As we in the United States deal with the pandemic of COVID-19, our friends at the Pastoral House in Berlin and in our community of Alejandria are looking at how to prepare to do the same. Included below are the letters we have received from them, updating us on their current situation. Please keep everyone in prayer throughout this time.
Written on Saturday, February 22, 2020.
Eleven days after landing back in the United States.
Coming home. Words that might have been said with a sense of relief. But also a sense of sadness. You hit about day 6 and start thinking of what it'll be like to return home and how nice it will be to be home again--sleeping in your own bed; water on demand (and hot water); and so many of the other creature comforts that we often take for granted. At the same time, there's a sense of sorrow or sadness--leaving behind new friends not knowing when (or even if) you'll see them again; hoping they have what they need and wishing you could do just a little bit more. It's a struggle.
Ending the time in the community with a party, a celebration, helps with the transition. The focus is on fun, laughter, fellowship--an appreciation for the time we've had together. It takes the focus off of the struggles that the families have shared with us during our visits and reminds us, or at least reminded me, that joy can always be found. While that might make it slightly easier to leave the next day, once home, there's still the need to process all we've seen and done--to reflect on all that's been learned and then to tell the stories.
This blog has been helpful to me in that way for it's been a reminder each day to remember and reflect on all I saw and learned. So, thank you, to all of you who have taken the time to read it! At the same time, it's also been a bit of a challenge. How do you find words for all you've seen and heard that convey to everyone the depth of the experience? How do you share what it meant to be present with a family when they received a photo that included their son who died 3 months ago? And how do you process all of these experiences in the midst of the transition back to "regular life" -- the work, family, personal things that happened while you were away?
My transition back to life here at home has not been an easy one these past 10 days. I came home to many different and difficult pieces of news--a pastor friend was facing major surgery to remove a pre-cancerous mass, different family members were facing additional stress in their work, and 2 short days after I returned home, news came that a good friend of mine had died of the cancer that'd only recently been discovered. I've tried to take some extra time over the past 3-4 days for myself. My brain and body needed the time to rest from all the news; rest from everything I'd done and seen in El Salvador and was still trying to process; rest from my feelings of grief and uncertainty; rest so I might once again have the energy to put things in perspective and process this overwhelming month of February.
Having had some time to do that, to rest and to allow things to settle, I have some additional thoughts to offer about my time in El Salvador. Some of the them are funny and interesting. Others are not. And still others will continue to require time and additional thought. But as I continue to return my focus to Corning, Iowa, USA, here they are (in no particular order of importance):
Hot water on demand and a flushing toilet is something I will always try to remember to be thankful for. The picture to the left is our bathroom in the pastoral house. It was actually really nice and much more than I had necessarily expected.
But while it may look like a flushing toilet--it is not. All toilets in the pastoral house must be dump flushed, which is when you dump water into the toilet bowl and force gravity to do the flushing for you. I discovered the trick is no hesitation--dump that water like you mean it!
The built in storage in the corner of the shower (behind the shower curtain) is the pila (pronounced: pee-la). Every place water may be needed has a pila (bathrooms, area where you do your dishes and laundry, etc.) because the pila holds water and only water. That way when the water is not running, you still have access to water.
The pastoral house is fortunate to be connected to the city water so they often have running water. And when the city water is turned off, they also have a water tank that can be opened so guests can have running water even if there is no city water. Now, I tell you all of this to talk about the "hot" water. There is no hot water because there are no water heaters.
Although, if you look closely at the picture, you may see the wires and white contraption around the shower head. In theory, once you turn on the shower, you can reach over and turn on the electrical box (shown in the close up picture below) and then you would potentially, possibly, with no guarantees, have warm water. I come from family of electricians and so I didn't even try to turn it on---you do not mix water and electricity in my world. Besides, it was so warm outside that the cool water felt good.
Still, it is nice to be home with hot water and flushing toilets.
I loved the food! I mentioned to someone that this was probably one of the easier trips I've made to a developing country with regard to food, amenities, and so on. As you saw above, we had water! But, oh my goodness, the food. The volunteers of the pastoral house and then everyone who hosted us in the community made sure we were well fed. I'm not usually one to take pictures of food but there were moments when I couldn't resist. Enjoy some of those pictures below!
