Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writers Block

Allow me to start by giving my apologies for being an absentee blogger. I can't believe I haven't blogged for over 5 months. I've posted lots of pictures and stories to Facebook but the blogging, well I just wasn't feeling it. I had started 3 different blogs but never finished them and ended up deleting them. I had a case of writers block.

That said; let’s see if number 4 is the charm.

Being so far from home unfortunately has not shielded us from the unrest, racial tensions and just general lack of faith in some institutions (our police forces and government) in our beloved country. I’m not naïve enough to think that these issues are just a passing thing or that they are unjustified. But, as many have and should point out (I’ll get to it also) that we can’t focus or look at our differences if we think we are going to solve these problems together.

Let me share a couple of situations that caused me to step back and think.

We recently had a new well built in our community by Living Waters International because of the generous donations of New Song Church of Prairieville, Louisiana. A group of their parishioners including their pastor came down to help in the construction. They worked hard in this Salvadoran heat ( to bring a constant supply of clean water to El Maizal. They were as pleasant as could be to the people of our community, especially the children and thanked us over and over again for our sacrifice as missionaries. I never heard them complain about anything even though for most of them it was the 1st time they’ve ever been to El Salvador and trust me there are things to complain about in El Salv………, never mind. But do you get my point, what a great group of people. By the way they are Methodists.

So what do I do? One night I go online and look up Methodists because I want to know what they are about. I start reading and I’m thinking OK, I like that, Hmmmmmmm, I don’t know about that and it continues until a light goes off in this cavernous head of mine. TOM, you already know what Methodists are. They are pleasant, hardworking people who are willing to sacrifice time and money for others, they don’t complain, they appreciate the sacrifice of others before their own sacrifice and they do it all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why was I looking them up and reading about their faith putting my own judgment on their belief system and if I continued possibly putting those judgments onto them??? Because, I wasn’t recognizing what was right in front of me. They are who they are, described by the way they practice their faith through actions.  THAT’S WHO METHODISTS ARE!!

Now then, I’m glad I caught myself on that. So then, poor Dianne has been sick for almost 7 weeks now. She started with Chikungunya whose fever left after a week but the constant body pain continued, then the fever came back and she was diagnosed with a bladder infection. She’s not a good patient because she hates not being able to help out but the only solution is constant rest. Sooooooooo, where am I going with this? We have a dear friend who works near our house every day. When she became aware of Dianne’s health problems she volunteered to wash our clothes for us. I offered to pay her but she refused, she said we are friends, paying her would be an insult.  So she comes twice a week and washed our clothes by hand. I pitifully help but she does most of the work. Keep in mind her days start at 4 AM, so she can wash her own clothes, cook breakfast for the family, get her family going for the day, she goes to work for 4 or 5 hours till noon. Takes a 2 or 3 hour break (after making lunch) and then comes to do back breaking work at our house. By the way she’s a Jehovah Witness.
Soooo, we all know that feeling when we hear Jehovah Witness (no Christmas, no Halloween, no celebrations, what the heck). But that wasn’t enough for me, I had to go online and see what she and her faith were about. I started reading and was thinking, I don’t know about this, this sounds kind of crazy to me when the light bulb went off again. TOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING????????? You know what a Jehovah Witness is. They are the type of people who put their own comforts aside for their family, they work endlessly to keep their lives and the lives of their families going smooth and when they are exhausted from a long hard day, they sacrifice even more for friends.  She was doing in the name of her Lord. Why was I reading about them only reinforcing the stereotype I had in my head????? I already knew by witnessing with my own eyes what a Jehovah Witness was. They are who they are, described by the way they practice their faith through actions (sound familiar). THAT’S WHO JEHOVAH’S ARE!!

