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Showing posts from March, 2011

The Right to Eat

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The vegetable lady is at the door with her granddaughter. She comes each day. Today the onions are already gone, but she does have 2 nice cucumbers and a tomato. Julia gives her a couple of dimes and off she goes to pick up an older grandchild from school. Earlier in the day, Julia had acquired a bunch of pitos from a local tree. Pitos are flower buds, like little pods, and you harvest them by cutting bundles of small branches from the tree. Today's lunch will be torta de pito.

We sit down together to clean the pitos. Pull the buds off of the branches, pull the protruding stamens out of the flowers, toss the unused parts onto the dirt for the chickens. We chat and struggle to keep our eyes open in the oppressive midday heat. I wonder who first thought to eat these skinny flower pods which taste a lot like green beans.

Julia knows how to make a lot of different foods from leaves, pods, flowers and fruits which grow in the countryside. Soon it is time to make the tortas: ch…

God's Little Boys

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Each Mission of Healing begins with a healing worship - a time of baptism, first communion, confirmation and thanksgiving in anticipation of the week of healing to come. In anticipation of this special week, sometimes parents have asked to have their small babies or children baptized. Sometimes older children or teens have asked to receive their first communion and to be confirmed. Each year, the pastor and the community prepare for this special day of celebration and spiritual healing.

This year babies, elementary school students, younger teens, and older teens were welcomed into a new place in their faith journeys...all boys. A couple of groups of friends; a couple of groups of brothers. Each one had managed to find a white shirt of some kind. One little guy had a decorated candle, and one had white gloves and fancy epaulets on his shirt.

The babies were baptized first. One is a miracle baby, whose mom found out that she was pregnant with him just a few days after her oldest so…

What Epiphany has to do with President Obama

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As we were driving past the San Salvador hotel where President Obama will be staying later this month, our driver said that during the visit, all these streets would be closed. "They're really cleaning up this area and increasing the security. Obama will not get to be close to the people."

We passed by a gentleman who was crossing the street in his wheelchair, and our driver said, "Look at this wheelchair. It is the man's invention. See, he can use it like a bicycle with his hands. People need to see this." Beneath this comment was the heartfelt desire that President Obama and others get to see not only a beautiful street, but the beautiful people of El Salvador.

Earlier in the week, Bishop Gomez had reminded us that we were in the season of Epiphany. This is the time when we are reminded of the Magi, who sought to find the new king who had been born. They first traveled to Jerusalem to speak with King Herod, and the result was the slaughter of innoce…

Off the Beaten Path: Museo de Arte

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We were trying to get to the Museum of Word and Image. We had a map. We explained the directions. But our driver on that day was just one of those guys who would rather ask for guidance from the kind gentlemen on the street than listen to the ladies beside him with maps and directions.

So, when our delegation arrived at the Museo del Arte we decided to embrace the moment and enjoy the art. We were welcomed into the museum with a blast of cool air, crisp white walls, and quiet. The first gallery space was filled with the blue of indigo and the white of cotton, the juxtaposed beauty of a resurrected craft and the history of agricultural abuse of land and people.

The group dispersed, each individual pausing at different moments, capturing different memories in their cameras, pondering images which both calmed and troubled.

I am certain that when we have compiled the photos from our entire group, the art museum experience will be well documented. As I look through my own photos, the im…

The Rains Came Down...

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About a year ago, a little group of us visited a community named Guadalupe, which had suffered greatly in the aftermath of tropical storm Ida. I have written a couple of stories about this community which lies near the San Vicente volcano, and every now and then I hear about their continued struggle for permanent housing and recovery.

To get to Guadalupe, we pass through the town of San Vicente, which had also sustained damage during that November 2009 storm when a flood of water came tearing down the Accihuapa River, damaging homes and everything else along the banks and nearly taking out the bridge which carries traffic over the river and into town.

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to drive through San Vicente on our way to Usulutan. The bridge is still under repair, and it was good to see that big earth-moving equipment was working near the water's edge. I am not sure what the restoration project will bring about, but it was good to see that some kind of plan was be…