The beauty! El Salvador is a gorgeous country. From the mountains and volcano to the valleys and ocean--to look out over the country is to look out over beauty. And we were even there during the dry season, when not everything is in full bloom--imagine what it's like in the rainy season! When we went up to visit the cross, I ended up telling the group, "Just grab me and let me know when we need to leave, because I could sit up here all day." It was calm, sunny, and beautiful.
And yet, as I mentioned in a previous post, in the midst of all that beauty, so much violence has taken place. I think I'm still trying to process and wrap my head around the atrocities I learned about while in El Salvador.
It was a little strange to learn all of the context and history of the country, and then not talk about it with the people in more detail. To see a diploma for a member of our community dated 1983, knowing that she'd received that diploma a few years after the start of the civil war. What was that like for her? What did it take for her to get that in the middle of everything that was happening?
It was also strange to have those experiences and then return to the United States, a country that supported many of the people who committed such violent acts. And, at the same time, to acknowledge that if I wasn't who I am (a young, white, woman who is a U.S. citizen) it would probably be more difficult for me to visit El Salvador in the first place. Is it possible to ever reconcile the facts (or should we even try to reconcile them) that the same things that have made/make it possible for the U.S. to support violence and oppression around the globe, are also that things that have made/make it possible for churches and other organizations to have a presence and relationship with people around the globe?
This might help explain what I'm trying to say:
The newsletter of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship recently came in the mail and it had an excerpt of an article talking about accompaniment programs along the U.S./Mexico border and something the author said really struck me. She wrote, "We trust power dynamics we don't support in order to operate. We use the power dynamics we are actively working to undo--the supremacy of whiteness, U.S. exceptionalism, the vision of the United States as moral authority and enforcer to the globe--in order to achieve our goal of nonviolence." (You can read the full article here: https://wagingnonviolence.org/forusa/2019/11/navigating-dilemmas-unarmed-accompaniment-us-mexico-border/)
I don't know the answers to those questions but I do know we at least need to be asking and discussing them, especially as we work to continue to be in relationship with each other.
The narratives that prop up inequality can help us to live less troubled in a troubling world. But they also narrow our vision and strand "others" on the wrong side of the opportunity divide. When our comfort comes at their expense, that's a social cost that ultimately shortchanges everyone.
And last, but certainly not least, the people. It was, and is, and will always be about the people and the relationships we build with them. I come home with so many stories of the people. Stories about their joys and sorrows, celebrations and difficulties. Stories about their lives. Stories I've been entrusted with so that I might share them with all of you. This ministry is about the people. Not about what we do or accomplish or build. But about presence and relationship and being. And it is oh so wonderful to be granted the privilege of witnessing and learning all of their stories.
I could talk and write about my time in El Salvador for quite awhile but this hits the highlights. If you do have other questions or want to learn more, let me know.
Until next time...
Actually...one more thing...I'll try and update the blog as we get updates from our community so you can continue to hear and learn their stories.
Also, if you'd like to support the community of Alejandria or the Southwest Partnership's next trip to El Salvador, donations are always being accepted. You can donate online to the El Salvador fund by clicking the give now button below or if you prefer you may mail a check made out to First Presbyterian Church and memo it for El Salvador to:
First Presbyterian Church
907 Grove Avenue
Corning, IA 50841
Our final full day in Berlin kicked off with some fun as we went out into the street in front of the Pastoral House and passed out pencils to everyone. Each student and person received 2 pencils. It was fun to greet them as they headed to work or school and as people started realizing what was happening, even cars started stopping to get pencils for the students who were getting rides to school. There were a lot of smiles and thanks.
Then it was time to eat breakfast and prepare to head back out to Alejandria for our final day. We began the time in Alejandria by hiking up to their water source. Alejandria is very fortunate to have a fully functioning water system that provides water to the families of the community and the big reason for that is they have a dependable water source. The water source is plentiful enough that it continues to flow even in the middle of the dry season. Also, it is farther up the mountain than the community and so gravity keeps the water flowing through the system—there is no need for pumps because the water is always flowing downward.
It’s a fascinating system and something the community is proud of (rightfully so). They even have their own water association—a family pays $2 per month for a certain amount of water. There are even water meters for each home and if a family goes over their amount of water for a month, they pay an additional fee. These monthly and overage fees have enabled the water board to maintain the system without dipping into any of the financial reserves the Southwest Partnership has designated for the water system. Here’s an overview of the system with pictures from the source on down the mountain:
After visiting the water source, we had a final meeting with the Directiva summarizing our visit as well as allowing all of us to share any final thoughts or reflections. We then had lunch with them before going to the party/final gathering.