For a guy who reads the Letter of James at least every couple of months, you’d think I’d get it by now. So here I was amongst great people doing great things in the name of God and twice I fell into the trap. Was it my Tempter (if you don’t get that reference read the Screw tape Letters by C.S. Lewis, ASAP). I was looking at our differences. Thanks be to God, I caught myself those times but will I next? As my Jehovah friend pointed out once as we did wash together “Tom, humans are imperfect” (Can I get an AMEN).

Let me try to pull this all together. Looking for and recognizing the differences between us, is a real fast way of creating us and them scenarios, not a great way to work out solutions to complex problems. What do we have in common? We’re all human, we’re all imperfect, we all have our great moments and our shameful ones but we’re all Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

En la paz de Dios

Tom y Dianna Wilson

But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It is simply 4 words

It's hard to believe but March 4th is our 1 year Anniversary as Missionaries in El Salvador.

If we can share any insight about God's mission, about hearing God's call to mission, about answering God's call to mission, about doing God's mission.

It is simply this,

"Do not be afraid"


Tomas y Dianna

Thursday, February 27, 2014

One body many parts

One of the unknown benefits of my mission work is I get to give communion to my congregation. I've come to realize in a very short time that sharing the Eucharist may be a very sacred act of our faith but it's very personal too. It gives me a sense of happiness to give El Cuerpo de Cristo pan de Cielo (The Body of Christ the bread of heaven) to my friends. I see them in line smiling and I have to admit it brings a smile to my face. For the children who receive I dip the hostia (host) in the wine and hand it to them. They have these big smiles with big brown eyes and they love receiving it. I always approached communion formal and somber for this sacred event, nothing wrong with that. Now that I'm on the giving end, I think I've learned this a is a celebration not a formal event and the moment is to be enjoyed. It's what Jesus would want.

Just after the elections Dianne and I had a group of Election observers from Chicago come visit us and our community. I'm glad to say that they said from their viewpoint they observed nothing alarming to report. They also stated that for the most part they were welcome at the different locations they visited although one spot the people were a little cold or suspicious of them but again they had no problems. This is very good news. These people deserve a huge amount of credit because it can be dangerous. Elections can bring out the worse in people and these observers bravely walk into places they've never seen and report what they see impartially regardless of their own safety. That's brave and God bless them.

Cleaning this trench was not in the Mission Brochure

My companeros enjoying a well deserved break
These boys work shoulder to shoulder with the men

Here's one of the more glamorous parts of life here. We have a drainage canal in the community that takes our waste and rainwater out from near the homes. Normally it needs to be dredged (dug out by hand) twice a year to keep the water flowing. At times it can smell very swampy and of course is a breeding ground for mosquitos and sancudos (pronounced san-coo-does), a mosquito type insect. The good thing is that none of it is raw sewerage, just mostly rotted vegetable matter, thick stinky mud and assorted trash. What was very gratifying was that this was the first community job I had to round up volunteers for. It's not a fun job but about 7 men and the 2 young men showed up ready to go. Many hands make light work, we finished in a little over and hour and cold gaseosa (soda) was enjoyed by everyone. You'll notice some of the boys helping. This is never an uncommon sight. The boys are constant helpers regardless of how hard or heavy the work is. They impress me with their work ethic (actually everybody does) but work ethic is a consistent characteristic here. These people work hard, harder than I can explain and it starts very, very young. The girls or boys are working very hard at 8 or 9. I'll blog about them someday.

the stirring line

It's hot work, you can feel the heat on your legs when stirring

This work is going to give me Popeye arms before I leave

Curtido - Salvadoreno Cole slaw served with pupusas
Serline and Thelma putting the finishing touches on Curtido

Pan toasted spices that were then milled, mixed with water to make a cold drink called fresca

