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Showing posts from January, 2011

How are you, Miguelito?

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How are you, Miguelito? Are you clapping and dancing like the last time we saw you? Can you chatter away or sing a little tune? Are you eating well? Have you grown? Does your mama's heart fill with joy every time she casts a glance your way?

Oh, Miguelito...it would be so good to hold you and to give you a squeeze, and to remind you that you are a miracle.

You came to us before your first birthday. You were too small. You could not hold up your own head. Other little ones your age could sit and pull themselves up and babble. You were too weak. The cleft in your palate made it impossible for you to keep the milk from spilling out from your nose and face. The little trickles of nourishment which made it into your tummy had kept you alive -- just barely. Your mama prayed and willed you to live, and she brought you to us hoping for a miracle.

The doctors had said you were too little and too weak for surgery. Without the surgery you would not survive. Dr. Z stroked your littl…

Off the Beaten Path: Museum of Word and Image

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One of my favorite places to go with a little group of people is the Museum of Word and Image in San Salvador. It's a place where you can sit on the floor and learn about Salvadoran poetry, or see an historic photo exhibit of indigenous peoples, or learn about Radio Venceremos and events from the civil war. A few exhibits are permanent. Some come and go. The historic preservation work which occurs behind the scenes is important. The words and images are challenging. The small book store is worth a stop for anyone who wishes to dig a little deeper into the history, culture, and hearts of the Salvadoran people.

Tales of Greasy and Grubby: When Good Comes from Bad

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The morning dawned hot and sunny, but somewhere over the Gulf a hurricane was brewing. Instead of boarding a plane to Miami, we were routed through Los Angeles...the next day! What could we do with an extra day in El Salvador? Attend a celebration, of course.

The Casa de la Juventud, or Youth Center, in Guazapa was celebrating an anniversary and honoring the short life of a little girl named Wendy. The center was built in response to the needs of the community: for a safe place in which children and youth could sing, could dance, could play music, could express themselves through drama, could create works of art, could play sports, and could talk about the challenges of growing up in a society in which bad things sometimes happen to children.

The youth center was built in Wendy's honor. There had been other children who had been murdered, and the community had grieved deeply, but it was Wendy's murder which became the catalyst for action. Wendy's grandmother wanted he…
Today is the 10-year anniversary of a terrible quake which shook the earth under El Salvador. Roads were broken. Hillsides were broken. Houses were broken. Families were broken.

In the aftermath of the quakes, a seasoned pastor gathered up broken pieces of wood. He took them to his workshop, and fashioned them into a handful of crosses - simple wood crosses, each standing about eight inches tall, stained dark brown and well varnished. Simple crosses, created as symbols of resurrection from earthquakes, from brokenness, from death.

Our sister church pastor presented one of these crosses, made by his dad, to our church as gift. It sometimes sits on the altar, sometimes in the chapel, as a reminder of our partnership. Most people who see this symbol of partnership and resurrection probably do not know of its origin in the rubble of an earthquake.

Another of these crosses rests in special place in my home. Today, I took it into my hands and was reminded of the events ten years ago,…

Tales of Greasy and Grubby: Complementary Rings

Greasy and Grubby are a team, complementary of one another, seeing more clearly together than apart. Circumstances have sometimes caused them to be without one another in their adventures, and that has been sometimes painful.

Grubby never knows why certain memories pop up at certain times, but in this moment she is remembering an experience which left her feeling very overwhelmed, longing for the wisdom of her friend.

It had been a long day of work with the holistic healing team of doctors, nurses, pastors and healers. Maybe we saw 300 or 400 people. The sun set and the request came from the owner of the sewing cooperative that they wanted to have a meeting. I went, and sat at the end of a long table for a conversation about broken machines and lack of local market and could I facilitate shipping to the US and a myriad of other issues which were troubling the little business. The tiredness, the late hour, the struggle with the language all left me feeling beat up. "Yes,"…

Off the Beaten Path: The Quiet UCA

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One of our favorite delegation spots is The UCA (Universidad Centroamericana) in San Salvador. We go there to share the story of the work of the Jesuits during the time of the civil war and take a quiet walk through the rose garden, remembering the sacrifice of the six men and two women who were assasinated. Sometimes we schedule a conversation with Father Dean Brackley or another faculty member. We visit the chapel, the museum and the bookstore. We have been there to hear lectures, to participate in pilgrimages and to meet with friends, but the last time I took a delegation to the UCA, we did none of this. The last time I visited the UCA, everything was closed - just one of those things that happens. So, we walked around the campus, and we enjoyed a different kind of experience.

Up on the hill a coolish breeze made a hot dry day feel lovely. The trees swayed gently and the sounds of traffic were muted by the chirping of birds and the occasional laughter of students. We walked …