El Salvador Part 3

There are a number of reasons why this chapter is so late in coming.  Since I got back from El Salvador, I’ve had a difficult time putting into words exactly what we did, what I got from it, how I feel.  Even right now I am finding the words elusive.  I don’t know if I can do it justice. 
We live in a very different world.  When I arrived back I spent a couple of weeks in reverse culture shock.  Paved roads, clean, maintained roads, houses that now seem like magnificent opulent homes, toilets that flush toilet paper… the list could go on, but I won’t.   Do not let my observations give you the impression at all that I think El Salvador is primitive, low class or otherwise demean them.  I want you to understand that our very poor here would be considered rich there.  What they ARE rich in is heart.  I’ve explained a bit about what we did.  I’m not going to go into any more depth because I had a job to do.  I went there, I worked and if the little I did made even a tiny difference, and pleased God even a little, I would be completely happy.  But the work is not what impacted me the most.  It was the people.  I mentioned on Facebook that I would never complain about laundry again as I watched women carry humongous baskets of laundry on their heads down to the river to wash.  I was walking in a neighborhood one day handing out tickets to one of our clinic days when one of the daily downpours of rain started.  Without a moment’s pause, a woman who had moments before been cleaning her floor with a bucket, soap shavings and a rag, (no Swiffers here) quickly insisted that we come into her home from the muddy road and wait out the rain.  Another family that I met at church wanted to talk to me long after church ended, hear all about my family and then insisted that I bring my family some day on vacation, and please be welcome to stay in their home.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever been walking in the rain and have someone offer me an umbrella let alone welcome me into their home with freshly mopped floors!
I had the honor of coloring with children who daily come to the church for their meals.  Children who can play for hours on end with tiny nubbins of crayons or a single balloon.
I got to witness young teens eager to learn another language, voluntarily, in their free time from school.
I was pleased to watch a crippled boy be blessed with new crutches from one of our fantastic volunteers and many, many others get medical attention, some for the first time in their lives.
These are all tangible things that I got to experience first hand and watch. 
But what I took away?  I didn’t mean to take anything, or receive anything. But I did.
Sunday evening one of our interpreters, who also works at the church, supports her family, goes to school, and raises her nephew and niece as her own, told me that she and one of our other a-maz-ing interpreters would be staying with me and a couple of my other team members overnight at the hotel….
Now, if you know me you would know that there is nothing I fear more in life than new people.  But of course when Evelin told me, I smiled and said something dumb like “of course that would be wonderful!”  not wanting her to feel even a smidge that she would be unwelcome by me, which she wasn’t.  I love to be around people, interacting, having fun.  Love it.  But I’m a big baby about new ones.  It probably stems from a lifetime of moving around and never having that lifelong best friend that many grow up with from birth into adulthood.  So, Sunday night we were all really wiped out.  It was obvious that we all needed a good night’s sleep.  Our interpreters Evelin and Amalba were cleary as tired as we were.  And in my nervousness, I made a really lame joke as Evelin was lying on the couch falling asleep.  She in her sweet exhaustion actually thought it was funny and laughed.  And laughed.  And then told Amalba about it and laughed some more.  Meanwhile I’m thinking that perhaps I said something ridiculously idiotic in Spanish, because there is no way my stupid joke was that funny. And then I started laughing and our bond was sealed.  That easy.  That quick.  Forever.  Over the next several days our bond only grew.  Faster than any friendship I have ever had.  These two women were a balm to my soul.  We spent very late nights talking, whispering, laughing and then laughing the next day over inside jokes from the night before.  Blessed seems like such a trivial word for the new friendship that I now share with them.   Lucky maybe?  Nope, not good enough.  Evelin is someone who I feel divinely connected to.  I love her and I know she loves me.  I miss her like crazy and saying goodbye to Amalba on Thursday and then Evelin on Friday night was torture.  So….the reason it took me so long to write this particular installment is because, I’ve been feeling very emotional since I got back.  I don’t know how to explain the love I have for all the people, but in particular a very special friend who I never saw coming or expected.  In God’s infinite grace and wisdom, he planned for me to be on this trip, to meet this woman, to share a lifetime friendship with.  Little did I know that so far away would be a couple of women that I would meet and come to love dearly when I was 27 years old.  What else can I say except that I miss them desperately and cannot wait to go back and seem them again.

