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Showing posts from February, 2020

Why Are You Here? The Fight Continues to Save the Valley of the Angel

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This morning we drove to the traffic circle at the edge of Nejapa.  This morning we parked along the highway and ran through a break in the truck traffic to the center of the circle.  This morning we stood with citizens, church folk and activists.  This morning we accompanied with kindness by the police.  This morning we were surrounded by signs and flags.  This morning we listened.  This morning we were pummeled by dust and walked through the ashes of a burned cane field.  This morning we took photos and we were photographed.


The actions this morning were not our first acts of accompaniment with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church in this valley. In a nutshell, the aquifer in the Valley of the Angel is being depleted by industry, the people who live in and around the valley barely have any water flowing to their homes as it is, the soil in the valley is nutritionally depleted and filled with chemicals from decades of sugar cane production, and a wealthy family bought up enormous parcels …

Prayers of the People

Lutheran worship typically includes a time after the sermon during which the congregation shares the Prayers of the People.  In some churches, the Prayers of the People are written by a lay leader or the pastor and are read as a list of petitions, each ending with something like "Lord, in your mercy,"  to which the people respond, "Hear our prayer."

In our church in Milwaukee, we have had a long-standing tradition in which the prayer "leader" carries the microphone from one person to another, watching for raised hands from those who wish to pray.  Sometimes these prayers are very heavy and the congregation weeps together.  Sometimes the prayer concerns of one person bring out concerns or testimony from another. Sometimes the praying person bursts into song.  We go with the flow.

In our church in El Salvador, the pastor gathers the prayers of the people in a way which is similar to what he has experienced in our church in Milwaukee.  No one has ever burst …

Another New Charla: Nutrition for Salvadoran Families

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I write frequently about the Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fairs which are jointly coordinated between the Lutheran Church network in El Salvador and the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA  (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  There are many months of preparation and work that go into these fairs, and a variety of events and projects which happen throughout the year to provide follow-up to the fairs.  We just finished up with the 2020 fair in the northern region last week, marking our 20th anniversary of accompanying people who live in poor communities in the areas of health and wellness.

This year, my teaching charla was about nutrition.  We decided that we had saturated the market with information about menopause, so it was time for me to be assigned a new topic:  Nutrition.  Originally, we wanted to develop a nutrition talk mostly for adults because they are the ones who make the decisions about what food goes on the table.  However, we found ourselves in a couple of sc…

Way Off the Beaten Path: Finca Chantecuán

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When someone says 'Soyapango' what comes to mind?  Violence? Violence due to gangs?  Commerce?  Factories?  Probably not an ecological park.  We are working to break the stereotype and bring another identity to Soyapango. When we suggested to our long-time friend and driver that we go to Parque Chantecuán, he was a little bit skeptical.  The Mission of Healing post-team had spent the morning visiting the public clinics in Nejapa and Guazapa, and we were hoping to do a little something fun for the early afternoon.  I had found an article about the park online and was actually able to find it on Google maps.  The trick was figuring out which road actually has access to the park.  The article said to take the "old road to Tonacatepeque." Our driver was not the only one who was skeptical.  This is familiar territory and we are aware of the groups that control the area.  We collectively decided to give it a try, and after carefully figuring out our route, we headed to To…

Off the Beaten Path: The National Theater of Santa Ana

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The Teatro Nacional de Santa Ana is one of El Salvador's architectural and cultural treasures.  The theater was built through the efforts of the region's wealthy coffee barons, who wanted to create a cultural center for their families and illustrate that Santa Ana could compete with San Salvador in the arts.  Though the coffee barons imposed taxes on themselves to pay for the construction, it is important to recognize that this wealth was accumulated through exploitation of both the land and workers, particularly as small coffee farms expanded into large enterprises.  The theater's first stone was laid in 1902, and construction was completed in 1910.  It is a model of classical Greek, Roman and European style, with imported elements from Italy, Spain, Belgium and the United States.  The theater was acoustically designed for opera and was a lively and lovely place during its "glory years." The economic crisis of 1929 and subsequent depression of the 1930's ca…