Monday, July 14, 2014

God Shows no Partiality








In God’s Mission here in El Salvador, sometimes things come at us so fast it’s hard to stay focused on anything. Sometimes it’s unexpectedly hard labor, other things make us break out in smiles, others push us to tears and some are so spiritually uplifting we thank God he has sent us here. Yesterday was uplifting.

There we are shaking the hand of retired Bishop Gene Robinson of the Diocese of New Hampshire. In the words of Bishop Martin Barahona, “Bishop Robinson is a true champion of human rights and dignity”. If you do not know this man he is the first openly gay Bishop of the Episcopal Church.  For Dianne and I this was a momentous occasion. How often do you shake hands with people who defy the status quo publically to millions, who preach the love of Jesus for all people to millions regardless of the consequences  and who does all this with a consistent trust in Jesus’s words “and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”

Yesterday we were invited to a special service presided by Bishop Martin Barahona and Bishop Gene Robinson in the honor of the LGBTI community in El Salvador and their friends and families. It was held at San Juan Evangelista in San Salvador.  Dianne and I plus 10 members of the community went for the 2 PM service to support these brave members of the Episcopal Church in El Salvador and support the Episcopal Church for having the bravery to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are oppressed and marginalized here. It was great to see everyone there and we also met other North Americans who have been in El Salvador for a Conference on LGBTI rights held by Cristosal Fundacion who had Bishop Robinson as one of their speakers.

As we sat there taking it all in it hit me during Bishop Martin’s sermon exactly what Bishop Robinson represented. Bishop Martin mentioned how the World Cup was being decided but we needed to focus on the Eucharist, a symbol of God’s love that unites all of us as Christians. He also pointed out that in sports you hear words like humiliation and dignity but is losing a game really humiliating when compared to humiliation of losing your human rights because of your sexual orientation. Or, how does winning a game bring dignity to a team or country in comparison to a man like Bishop Robinson who brought dignity to the important discussion of Human Rights to all of God’s people. This is not dignity brought on by the elevated status of being a Bishop but the dignity of being able to express with truth, honesty and love that human rights for the LGBTI community are a mandate from God. Bishop Robinson didn’t have to sink to the level of those who opposed his views, people whose hearts were filled with anger and hate. Bishop Robinson trusted in Jesus’s message that as disciples of Jesus we can change people with truth, honesty and Love and Bishop Martin said he had witnessed this change when Bishop Robinson spoke to supporters of his and those who opposed him. As in yesterday’s Gospel of the Sower of seeds, Bishop Robinson’s message delivered with dignity does fall on good soil and many Christians do hear the message and understand and it will bear fruit multiple times over.  Bishop Martins point was that a true Champion isn’t someone who plays sports; a man like Bishop Robinson is a true Champion. As Bishop Martin said, “It might be hard to imagine Bishop Robinson running up and down the Futbol field winning the game but he has run all over the world winning the game of Human Rights. Bishop Robinson is a champion of our faith”.  I would be remiss if I didn’t add this; Iglesia San Juan Evangelista was full of Champions. These champions were the men and woman of the LGBTI community in El Salvador who have stood up for their rights knowing full well the danger it puts them in. These are men and women of the Episcopal Church who trust in God that His justice will prevail. Dianne and I were in the presence of true champions.

So there we are shaking Bishop Robinson’s hand, this Champions hand. All I can say is that it was uplifting to speak with a man of this bravery who has done so much for our faith. He thanked Dianne and me for our service to Christ and we thanked him for being such and inspiration for all of us.

Acts 10:34 - So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.






Monday, May 12, 2014

Junk Drawer Continued


To be continued………………………………………………….
 

36.     As Dianne likes to put it, our daily schedule is like New England weather. Wait 5 minutes and it’ll change.

37.     We found that clean is very subjective when it comes to clothes. Dianne maintains a higher level than me but I’ve been known to let sweaty shirts dry and then wear to work again the next day if they pass the smell test. (OK, kinda pass)

38.     You know that Salvadoran people are short? HOW SHORT ARE THEY???????? I can have 4 of our friends in the backseat, look in my rearview mirror and I don’t even see the tops of their heads J

39.     If a Salvadoran friend asks for a quick ride someplace, don’t believe for one second it will be quick. I’ve yet to leave our community with one person and not returned with at least 2 or 3 more. There’s always a side trip or someone we know someplace.

