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Showing posts from November, 2014

Look, Listen and Learn: Trekking Out West

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We couldn't possibly turn down an invitation to learn about the work of our young doctor friend.  After all, we have known her since she was in the university, and she has been helping us with the Missions of Healing for 6 or 7 years.  So, on Day #2 we loaded up our backpacks with water and set off bright and early for San Pedro Puxtla.  We had directions.  We had a map.  We still got lost.  We stopped many times for directions, and thanks to a really kind guy in the street who, in the rain, sketched out a map for us in his own notebook, we eventually found our destination.

Our friend (la Doctora) is the coordinator for an ECOS (Equipo Comunitario de Salud) Familiar:  a community-based family health team.  (Usually the Salvadorans just call it an ECO.)  The creation of ECOS throughout the rural areas of El Salvador has been a key strategy within the healthcare reforms that began in 2009.  Each ECO consists of a physician coordinator and support staff such as licensed nurses, tech…

Look, Listen and Learn: All in a Day's Work

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One full day.  What would we learn by spending just one full day at the Unidad de Salud in Guazapa?  It was our first observation day, so we did not know what to expect and we had no reference frame from which to make comparisons.  We were a little nervous - we did not want to be intrusive!

The local Lutheran pastors had made the appropriate arrangements for our visit and the director of the Unidad greeted us warmly.  He is new in his position, but already seemed to be a little familiar with the work of the Lutheran Church pastors and health promoters within the church.  Deb, the nurse practitioner, and I introduced ourselves as representatives of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church and its accompanying sister churches from our synod of the ELCA. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  We explained our purpose:  to look, listen and learn, with the hope that we can more fully align the protocols used during the annual Mission of Healing and multiply the positive impacts of the mission b…

Look, Listen and Learn: Unidad de Salud

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We came to look, to listen and to learn.  The two of us, a nurse practitioner and a church worker, did not come to see patients, did not come to bring medications, did not come to fix anything.  We came to look, to listen and to learn.

For nearly fifteen years our synod of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has accompanied the Salvadoran Lutheran Church in a ministry we call "Missions of Healing."  The Mission of Healing was born at a time in which the people in our sister church community and throughout poor communities in El Salvador did not have access to attentive check-ups or basic medications.  Public clinics hosted long lines of patients who would wait as long as 8 hours for a 1-minute consultation with a doctor and a visit to an empty pharmacy.  Education, especially about sexually transmitted diseases, was sorely needed.

The first mission of healing team had seven US members. We broke off from a synod delegation to spend four days in our sister church …

Off the Beaten Path: Mike Mike

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Sometimes it happens.  Plans fall through, transportation becomes a challenge, walking is not an option, so even if it is not your plan A for the day, you end up hanging out at Metrocentro.

If you live in San Salvador or visit San Salvador, you know about Metrocentro.  It's a mall.  It's gi-normous.  It's a bus-hub. You go there to window shop.  You go there to meet up with people.  If you are part of a delegation, you go there to run errands at the Dollar Store or Super, or you walk in circles trying to find the food court.

One day, recently, a friend and I found ourselves with plans that just could not get organized and there we were, with several hours to spend at Metrocentro.  We decided to embrace the experience, walking and walking, eating and eating, shopping and shopping.  This was hard-core, delegation-leader research:  figuring out which food courts have the best seating, which fru-fru coffee drinks are the tastiest, which places have fee wifi, and where to buy…

The Horse-Rider of the Night

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If you search the internet for Caballero de la Noche (literally "Cowboy of the Night"), you will find an endless list of references to Batman.  However, throughout the countryside and small hamlets of El Salvador, a question asked about the Caballero de la Noche brings forth tales of fear and the devil...
The Horse-Rider of the Night is a being which causes panic and fear.  Of course, if the Devil appeared to us as himself, we would die of fright because of his monstrous image.  But as you know, the Devil is a clever devil, and to appear as an ugly animal would be absurd.  So he appears in the most attractive way possible.
It is said that a long time ago, some land-owners suddenly disappeared, and then some reappeared as dead horsemen with insides made of nothing but straw.  How did this happen?  It is said that whenever bad luck surrounded men or for reasons of life they despaired, they would call upon the devil in search of help.  Without wait, suddenly a thick swirl woul…