way that I take:
when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Job 23:10

My life was not meant to live in stalemate. The Fridenstines helped me to realize that after asking about my plans for when I go home. Yes, I had thought about going home, living with my parents for a year, earning money and hoping for a ring (yes, yes, ya'll, I wanna be married, but there's these things called "rules" and my dad has one about graduating college and another about having a steady job. Good things to wait for in the life of my best friend.), but they reminded me that I should continue in ministry. If I stop, even for a year, where will my passion have gone? Will these six months have been for nothing more than just chocking up another missions trip to my resumé? I've been thinking a lot about this lately and it's true. My life can only keep getting better and better from here. God is working in my life, instilling more and more discipline in me, teaching me so much about life, patience, teaching, learning, compassion, love... there's so much I have left to learn and going back to some "normal" job is probably not in His plan!

Sorry, I'm really not doing well at bringing this blog entry to a grand conclusion. I'm like my dad, I ramble *a lot* on subjects I'm passionate and fired-up about, but as you can tell, this trip has greatly influenced my life. Things can only get better from here. Yes, there will always be struggles, but that's what happens when you "level-up". You know what they say: "New levels, new devils."

I have loved my time here and I've learned so much. Thank you to all who have supported me, it's meant so much to me while I've been here! I love this country and I love these people! If I could do it all over again, I would. I would encourage anyone to go on a trip like this. It's the biggest blessing you could ever receive! It's traveling, it's serving, it's seeing a heart for others like none other. Try it sometime, I promise you won't regret it!
Stephanie in El Salvador

Saturday, June 4, 2016

For my good and for His glory!

June 3rd, 2016
First day in El Salvador

Wow... What a day!

Actually, what a night! It was quite an adventure for me... God continues to put me under pressure in new, interesting ways. Flying internationally by myself is intimidating enough without flight delays and acts of well, God Himself!

If I had any one thing that I had been concerned about in my travels, it was lost luggage... and while that did happen, it was the beginning of the end of my struggles [addendum to this entry because I wrote it yesterday and I'm publishing it today: my luggage is still lost. Please pray that it will be returned to me soon!].

Everything would have gone smoothly... if I had picked another airport to fly from. But no, I had to pick Texas, where thunderstorms cause runway delays... Though it was actually pretty comical for a while!

We landed in an alternate airport (on an alternate flight because the previous one was delayed) to refuel and wait to land at the original airport (that was experiencing a thunderstorm). While we landed, refueled, and waited for the next move, it was completely, blindingly sunny. About an hour later and it started to rain... then came the lightning and thunder... Now we were stuck at the alternate airport for the same reason that we could not land at the original one! How's that for a plot twist???

Finally, we made it to Houston (we had been stuck on the runway in San Antonio). But surprise... the flight I was supposed to be on took off while we were landing. I hadn't quite started panicking yet, but I was getting kinda close to it. I looked online and United still had a flight to El Salvador that had been delayed.

"Perfect!" would think...

The gate turned out to be a New Zealand flight instead! That's when I got nervous... Now I'd have to wait in a customer service line with 200+ other people waiting to find new flights. At this point, it was getting late into the evening (I was up at 3 am to fly out here and it was now around 10 pm in Texas). Exhausted and alone, with no one to save my spot in line so that I could eat or rest or do anything, I began to cry. I knew that I had to keep going, even though I desperately wanted to just go home. Long ago, God gave me a desire to always finish what I start and that's kept me going for a majority of my life. The situation reminded me of the special I sang in church last Sunday: For my good and for His glory. 

"It's ok to pour out your heart to God, but never turn your back on Him."

Conclusion to this story: While in line for a customer service desk that I had been redirected to, I found that flight to El Salvador at a gate near my spot in the line. Though I did lose my baggage due to the last minute nature of the flight, I did finally arrive in El Salvador! And even if it was a long and hard journey, I know that God's blessings are right around the corner!

In Christ,

Stephanie Mitchell

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Support Letters

Ahhhh... That satisfying sigh... After weeks of school work and job work, I finally found time to really put my nose to the grindstone on these support letters! Hopefully, I will have them all sent out by next week, Lord-willing. I have to say thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for putting up with me in the past couple of weeks. I have been majorly stressed about so many things. School is beginning to catch up with me and everything that I need to do before I graduate is slowly accumulating. Even as I write this post, I'm on Facetime with my boyfriend who is printing out my graduation invites! Shout out to #elementgd for all of his time, effort, and hard work, they turned out great!
I still have a lot to accomplish in the next two months. I still need to purchase my tickets for El Salvador and get a billion other things in order. (Don't worrry, I've started a to-do list so I have a little less reason to panic... for now!)
Please pray for wisdom and guidance in this time... and some prayer-given sanity would be a nice bonus as well! Pray for the souls of those in El Salvador that possibly, in two months, I could be reaching!
Praise the Lord, I'm graduating soon!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Crown of Hope

Ever have those moments when you begin to wonder, "God, what *are* you doing?"

Yeah? Well for me, today is one of those moments. I haven't been getting many hours at work lately and here comes the ultimate bombshell: I'm sick and one of the few days that I'm scheduled for this week is tomorrow... which I may have to call in for since I don't want to cough all over everyone's food (I work food prep in a restaurant).

El Salvador... the trip of a lifetime... the trip that could be the key to finding out what God wants for my life... the trip I have to raise a total of $4,000 for... I'm hoping to get $3,000 of that from outside sources and I was hoping to provide myself with the first thousand for plane tickets and whatever else is needed. But now... now I'm asking God what He's doing.

