This is a long post and we hope you read it in its entirety. Our family has some great news to share with you!
God is writing a great story. I read this today as I thought about the last three years of living in El Salvador. I remember our first night in the country. We arrived to an empty house with strange smells and strange noises. As John Mark put the kids to bed they each said to him “I want to go home.” As he and I drifted off to sleep, with tears in my eyes I also said that I wanted to go home. On that first night, the idea of home meant California, not El Salvador. Yet over the past three years, El Salvador has become our home. God has written a beautiful story, full of His faithfulness in our lives. We have grown to love this place and the people who live here. When we were in California in May, Rebekah said what we were all thinking, “can we go home to El Salvador?” Her question speaks to the connectedness we feel for El Salvador and our contentment in knowing that we have been serving exactly where God has wanted us to serve.
God has been faithful to us in so many ways here in El Salvador, and continues to make our story unique and beautiful as we follow His lead. It was God who led us to El Salvador, it was God who prepared the way for us to be here, and it has been God through His people that has made it possible for us to serve in El Salvador for the past three years. In that time the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), under the larger umbrella of ENLACE, has provided a space in which students from universities in the U.S. can come and learn about issues related to poverty, poverty alleviation, the churches role in community transformation, and so much more. We have been so blessed to have been a part of these initial steps in the CCT, and look forward to what God will do in and through the Center as we continue to promote study abroad learning experiences at our partner universities.
As you know, while we were in California, we were able to celebrate John Mark’s graduation. After nine long years of school, he finally completed the work necessary to earn a PhD in theology, ethics, and culture. John Mark had joined this program with the idea that at some point he would teach at the university level either in the U.S. or abroad. What we were not expecting was that he would receive an e-mail from Vanguard University while we were in town asking that he appear on campus for an interview in the department of religion. Two weeks later, Vanguard called us here in El Salvador to formally offer John Mark a position as Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics. After prayerfully considering the invitation, speaking with our families, mentors, our Director of ENLACE and pastor, we have made the decision to accept the position and transition back to Vanguard later this summer. John Mark will need to report to the university on August 15th and begin teaching classes the following week. If you ask him, he will tell you that this has been the hardest decision of his life, even harder than asking me to marry him.
Although this move means that we will be leaving El Salvador, we are still committed to ENLACE and the CCT. We have been a part of the ENLACE family since our first trip with Vanguard students in 2007. John Mark is continuing to serve as the Academic Director of the Center through this transitional period, and is working with both Vanguard and Southeastern University in Florida, to facilitate a January learning experience for Masters level students, and potentially a summer program in 2018 for undergraduate students. He is also working closely with the ENLACE research department, contributing towards the completion of a database that will be used to store community baseline studies, as well as impact studies. These studies help ENLACE understand the tangible and relational changes that are taking place in partner communities throughout El Salvador.
It is amazing to think about the ways in which God invites us to participate in what He is already doing in the world, and humbling to consider that He would invite us to join Him at all. While it is clear to us that God is leading us back to Vanguard, it is sometimes difficult to understand why until we can look back and see what He has done in the process. While we are excited for this new opportunity and season, we are also overwhelmed by the grief of saying goodbye. There are still great needs to be met in El Salvador, and throughout the world, and even if our hearts desire is to stay, the only response one came make to the leading of God is to say yes Lord, and follow.
As we share this news with you, we also need to ask for your continued prayer and support. As you know, we came to El Salvador with nothing more than the suit cases we carried, and the clothes on our backs. We will be returning with about the same, maybe even less. Quite honestly, it is overwhelming to consider what it will take to reestablish life in California, not to mention Orange County. We have lived on faith, and the support of people like yourselves for the past three years, yet it seems almost impossible to return. All we can do is continue to trust in the Lord’s faithfulness.
Since we will still be engaged with so much of the work in El Salvador, ENLACE has extended our missionary affiliate position to continue to receive financial support through December 16 of this year. This will be a necessary aid with our transition.
Would you prayerfully consider journeying with us?
- Would you consider giving a one-time gift to support our family?
- Or would you consider giving a VISA, Target, gas or grocery gift cards?
- Would you continue to pray for us as begin to rebuild a life in California?
Although John Mark has a position at Vanguard it will take some time before we see a pay check, or be able to take advantage of healthcare benefits. I will also need to find a full-time job in order to meet the needs of the family. We will need to find a place to live, a car, and household items like beds, dressers, bookshelves, dishes, pots and pans, etc.… As many of you may remember we sold everything to move to El Salvador. We do not expect a full home to be set up in the next 6 months, but we are hoping for the bare essentials.
If you are willing and able to give a onetime gift to help us get established again please let us know so that we can budget accordingly. Over the next month we will be working to sell what we have in El Salvador, wrap up a few projects at the ENLACE offices, and fly back to California on August 1. Your continued support through the end of the year will allow us the opportunity to reestablish ourselves in Costa Mesa, and provide me with the opportunity to search for a job, without the added stress of not having the resources to do so. While John Mark will continue to volunteer with ENLACE and the CCT, our last support check will need to be cut before the end of the year.
Our story is not over, God is simply in the process of writing the next chapter of His great adventure. As always, we are so thankful for everyone who has loved us in so many different and unique ways over the last three years as we served in El Salvador. We look forward to what God is going to do in each of our lives as we transition back to California. We look forward to staying in contact in the months and years ahead!
All donations need to be in the ENLACE office by December 16, 2017 in order for us to receive your gift. Would you please notify me with your decision so we can budget accordingly? We look forward to continue telling of the story of God’s great faithfulness.
How to give:
*Download and mail in our Giving Form Here.
*Give on our secure website at:
*Mail gift cards to:
John Mark and Cristina Robeck
Please email me for address Click here to email
** Please note that gift cards are personal gifts and will not receive a tax receipt
The Robeck Family
John Mark, Cristina, Rebekah and Caleb