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Showing posts from January, 2016

The Chicken Dance

The little altar table was set up in the center of the church.  It had a white embroidered cloth over it, a small clay bowl, a wooden cross and a candle.  The blue plastic chairs were arranged in a big circle around the altar.  Women from the community trickled in.  Adelmo brought his guitar.  A few children were playing outside the door.  The dogs wandered in and out.  It was hot.  One of the women left and came back in a couple of minutes with a big bottle of Coke and little packs of sweet bread. The women chatted about embroidery and the pastor reached into a white plastic Super Selectos bag and pulled out a slipper.  It was in-process of being crocheted with olive green yarn.  The ladies were a little sad that craft time would not happen this week.  Instead we were having a meeting.

It was a good meeting.  We ironed out many details of the Family Wellness Fair that would be happening in about ten days through the efforts of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church and our companion synod an…

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday afternoon.  It's time to relax after a long, hot morning in church.  My friend and I hang out at Pollo Campero to eat chicken and french fries and to talk about upcoming plans.  My friend says we should go check on his mom.  She is a little forgetful and worries about her kids even though they are all becoming grandparents themselves.  We arrive at the house, and we sit down in the living room for a little more rest and conversation.

My friend lives with his parents.  His dad is in his 80's.  He tells long stories, revealing newly remembered details with each telling.  His mom is 79.  She listens to the long stories and laughs.  She tells her stories too.  Today, like many days recently, she remembers her son Miguel.  He died when he was a baby.  They took him to the hospital, and he died.  She shows me three framed photos which sit on a little wooden shelf over the sofa.  In one photo, the family members are lined up and barely smiling.  She and her husband are surroun…

Little Kings and Queens

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On January 6th, the Day of the Magi Kings, celebrations are held across Latin America.  In El Salvador, these celebrations primarily happen in the Roman Catholic Church.  In the Lutheran Church, the day of Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6th.

Pastor Santiago presented the plan for el domingo de los reyes magos (Magi Kings Sunday) to Sonia, Jocelyn and Evelyn on Friday.  He received a little scolding from Sonia because two days did not seem like enough time to get actors and costumes and everything organized for an Epiphany pageant, especially when a group of youth and adults from the US would be visiting.

If you read Spanish, you can read the plan in detail.  It calls for actors including God, Jesus, 3 Kings, Herod, and children as pastors.  Props include a star, gifts, water, candles and cut-outs of doves on sticks.  The general idea was for the child kings to follow the star, to look for the child Jesus, to present the gifts, and then, in the midst of a conversat…

The Holy Comforter

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"I talked to my mom and she is in the middle of something very difficult."

"What happened?"  I asked.

"Lisseth, she's our neighbor, her child died.  I think he was five years old.  And my mom said Lisseth was not in her right mind and wanted to sell her 2-month old baby to pay for the funeral for her son, but the community would not allow that to happen.  My mom is managing this by herself.  She's managing it," Kati said.

Kati was visiting the US with her pastor and a couple of other youth from the community.  I could see the stress of the situation on Kati's face.

A few weeks later, I was with Kati's mom in El Salvador.  "How's Lisseth?" I asked.

"She's coping. It is not easy.  But I need to tell you what happened.  It was very mysterious.  The little boy was not feeling too well, so he went for a check-up.  He has always had a heart problem and walked around with an apparatus in his heart.  He got a special little …

Reflections on a Day in the Car

They were playing soccer.  For a time it wasn't possible for the young men to play soccer on the neighborhood field.  Too dangerous.  On Christmas Day with a current situation that was a little bit safer, the guys headed out to the field for some fun and competition.  In a tense moment as two players headed for the ball, they crashed into each other.  One ended up on the bottom, and one landed on the top.  This is how our friend broke his leg.

He is 25 years old and has a pretty good job working for a small company.  He has a wife and a little girl who is afraid of the big white cast on her daddy's leg.  He lives with his mom and a huge family of sisters, two husbands of sisters, and a few little nieces.  Because his job is in the formal economic sector, our friend is fortunate to have healthcare benefits.  He is able to miss work for two months while his leg is in a cast, and he will not lose his job.  In addition, he qualifies for sick pay.

Because government offices were cl…

Los Reyes Magos - The Magi Kings

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The television was tuned into the local news, which was hard to hear above the lunch noise in the small cafeteria and the sounds of the traffic on the street below.  Every now and then a story would catch the interest of someone in our little group.  What caught my attention was the sound of bells jingling.  Not exactly "Jingle Bells" the song, but jingling bells that one might associate with the arrival of Santa Claus.  I turned to see the TV screen lit up with a bright blue background, snowflakes falling onto glittery ornaments and gifts, and the words "Happy Day of the Three Magi Kings."

Today is Epiphany.

Epiphany marks the visit which the astrologers or magi made the the home of the child Jesus.  "I have been studying the origin of Epiphany," Pastor Santiago said.  "The star was a sign that healing would come.  The magi sought a great healer."

I looked around and noticed packages of green tinsel (still attached at the top to their red cardb…

Happy New Year!

If you search "new year" in this blog, you will find a variety of different stories and traditions which we have shared in over the years.  During a recent visit to the US, friends from our sister church shared a few different traditions with us...

From Jocelyn:
Well, I don't really understand this, but there is this older lady who lives down the way from us.  On New Year's Eve, she takes a suitcase.  I think it is empty.  She walks all the way down the street, carrying her suitcase, to the town square.  Then she sets it there for a minute and then walks back.  It's like she takes all of the bad things from the previous year out to make a place for better things in the new year.

From Pastor Santiago:
Just before midnight, we sing this song, called "Five Minutes til Midnight".

And from a friend via Facebook:
On New Year's Eve we break an egg into a glass of water.  We set the glass on the window sill and leave it there all night.  Then in the morning we…