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Mission of Healing 2021: July's Theme is all about the Respiratory System

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Breathe in. Breathe out.  We can breathe intentionally. Mostly we breathe automatically. But if we cannot breathe, we cannot live. During this long pandemic ordeal, breathing has taken center stage as a human reflex that should not be taken for granted. Infections of the respiratory system can be common, like a cold. They can be deadly, like tuberculosis or pneumonia. Respiratory infections can be caused by a virus such as H1N1 (swine flu) or bacteria such as pertussis (whooping cough). Some respiratory infections can be prevented or made less severe by using vaccines. Pertussis, flu and now, SARS CoV 2 (or COVID-19) are preventable or made less severe through the use of vaccines. Prevention of respiratory infections, learning the warning signs of dangerous infections, and understanding how to properly use medications which treat these infections are very, very important educational themes in EVERY Mission of Healing which we do.  This is our focus for July.  These are a few of the han

Mission of Healing 2021: Be Active and Get Moving during the Month of June

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June is all about being ACTIVE! The 2021 Mission of Healing online theme for June is My Active Body is a Healthy Body. Moms having a big of fun after leading remote-learning gym class for their kids For many years as part of our annual Mission of Healing in El Salvador, we have included one or more mini-workshops featuring stretching, simple strengthening exercise, yoga, or chair yoga.  We usually have a member of our team who is especially good at encouraging older men and women (who are often a little shy) to practice movements which help with balance and mobility and can help decrease arthritis pain.  Nola is one of our experienced teachers, and she made a couple of simple exercise videos to share this year.  We invited families to submit photos or videos of themselves doing physical activities, thinking we could also use those to encourage people to get moving.  We took the photos and videos we received and created a fun mash-up movie with a little bit of instruction from Nola and

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