Capacitación Christmas and Recovering from a Volcanic Eruption
Today the San Miguel volcano spewed forth a great cloud of smelly gas and hot ash. Tonight, families from the small towns, little farms and coffee plantations on the sides and the skirt of the volcano are sleeping in nearby shelters. As the next few days pass, assessments will determine the status of crops, of trees, of animals, and of homes. At this time, thanks be to God, there has been no word of human casualties. In the dark night, away from their familiar beds, children and parents and elders are no longer planning their New Year's Eve fiestas, but instead are worried about the added economic strain that this disaster will have upon them and are no doubt fearful of additional volcanic or seismic activity.
When we celebrated Christmas in El Salvador in 2005 (see Capacitación Christmas I and II), one of our goals was to work with Salvadoran Lutheran Church leaders to develop fun and meaningful Bible School experiences for kids using music, art, drama and games. One day we traveled outside of the capital city to the countryside near the Santa Ana volcano. A couple of weeks prior to our arrival, the volcano had erupted, raining hot ash upon farmers and farms, and driving families to seek shelter. We visited with children at a small shelter where families lived in tents, and the children participated art classes. The children were encouraged to illustrate their experiences and to express their fears through painting.
Back in 2005, celebrating Christmas, learning and growing through Vacation Bible School, and living moments with children whose lives were turned upside down by a great cloud of hot ash blended together in a way which somehow changed each one of us forever. As I reflect on this final installment of the Capacitación Christmas series, the news of today's volcanic eruption brings to mind the faces of the children in that refugee camp, of the little girls playing with dolls, of boys being silly while sitting on rolled-up mattresses, of youth sharing their stories of the volcano through fire and ash-cloud paintings created on simple wooden crosses. As I reflect, I am thinking: We should have brought the drums.
Part IV: Music
We did not have actual drums. We made them. One of our sons is a drummer, and in Blue Man Group fashion, he can turn anything into a drum set. We hunted through corners and back rooms and garbage piles and gathered up the biggest plastic buckets, paint cans, and good-sounding metal stuff we could find. A couple of our team members brought guitars and we had put together a participant song book filled with local favorites and some US Bible School songs translated into Spanish. We had included thematically appropriate songs such as Sois la Semilla (You are the Seed). One of the favorite tunes was "Psalm 150" (Praise the Lord with Trumpet Sounds - complete with actions).
Salvadoran Lutheran Church gatherings never lack for a couple of talented guitar players and perhaps some of the most memorable music moments took place during the informal guitar and drum jam sessions.
Part V: Recreation
The absolutely most memorable moment of recreation was this: the Bishop's wife, dressed in her slightly-tailored suit complete with pantyhose and sensible shoes, running a very competitive relay race with a balloon tucked between her knees.
We closed our Capacitación event with a large group gathering, offering thanks to all who had a hand in bringing the day together. Before sharing a late lunch, we sang with great enthusiasm some of the songs we had learned during the music sessions, complete with impromptu drum set and guitar band.
A couple of days after the Capacitación we traveled to the refugee camp. Although we visited and met with families, I think it could have been really helpful to have shared some singing and played some games together. As families spend the next few days or weeks seeking refuge from the San Miguel Volcano, I am hopeful that maybe somebody will think to play some games or bring out the paint or maybe even build a drum set from some old buckets and paint cans.
May God bless the families near the San Miguel volcano with peace and rest, quick relief, and many friends who can offer love, friendship, prayers and support.