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Learning About El Salvador at Vacation Bible School

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It's summer in the US, and that means it's time for Vacation Bible School/Vacation Bible Camp!  This year, many Lutheran Churches in the  ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) have access to a free VBS/VBC curriculum from ELCA Word Hunger .  The 2021 theme is River of Life and features stories about water access and conservation from around the world.  On Day 2, the water story comes from El Salvador.   Our church is using the River of Life curriculum this year, as are many churches in the Greater Milwaukee Synod, which is a companion synod of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church.  Did I mention that Milwaukee is also featured in this curriculum? Yup, it's going to be a fun and familiar year for us! I noticed the Day 2 story does not include any photos from El Salvador.  Fortunately, I have some great photos of the Río San Antonio, which is featured in the story.  Our sister church pastor is also one of the community organizers for disaster mitigation near the river.  Wit

Get to Know the Holidays: May

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May Day - International Workers' Day In El Salvador, as in much of the world, May 1st is a holiday which celebrates workers.  Labor Day or Día del Trabajo  is a paid holiday.  Workers and union activists often hold rallies and marches through the streets on this day. May 3rd - The Day of the Cross The Day of the Cross is primarily celebrated in home gardens and in small church ceremonies, and while some towns have grand festivals on May 3rd, the date is not an official or paid holiday.  The tradition of honoring the Day of the Cross is rooted in a Roman Catholic belief (or legend) about the recovery of the Cross of Christ.  During the third century, Saint Helen claimed to have discovered a piece of the cross of Christ during the construction of a church on the hill of Golgotha outside of Jerusalem. There was a story about the preservation of the cross, which had been divided into 3 pieces following the crucifixion of Jesus, with one piece having been sent to Rome, another to Consta

Mission of Healing 2021: May's Theme is Bullying and Abuse

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A Brief Introduction  If you have been following the story of the Mission of Healing 2021 with the northern micro-region churches of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, you know that this year we went virtual! Each month we are producing video and printed education materials related to a particular theme. You can dive right into the month of May, or if you would like a little background first, you might like to explore these stories. Mission of Healing 2021: What's the Plan?  Mission of Healing 2021: Personal Hygiene  Mission of Healing 2021:Community Hygiene Mission of Healing 2021: Nutrition and Family Gardens Opening up Safe Spaces for Difficult Conversations More than 20 years ago, during my first visit in El Salvador, a Salvadoran Lutheran pastor in a rural community asked my friend and me if we had any resources which address domestic and sexual violence - resources which she could use with the women in her community to help them and to teach them. We did not have resources with

A Trash Problem

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El Salvador has a trash problem.  This is not a new situation. This is not a new story. If you walk around El Salvador, you spend a fair amount of time walking over stuff like this. I have been thinking about trash, storm drains, rain. I cleaned out the storm drains near my church in the US this weekend - always needed after a windy day. Our alley sometimes floods, and it's better to be proactive than to mop up water in the church kitchen.  Storm drains along paved roads in El Salvador are no joke. They are gigantic openings where curbs should be and are never covered by grates.  In a rainstorm, a small cow could literally be swept down into one of those things. Naturally, as a convenient hole that goes to who-knows-where, people see the storm drain abyss as an excellent place in which to sweep street trash, especially along the busy thoroughfares in San Salvador. (Someone told me once that this is actually illegal, but I still see people do it.) In small communities trash gets swe

Get to Know the Holidays: April

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Welcome to April, the month which typically brings Salvadorans a little change in the weather and the beginning of the planting season. In San Salvador, the month of April has an average of 6 days with rain showers compared to 1 day in March, and one can enjoy a slight cooling in the average daytime temperatures from 90˚F to 89˚F.  It is perfect weather for a trip to the beach, which is a common way for Salvadorans to celebrate la semana santa (Holy Week), which often falls in April. Back in the  March edition of Get to Know the Holidays , I included a little story about Palm Sunday, which is the start of Holy Week and as we know, has a variable date in the calendar.  A few years ago, I did a Holy Week series which also included a little more information about  Palm Sunday , so for this holiday series, let's begin the month of April with the holy days following Palm Sunday. Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is an official (paid) holiday in El Salvador, at least for workers in the formal

Mission of Healing 2021: April's Theme is Nutrition and Family Gardens

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A Brief Introduction If you have been following the story of the Mission of Healing 2021 with the northern micro-region churches of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, you know that this year we went virtual!  Each month we are producing video and printed education materials related to a particular theme.  You can dive right into the month of April, or if you would like a little background first, you might like to explore these stories. Mission of Healing 2021: What's the Plan? Mission of Healing 2021:  Personal Hygiene Mission of Healing 2021:  Community Hygiene A few of the leaders shared photos from their first small group learning activities.  We put those into a celebratory video to share with everyone in the northern churches to build enthusiasm for this year's program. Mission of Healing in Action April's Theme is all about VEGGIES! In El Salvador, the rainy season begins in May.  April is the time to get the soil ready and begin the planting process.  It seems natural

Off the Beaten Path: El Manzano Ecological Park

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Up in the cloud We walked around the block, found Oscar and then drove 'up to that cloud.'  Those were the only directions we had, given to us by the museum guy. The road was not car-worthy, but we made it up the 10 km trek of rock and ravine and slippery gravel. Once we had a scare, when the car died.  The cord that Oscar had removed for overnight security of the car came unplugged going over all those bumps! (though it took a bit to discover that was cause of the aforementioned dead car.) We finally made it. A man with a machete met us and said, $2 each to get in and an extra $5 to go to the river. Of course we paid the extra $5 - because we never say NO to an adventure! I found them.  In the middle of a plain, brown journal, in between stories from the previous year, there are two pages written in small, neat script. The title at the top of the page says "RANDOM PAGES, October 2014." Well, when you run out of pages at the end of a journal, you have no choice but to