Showing posts from 2019

Off the Beaten Path: The Invasion of the Water Nymphs

At the end of November, a video popped up in my Twitter feed.  It is from a Channel 4 news report in El Salvador.  I had to watch the video twice.  The images are startling!  For two weeks in November, not a single fishing boat nor tourism boat had been able to go out on Lake Suchitlán due to an invasion of ninfa, or water nymphs.  Watch the video, then read a little bit more of the story... Invasion of the Water Nymphs Now that the words "invasive species" have a whole new creep factor for you, we can dig into this story a little more deeply. Let's begin with a map.  The head waters of the Río Lempa (Lempa River) are located in Guatemala, where the river is called Río Olopa.  The water flows through Honduras and then into El Salvador, where it meanders west before turning south and flowing into the Pacific ocean.  The blue area on the map shows the watershed for the Río Lempa, which includes mountainous regions, agricultural zones and urban areas.  Lae Suchitlán is

Sure, Why Not: Graduation in the Valley of the Angel

It's pretty typical.  I'm checking Facebook in the evening and a message pops up.   "Want to go to a graduation with me tomorrow afternoon in Valle de Angel ?" Sure, why not? I don't know any students there.  I imagine Pastor Santiago also does not know any students there.  I imagine this is an act of solidarity related to the work he and local advocates are doing to fight against a massive development project in the valley and protect the aquifer which provides water to more than a million people. I show up at the church offices early in the morning, as usual.  A co-worker is standing in the parking lot holding a toilet seat and shelving unit.  Another co-worker walks up carrying a toilet.  Just another day at the office. We head upstairs and get to work.  Pastor Santiago stops by and we chat about some things and decide to get lunch on the way to the graduation.  It's a miracle that his car, La Negra, is still running.  Everything on it

Remembering the Subversive Cross

There is a cross in El Salvador which is called subversive.  It was seized by military forces who sought to kill the Lutheran Bishop.  Their plans failed and either in frustration or retaliation, they seized members of the church, visiting foreigners, and the cross as evidence of subversion.  This took place on November 16, 1989, the same day on which the Jesuit priests were killed at the UCA (University of Central America) in the early morning and by the same forces who sought to kill later in the day. The Subversive Cross - 30 years of testimony Today, November 17, 2019, the worship service at Resurrection Lutheran Cathedral in San Salvador remembered the journey and witness of the Subversive Cross. Pastor Brian shared his testimony in the form of a dramatization of when he, his companions in the church and the cross were seized.  As Pastor Brian knelt bound and blindfolded on the floor, the congregation was uneasy.  Some were remembering that day or their own similar experien

The Old Wooden Cross

"Do you remember the first cross we had, the old wooden one?"  Pastor Santiago gestured toward the front of the church.  I glanced across the room toward my friend, Julia.  Yes.  We remembered. "It was painted, a little faded, a little dark." The pastor paused, "Does anyone know where it is now?" The congregation members looked at each other, shaking their heads, shrugging their shoulders.  Someone said they thought the cross was still in the community.  Pastor Santiago looked skeptical. This is the month of memories.  The saints. The faithful departed. The final offensive.  The Jesuit martyrs.  The Lutheran martyrs.  The Subversive Cross.  In the context of November, Pastor Santiago was remembering an old wooden cross.  It had a story - a story which connects a congregation and a community to its origin as a group of homeless refugees. During the civil war in El Salvador, the Salvadoran Lutheran Church opened its heart and its arms to care for r

The Day of the Faithful Departed

"Are you tired?  I'm sure you are; there are so many people!  It is full, very full because of the date today,"  the cab driver said, smiling over his shoulder as we wove our way through the crowd.  I had not thought about crowds at the airport.  It was true, big family groups were lined up to welcome their people home.  We had been the only extranjeros in the migration line. In El Salvador, November 2nd is El Día de los Difuntos Fieles , known in the US as All Souls Day or the Day of the Faithful Departed.  In El Salvador, All Souls Day is an official holiday.  Traditionally, families gather to remember their dear departed ones, often gathering in the cemeteries or places where the loved ones are remembered. In the Salvadoran village of Tonacatepeque, elaborate customs surrounding All Souls Day are preserved by the Cultural House and town leaders, and are passed on from one generation to another.   The traditions and beliefs are as mixed as th

Legend: The Origin of the Corn

This story is told in the region of Tonacatepeque, El Salvador.  It comes from the time before the land which is now El Salvador was colonized by Europeans and is drawn from a combination of cultures and sources. The first American people had been created and formed some time ago.  They wandered in the forests of their chieftains, gathering their foods from the plains among the hills. They fed themselves with roots, fruits, stalks and tender buds, which were pleasing to the palate.  However, this alone was not enough to feed everyone, so Ometecuhtli (God of Life) thought he should create something that could sustain the people.  He ordered Tonacatecuhtli (God of Sustenance, at the center of all things) to give the people the means to find a new food. So, Tonacatecuhtli materialized and took the form of a priest.  He began to preach to the people the about the creation of a new type of food that would sustain them.  The people gathered very close to the priest, so that they could

Linda's El Salvador Blog Gets a New Name

Dear Readers, Linda's El Salvador Blog has a new name:  Walking With El Salvador.    It was time for a bit of an update with the format, and with a few things on the technical end of the blog, and the time seemed right to give the blog a name which is a bit more formal.  The new name also reflects the way in which we work and live and learn together, as friends and members of sister churches who come from different cultures and different places.  We walk together.  We accompany one another.  And we sure do have some amazing experiences along the way. There are many stories yet to be written.  Some are tucked into journals from the early years.  Some are pretty fresh.  Some have not yet been imagined. Let's keep walking, reading, writing and learning together. Linda

Thanks to the Quilting Ladies

My last story was about the sewing collective which makes Days for Girls kits in El Salvador.  Many of the women in the US who sew Days for Girls kits also sew quilts for Lutheran World Relief, create baby items for Newborn Kits and use their sewing skills for a variety of ministries in the church.  Fabric closets in Lutheran Church basements are filled with generous donations, and in our church network, some of those end up in El Salvador.  This isn't my first story about giving away fabric in our Salvadoran sister church, nor will it likely by my last, because this is one topic that people ask me about fairly frequently. How to do a Raffle: Step 1:  Befriend the quilting ladies or at least send out the word to the quilting group that any fabric not suitable for quilting is welcomed in the El Salvador donation bin. Step 2:  Sort out the wool and heavy fabrics which are not useful in El Salvador.  Sort out the too-small scraps and anything deemed not worthy of making the 2960

Women's Collective for the Win!

The challenges of running a small business dedicated to the production and sale of Days for Girls washable menstrual hygiene kits for girls and women are many.  The commitment to providing women and girls with accurate information about their own changing bodies and the rights they have to protect and care for their bodies is taken very seriously.  The goal of placing kits into the hands of girls, youth and women who need them is being met. This is an update on a story that began in 2016 - a story about commitment, perseverance, teamwork, inspiration and adaptation. Sonia teaches girls how to care for their Days for Girls kits during the 2019 Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair. By 2021, plastic bags will be eliminated from kits produced in the US and in El Salvador. Background Within the Days for Girls International framework, a model is provided for setting up small, local enterprises within impoverished communities as a means of both employing women and supplying