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.