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Showing posts from October, 2010

Pilgrimage to the Chamulapa

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It was my friend's turn to have a vision . . .
A river. No walls. God's church. All are welcome.

Sometimes the mystery of God's work is not revealed until we look back. Our first group visit to our sister church community in El Salvador had included a midweek medical clinic and worship with the celebration of baptism. Our next visit was a celebration of Christmas with more baptisms. Our next visit included home visits which brought the community into the church for a night worship in the rain. As we we were planning for the next visit, God gave us the thought of uniting a mission of healing with the spiritual healing of baptism at a worship to which all were invited and all would feel welcomed.

I saw us at the river - at the Chamulapa.

When we talked with our sister church pastor, he agreed that the Chamulapa was the perfect place for a service of baptism. Those who were afraid to come into the Lutheran Church, because of their Roman Catholic roots or the church's…

Day of the Child

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During October, Salvadoran communities celebrate the Day of the child. Officially, the celebration date is October 1st, but it seems like the whole month of October is an opportunity for schools and churches and communities to have special fiestas, field trips, and educational events which lift up the well-being of children.

This week, I have been receiving emails from some of the Lutheran Church sister communities. Each message has been a positive expression of the cooperation which is taking place between the federal government, local officials, heath workers, youth groups, and the church. Kids are having fun and staying safe, receiving check-ups, eating cake, laughing with clowns, playing with toys, breaking piƱatas, singing, dancing, watching puppet shows, eating cookies and jello and working with teachers to learn more about the rights of children.

One of my favorite Day of the Child memories was a visit Greasy and I had with our sister church school. The kindergarten, first an…

The Day of the Grandma Queens

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We were gathering up our things and getting ready to leave La Palma, when one of our group shouted out, "Look, a parade!"

We were treated to the parade of the Grandmother Queens. People crowded along the main street through town to watch a line of decorated pick-up trucks, each one carrying a special Grandma Queen. We waved and clapped as the Grandmothers and their entourages passed by: The Queen of the Sewing, The Queen of the House, The Queen of Nursing, The Queen of the kitchen, and The Queen of ... well, we weren't sure, but she had a truck filled with white balloons. Each queen proudly wore a sash and waved her queenly wave.

As we watched the regal and beautiful grandmothers pass by, my friend and I were reminded of a special afternoon spent with a lovely Grandma Queen in our sister community. Now we understood a little better the honor and beauty of the Day of the Grandma Queens.

After the parade, our Salvadoran pastor gave his mother a beautiful bouquet of calla…

Medicine Run

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My photos are organized into folders. Layers and layers of folders. Under "Everything El Salvador" is a long list of photos by year and by month, and then by place or event. In this labyrinth there is one folder which holds just 3 photos. It is entitled, "The Medicine Run." The photos do not really tell the whole story - a story which perfectly illustrates the kind of crazy, "how did I end up here?" kind of experiences in which I often find myself when I am in El Salvador.

We had been staying in our sister church community for some days, running our sixth Mission of Healing. This had become an annual event during which we teamed up with local health care workers to examine several hundred women and children and men, to provide care for acute infections, and to provide families with basic medications to relieve pain, reduce fever and promote good health. Reiki healing, shoulder massage, hugs and prayer were a big part of the healing experience. Bec…

Blog Action Day: No Hay Agua (There's No Water)

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No hay agua.
No hay agua.
The phrase echos through one house, then another. There's no water.

Our sister community was born in 1996 as a resettlement community of in-country war refugees. Back then, the water came from "the dirty river" - a stream of mostly run-off water that gathered at the bottom of the hill. Or, women could walk an hour to a spring-fed river - a lovely gushing water source during the rainy season, and a trickle through a dry ditch during the dry season. A great place to play and bathe and scrub laundry on the rocks along the stream.

The first well was dug at the bottom of the hill near the dirty river. Women dipped their buckets into the well, filled their plastic jugs and carried water up the hill. The installation of a windlass was a good improvement. The installation of an electric pump was even better.

A few more years passed, the community grew, and water sources were placed in the pathways. It didn't take long for the development of a pl…

Off the Beaten Path: Fire and Water

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"Let's go check out some fun places."

I love it when I have some free time and my friends in El Salvador have some free time and they offer to take me to the fun spots. This is really excellent for someone who leads delegations on a regular basis, and this is how I found out about the sports complex in Nejapa.

We drove through the town and got a little history lesson about the tradition of boys throwing fireballs at each other: "Las Bolas De Fuego" every 31st of August. The historical story is that the local volcano erupted more than 300 years ago and forced the villagers of the old Nejapa village to flee and resettle at its current location. The community remembers this event by watching boys throw balls (balled-up rags soaked in a flammable liquid) at each other. There is also a legend about a saint fighting the devil with fireballs...

On the far side of town the cobbled road dumps you into the complex. After paying a small fee for parking, we walked arou…

Tales of Greasy and Grubby and a Bus named Beto

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I was cleaning out my purse yesterday, and there in the depths was a slightly dingy, rubbery plastic, yellow school bus key ring.

Once upon a time there was a Bus named Beto. Beto began his life as a school bus - one of those cute short ones that carries kids to kindergarten or on field trips. One day, some church ladies named Greasy and Grubby had an idea to buy Beto. Greasy did all the work, and went to where Beto lived and picked him up and helped her husband to drive Beto to a friend's business. Beto spent a little while preparing for his mission - to carry supplies to El Salvador as part of a caravan of hope in response to the 2001 earthquakes. The caravan was organized by a Salvadoran pastor who was serving in the US as a missionary.

Greasy and Grubby organized some friends and they gave Beto some loving paint-touches: a map of his anticipated route through the US, Mexico, Guatemala and into El Salvador, a new name on the side, the symbol of the Lutheran Church up top an…

Aduana Adventure

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Sometimes, you start with a little idea and then it gets bigger and then you find yourself trying to get into the Presidential House in San Salvador for the President's signature and making jokes about iguanas.

First there was a book drive. For his Eagle scout project my kid decided to build a library in our sister church community - not a library of bricks and mortar (although that still is in the dream file) but a library of books. So, lots of solicitation and book fairs and drives later, the scouts packed up over 1000 Spanish books, each with it's own plastic bag (rainy season protection), organized by level and neatly stowed in labeled boxes.

Early on, the question arose: how do the books get to El Salvador?

The answer: a shipping container! Great idea. A generous donor supplied the container. But 1000 books filled only a pallet and a half. So the questions arose: what else was needed? what could we send?

The answer: micro-business support. We gathered stuff for se…