40.     At the check points the police may be armed to the teeth but if you give your U.S. License, your international license, your vehicle identification card and your Salvadoran Identification Card you’re good to go. Very important… when they say “porta arma” (do you have a gun) say no.

41.     So I’m picking dried corn off the stalks for processing and one of the guys says, ‘get rid of the gloves it makes it too hard’. I toss my gloves and he’s right, it’s easier picking now. Then 5 minutes later he says, watch out for Alacrans (scorpions), you’re going to see a lot of them on the corn. WHAT THE $@#^&%, that’s why I was wearing gloves!!!!! He wasn’t kidding either but Demos gracias adios I didn’t get stung.

42.     On our divided highways you can actually do a U-Turn into the other side of the highway. Of course you must pull into the right breakdown lane in order to swing into the opening in the highway dividers that, if you’re lucky, is wider than your car. You’re only crossing 3 lanes of speeding traffic but we’re living proof it can be done safely.

43.     Salvadorans eat Pupusas for breakfast (one of the reasons I love this place), they eat them for supper too (another reason, I’m lovin it)but they’re hard to find for lunch. I’m told it’s just not done.

44.     My gas attendant yesterday was wearing an Uzi, just saying.

45. When going to work in the fields, you bring your cell phone in case of emergencies. If I drove to work I have my wallet too. Before you leave the house everything goes in plastic sandwich bags before they go in your pocket.  One, it might rain and we keep working and two, you sweat through everything and you don’t want to kill your cellphone and I hate a soggy wallet.

46.  At the end of rainy season fields of tiny morning glories appear and they cover everything and it’s beautiful to see but to the people here they’re just monte (weeds).

47.  We’re starting to eat street food and our preference is Pupusas (of course). If you want to be safe skip the curtido. It’s coleslaw that you don’t know what water it was washed with and unless you see the salsa cooking skip that too. We haven’t had a problem.

48. Oh, my trick of curing the Salsa /curtido bad water problem. When I bring them home I bring the salsa to a boil before eating and the curtido I add a little water to and bring it to a good steam.

49.  Another favorite street food is fried chicken, I swear they have the process down pat, I haven’t eaten bad fried chicken yet.

50.  Speaking of fried chicken you have some Major Players in this franchise battle down here. Pollo Campero, Pollo Choice and good Old Kentucky Fried Chicken. Pollo Choice is OK but it’s just not in the same league as the others and KFC just isn’t doing the U.S. proud. Pollo Campero is the go to place when Dianne and I want fried chicken. There’s one in Providence RI, East Boston and Chelsea, MA. Take it from the Missionary Gordito’s, you need to go get some right now.(See #54)

51.  Sick of Chicken talk, I’m not. Until I came to El Salvador I have never seen Chicken fast food restaurants this big. One side is like a huge children’s indoor playground and the other serves food either sit-down or take out.  Both KFC and Pollo Campero have these Chicken eating children playing wonderlands.

52. Here’s the scene OK, you’re in bumper to bumper traffic. You see someone with their blinker on and they want to change lanes. Sometimes I let them in; sometimes I don’t. It depends on how PO’ed I am. Don’t let the title Missionary fool you, I get PO’ed.  Now then, if the blinker goes on and the driver rolls his window down and starts pointing to where he’s going, you better let him in, he’s coming. I’ve done it, it works. I love driving down here.

53. Sitting on our porch just zoning out, just soaking up the view, and Dianne asks “can chickens walk without bobbing their heads????”  I look and I kid you not, they walk and bob their heads, walk and bob, walk and bob. Maybe we’ve been here to long maybe not but we’ve been watching these guys for over a year and sometimes these little things pop into your head. Note to self, Dianne is watching the chickens too closely.

54. We’ve found some great cheese puff snacks called Gorditos. Allow me to explain “Gordito” loosely defined is “cute little fatty”. Being a cute little fatty, do they have to remind us what we’re doing to ourselves as we eat? Again, I kid you not “Gorditos”

55. So I’m getting some diesel fuel at the Gasolinera and the pump stops, I assume it’s full. The gas attendant says poco mas (a little more), I say va pues (sure). Well he proceeds to top this off like I’ve never seen, he pumps diesel then starts rocking the car like he’s tipping a cow. He does this over and over till he’s put in a full gallon + more. Dianne was in the car and thought she was in a roller coaster.

