On Saturday, June 15, 2019 I visited Cerna. Cerna is a collection of people who are labelled as poor in society. The people there do not have many things, most only have three sets of clothes.

When our delegation came to their community, the first thing that struck me was their grace. When we arrived, after riding in the back of two different trucks, we met with their community and introduced ourselves to each other. Even though it was in the SCORCHING HEAT, the people of Cerna brought me happiness as each of the 35-ish Salvadorians present welcomed and thanked us for coming.

After the community left, we met with the Directiva. The Directiva and our group discussed their lack of rain and poor agriculture recently. When asked about their biggest needs, they responded with, “Growing vegetables”. The Community of Cerna was interested in selling vegetables. So maybe Heartland could send Chris Schnucker down to El Salvador with some start-up money to teach the Salvadorans to plant vegetables.

After meeting with the Directiva we got on the trucks and handed out supplies, medicine, and food to some of the 46 families in the community. I met an old man named Sebastian, who had survived El Salvador’s Civil War, and I gave him his supplies. That old man and his wife were so happy that when we started talking about mangos he gave me three bags of mangos.

64270034_10214025798655562_5256347527086604288_nA bit of background knowledge, over this trip I have been a mango addict. We go get ice cream, I get the mango flavor. Candy and Drinks, I get the mango flavor. This is how I got the nickname “Mango Man.” There was a tree in his yard that had mangos growing on it. My Mom, Jennifer, and I were talking about how big these mangos were. I mean they were BIG, twice as large as American mangos.

Sebastian, despite the language barrier, gathered that I liked mangoes a lot. So he took me to the mango tree and picked out three bags of mangos for me to take back to the pastoral house. This bag was worth like $20, that was a weeks-worth of his income.

His actions reminded me of the story of the poor widow who went to the temple with Jesus inside and donated all she had. Two pennies. In contrast, the rich men who gave very small amounts of their wealth were not as amazing as this woman. Sebastian, a man living day to day, gave me not a small amount/portion of his wealth to me in exchange for something the cost me a single meal out. This man amazed me with his generosity and caused me to Self-Reflect. I hope this story inspires you and caused you to reflect internally and compare yourself to that man.

Mellamo Ethan Giles