This is where all the work came together
These are pictures of our women's group doing some preparation to cook and sell Pupusas during a visit from the Medical Miracles team from the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, more on them later. When we host large events it is an opportunity to raise funds for the Church through negocio (Business). In this case we had a Pupusaria. It was a true community business. We needed 25 lbs of ground corn, 12 lbs of Manteca (lard), 50 tomatoes, 20 Green Peppers, 15 onions, 3 large cabbages (I'm talking Basketball sized), 15 lbs of frijoles, paper plates, paper cups, Quesilla (a specific cheese only used in pupusas), consomme, carrots, hot peppers and I know I've forgotten some items. We had a community meeting, announced the business, where the funds would go and asked that the community please contribute items towards the business. I'm proud to say everything on the list was either contributed or people contributed $'s to pay for items.  I want to specifically thank the Agricultural Project run by Senor Cabeza and his Assistant Nelson as they contributed all the tomato's and peppers from what they grow. Dianne and I helped and watched as the woman started preparing everything the night before. Lets just say that for now on I'll appreciate Pupusas even more because it's a huge amount of work. The frijoles by themselves take at least 2 hours to cook and grind properly for use. You can see, the beans are cooked over an open fire and we all take turns stirring so they won't burn. Considering all of their other responsibilities, it was quite the sacrifice they did for the Church of God. To my friends at home, wait till we have a Pupusa party at the Casa de Wilson, you'll have found a new favorite exotic dish that belongs solely to El Salvador.

Mission of Miracles setting up

The patients get logged in and receive a number

The Dental Team sets up

Looking good, getting things organized

Waiting patiently

Los Bromas had a large group waiting for care

I even found a fellow Red Sox Fan

We even had a clown juggling


Others waited patiently, these ninas waiting cutely.
These pictures are from a visit we had from a group from the Diocese of Central New York. Let me explain that they do not just come to visit El Maizal. They coordinate their visit with the Diocesan Health Dept, run by Dr Daniella Flamenco. Their Ministry is named Mission of Miracles and they have been coming to El Salvador for 10 years. Their team provides Dental, General Medical, Psychiatric, Vision and Dental care. The group consisted of Dr's, nurse practitioners and a host of volunteers, they number 30+ people and are here for a week. Their days start early and end late as the crisscross El Salvador bringing care to hundreds of people. In El Maizal I know the number of people treated was between 125 and 150. To learn more about them, this is their website Besides our community we visited them again when they were providing care in the Community of Los Bromas which is close to us. It's like watching a coordinated anthill of activity as they go about their business. It was our please to host their group in our Community.
My point of covering a few different things briefly is that we all play a part in the Mission of our Lord and Savior. We are all called to help those less fortunate and hopefully we do what we can to answer that call. Sometimes it's just digging a ditch, sometimes it's donating some beans, sometimes it's serving a drink, sometimes its watching ballots being counted and sometimes it's caring for the sick. Sometimes the people doing these things are rich, middle class or poor, maybe they are all different races and from different countries. My point is that it's not what you do, it's that you are doing something. It doesn't matter the social status, race or national origin. The call is universal and doesn't target or exclude any of us. Just figure out what you can do and start doing it, it's really that simple. Don't put parameters on what it should be or the impact, Jesus simply wants us to serve and bring his Kingdom closer to us and our world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's Official

Last Sunday Dianne and I were officially installed as Lay Missionaries in El Maizal with Pastoral and Administrative responsibilities over El Maizal (Church of Divine Providence), Pacifico de Brizas (Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe) and Acujutla (St Georges Church). We will be conducting Church services in all 3 communities. We will also be visiting all of them to bring them the Word of our Savior and educate people further about the Episcopal Anglican Church of El Salvador.

It was a wonderful event to share with many of our parishioners and friends in El Maizal. It was surreal for us to read (in espanol) the vows of a new minister on Page 562 of the BCP to the congregation. It's a big step but we don't take it alone and it's calming to listen to Bishop Martin remind us that great things are possible through God. It's very exciting and we ask that you please support us with your intercessory prayers. The following are our installation letters.

Dianne Wilson, lay missionary in the Church of God, you've been called to work together with your Bishop, Priests and Deacons as lay missionary, and to participate in the various activities of the Episcopal Anglican Church of El Salvador.

