The Savior aka El Salvador! In preparation for this trip we just googled El Salvador and were so surprised to find out it’s one of the most violent countries in the world. Immediately I thought, “oh boy here we go again”. The country recently went through a long civil war and once the war was over all the people knew was war. So the war continues into the streets between two rival satanic worshiping gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18. These are two extremely violent gangs that originated in America and now is the leading cause of most deaths in the country. They kill for no reason and torment the citizens causing them to live in daily fear for their lives.
One Hope flew us in to San Salvador where we met up with our guide and translator Walter. Walter grew up with the civil war and told us all about how the country is currently communist and the need to reach the youth before it’s too late.
This trip we got to travel as a complete 3 man team which made a huge difference on the production side of things having Jerry doing audio.
We started off with a program called 3 Cada Dia or 3 Each Day, a project of the Bible Society. They are a very unique and fun ministry to work with because they upload 3 minute devotional videos everyday on YouTube. Making it fast and easy to get your daily dosage of Gods word. Their host is a famous latin american christian rock singer and the videos are specifically produced to meet the fast pace lives and short attention span of the youth. They get about 5,000 views on YouTube every day not only in El Salvador but in many countries around the world.
We lucked out on the audio side of things cuz not only did we have jerry but they also have a state of the art sound proof recording studio and let’s just say that’s a once in a lifetime environment. On most trips our interviews take twice as long because we have to ask questions multiple times due to airplanes going by, car horns , construction, random noises that are completely beyond our control. But not this time.
We also worked with another organization called Project Moses. The name comes from the story of Moses when he gets rescued as a baby that was floating down the river. The idea is to rescue kids before they get involved with gangs or get killed by a gang members. They specifically work with children in a market located in the middle of the sketchiest area of San Salvador. Most of these kids don’t have a father figure and don’t go to school so they end up roaming around the market playing with the other kids that are being left behind. Talking to some of the moms of the kids was difficult to understand what they were saying behind an alcohol pungent breath. We found out it was some of the kids birthdays so we bought them a cake to celebrate and they cut it into 60 pieces making sure everyone got a little bit . We were celebrating birthdays of the previous month, current month and following month .
A birthday boy and girl shared their testimonies with us and left us on the edge of our seat as they told us about how project Moses has been a miracle in their lives. They love the English and art classes as well as just receiving love from the volunteers that dedicate so much of their lives to these children. You can still spot a hint of violence in some of their actions but the volunteers tell us that these are completely different kids from the ones they first met.
We took out our two testimony kids to a Mexican restaurant. We ordered a meter long steak and meter long sandwich. We will never forget the look in their eyes when they saw the meal on the table . They were in utter shock and blown away . At first We thought that’s natural, because it’s not everyday any of us even see a 3 foot long steak! But little did we know this was their first time ever going to a restaurant! EVER! Do you remember your first time eating out? It’s crazy! We introduced them to chimichuri sauce and let them pick out whatever they wanted for dessert. Their smiles were literally ear to ear , just stamped on their face specially when the whole restaurant joined us in singing happy birthday to them. They were a bit shy at first but after our meal together we couldn’t get them off of us, begging us to stay longer.
A few challenges we ran into was how we were there to film kids but filming kids is actually illegal in El Salvador. So we let them film us :). It seems like it would have been easier to win the lottery than to get the parents permission to film their kids. The market was also a very noisy environment . So for the first time we couldn’t have produced either video without the two separate ministries working together. We shot the interviews for project Moses at the Bible Society and used the market kids for broll in the 3 Cada Dia video.
At the end of each day we were warned not to walk around by ourselves shooting broll like we usually do in fear that we would get kidnaped or killed. One month before our arrival a French videographer got murdered by the gangs. Hearing that deffinately didn’t make us feel any safer. We were blessed to find an amazing hotel built in the 80s but renovated with solar panels and surrounded by beautiful gardens that allowed us to ease our minds from the constant fear of being shot while shooting.
The hotel room was more of an apartment style and gave us plenty of room to unwind and catch up on some edits. Please keep El Salvador in your prayers. We are no longer there but they still are and still live in fear and darkness everyday…