We Keep On Keeping On

On the last day of January 2022, a small group of travelers sat near an open window in Resurrection Lutheran Church, surrounded by a sprinkling of Salvadoran Lutheran Church pastors and synod staff.  The Salvadorans were back together after a weeklong closure of the church offices due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among office personnel. The travelers were joining their Salvadoran friends after a 2-year hiatus from travel. Feelings of love and joy in being together warmed the air.  Smiles were made with eyes, above the masks. Fist bumps and waves felt like hugs, sort of.

Photo credit: Bob Adams

On the first day of February, the travelers and the Salvadorans would begin a two-week Mission of Healing health education event, but on this last day of January, there was time for preparation, reflection and centering.  

The Salvadoran pastors take turns leading the Monday devotional, and Pastor Francisco Aguilar was the preacher for this day.  He was about 3 minutes into his sermon when I decided to pull out my notebook and jot down some thoughts.

Abandon your boat and follow Jesus is a beautiful phrase. It's a calling. It's an invitation.

The followers of Jesus are always referred to as "the multitude." Why were there so many? Jesus preached in a manner to which the people were accustomed and he preached something new. The law punished. Jesus preached about the love of God. Does the law say "take care of the widows and orphans?" Yes, but the pharisees were not preaching that part. Jesus attracted people with the fulfillment of the law, which is love. Sure, people came to Jesus for a cure, but they stuck around and listened because they felt the love and closeness of God.

Abandon your boat and follow Jesus is the mission.  To fish for men and women and youth and children is to break down systems of injustice and to fulfill the law of love.

Despite the pandemic, we, the church, continue in the struggle to be the mission of Jesus. Each church, each pastor, each one of us has so many invitations into this work. We hear of successes in the mission, but we also hear of challenges, violence, illnesses - so many challenges. We want to do wonderful, great things, but the years pass and even our own bodies don't cooperate.

Look at the mission in Valle de Ángel. Where do the cameras focus? When you are standing in the valley, where does the camera focus?  On the volcano? Or does the camera focus on what is behind you? Turn around. That is where the focus should be - on the land below the volcano, on the aquifer below the land.

We must keep on keeping on. We train the youth to focus on the mission. Each new young person who is invited and formed will continue in the work of breaking unjust structures.  Little by little, we each do enough.

Jesus said, if the people are silenced the rocks will speak. We are not silent. The rocks in Valle de Ángel are speaking to us, and we keep working. When we see that there are people in the streets thrown away, we work for them. When we see that there are unjust structures, we work to break them down.

We keep on keeping on.

I pulled out the notebook today for a reason. Pastor Francisco mentioned the example of the work the church has done to protect the aquifer, river, creeks and land in Valle de Ángel.  Despite the best efforts of environmental and interfaith groups, the development project in this valley continues. I have been thinking about doing an update on the construction in the valley and I took these photos in January 2022.

Entering Valle de Ángel from the north side of San Salvador
(San Salvador volcano behind us and not in view.)

Sugar cane being collected and put into the truck.

Trucking customs depot on the left, maquilishuat tree in the median

New warehouse (reportedly for Freund hardware) 

Another view of the warehouse. This is the same land which
was the site of a protest in February 2020.

The story of this sect of the Catholic Church and its link
to the development in the valley is complicated.
The church is dedicated to the Virgin of Fatima.

Today, El Salvador Perspectives is featuring a story about the development in Valle de Ángel.  As Pastor Francisco said, there are successes, and there are challenges.  Where do the the water protectors and activists for environmental justice go from here?  Giving up is not an option.  The rocks in the valley are speaking. With some new strategies, those seeking to preserve the water for the people keep on keeping on.


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