Showing posts from May, 2012

More First Impressions

When I think back to that first trip to El Salvador, one thing I really remember were the worship services:  lots of worship and lots of trying not to keel over from heat exhaustion during worship.  The good thing is that Lutheran liturgy is pretty predicable, so despite the lack of Spanish in my then-repertoire, I could follow along pretty well.  Language differences did cause some humorous moments did generate one of our all-time favorite worship jokes.  During his very long sermon, Bishop Gomez kept saying "Gracias a Dios" or "Thanks be to God."  Of course, we rookies heard the two words we knew in Spanish, "gracias" and "adios" or "thanks and good-bye."  One of the guys in our group (the same one who got pulled over by the police during our exit from the airport), said, "I kept hearing thanks and good-bye, and I stood up to leave, but the sermon just kept going on and on and on." My journal entries from the time serve t

First Impressions

We exited the plane and entered the jetway.  It was like walking into an oven. The airport was not much better.  We followed our leaders like ducklings waddling behind their parents.  By the time we exited, slumping under the weight of our backpacks and dragging our suitcases behind us, our moist hair was sticking to our heads and our clothes stuck to our skin like damp rags. We were greeted warmly by strangers who would become friends, we all piled into an old school bus and a couple of pick-ups, and we began our adventure.  We didn't get too far.  A vehicle with lights flashing and full of police with large semi-automatics stopped one of our trucks.  One of our delegation members had not signed his passport, and having been flagged by security, he was targeted for an inquiry.  It took a little time to get this straightened out, perhaps because with his native North American features this guy "looks" Salvadoran.  Everyone in the bus surreptitiously pulled out their pas

Off the Beaten Path: La Divina Providencia

The Monseñor Romero Historical Center at the Divina Providencia  hospital is not exactly off the beaten path.  Most pilgrims to El Salvador find themselves visiting the hospital chapel and humble home of Monseñor Oscar Romero, whether guided there by their delegation leaders or by their own desire for inspiration. La Divina Providencia  is first and foremost a hospital.  It was founded by Sister Luz Isabel Cuevas who sought to shelter cancer patients who had no place to stay other than the streets as they needed to remain close to the hospital where they received treatments.  Eventually land was donated by "divine providence" and the residential cancer hospital was constructed.  Monseñor Romero chose to live among the sisters and minister to the patients during his time as Archbishop.  The hospital's mission is to provide palliative care with attention to pain management and emotional and spiritual guidance for patients who nearing the end of life on earth.  It is pos