Hearts broken, but not spirits

BLOOMINGTON — When they arrived in El Salvador to build houses for families in need, missionaries from Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington were told that their hearts would break many times as they encountered the Salvadoran people.

Little did they know the first heartbreak would come before they even began their work with the Fuller Center for Housing in San Luis Talpa.

David McKinney, who was to be the group’s prayer leader, collapsed while swimming in the Pacific Ocean the morning after they arrived in El Salvador.

“Our first reaction was, ‘Let’s go home,'” said Holy Trinity parishioner Pat Ginder, who coordinated the June 20-July 1 mission trip with her husband, Tom, and Doretta Herr.

In the end, the decision to stay and complete the work that had brought them to El Salvador was unanimous.

Before they proceeded, however, they remembered their fallen friend in prayer.

Even though McKinney wasn’t with them in person, team members said he was very much present in spirit as they poured their blood, sweat and tears into construction of two concrete block houses in San Luis Talpa. Part of a fourplex, each of the houses has one bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than what they have,” Tom Ginder explained, adding that they were able to do everything but put the roof on the houses.

Because they didn’t have experience with that kind of construction, the Americans had to ask their Salvadoran coworkers for help more than once and “they went out of their way to help us and teach us,” she said.

Some of what they learned had nothing to do with how to build houses, however.

“They’re rich in spirit,” Tom Ginder said of the people they met. “They have love in their families, love in their hearts. You can see it in their eyes.”

They shared that love with the mission team in the form of smiles and hugs, the Ginders said.

“You go over there to give and receive much more,” Tom said.

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