The other day, someone asked me what I love about El Salvador. I thought for a moment, then answered with a story...
At the end of January, my father-in-law and two of my brothers-in-law came to visit. For 25 years they have heard stories about El Salvador, and they were curious to see things for themselves and understand why we spend so much time here.
We planned a short trip, complete with a history day, a volcano day, a coast day and a day with our church community. My father-in-law, Papá Roberto (as we call him here), is an elder. He'll be 90 this year. For us, this produced a little bit of stress because El Salvador isn't exactly known for it's smooth sidewalks and accessible locations. And, there is always the chance of tummy trouble. We chose our destinations carefully and hired a trusted driver so my husband and I could more fully enjoy the longer excursions.
Sunday was our church community day. The Los Héroes hills are a little steep for doing a walking-tour, so the church leaders asked if we would like to share a pupusa breakfast with them before worship. It was lovely, complete with hot chocolate. Papá Roberto and my husband's brothers don't speak Spanish, but they did a great job asking questions and conversing with us as interpreters.
After breakfast, it was time for worship. Lutheran worship in El Salvador flows very much like Catholic mass which Papá faithfully attends, and with interpretation, the guys could follow along just fine. After worship, the Sunday School children sang a couple of songs and presented the guys with a banner. The teachers explained that the tree in the center is a beautiful fruit tree, and the fruits are little because the children made them with their little fingerprints. All of the children's names are on the banner. Then the church committee gave each brother and Papá a cross. There was a feeling of great respect for Papá Roberto, who came such a long way, with great effort. The outpouring of love and welcome was just beautiful.
Before leaving the community, we spent a little time in the home of the family which hosted me on my first visit in Los Héroes 23 years ago. I sat with Julia, who wasn't feeling too well. Julia's husband, son and grandson had a good conversation with the men. I'm not sure what they talked about, but there were plenty of smiles.
Papá Roberto and the brothers safely returned home to the US. A few days later, we gathered online for our weekly family zoom call. Dad and the brothers were all on the call, along with a niece. When we asked what stood out about the visit in El Salvador, all 3 guys talked about the time in Los Héroes. The pupusas, the conversations, the banner, the crosses, the visit with Julia and Marcelino. They were touched. My brother-in-law even mentioned the little fingerprints.
That's what I love about El Salvador. The warmth, the welcome, the love that touches our hearts with little fingerprints.