Now, in accordance with the Canons, you have been chosen to serve God together with your husband in all its pastoral responsibilities devoting yourself especially to the women, boys and girls in the missions of: The Divine Providence, Our Lady of Guadeloupe, San Jorge and in all the missionary initiatives that arise in the geographical environment in the departments of Sonsonate and Ahuachapán. In addition, you take the responsibility of planning, organizing, promoting,  managing and of evaluating constantly everything of significance for the  Community of El Maizal including the housing project.

This letter is evidence that you are fully empowered and authorized to exercise this Ministry, accepting your privileges and responsibilities as Missioner Lay Volunteer of this diocese, in communion with your Bishop.

Having committed yourself to this work, do not forget the confidence of those who have chosen you. Take care of young and old, strong and weak, and rich and poor. Proclaim the Gospel, both with your words and in your life. Love and serve the people of Christ. Sustain it and strengthen it so that it glorifies God in this life and in the future one.

That the Lord, who has given you the will to do these things, grant you also the grace and the strength to carry them out.

Signed and sealed in the city of San Salvador, the ninth day of January of 2014, and in the twenty-first year of my service as Bishop.
Rvdmo. Martin Barahona, DD
Obispo Diocesano

Thomas Wilson, lay missionary in the Church of God, you've been called to work together with your Bishop, Priests and Deacons as lay missionary, and to participate in the various activities of the Episcopal Anglican Church of El Salvador.

Now, in accordance with the Canons, you have been chosen to serve God in the missions of: The Divine Providence, Our Lady of Guadeloupe, San Jorge and in all the missionary initiatives that arise in the geographical environment in the departments of Sonsonate and Ahuachapán. In addition, you take the responsibility of planning, organizing, promoting, managing and of evaluating constantly everything of significance for the Community of El Maizal including the housing project.

This letter is evidence that you are fully empowered and authorized to exercise this Ministry, accepting your privileges and responsibilities as Missioner Lay Volunteer of this diocese, in communion with your Bishop.

Having committed yourself to this work, do not forget the confidence of those who have chosen you. Take care of young and old, strong and weak, and rich and poor. Proclaim the Gospel, both with your words and in your life. Love and serve the people of Christ. Sustain it and strengthen it so that it glorifies God in this life and in the future one.

That the Lord, who has given you the will to do these things, grant you also the grace and the strength to carry them out.

Signed and sealed in the city of San Salvador, the ninth day of January of 2014, and in the twenty-first year of my service as Bishop.
Rvdmo. Martin Barahona, DD
Obispo Diocesano


Tomas y Dianne

Monday, January 6, 2014

That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown

As we sat teary eyed at our kitchen table we had to think hard about what Christmas is all about. You see it started a few weeks before Christmas, actually right after Thanksgiving. You need to understand that Christmas down here in El Maizal is different. I mean DIFFERENT.

 Let’s back up, the paragraph above was how the blog was started about 2 weeks ago.  At that time we were at the depths of homesickness and sadness. We felt that there was literally nothing that reminded us of Christmas. For instance,

·         The weather is totally different; the beginning of winter is the beginning of Christmas. In our new country it’s sunny and warm every day. We haven’t had a drop of rain in over a month.

·         As much as we believe the commercialism of Christmas is a terrible thing , it used to serve a purpose for us. It reminded us what the season was and it’s hard not to feel the excitement of the season. On TV here we noticed very few commercials that reminded you it was Christmas

·         We couldn’t find a radio station here that played non-stop Christmas music and Carols.

·         We didn’t see many Christmas TV shows or movies that were a tradition of home. Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolph, The Grinch, Elf or my personal favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life

·         Christmas lights in the local towns and communities are far and few between

·         Even Church is different. We didn’t have Advent Music. At home the Church is busy with the Living Gift Market and all the different Mission drives to help people during Christmas. 

