Showing posts from February, 2016

The Way of the Cross

For many Christians, the tradition of meditating upon the stations of the cross is a meaningful spiritual practice during Lent, particularly during Holy Week.   The stations of the cross represent physical locations and events which took place in Jerusalem.  Tradition holds that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, walked the Via Dolorosa (Via Crucis or Way of the Cross).   At the time of Emperor Constantine, the stations along the Way of the Cross were publicly marked, and in the centuries which have followed, pilgrims have sought to walk in the footsteps of Jesus not only in Jerusalem, but in sanctuaries and chapels throughout the Christian world. During the first week of Lent we had the opportunity to visit El Rosario Church (Church of the Rosary) in San Salvador.  The stone and iron sculptures which depict the different stations capture the moments of violence and submission within the Way of the Cross.  These constructs of spiritual art were created by Ruben Martinez, the sculptor and arc

Hibiscus Tea

  Flor de jamaica - Rosa de jamaica - Te de jamaica - Frozen de jamaica... Jamaica  (pronounced huh-my-kuh) means "hibiscus," However it is written on the menu, I order it.  Hot. Cold. Frozen.  You can order it by the pitcher at Pizza Hut and Pollo Campero.  At fancy restaurants it is served in big goblets, and with its deep red color you might mistake it for a glass of robust burgundy. You can buy jamaica  at the Super - crushed in tea bags or as whole dried flowers in big plastic bags.  You can often find the dried flowers in small markets and artisan shops.  I almost always have a pitcher of it in my fridge. Nutritionally speaking, hibiscus tea contains important vitamins and minerals (A, B1, C, E and iron).  Salvadoran grandmothers will tell you it is good for your kidneys, digestion, your liver and helps to lower your blood pressure.  These are important health benefits, but I drink it because I like it.  I recently added a new twist to my hibiscus tea after I

La Mesa Final - The Last Table

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the Feria de Bienestar Familiar - Family Wellness Fair that we organized earlier this month.  You might like to check out  The Chicken Dance  ,  Las Charlas  and More Charla s before you read this story.  For the panoramic look at Missions of Healing over the years, put "Mission of Healing" in the search window and you will find a wide variety of healing stories from over the years. The Mesa Final  at the Family Wellness Fair was my responsibility.  As my Spanish has improved over the years, I moved from running the children's activities, to assisting in the pharmacy, to translating for doctors and nurses, and finally to teaching.  A few years ago, we added La Mesa Final  as a control - a place where each participant in the Mission of Healing would stop and show me all of his or her medications so I could be sure the participant knew how and when to take them.  I drew many calendars with suns and moons to help non-readers re

More Charlas

This is the third in a series of posts about the Feria de Bienestar Familiar - Family Wellness Fair that we organized earlier this month.  You might like to check out The Chicken Dance and   Las Charlas  before you read this story.  For the panoramic look at Missions of Healing over the years, put "Mission of Healing" in the search window and you will find a wide variety of healing stories from over the years. More Charlas... Hygiene - the directors of the health clinics we have visited in El Salvador have consistently emphasized the need for a charla  which focuses on washing hands.  Depending on who gives the talk, information about proper maintenance of latrines, proper disposal of garbage, water filtration techniques and prevention of parasitic infections can be included in this charla.  The physician who was with us in Guazapa did an AMAZING job teaching the children about how to keep their hands and bodies clean.  The prize at this station:  small bars of soap, lit

Las Charlas

Charla  means "talk" - as in, "let's have a little talk about..." This year's Misión de Sanación Integral Feria de Bienestar Familiar Micro-Region Norte   (yes, that is the real title:  Holistic Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair in the Northern Micro-Region) was organized around las charlas.   The Salvadoran Lutheran Church, our synod of the ELCA, local Unidades de Salud  (health clinics), local mayor's offices and groups such as the Red Cross joined together to put on 4 fairs in 4 Salvadoran communities with between 20 and 25 charlas  or educational talks at each fair.  The restructuring of the Mission of Healing from brigada medica ( medical brigade) to educational fair has been slow and steady.  This was the year we eliminated the medical exams and the pharmacy. So, what did we do and how did it go?  I have received many inquiries about this year's fair, so hopefully I can provide a few helpful descriptions of our charlas.   As the int

A Little Poem for Valentine's Day

The mom is working long hours.  Her sister and her aunt are helping her.  She is running a little restaurant in a small town.  Her son is a good helper, though he is just 10. Her son and I were sitting at a small table set up in the street.  We were there for a long, long time.  He was a little bored.  I reached into my purse and found a pen and a small piece of yellow, lined note paper.  "I will write you a poem," he said. I planted a little tea bush to have tea, and then more tea I had more tea, and I loved tea, and so I am going to love the tea all of my life. The poem is a metaphor.  In Spanish, the word te is used for you.   The word  té means tea. "I think he is very enamored with you," said the aunt when she looked at the poem.  The little boy bowed his head and grinned.  "And I am with him," I smiled.

The River of Life and Corn and Rainbows and Women and Ashes

The women trickled into the yard through the chain link gate.  Some were a bit timid about picking up their brushes.  Some needed encouragement from their friends.  A few walked right up, grabbed their plastic plate palettes, picked up their brushes and said, "I want to paint."  The children needed no encouragement, but they would have to settle for crayons and coloring pages because this day was the painting day for the women. Younger and older, mothers and grandmothers were going to have a fun afternoon with a few squirts of paint, a splash of creativity, and a good amount of laughter. We were not starting with a blank wall.  The mural had mostly been painted during the previous week's Family Wellness Fair.  Painting was one of more than 20 experiences at the fair.  The idea behind the mural was to provide the community with a relaxing and creative experience with the hope that something beautiful might emerge on the outside wall of the church. The principal images ca