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.

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