·         There wasn’t a Christmas Party to attend every week starting right after Thanksgiving. The evenings of laughing, sharing stories, eating and drinking didn’t happen for us.

·         We didn’t buy our Christmas tree with our Granddaughter who lives with us, for the 1st time.

·         We didn’t experience our many family holiday traditions that we took for granted till we didn’t do them

Up to now we did a great job of getting accustomed to our new life. Of course we missed family, friends and all the major events and holiday back home but this was different.  By themselves the smaller events at home like family parties on holidays and even birthdays didn’t have the impact of missing Christmas. The list above is all traditions (it’s really just the tip of the iceberg on family traditions) that aren’t just a part of our previous culture it was all part of our lives. Missing all these things overwhelmed us like the incoming tide. It was very subtle but slowly but surely the homesickness had us over our heads and we didn’t see the tide rising. Could we have maintained some traditions? Possibly but traditions without friends and family are just hollow formalities, they don’t replace the feelings of love that sometimes can only be generated by those whom you’ve shared the traditions with for many years.

Well we cried 1st and missed home but then we reached out to our Mission team, Dick, Julie, MaryAnn, Rich, Lori, Dianne and a few others ( They mean more to us than they realize). We had to share for the 1st time in our Mission that we were really hurting inside. One thing we learned was that in Mission you need to be ready to ask and receive help, not just answer the call to help others.  With our Mission team’s thoughtful and kind words we started to regroup. We forgot that Advent is a time of waiting, the world waited for God’s Son to help redeem us of our sins.  A week after our mini meltdown our waiting for God’s help was answered.


Starting on Dec 23rd we had a solid week of the Christmas, not exactly as our list but of what the list represents family, love and tradition. On the 23rd, 24th and 26th we had events at our local Churches in Divina Providencia (El Maizal), San Pedro y San Pablo (Positos) and La Virgen deGuadalupe.  Each event started with a service, after which we had piñatas and the surprise conclusion was me being in a Full Santa suit. Dianne and I handed out gifts to all the children and older teen and young adult. Dianne also served as the photographer. The excitement was electric in the air, the children’s smiles and laughs were priceless and of course there was the children scared of Santa but that’s tradition too.

In El Maizal a local family made Chuco and shared it with the community at the family event in our community.  Chuco is a slightly sour drink made from black corn (slightly rotten) and water that’s served in a cup,  a scoop of beans in the cup is next then on top a slightly greenish sauce is put on and you eat it with a piece of bread. It’s a tradition of only El Salvador. 

On Christmas Eve (Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve in El Salvador, not Christmas Day) we were invited to have dinner with our friends Elyseo y Claudia and Padre Mario also joined us. We had a traditional meal of roasted Chicken, rice, ensalada (salad), tortilla and bread (Chicken tomales are also a very common meal on Christmas Eve.  After the meal we sat and listened to everyone chat (we understood a little). We excused ourselves as we also visited other friends. One of the interesting footnotes to this Holiday is that fireworks are a prominent way to celebrate. All night long you hear fireworks building till the crescendo of Midnight.

We returned home before midnight to our humble casa. We have a small wreath and lights set up on one of our outside windows and we had a Christmas tree. We waited till midnight; we even had a couple of rum and cokes and enjoyed the fireworks at midnight celebrating the birth of our Savior.

I know the blog was kind of rambling, the thoughts got mixed and scrambled but that was the type of Christmas it was for us. Our Christmas ended well. We learned that waiting is the key. There are times we all will be hurting but God is there, sometimes we just have to wait till we can see and hear Him clearly, He’s always there but we just aren’t ready. We also learned new traditions and maybe leaning too hard on the past traditions to make you happy, you miss the things happening in the present that can create just as much alegria (happiness).  Finally, maybe we need to just remember that all these different traditions during this season are wonderful gifts from God but that the greatest gift was simply the birth of a child whom is our savior. Believe that, live that and the happiness and love He brings will always be there to help us all.