An oasis can be defined as something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. It sounds like something that is worth looking for. It sounds like something many people yearn for.

Today, as part of our Shelter Canada leaders week in El Salvador, we built in a section of San Vicente called Agua Caliente or "Hot Water". It's a place that people from the rest of San Vicente wouldn't normally go. They would be fearful to walk the narrow streets. In a country where violence is extremely high and in a city where violence is extremely high, this community is considered to be a place to avoid - don't end up in Hot Water! Is an oasis an escape to another location from the dread of reality? If so, then this was a time for an oasis, not only because of the turmoil on the outside, but also because of the upheaval that has been going on within me over these last number of days.

Yet here we were today, on our first build day of Leaders Week 2017. 32 people, some experienced leaders and some aspiring team leaders together with a large group of Salvadorian teammates walking into this community with one purpose: build houses that build hope...hope in Jesus!

The team that I was on finished our build early. It was one of those smooth and efficient builds where the ground was flat, the dirt was soft and the shade tree over our heads made working conditions favourable. While it was definitely good medicine to dig again and to build again and to work in rhythm with our Salvadorian friends, these things did not make it an oasis.

Instead it was a simple sign, on the inside wall of the house. On a street that is lined with the tall concrete facades topped by broken bottles or barbed wire and the steel doors that form a mote-like distance between the trouble outside and the family inside, there was this sign hanging on the wall. On it was written Psalm 91...and there I was reminded that an oasis is not an escape from reality but it is the presence of Our Faithful God in the midst of our reality, even when we find ourselves in Hot Water.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”