Monday, February 1, 2010

El Salvador sorrow....

Posted by Terry McNichols

Our recent trip to El Salvador to visit the village of San Diego de Tenango was extremely fruitful in the eyes of our team members.  We felt that we connected at a much deeper level with the villagers and also bonded as a team.  I would like to write about a few of our experiences over the next couple of weeks.

Because I was in charge, along with my husband, and because I like things to be organized and precise, I spent a lot of time going over the schedule and making sure things were simple enough for flexibility but interesting enough to challenge both the team members and the villagers.  Our schedule was a perfectly timed week of events.  But because I know what happens in the village and in the best laid plans, we also had a theme for the week:  we went in the "Spirit of Gumby" and were prepared to flex in whatever way we might be called upon to flex.

How little we knew what changes would come about and what flexibility would be required of us!  We arrived in the village on Monday morning and had a welcome ceremony from the villagers.  After lunch and setting up our "tent city" we then took a tour of the improvements that had happened since our last visit.  But we were also informed that one of the village families had that very day delivered a 6-month-old stillborn son in Suchitoto, 1-1/2 hours away.  On Tuesday we waited while arrangements were being made for a burial ceremony in Suchitoto, planning on having a few of our team participate.  Due to administrative snags, however, the arrangements could not be made for Tuesday, so the plans changed and the baby was brought back to the village for a wake.  Our Tuesday schedule was to include an evening showing of Veggie Tales, which we immediately scrapped under the circumstances.  Our entire team participated in the wake.  It was a time of deep sorrow as well as deep connection with the grieving village.

Wednesday morning we changed all of our scheduled events and three of us women went back into town and participated in the ceremony at the cemetery.  We were able to purchase a spray of artificial flowers for the grave site and stood by while the grave was dug and the cross was painted with the baby's name.  We three women sang Amazing Grace through our tears during the somber ceremony. 

The lesson we learned from this experience was that no matter how planned and organized we are, the life of the villagers does not stop just because we are visiting.  We became a part of their sorrow for just a short time, and suffered together as a community of believers.

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