Showing posts from July, 2012

A Special Visit

"I never ever thought someone would come to my house to visit my boy."  Marina started crying before she could say anything else.  It was a moment of sharing, of sitting together in the shade beside the excavations at  San Andres  on the last day of our visit together. We were a mixed group of children, youth, moms and dads - five of us from the US and the other forty or so from our sister church community - representatives of the students and families who participate in the scholarship program.  All of the students in the program have economic need, and the majority are older students who seek to overcome the culture of gangs which surrounds them by completing high school and earning technical or university degrees in the hopes of achieving sustainable employment. For one young man, the dream of employment seemed impossible.  He was born with a severe hearing impairment.  The public schools in El Salvador are not equipped to assist children with special needs, and often,

Off the Beaten Path: La Neveria

After a long hot day, the best way to revive a delegation is to head on over to La Neveria - any one in a franchise of ice cream stores which can be found throughout El Salvador.  The store in Apopa is highly convenient if you are on route from Guazapa or some northern town north of the capital.  If you are staying in San Salvador, you can often find one within walking distance of your hotel or guest house.   Once inside, you are faced with the challenge of figuring out what to order from the big poster on the wall.  Banana split?  Ice cream shake with cookie wafers poked into the top?  Or maybe a choco-wafle triple (choco-waf-lay-trip-lay).  The easiest way to order is to divide your group into pairs, because of course, you will never enter La Neveria without finding a two for one promotion.  The servers can not imagine that you might not choose to take advantage of the promotion, so if you are on your own or in an odd-numbered group, be prepared to eat two cones or to give

The Wheel Chair

On most days my email inbox has messages from friends and acquaintances in El Salvador.  Seventeen years ago when our congregation first became connected with ministry in El Salvador, communications were exchanged once every six months via hand-carried letters as delegations traveled back and forth. When emails first traveled to and fro, we were careful to address each other with long and formal greetings, wishing for one another the comfort of family and friends close at hand and asking God to bless our families with good health.  These greetings are still shared but often in a more condensed version, for with familiarity has also come an informal style, with a quick hello and a quick sharing of the daily prayer concerns and the small challenges or joys of everyday life. A couple of weeks ago, I received just such an email from a pastor friend.  Subject line:  "Prayers."  Text:  "Dear brothers and sisters, may God rain down many rich blessings over you to raise up i

Off the Beaten Path: Coffee Stories

Sixteen of us bumpety-bumped along, shoulder to shoulder as our micro-bus traveled down the side of the volcano.  "One time, I was kidnapped for fun ," I told my Salvadoran friends.  "That was how I had learned about a place on the side of the volcano where we can get some food and see some historic equipment from a coffee plantation.  It's called  Cafe Miranda ." We arrived at the cafe before lunch time.  The waiter seated us on the veranda outside of the coffee museum, saying that there was more space than down below (where the nice view is), but inviting us to walk around and take photos wherever we liked.  The sounds of young people singing along with contemporary Christian songs rose up from a small building below us.  At first we thought it was a worship service, but the level of laughter and the site of kids in their gym uniforms indicated that we had stumbled upon a group of kids from a Christian school who were on a day-retreat.   Our group was made