I wanted to be able to contribute to my own cause, not to just beg others for money. Is that so small of a request? Just to raise $3,000 in 3 months would be a miracle. Now is God asking me to have faith in Him for all $4,000?

Maybe there's a lesson in all of this...

Over the past few days, I feel like I've been hearing the same phrase over and again: "It's not about you."

My boyfriend and I had a wonderful time at our college Spring Banquet. That's where I first heard the phrase. The theme of the banquet was, "It's all about you." but the message behind it was, "It's all about Him" (obviously the "Him" being Jesus Christ).

Maybe God is trying to convict me about something here... something important... something I try *my* best to reflect and fail every time...

I try to make myself part of the solution... I say, "God, I'll let you step in for most of my needs, but I wanna help!" Helping isn't bad in and of itself, but what if I'm putting myself before Him? My faith is not bigger than my fears. I always want to have a back-up plan just in case I'm trusting God for the wrong thing. But if I'm trusting Him for the right thing, it will all fall into place on its own... Maybe I just need to recognize that.

Again and again, I am reminded that my name means "crown", but constantly I struggle to understand the significance behind it... A crown is a symbol, but a symbol of what? A symbol of royalty... but if I am to be a symbol of royalty, of what sort of royal symbol am I? A symbol of righteousness? Of faith? Of peace? Of what??? My King is the King over all kings... I suppose a little faith in Him wouldn't be too much to ask...
After all, everything I do should not be meant to please myself, but to please Him.

Maybe this is simply a test of faith. After all, " is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb 11:1)

Maybe I am meant to be a crown of faith... My needs have always been provided, I have always had the protection of God on my life (trust me, if I didn't, I would know!), and no matter how worried I get about things, they always work out the way God intended. Maybe this is yet another of God's intentional moves. And as a crown, I should simply shine for Him, no matter how many clouds I can't see through.

I wasn't sure if I was going to really publish this online for you all to see, but honestly, if I ask God to work, then why should I be nervous about making a claim on God's faithfulness?

"When we work, we work.
When we pray, God works."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Haven't posted in quite some time...
Guess that means that it's time for some updates!

Obviously I've started my last semester of college (part of the reason why I haven't updated in a while). It's going well, I'm enjoying my classes. An easy class schedule has made my days a little less stressful time-wise, but considering all that I need to accomplish before I graduate has created some stress in that direction.

Progress towards El Salvador:
At this moment, I believe that God is leading me toward this trip. I have prayed that God would direct me and that if this is not His will, He would put a stumbling block in my way. So far in prayer, fasting, counselling, and etc., all of these have been pointing in a positive direction. Every time I mention it, there is no opposition, only positivity (it's actually part of the reason I've been so nervous!).

I am currently in the process of getting my adult passport (please pray that there will be no issues with this as the timing is so short) and I am also trying to save money for the plane tickets. I will also need to research travel insurance to see what will best suit my needs in the country. There is much to plan for in making this trip a reality.

On this final note, I am enjoying the fact that this is my final semester. Exciting things are coming: Senior photos and the Spring Banquet this Friday... Praise the Lord! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Details, details

So I'm sure everybody wants to know: how did you even come up with the idea of El Salvador???

Well, for one thing, I didn't "come up with the idea". Actually, I had no clue where my life was heading after college. I pondered that for a very long time, to be honest. I couldn't decide if I should go back to Washington for a few months, then back to California for work or just go back to Washington and just come to visit my boyfriend during his breaks from school. I didn't know if I should try to seek for a position in my home church or another church in Washington. I had high hopes for Interview Days at my college, but my hopes were dashed when those hiring realized I was a Missions Major [they were all looking for Education Majors]. I was disappointed.

I had seen a slide about El Salvador internships during the Missions Conference that Lancaster Baptist was having. This was prior to Interview Days and I pondered the idea a bit, but I wasn't completely sure. I mean, going to a foreign country for 6 months? "Well, I *am* a Missions Major after all, but... well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to talk to them... right?"
So I did.

We talked. I got their email address. And that's where it all began.

I told my boyfriend about the possibility. He thought it would be awesome if I did get to go... After all, he's been to El Salvador a handful of times because of his family ties.

I was a little pensive, but hey, it'd be a great opportunity... So, I asked my parents to pray about it.

I told myself that if I didn't forget about it in a month, maybe I should consider the opportunity... That way, I would know for sure that it wasn't just some passing fancy...
I emailed the missionaries regardless just to get some information...

Then, I knew I had to tell my sister [I live with her and her family, after all!] so I found a calm time to tell her about it. She was so excited for me! I wasn't expecting quite so much excitement, but I guess that fueled my interest in this experience.

From then on, I just kept thinking about it. I even used El Salvador as the basis for a paper I wrote for Cultural Anthropology!

Ever since then, I've been praying, seeking some counsel, keeping in contact with the missionaries, and getting more excited every day!

As great as this opportunity is, I still have some very real prayer needs. 
First of all, I'd like to keep getting counsel from a few people, I just need to plan out times to talk to them! Pray for guidance and scheduling.
Also, a trip to El Salvador does not pay for itself, so finances is still a need. At this point, I'd rather not put out too much about finances, until I'm confident that this is where God wants me to go, but if you wish to help, I'd set aside any donations that you might consider giving. Even if I don't go, there are other needs that I know people have, including other graduating college Seniors at West Coast Baptist College.

Thank you so much for your support/encouragement during this critical time in my life! I am always thankful for the prayers of others.

God's blessings,