The whole community comes once again to the final gathering where we all had the opportunity to share some final thoughts with each other. Then we had some fellowship and fun, including pinatas! See some of the photos below:
To visit El Mozote is to visit what it is about ourselves that we would prefer to ignore. That we can be cruel and that we can be so indiscriminately. To visit El Mozote is to face that actions are taken, in our names and with our money, that we do not control and that we do not choose. El Mozote places everything in perspective and it is simpler to leave wondering if we ever understand anything at all.
In 1981, El Mozote was a remote rural settlement of less than 1000 people. Amid the northern mountains of El Salvador, its inhabitants survived on subsistence farming. When the Atlacatl Battalion, one of what soon came to be known as death squads, arrived in town, it was another day in a series of days when armed men would exert power over the people. It had become ordinary amid a civil war.
The facts of December 11, 1981 are this:
All of the inhabitants of El Mozote were assassinated, save Rufina Amaya. Girls and women were raped, men were burned to death, children were tortured. Many inhabitants were only identified due to forensic science after the remains were disinterred from mass graves. The perpetrators of the violence were members of the Atlacatl Battalion, which received training at Ft. Benning, Georgia in the United States (at one time known as the School of the Americas).
The way that the world learned of El Mozote was in large part due to a woman who, because she did so little, survived the worst of human possibilities. While her fellow women screamed and cried at the soldiers, Rufina prayed and then slipped away.
Rufina Amaya told her story for more than a decade and for most of that time it was considered a collection of lies by a peasant woman.
If your stomach can stand it, you can read Rufina Amaya’s testimony in the article published by the New Yorker magazine in November 1993 (http://www.markdanner.com/articles/the-truth-of-el-mozote).
I first visited El Mozote in the 1990s. Today it is a town that is nearly unrecognizable from that time. When our van arrived in El Mozote on Thursday, I did not realize that we were across the street from the memorial wall because so many more buildings were surrounding it than when I visited in the 90s.
I doubt any American could visit El Mozote and not feel, at best, a twinge of guilt and, at worst, total despair at the depravity of humanity. For the Our Sister Parish partnership, the purpose of bringing American visitors to El Mozote is to help us understand the reality and context that is the living history of El Salvador.
The woman who served as our docent at the memorial wall is named Raquel. She is the daughter of a man who was killed in the massacre. She never knew her father. The reason she and her mother survived is because her mother, while pregnant with Raquel, was in the capital city of San Salvador, having been advised that things were getting very dangerous around El Mozote. Raquel is now the same age as my youngest brother.
I translated as Raquel shared with us both her family’s history related to El Mozote and the events of the horrendous day. I had to close my eyes to translate one particular sentence. Raquel said that Rufina Amaya’s 8-month-old child, a child the same age as my sister in 1981, was taken from Rufina, thrown in the air by a soldier, and bayonetted mid-air.
When we speak of Rufina Amaya as the lone survivor of the El Mozote massacre, we mean she was the lone victim of the atrocity who survived. But there were more survivors of the trauma. Those in the military during conflict are taught to follow orders. The members of the Atlacatl Battalion behaved like monsters, but they were and are human beings. When El Salvador went through the process of the Peace Accords which ended its civil war in 1992, all ex-combatants were exonerated.
I had to wonder what the lives of the perpetrators – those who survived the trauma of having done the evil that was the massacre at El Mozote – had been like. Some of them, the members of the Atlacatl Battalion, were killed in later combat. But some survived. Rufina Amaya is said to have told a journalist that for the rest of her life, she could not sleep at night. I doubt she was the only one.
I first visited El Salvador when I was 19 years old. It has been a part of my entire adulthood. All of the friends I have here have their own stories of war and trauma and loss, most of which they have never shared with me. The public memorial at El Mozote is miniscule in comparison to the living memorials that are all of the adult population of El Salvador. It must give the parents of today, my peers, who were children during the civil war great comfort that the children of El Salvador today know about the civil war from memorial walls, not from their nightmares.