56. Our winning streak against scorpions went by the boards, one of the bastards got me, yup I said bastard it hurt that much. (Missionary is a title that carries way too many holier than thou connotations). The scorpion actually had crawled all the way up my pant leg and got me on my, wait for it…………. Upper inside thigh, to close for comfort if you know what I mean. Beejeezus did it hurt, felt like I got stuck by a hot poker.  BUT, I took one Benadryl 2 tylenol and woke up the next day no problem.

57. I’ve become accustomed to seeing difficult situation/things here and I don’t really react besides the needed prayer. But I can’t help but smile when I see a girl in her young to midteens holding her Mother or Grandmothers hand at a store walking along talking, laughing and smiling. BFF’s do this also at all ages and it’s just so “nice”.

58. Here’s one of our inside sarcastic jokes. (Yes, missionaries are sarcastic)When something that we thought was going to be quick and easy goes to heck in a hand basket and we’re now waiting endlessly for something to go right. We will look at each other and say sarcastically “well, what else would we be doing”.

59.  If you want to cause a ruckus in church down here, suggest singing an offertory hymn as the ending hymn and you’ll be looked at like you’ve lost your mind. Suggest singing any song out of the normal category and you’ll get that look. Who says change is hard in El Salvador?

60. The elevation of San Salvador is so much higher than El Maizal, that when we drive there, our ears pop going and coming back.

61. Our neighbor’s dogs had a cough; it went on for a few days. They finally made them a home remedy. They made necklaces out of slightly burnt corn cobs and tied them around the dog’s necks. I asked if it was done for humans too. My neighbors said no and look at me like I was wacky.  Stop me if I’m wrong but I thought burnt corn cob necklaces on dogs was kinda wacky.

62. Seeing people out on a family bike ride is common here BUT, they’re all on one bike. We’ve seen 5 people on a bike. Dad driving with a child on the cross bar, Mom holding a baby behind him and then a child standing on pegs in the back. I bet that’s not what you envisioned when you started reading this.

63. Motorcycles are a very popular mode of transportation here but not street bikes.  All the Bikes are mostly 100’s or 125’s. They have to be the most dangerous modes of transportation I’ve ever witnessed and quite frankly it’s the driver’s fault. In heavy (not stopped) traffic they will ride in between lanes, in breakdown lanes and basically weave anyway they want to get ahead. It’s not real conducive for safety when drivers are trying to pass or force their ways into other lanes. I’ve seen at least 5 motorcycle accidents and I’m pretty sure 2 were fatalities. I will never drive or ride on a motorcycle here.

64. Does anyone have a good iguana recipe they want to share???? I see them sold in the road occasionally but not sure what to do with them.

65.We saw a Gecko run up one of our walls with ½ a tail. We felt bad for a second till we thought, OMG, whatever grabbed his tail is in our house!!!!!!!!!!!

66.Too much information alert. We’re adults right??? Well guys pull over down here to pee along the side of the road, no biggee right? Well, they don’t step into the woods. There they are, right there feet from the road pee’ing. COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!

67. Dinner on an open porch looking over the Pacific with a wonderful sunset view. I had the calamari and shrimp rice mix, Dianne had the grilled large shrimp. They come with rice, salad and tortillas. We also had a few cervezas. The bill including a generous propina (tip) was $30.00

68. Joya Ceren is a local Mayan ruin we’ve visited. It’s their smaller version of Pompeii. Buried in volcanic ash, dust and lava. All interesting stuff but a side note is that the place was full of Torogoz (National Bird of El Salvador). The Torogoz build their nests in the soft ground of cliff faces or steep riverbanks. The way the ruins have been excavated many nesting places have been created.

69.In the U.S. as soon as any little boy can grasp something with his hand, we hand them a baseball or ball of some sort to throw. Down here, as soon as they can walk, they start kicking a ball. I like the nuanced differences.

70. Sometimes it gets a little challenging wondering if we are accomplishing anything. But, I just read a great quote from a Priest discussing Churches embracing the principals of the business world to produce more success in ministry. He reminds us that “We’re called to be faithful, not successful”.

 

 Demos gracias a Dios