Showing posts from September, 2019

What Happens if the Beach Turns into Plastic?

Beaches in El Salvador have a pretty good reputation for being trashy.  Certainly 20 years ago, beach-goers routinely tossed their trash into the water or left anything that was not going home right there on the sand.  After any holiday, The warm black sand was literally covered with paper napkins, styrofoam plates, plastic forks, straws, plastic bags, and all kinds of picnic garbage.  Roaming dogs ate the food scraps.  Stuff worth selling was picked up by scrappers and recyclers.  And people relied on the waves to wash the bulk of the trash out to sea. And while trashing the beach while at the beach was bad enough, tossing stuff out of bus windows, sweeping home trash into the streets, tossing rural trash into water ways was simply what Salvadorans did.  The challenge was real, and still is:  small country, big population, an abundance of trash. Over the last 20 years, environmental education combined with infrastructure improvements have made a big difference in the level of tra

Loving Our Neighbor

One day before, the church was dedicated and recognized as Resurrection Lutheran Cathedral - a new name for a new building for an historic church. August 5th was a day of celebrations and ordinations.  On this day, August 6th, the church continued tradition of honoring the anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Medardo G√≥mez as Bishop of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church with a march through the streets of San Salvador.  The street in front of Resurrection was barricaded, a stage had been erected, white canopies stood ready to shade hundreds of guests seated in hundreds of white plastic chairs, papel picado  fluttered in the breeze, and vendors stood ready to sell snow cones and homemade frozen things on sticks.  As the sun rose high in the sky, about a thousand hot and sweaty marchers, wearing pastoral regalia, community t-shirts, floppy hats and tennis shoes, and carrying banners, umbrellas, sleepy toddlers and cardboard crosses on sticks, made their way into the assembly square.  

Little Marchers for Independence Day

Blue and white.  September is the month of blue and white - from balloon arches and tissue paper streamers to little flags fluttering from car windows, El Salvador's national colors paint the month of September. In small towns and municipalities, Independence Day celebrations are led by school administrators, teachers and band directors.  Parades and fiestas pop up throughout the month, but the big day is September 15th.  Streets are blocked off, big stages with giant speakers are set up in front of mayor's offices, Ministry of Education officials prepare their speeches, and little children practice the pledge to the flag. This year, I marched with our community family circle (like a preschool for parents and kids from age 0 to 4).  The littlest marchers in Salvadoran Independence Day parades dress is costumes that reflect their future career choices.  They walk beside their moms or dads, and usually end up being carried for a good portion of the parade.  The creati

Return to the Valley of the Angel

More than five months ago, activists from the Salvadoran Lutheran Church were instrumental in creating a demonstration along the Calle de Oro  which carries traffic from the north of San Salvador to Apopa.  The highway runs through the Valley of the Angel, where a proposed housing and commercial development threatens the land which replenishes El Salvador's largest aquifer and the source of potable water for the municipalities of Apopa, Nejapa and Quezaltepeque. In El Salvador, the ecumenical movement to protest the development in the Valley of the Angel has grown. Sunday morning announcements in the churches invite the faithful to participate in civic  action, demanding governmental intervention on behalf of the people who have a human right to access clean drinking water.  I recently interviewed Pastor Santiago, a leader in the efforts to protect the Valley of the Angel, and faithful Lutheran who has worked for more than 20 years to promote Care for Creation.  Two week