Sunday was a bit of a slower day. We started the day with a trip to the market. It's wonderful and overwhelming and there are so many different things. The main market days are Sundays and Thursdays as there is more transportation from the rural communities into town on those days - especially Sundays because of Catholic mass and other worship services. From the market we headed up the road to the cross that sits atop a hill just on the edge of Berlin. The views from there were spectacular. Enjoy the photos below and then I will continue telling you about the day.
After visiting the cross we came back to the Pastoral House for lunch and then left to visit the community of El Rescate. This is the partner community for the First United Presbyterian Church located in Atlantic, Iowa. They haven't been able to send a delegation recently due to RAGBRAI and their 150th anniversary celebrations. So, our visit out there today was on their behalf. It's an interesting community with a very different feel to it from Alejandria. They have a different history and different struggles. Alejandria has a functioning water system and running water. El Rescate has very little water. It was a good opportunity to talk with some more people about their life here in El Salvador. We presented gifts from the Atlantic congregation, they offered us a snack (which was basically an additional lunch), and then a tour of a community. I have a few pictures from the visit which are included below. I'll add more once I'm back in the States (I forgot the USB Apple adapter in my office so can't load the photos off of my camera. Oops.) :-)
After El Rescate we came back to the Pastoral House for a little rest before heading out to 5 o'clock mass at the church on the square, supper, reflections, and then bed.
And that was Sunday.
It's easy to see that we're getting to the end of the of our time here - we're a little more tired and processing everything is taking a little longer and little more energy so it's taking a little more to put together the blog and reflections. So, keep an eye on this in the coming week or two because I'm sure as we're traveling and then after we return to the States and rest up, we'll add reflections on the days that haven't yet been talked about here.
Today was a long full day as we went back out to our community - Alejandria - to visit the rest of our families. We spent time with 30 different families throughout the day. The students of the community who receive scholarship support from the partnership hosted us for lunch and again, the food was amazing! The students ate lunch with us so we had plenty of time to visit with them, hearing from them individually about their studies and dreams.
So, for tonight we thought we would offer a photo collage so you might see the day. Enjoy!
With this people it is not hard to be a good shepherd. This is a people that compels to its service those of us who have been called to defend its rights and to be its voice.
Remember how I said that hopefully we'd have entries for Days 3 and 4 tonight? There's not one for Day 3, yet. Annika and I both want to write about our experiences on Day 3 when we went to El Mozote. However, we haven't had the opportunity (or for me the brain power) to sit down and write about the difficult, challenging, and other things we experienced that day. Keep an eye out, though, as it will appear at some point.
For now, enjoy reading Tim's entry about Day 4.
What a wonderful day it was for me here in El Salvador! It was a day when I was able to reunite with my “family” here. Six years ago, I was part of a six-person delegation that came to the city of Berlin, El Salvador representing the SW Iowa Presbyterian Partnership. Our task was to find a community willing to form a partnership with us, a two-way partnership that would involve us making visits every year or two to listen to them as they shared their dreams and desires, their on-going projects involving water and crop cultivation. We found a willing partner – the small community of Alejandria consisting of less than 50 families. They adopted us and we adopted them, and each of us made a commitment to one another. We became “family.”
Today I was reunited with my family. I talked with men and women who have proven to be wonderful leaders, guiding their community as they struggle together to overcome obstacles that keep them impoverished – changing weather patterns which (two harvests ago) caused a massive crop failure … limited access to educational opportunities … an economy that is not thriving … very few job opportunities for people of all ages … a political environment that is ever-changing with leaders who rarely seem to address the needs of the country’s poorest citizens. If I were in the situation of my brothers and sisters here, I might succumb to despair; but today I was once again surprised by the level of hope and joy present in so many of the residents of our partner community.
We had a community wide meeting attended by a hundred or so persons, persons as old as 87 or as young as two months old. We spoke to young adults who were students when we formed the partnership, who have completed their education (with scholarship help) and are now well on the way to becoming new leaders of the community. We spoke to older folks who survived a terrible civil war and still have hope for the future. We spoke to some parents who are proud of the accomplishments of their children, and others who are not thrilled with the choices their children have made – just like parents here in the United States.
We visited 16 families in their homes, humble abodes into which we were welcomed with open arms and hearts full of love. We brought gifts of food and medicine, but it was the hospitality we received that was the most important gift. My favorite conversations were the ones I had with Jose Antonio, Maria de la Paz, Francisco, Blanca Lidia, Ricardo, Dora Isabel, Rafael, and Julissa. I can barely wait for the conversations we will have tomorrow with the students who are currently receiving scholarships from the Presbyterian Churches of SW Iowa. I am filled with both joy and peace.
