Mission of Healing 1.0

It began before we had cell phones.  It began before we had digital cameras.  It began when we spoke by pulling bilingual dictionaries out of our pockets.  It began when the community women hauled water in jugs on top of their heads.  It began when homes were lit by small flickers of candle light.  It began before we hardly knew each other.

For four days in August, in the year 2000, a suburban Milwaukee area church, an urban Milwaukee church and a little church in El Salvador put together the first Mission of Healing.  The photo memories of the experience reflect a lot of young, smiling, sweaty faces.  Eighteen years later, children are now parents; parents are now grandparents.  As I study some of the smiling faces, sadness tugs at my heart - there with joyful smiles are the images of young lives and a few older ones cut short by illness or violence.

One of the albums for this project
The photo memories live in two, old-school photo albums.  Little hand-written notes identify the who's, the where's and the what's.  The notes were written by Greasy and Grubby.  These are the photos from their first great adventures in El Salvador.

I decided to take on the project of scanning all of the old photos and organizing them so more people have better access to the history of our sister church relationship and the Missions of Healing.  When I look at the photos from the first Mission of Healing, I marvel at the capacity we had to work together, to trust one another, and to share the most personal things with one another so early on in our relationship.  The leap of faith that led us to sign a sister church agreement in 1998 has continued to generate leap upon leap, and I think we all recognize that this is completely a God thing.  The fact that strangers who had never visited could come into their sister community and work together in this way is truly a miracle of love.

The church functioned as the clinic.

The altar functioned as the exam table.  The local health clinic checked
people in, did weights and vaccinations, and our nurse practitioner did exams.
This newborn was our littlest patient.

Fun times at the Mission of Healing

Ladies lined up at a nearby home - Day #4 was Pap Smear Day

We borrowed an exam table from the local clinic and used hairspray as fixative

The teaching team worked at the school - our theme was "God has a plan for you"
We brought peanut butter and jelly to make little cracker sandwiches as
a cross-cultural snack.  It was the first time any of the children or helpers
had peanut butter and jelly.
Each child in at our US home churches had made a felt person representing
himself or herself.  Each child in the Mission of Healing school also made
a person.  We (a few from our team and a few from the local community) sewed
 the Salvadorans in amongst the Wisconsinites to create this rainbow of kids. 
Each child made a time capsule to keep for the future.

Worship and prayer anchored our time together.  The first Mission of Healing
included the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  Many subsequent Missions of
Healing have included baptisms and first communions and confirmations.

We lived together, ate together, laughed together and worked together.


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