Showing posts from September, 2010

Snow School

It was Christmas time - a perfect time to have a Snow School!

The challenge: teaching about snow in a place where it never snows (except maybe on El Pital, but that is a story yet to happen).

On a warm December day, the teachers in our sister community graciously invited us to come into the school to teach the kids all about snow and winter in the northern United States. Our teaching group consisted of moms, dads and kids from our congregation, most of whom did not speak Spanish.

Easy to organize and lots of fun, Snow School was a great way for us to interact with one another, especially for our kids.

We started with a little teaching to the whole group of about 80 students, explaining that snow falls from the sky, it is cold - the basics. Then we divided the kids up into small groups which rotated every 20 minutes or so, to different activities:

1) Snowflakes - this was an easy one for the kids because they know all about making papel picado. We brought scissors and white paper and…

Tales of Greasy and Grubby - Afternoon with the Queen

One day, Greasy and Grubby were hosted by the queen.

It had been a long walk to the edge of our sister community, down near the old hacienda. We had been to the hacienda once before, and had been told stories about battles and seen bullet holes in the old concrete walls, but we didn't know too much about the families who live nearby. On that day it was our mission, to meet the families who live near the hacienda.

We walked up to the edge of the yard. "Buenas tardes, con permiso?" "Good afternoon, can we come in?"

"Pase, pase, por favor" which literally means, "pass, pass please."

We were greeted by an exuberantly smiling grandmother. Moving slowly but with a bustle of excitement at having company, she pulled 3 chairs together, chirping "Sit down, sit down."

A little guy soon sidled up to our hostess, "My grandson," she said, "I am taking care of him."
He was shy, and as we took turns introducing ourselves and tel…

Mi Milagro

"Oh, mi milagro ... my little miracle."

"Mom, do you have to call me that?"

When our youngest son was 10, we went to El Salvador with members from 4 other church families to celebrate Christmas with our sister church community. It was a real adventure for the kids, staying in a new place with new foods and making new friends. We went Christmas caroling, ate Christmas tamales, and led a "Snow School" (sharing with the Salvadoran kids a whole bunch of fun activities to give them insight into our snowy Christmas times at home).

At 4 a.m. after a lively dance and a fireworks-filled New Years Eve, we boarded 2 old school buses, one big and one little, and headed out to the beach. New Year's Day at the beach is a Salvadoran tradition, and what better way to spend our last day in the country than celebrating at the beach with all of our friends.

We spent the day playing in the waves and the sand, eating lunch at a little restaurant, and finally watching the …

Off the Beaten Path: Festival in a small town

We were on our way to El Mozote, and came upon a small town. The streets were closed around the square, so we decided to stop and enjoy a little slice of life and a little lunch in a quiet town.

Well, normally quiet...but on this day live music from a local folk band blasted out from towers of black speakers. Groups of children with a day off from school were sitting around bright white, concrete picnic tables which surrounded the square. A homemade banner was strung across the church, "Ecological and Nutritional Festival."

We enjoyed the music and the people, and then stopped into Comedor Gloria for a little bit of the local stew and some Kolashampan (yeah, I'm one of those who likes the taste of orange creamsicle soda). We continued to listen to the music while eating and we apparently also served as entertainment for a big group of teens who had also come into the cafe to hang out and drink Cokes. No doubt they were enjoying about my cool gringa accent.

As we drove …

Vanessa's Day of Fun

One day, quite a while back, Greasy and Grubby were invited to Vanessa's Day of Fun.

We were staying in the home of one of our friends in our sister community. At the time, four generations of mostly women and girls lived there, in just a couple of very dark small rooms. At night, the family would take a couple of taper candles, drip wax onto a surface and stick the candles to the wax to provide a bit of light for us so that we could talk well into the night. The night was sometimes a challenge with creepy crawlies, but we had a bed with a mattress, so we could avoid the walls and the floor and sleep pretty well.

One morning, we woke up and it was Vanessa's Dia de Divertido - Day of fun.

Vanessa was pretty little at the time. Her mom's only child. Her mom was young and beautiful, inside and out. She still is. We have been friends for a long time, and Vanessa's Day of Fun was something she wanted to do for us. We cleaned up and gussied up (as best as Greasy and Gru…

Sharing a Beautiful Quinceañera

One of the most beautiful Latin American traditions is the celebration of a young lady's fifteenth birthday. In our sister community, this celebration is centered in the church and in the home. The birthday girl selects an escort, usually her older brother, cousin or close neighbor. The female and male attendants are friends and family members.

Each family has its own way of making this celebration happen, and in a community in which resources are very limited, families are creative. Girls borrow, or rent (for a few dollars), or have their moms make their pink gowns. Sometimes one or more "madrinas" or godmothers volunteer to help provide the cake, the dresses, a ring or a necklace, decorations and party favors. Often, the girls themselves make their small recuerdos or souvenirs. Guests bring small gifts.

One thing that the girls like to do is share their quinceañera photos with their scholarship sponsors. Sometimes they save one of their recuerdos for their spons…

Sunday School Required

One of the rules which the scholarship program directiva has set up in our sister community is this: Kids in the scholarship program must attend Sunday School.

The merging of church and public education in El Salvador is a little different from our North American education experience. Prayer and celebration of Christian holidays is part of public school life, and part of the culture that Europeans brought to the country. The scholarship program allows church resources to help kids to go to public schools, and it is OK to ask kids to attend Sunday School. Parents do not have a problem with this. Sending their kindergarten through sixth grade kids to a wholesome, Bible-centered, safe place on Sunday morning is wonderful, and it's a known expectation from the beginning. For the kids, hanging out with the Lutherans, whether their parents are Roman Catholic or Pentecostal or members of the the Baptist Biblical Tabernacle Friends of Israel, is no big deal. Sunday School is fun. K…