Stay tuned for the final installment.  Hopefully much sooner than this one was!

The Tale of Two Dumdums

It is a sad, sad tale for the ages.  A dumdum that is not good enough.  Not loved.  Nay, abandoned and left in humiliation. 

Its happened to the best of us.  Everyone has had a moment when they have felt like they just don’t measure up.  Like you just aren’t colorful enough, funny enough, desirable enough.  Like your brother or sister is the Chosen One because they are always the first to go, first one picked.  They are exciting, and colorful and a beautiful sight to behold.  This poor fella is one of them.  You should have seen the look of disgust its 18 month old owner gave it as it was unwrapped and revealed it’s true colors to be…. well…. not colorful at all.  To be left to the fate of not getting even a single lick, not like it’s brothers in rainbow colors.  After all, everyone likes them better.  Everyone that is….. but Mom.  The expression “someone only a mom could love” is so true.

Isn’t it wonderful that God is much like a mother that loves us all her children the same.  He loves all of us dumdums the same no matter how pretty or exciting our colors are.  And he always looks on us like we are ALL “the orange one!”

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El Salvador Part 2

Sunday Morning I woke up to a belly full of fear excitement.  It was irrational.  But since I had been at my big, strong husband’s side for the last 10 years and never on my own, I was a smidge scared at what a week without him would be like.  I wasn’t about to tell anyone how I was feeling and sound like a complainey woman.  So the only person left that I could confide in was my God of course.  I prayed, and then decided to look up a verse on fear.  What I got was a mantra that I would recite to myself the rest of the week and strength when I didn’t think I could go on.  It was absolutely perfect, and the very first verse I looked at. 

Psalm 18:30-36
30 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. 31 For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. 34 He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35 You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. 36 You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.

Not only were these verses perfect for me, but they were also perfect for all of the people of La Libertad.  In a place that is constantly plagued by erosion it is even more important to teach this.  When they can’t depend on the weather, people, food, money and even the land their homes stand on, they need to know that God is their Rock.

So armed with these verses and a new mindset, I went down to breakfast and started my day with a smile on my face.  Sunday we went out into the neighborhoods surrounding the church, where the need is greatest.  Words cannot describe.  We invited any children we saw to a party at the church later that afternoon, later in the day over 200 people came and enjoyed balloons, pinatas, clowns and games.  That night we were treated to an evening church service and got to worship in Spanish with them!

Monday was our first official day of work.  I joined an interpreter in teaching English to some young students with Peggy, a retired teacher that was with our group.  We taught about ordinal numbers, calendar, the words: “in, on and at.”  I found that Peggy, although, retired is a natural teacher.  I also was given a gift in the way of gaining assurance in my future schooling and career.  I’ve been so unsure about what I wanted to do when I grow up!  I found out that I truly enjoy teaching! 

After we taught the kids they went to computer class, then a Bible lesson that I commandeered Andrea Mindling, another group member for!  She did an amazing job all week choosing a verse and picking a lesson to teach with it.

After teaching we went out to play with the nutrition center kids.  We colored with them, played with balls and did some games of “Pato, Pato, Ganzo (duck, duck, goose)” and musical chairs.  This was my first encounter with a woman I would become so fond of that I wish my parents wold adopt her so she can be my sister.  Claudia!  After Pato, Pato, the heat took over for me and I was done.  But not Claudia.  She came from Honduras with three others to translate for us, but also worked alongside us.  She, with Don’s (Papa Gringo- the leader of our group) guitar, sideways hat and kazoo, started a game of musical chairs.  Claudia supervised, reffed, and tirelessly led the game while all I could do was sit, sweat, and watch in amazement.  Not one moment did she lose the smile on her face or her patience.  Women from Honduras are tough!

Meanwhile the construction team was toughing out the El Salvador heat and the medical team was organizing for their clinic days, and revisiting the neighborhoods to hand out tickets to the medical clinic days.
Monday night, after an awesome day was the first inkling I would get that I was about to enter into what will be a lifetime friendship with some very special women! 
Part 3 Coming Soon.