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Showing posts from November, 2010

Tales of Greasy and Grubby: Yes, they are waiting...

Waking up on time was not a problem. The rain pounding on the tin roof during the long hours of the night was followed by the roosters crowing and the all-dog alert, so that before the sun came up, we were already finished with any attempt of sleeping. We slithered out of our sleep sacks and peeked into our shoes (hoping a random mouse, cockroach or scorpion had not settled inside for the night) before we slipped them on and headed for the latrine.

That old latrine experience was always an adventure. Weaving in and under the plants, the short little distance to the potty seemed longer than it really was, especially in the dark. The outhouse was just wide and deep enough for the cement seat and a skinny person. The 2-foot step down into the outhouse carried a moment of mystery...would it be squishy full of mud? would the cockroaches scurry up the walls? Greasy had a harder time of it, being so tall that she could not really stand up without bumping her head on who knows what. I…

A Banquet Parable

Our first visit...We arrived in sister church community in the late afternoon. Seven of us had broken off from the synod delegation to spend time with people we knew through story and the occasional email. A celebration awaited us, but news of a family in mourning had been shared with our sister pastor. We walked down an unfamiliar dirt path, down a hill to a home where many people had gathered. The crowd parted so that we strangers could enter the home. It was very dark inside, and as our eyes adjusted to the candlelight we could see the family members weeping at the loss of their daughter. Maybe she was ten years old. Our sister pastor did not really know the family, but in moments of trouble and grief, there is community and solidarity and faith.
The smell of the candles, the cadence of prayers of the rosary, the sweaty heat of many bodies inside the adobe house, the confusion of not knowing how to behave at a vigil for a little girl in a country we had just met cement this m…

Joy in the Neighborhood

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Today I saw this picture, and it brought tears to my eyes.

Yesterday was a great day in our sister church community. The congregation gathered to celebrate the baptism of Luisito, Vanesa's baby brother. Luisito is a miracle baby. He was born more than a month too soon, and was so very little. At two months old, he was still smaller than most newborns, and he seemed not to respond to much. But yesterday, at almost age 1 and thriving, he was baptized, and this photo was taken at the party.

Luisito's story is enough to bring tears, but it was the sight of happy kids with that piñata that got to me. There is another photo from yesterday which tells the story of the piñata - a photo of my friend Julia who recently started a new business making piñatas. In that photo, Julia stands amidst her creations, smiling with a big, huge, happy smile.

This is the smile I remember from before the murder.

More than a year ago, Julia's son was murdered. Dragged out of his home in the hour…

Tortillas for Thanksgiving

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Soon it will be time once again to bake the squash bread, the sweet potato biscuits, the apple pie, and to stuff the turkey. It will be time to fill the house with a big crowd of people, to say grace together, and to enjoy the bounty of the harvest. Cooking on Thanksgiving is something I always do...even when in El Salvador.

Last year, we were in El Salvador for Thanksgiving. We were staying at the guest house for the Lutheran church, along with a couple of other North Americans who were serving as missionaries in El Salvador. Our little group decided to make Thanksgiving dinner. We were graciously given full access to the kitchen, and after a trip to Super Selectos, we cooked for those who usually cook for us.

It wasn't fancy. Pulled chicken in creamy gravy. Mashed potatoes. Dinner rolls. Fresh salad. Fruit salad. We couldn't find onion rings or green beans, so we opted for cooked broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. We gathered to say grace together, in one big circl…

Getting Ready for the New Day

When my kids were little they really enjoyed reading Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, and some of the favorite pages showed Little Bear "getting ready for the new day." We all have our routines for getting ready for the new day, and my routine still includes announcing to my dog, "Mommy's going upstairs to get ready for the new day."

I am girly girl. Fifteen years of Boy Scout camping and eleven years of globe-trotting and hanging out in El Salvador have not changed my routine, and getting ready for the new day in El Salvador has brought plenty of children in our sister church community plenty of entertainment.

I wake up to the sounds of roosters and dogs and calls of "paaaan franceeeeés." I tippy toe to the door, which, with its metal latch is not easy to open quietly, and catch a breath of cool fresh air. After a little visit to the latrine, I sneak back into the house and grab my towel and shampoo. Although I am a girly girl, I am also…

Off the Beaten Path: Tonaca

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Our sister church community is located in the municipality of Tonacatepeque, so every now and then we are able to spend a little time in the center of this small city. The locals call it Tonaca, and it is a lovely and quiet town with a bit of colonial personality. The town square is home to a park which features big old trees, benches for resting, a gazebo made from concrete designed to look like a giant tree trunk, scattered small statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and a fountain which features a young boy taking an eternal pee.  It is this fountain near the corner entrance to the park that gives visitors a clue to the rich and unique folk history of this little part of El Salvador.

The people of Tonaca are known as jicameros, and jicama is plentiful in the stalls of the local market (which are set up in the mornings along one side of the town square). Ask any of the women in the market or the old men resting in the park about the fountain, and you might get to hear the le…

Little Capes, Big Difference

Earlier this summer we visited a community called Guadalupe. It is a community of people who live each day with eyes toward the sky, looking for the dark clouds that bring rain, and with ears toward the volcano, listening for the rumble that could mean rock slide.

There is a warning system. When the siren blares, often in the night, the moms and dads gather their children and run for the safety of a nearby field - safe from the rocks but not from the rain. The leaders in the community had described the evacuation process, humbly asking us to help with "capitas." In the telling, it was hard for us to figure out exactly what was being asked of us because it seemed like maybe they needed wagons or strollers in which to pile the kids so they could run faster.

As we debriefed on our experience in Guadalupe, we double-checked our dictionary and realized that what they were asking for was "little capes" -- rain ponchos for the children! We took up a small offering amon…

Performers in the Streets

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I was reminded by fellow blogger, Tim, of something which we often encounter when driving through the busy intersections in San Salvador -- street performers. I always have mixed feelings when we witness these quick performances. The performers are usually male, often appear to be young teens, and their abilities and showmanship are many times quite amazing! Yet it is sad to me that the young ones are not in school, and it is worrisome to me when they dart out at the change of the stoplight, sometimes late at night, hoping to entertain and hoping to receive a bit of compensation in appreciation of their performances.

I can envision jugglers with bowling pins, boys maneuvering balls on pairs of sticks, a few clowns, and lately, musicians. So, I went on a mission, looking for photos of performers among the many thousands of photos in my "Everything El Salvador" folder . . . and I could only find ONE photo. Of course, I might have some from the pre-digital era, but it reall…