I have also been blessed by the fellowship I have shared with Gary, Bev, and Jessica (who are also part of the SW Iowa delegation) and by the things I have learned from both the outgoing mission co-worker, Kathy, and the incoming mission co-worker, Annika. It’s been a great trip, and the best is yet to come. Special thanks to all who support the SW Partnership with money and/or prayers and/or participation in our mission. May God bless you all.
Our internet access was really spotty last night which is why there's no Day 3 yet. Look for yesterday's and today's updates tonight (hopefully). :-)
Note on the Blog Posts - I'm working to link some additional websites into the different posts if you'd like to find more information about a location or event. They show up in gray and underlined.
What a long, full day. I asked everyone if someone else wanted to blog tonight and they all deferred (surprise, surprise). Hopefully in a day or two they'll get over their shyness and share some of their thoughts. :-)
And today was a long, full day. Since it's my first time in El Salvador, today focused on history and context - helping us understand the past so we can better understand the people, their stories, and what's made El Salvador what it is today. And goodness there's a lot of history (and saying history feels weird because that makes you think of long ago but the history we focused on today happened either shortly before I was born or during my life time - I'm 33 for those of you who don't know) and it's not very pretty. In fact, it's violent, graphic, sad, horrible, and challenging. But it's truth and that's the important piece to remember - the truth is being shared and part of our responsibility as partners is to listen, learn, and work to understand. So, what was the truth we learned today
We started at Parque Cuscatlan (translation: Cuscatlan Park - my apologies to my Spanish speaking friends for the lack of accent - a project to figure out for my next blog post). It's a beautiful urban park and today was a gorgeous sunny day to be outside. In the park is a wonderful mural that tells an overview of El Salvador - from the thriving times of the indigenous peoples to the terror of the Spanish colonization of the land to the rising up of the people and the horrors of the civil war. It's all there on the wall. What comes at the end of the mural, though, is what makes it so striking - it's the Monument to Memory and Truth (the civilian casualty memorial wall). On first glance, it reminded me of the Vietnam Memorial as it's large and covered in names. The names on this wall are all of the people who were either murdered or disappeared beginning a few years before what's considered the official start of the civil war (1980) and its end. So every year has 2 sections homicidios (homicides) and desaparecidas/desaparecidos (essentially the people who disappeared - went out one day and then were never seen again) and under each section for each year is the list of names. And the list keeps growing. The monument was originally erected in 2003 with nearly 30,000 names and then a few years later an additional section that included over 3,000 more names was added, as well as a listing of all of the massacre sites in El Salvador (more on those tomorrow as we're headed out to one of the sites then). Also, this list of people is incomplete! Estimates put the dead at over 75,000 with thousands more disappearing throughout the civil war. I'm learning that down here, with regards to numbers related to the civil war, the best assumption to make is to assume the true number is underrepresented. The numbers were and are probably far greater than what we know. It was definitely a bit of a weird feeling - standing in a beautiful park, on a gorgeous day, reading a few names from the thousands upon thousands who were murdered or disappeared.
From Parque Cuscatlan, it was on to the Divina Providencia Hospital and Chapel (the Divine Providence Hospital and Chapel). The chapel is the site of the assassination of, the now saint, Oscar Romero. Romero was the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, appointed in February of 1977. His appointment was welcomed by the government and wealthy of El Salvador because previously he had not really spoken out against them, the military, or anything that was happening throughout the country. However, in March of 1977, a good friend of his was assassinated and his death greatly impacted Romero. While he was already considered a friend of the people and the poor (he turned down living in the palace of the Archbishop to continue staying with the nuns at the Divina Providencia Hospital), after his friend's death, Romero became much more vocal about the atrocities that were happening. He had a weekly radio address he used to speak to the people in addition to his homilies. And he continually was working to ease the pain and suffering of the people.
