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Small Gifts of Hope as Another Storm Approaches

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As the rainy season typically comes to a close in El Salvador by November, the seasonal change has upon occasion caused horrific storms and tragedies across Central America, including in El Salvador.  As we freshly mourn the loss of life and homes caused by the landslide in Nejapa, we are watching a category 4 hurricane ETA bear down on the coast of Nicaragua.  El Salvador's Ministry of the Environment has issued a red alert warning of flooding and landslides.  Prayers are needed for wise preparations, smooth evacuations, and safety during the storm.  If you have not yet read about the landslide which occurred in Nejapa, you may wish to read the story I wrote a few days ago:  Landslide in Nejapa .  The story includes a little bit about Fe y Esperanza Lutheran Church, which is located in Nejapa. As I mentioned in the first story, the Salvadoran Lutheran church orchestrated a rapid response with emergency items for families impacted by the landslide.  Yesterday, some of our friends i

Landslide in Nejapa

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     Look up there.  Do you see where it is brown?  That used to be forest.  Coffee trees and forest.  As the farms below were taken for [sugar] cane, the farmers needed to plant their corn further up the mountain.  As the water is depleted in the valley, the whole zone is drier.  Trees die.  Trees are cut down.  The forest disappears.  If we don't take care of the aquifers, if we don't take care of the forests, there will be disasters.   Pastor Santiago Rodriguez Photo of the mudslide in Nejapa (Diario el Mundo) Photo of inspectors looking through homes after the mudslide.  (La Prensa Grafica) At 11:30 PM on Thursday, October 30th, families living near a wadi named TerraplĂ©n in the municipality of Nejapa were awakened by a thundering sound and shaking like an earthquake.  A landslide of rock, mud and vegetation was pushed down the gully by a great force of water - the result of torrential rains over the San Salvador volcano.  The slide left a path of destruction about 4 km in

Family Circle - Little Ones Learning Remotely

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The church in our Salvadoran community has a preschool.  Well, not exactly a preschool in the way we in the US think of a preschool.  It is called Footprints Family Circle and is designed for little ones with their grown-ups, from the time of pregnancy until the children go off to kindergarten.  During their first few years in elementary school, the children can come back to the Family Circle one day a week for "reinforcements" in reading and math. The Family Circle is led by Karla, a young mom from the church who has received training in early childhood education.  She has the support of an experienced teacher who is her mentor and another teacher who is a recent college graduate with a degree in education.  During "normal times," The Family Circle meets 2 days each week at the church, plus a third day for reinforcement teaching.  The grown-ups include a group of moms, a couple of dads and some grandparents who are all remarkably dedicated.  When the pandemic cause

Partnering During A Pandemic: Catching Up on Hope in the Midst of a Mess

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As we in North America are emerging from summer into fall in an era of pandemic, in a season of planetary rebellion against climate change marked by epic fires and floods, in a new scholastic year in which children, parents and teachers are greatly stressed, and in a time of societal convulsion fevered by political strife, we are grateful for the faithful prayers and accompaniment of our brothers and sisters in El Salvador.  Our prayer chains are connected. Photos are sent this way and that.  Birthday greetings show up on Facebook walls. Little pieces of news about our children, our elders, and our churches travel via social media while people cannot travel at all. In our messy, messy world, this quiet, mutual accompaniment is beautiful, faithful, and encouraging.   Beautiful, beautiful.  My heart is jumping with joy.  I feel so happy that we are a great communion of partnership.  For so many years of partnership, with all the details that we have shared in our lives, this prayer was a

Interrupted

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Women's Month kick-off at Resurrection in early March The month of March is a special month for women in the Salvadoran Lutheran Church.  Women take the lead in bringing issues such as oppression, discrimination, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and abuse during childbirth to study groups and the pulpit.  Not only do the women speak plainly and honestly about their own experiences in El Salvador, but they use the World Council of Churches materials for International Women's Day and the World Day of Prayer to highlight women's issues across the globe.  This year's theme, inspired by Jesus healing the paralyzed man as recorded in John 5: 2-9, calls for women (and all) to rise up for oneself and for others, to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, improve situations and celebrate achievements. This annual, intentional opening of a space of freedom and leadership for women is like a jolt of energy which helps to sustain the spirits of women in the Salvadoran Lutheran Church as th

Spicy Smoke, A Cat and A Farewell Hug

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We received some sad news.  Gonzalo died. Gonzalo and his wife Lucia were among the founding families in the community.  They were among the first to meet us, among the first to host us in their home, among the first whose names and smiles were etched into our hearts. We haven't seen Gonzalo for a while.  It has been hard to visit homes in the community since 2013 when the gangs made some strict rules about that.  Gonzalo and Luci lost a son to gang violence.  Every now and then I see Lucia selling food from a little table out in the street.  Her face lights up the moment she recognizes a friend from the hermandad (sister church).  Lucia has always been a good cook.  One time, almost 20 years ago, my friend and I spent a week walking from home to home in the community, visiting with families, and I wrote about a particular visit with Luci... Lucia invited us in.  She gestured for us to sit down on the sofa, near to the fire so we could chat while she continued her cooking.  I remem

Cancelled Trips does not mean Cancelled Ministry

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As we discuss some of the challenges we are facing in partnering during a pandemic, travel seems like perhaps one of the lesser worries on our minds.  After all, most of us are still trying to figure out safe ways to see our kids or grandkids or parents who are across town.  Packing up, getting on a plane, and traveling to El Salvador is pretty far down the planning list. In the Salvadoran Lutheran Church solidarity network, the US summer is prime time for travel.  Many delegations visit during late July and early August to celebrate partnership anniversaries and to participate in the annual August festivities.  Of course, in 2020, these visits are all cancelled or postponed.  Throughout the year, delegations visit in coordination with different ministry programs which focus on Sunday School teacher training, health education, health and wellness in communities, sewing projects, potable water advocacy and projects, agricultural projects, community sanitation, recreation activities for