On 23 March 1980, Romero delivered a homily in which he appealed to the soldiers (ones committing the atrocities and massacres) to disobey the orders. He said, “In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to Heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!” (https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/archbishop-oscar-romero-becomes-a-saint-but-his-death-still-haunts-el-salvador) Most consider this to have been the moment that his death warrant was signed for the very next day, during a mass he was saying for a friend's family, he was assassinated. He was standing at the altar preparing for the offering when a car drove up the parkway right outside the chapel, turned around, and a single sniper rifle emerged and shot him. It's now said that Romero's life was the offering that day. There are photos documenting the moments immediately following, taken by the friend (a journalist) for whose family he was saying mass and then smuggled out by a nun so they would not be destroyed.
We saw those photos, as well as the small home which the nuns built Romero. It's been preserved basically as he left it and also has the clothes he was wearing that day, as well as the recording from the mass in which you can hear Romero speaking and then the gunshot. Outside is a beautiful garden which is home to the grotto that contains Romero's heart. Those assassinated were shot in the area related to their "sin." Romero's "sin" (his care for the poor) was considered a sin of the heart and so the sniper aimed for his heart. The bullet missed the heart and hit the aorta and the story is that during the autopsy, the nuns who were present for it requested they be given his heart as there was significant concern it would be destroyed or his body desecrated by the assassins. Their request was granted and for many years it was hidden in that garden area outside his home until finally, work was done to create the area you see in the picture.
After Divina Providencia, we had one more site to visit before lunch and that was at UCA (University of Central America). In November 1989, soldiers stormed the university and massacred 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter (also known as the Jesuit massacre). The story was told that the military had found evidence that these priests were helping the people fighting for liberation and because of that ordered the assassination of one of the priests which included orders to leave no witnesses. 5 of the priests were killed in the garden, one in the dormitory, and the housekeeper and her daughter were killed in the room they were staying in. We were able to see the small museum that has been created there, which has on display all of the clothes the priests were wearing when they were killed, maps of locations, and other artifacts from their rooms and surrounding areas. We also saw the site of the massacre (the garden), the room where the housekeeper and daughter were killed, and then the chapel.
Again, it was this strange dichotomy of beauty and violence.
The groundskeeper at the time of the massacre was the husband of the housekeeper and so lost both his wife and daughter that night. He is the one who turned the massacre site into a rose garden, planted 6 red rosebushes for the Jesuit priests and 2 yellow rosebushes for his wife and daughter. Later, additional rosebushes were added to symbolize the other assassinations (such as Oscar Romero) and massacres (such as El Mozote, which is where we're headed tomorrow) that happened throughout the civil war.
The chapel was also very beautiful with some significant artwork that was imbued with meaning. But placed in it are some very graphic depictions of the Stations of the Cross, created by an artist who would go out to observe the violence and torture that was happening, and then draw those scenes for the record. They were definitely difficult to see, but again, it's the telling of the story, the truth of what was really happening. If you'd like to see them, you can find them at the following link, but please know, they are very graphic depictions of torture and prepare yourself for that: UCA Stations of the Cross.
One of the challenges of learning all of these things, is also learning that my country (our country), the United States, supported the government and military of El Salvador through much of the civil war. We sent over 1 million dollars a day in support. The soldiers who committed many of these crimes, including the massacres, were trained in the United States. This is a piece of our history (and our current foreign policy) that we don't learn about in school--that we have funded/supported and are funding/supporting people who are committing these crimes. We have and are funding and supporting violence, massacres, torture, and who knows what else. And that's a piece of the truth we need to hear and be aware of. It's a piece of the truth that I'm still processing and trying to figure out.
None of this is easy. It's hard, challenging, and overwhelming. What I know, though, is that Jesus said, "I am the Truth." And so the truth must be told. It must be shared. We must learn from it - no matter how difficult it might be.
And then, after all of that, it was finally time for lunch. :-)
We ate at a place by the Artisan Shops, had some time to do a little shopping, and then hit the road for Berlin (pronounced Ber-leen - again my apologies for no accent). It's a beautiful drive going down the mountains, across the valley and river, then back up the mountains to the town. Although, I definitely slept through some of it, as my brain was processing everything we'd seen before lunch. :-)
So, we have arrived safely at the Pastoral House in Berlin! The women are wonderful and were so excited to see Tim and Gary and Bev (the one with the purple hair) again. We had some time to settle in during which we also worked on the gifts that we'll be taking to the families of our community in the coming days, then supper, time of reflections, some final prep for our families, and then bed.
So, as I said at the beginning, a long and full day. There's another on deck tomorrow as we're headed out to the site of the El Mozote massacre. But that's for tomorrow. This is enough for today.