Emmanuel College in El Salvador

 

El Salvador, Emmanuel College 

                                                                                     

The Emmanuel College/Toronto School of Theology class “Spirituality and Peacebuilding” travelled to El Salvador May 15-22, 2013. The class was an outgrowth of the Fall, 2011 “Religious Peacebuilding” course during which Emmanuel College became friends with Chencho Alas, a recipient of the Tanenbaum Peacemaker-in-Action award. Click here For Chencho’s biography

Through Chencho, who lived the emergence of Latin American liberation theology and the social movement it supported, the class sought to understand this embodied theology, its spirituality, and its action for social justice. The class also studied how Chencho developed a theology of peace, using a contextually-adapted version of Appreciative Inquiry methodology and Mayan spirituality, which he and his partners now teach to emerging leaders throughout Central America.

During “Religious Peacebuilding” each student interpreted a different global Peacemaker-in-Action through intellectual or activist work of a Canadian prophet of peace. Peacemakers-in-Action do “church and community” work, as they are religiously motivated and locally based. In addition, they have put their lives at risk in situations or armed conflict and, at the time of their award, are relatively unknown. Chencho gave generously of his time to students who studied his work in “Religious Peacebuilding” and lectured at Emmanuel College in January, 2012. As a result of these interchanges, he invited the college to bring a class of students to El Salvador to study liberation theology and the theology of peace as he currently understands it. What follows are student reflections on our acceptance of that invitation.

Thanks to Chencho and the class for an extraordinary experience! And thanks to Emmanuel College and the United Church of Canada who made the trip financially possible.

Pamela Couture


Below are a series of blog posts prepared by the students to share their journey with the Emmanuel College community. More photos and posts will be updated as arrivethey arrive, so check back! 
 

Blog 1: Flight and Arrival  |  By: Ned Wells, MDiv student

Woke at three A.M. Took a taxi to Person airport in the rain and stood in many lines. Excited but too tired to really think about the journey ahead. The whole group boarded together and we buckled in for a long ride. I took out my camera and started to take pictures of the other planes in the airport, pictures of the takeoff, pictures of the city from above and pictures of the clouds. When we had our first sighting of El Salvador from the window of our Delta plane, I was ready with my camera to capture the moment. Michelle and I took pictures out the window getting as many pictures of the land as we could, so that we would have lots to share when we came back to Canada.

El Salvador, Emmanuel College

We arrived in San Salvador and when I stepped out of the plane I was hit by a wave of heat. Immediately the clothes that had been so comfortable during the morning trip to the airport and the plane ride were uncomfortably sweaty and heavy. “Mucho Caliente” –much heat. My first Spanish lesson! After we got through immigration I had my camera out again. Everything was so green, so beautiful; I wanted to take it all in and share it.

Chencho met us at the airport and the class broke into two groups to get a ride to San Blas La Libertad where we will be staying for the week. As we drove I took pictures out of the window. We were driving quickly so several pictures were blurred or missed the target. Looking at some of the blurred pictures I realized that I was missing so much. As I focused on taking a picture of the mountains and fields, I would see a group of people swimming in a stream, or a beautiful building, and would end up getting a picture of nothing. There were so many opportunities to miss it all. As I was focusing on getting pictures I was missing the conversation happening around me. How would I be able to share everything when I’m missing so much? I realized that it was a hopeless mission I had given myself; there was no way I would be able to take everything in. But perhaps that’s ok. I will learn what I learn and maybe as I am sharing with others I will realize what that is.

At the end of the first day I had taken 84 pictures!


Blog 2: God Creates and Forms  |  By Andrew Macpherson, MDiv student

We were led in worship by Nery who is Honduran and has roots in both the Mayan community and the Honduran Church. Following a sustaining dinner, we witnessed a hybrid ceremony of Mayan elements. The centrepiece was a bust of Monseignor Oscar Romero. We prayed and bowed to four directions: north, south, east and west. We prayed for light, learning and the spirit of Oscar Romero to guide us. We lit candles and said why we are here and what we hope to gain from this experience. Some of us did not know why they were here but will bring back stories of their experiences. We saw two paths communicating with the Divine. The two paths were Christ and the Mayan deity Awuj. Both paths connect to a higher power and this ceremony offers us a chance to reflect on the Universality.

In Mayan ceremonies, ancestors are invited to guide and share their wisdom. The history of the people is important to be recognized.

Awuj dios creador formador, God creates and forms


Blog 3:  Appreciative Inquiry and Solidarity   | By Greg Powell and Larry Schenider, MDiv students

We started our first full day in El Salvador with a mixture of yoga, walking along the beach, and our morning liturgy, led by Nery. Our focus for the day was Appreciative Inquiry (AI), of which Chencho taught us a modified version. AI is a powerful, positive, experience - affirming methodology that individuals and groups can use to transform situations. Jenny generously shared her vivencia-a transformation story from her life- and how she recreated a love-filled relationship with her family after years of abuse, disbelief, and misplaced blame. Brokenness and hatred morphed into love and relationship and Jenny has become instrumental to the Meso-American Peace Movement while studying law.

We divided our afternoon classroom session with a visit with the craftswomen at San Blas. We bounced questions back and forth to learn about each other, their turtle habitat restoration initiative, and some of their hopes and dreams. We traded stories of how poorly our settler governments treat indigenous people, which made an appropriate context for Appreciative Inquiry.

The heat, to which few of us are very well acclimatized, creates a heightened empathy for farmers and manual labourers. Our wonderful food-which seems to thrive in abundance in the heat-nourishes our bodies as the lectures do our minds and our liturgies do our spirits.

We strive to show our gratitude to the honour of being welcomed as students. The hospitality we are experiencing deepens our sense of responsibility to and solidarity with our hosts. 
 


Blog 4: Liberation Theology   | By: Nicole Hergert

Prior to leaving for El Salvador and in preparation for this trip most of our group devoured books and articles on liberation theology or films about the life and work of Archbishop Oscar Romero. We came prepared - well at least more prepared than the average visitor – but being here; learning from Chencho and meeting the people has made theory and history come alive.

At the beginning of today’s lecture Pam posed the question: After being here in El Salvador, how do you experience liberation theology differently? The responses of the class illustrate the ways the people of El Salvador have breathed life into liberation theology.

Greg :
Visiting the Jesuit chapel in San Salvador provided the metaphor for how learning about liberation theology in Canada is different than leaning about it here. The images in the chapel were displayed in such a way that the people would see a very different image from the preacher. In Toronto I was seeing one set of images but here I am integrating images. It is as though being in El Salvador has provided me the opportunity to stand at the side of the chapel and see both sets of images simultaneously.

Andrew:
Liberation theology isn’t just a word in a book anymore. To see a person, to have a picture, liberation theology has come alive.

Larry:
Chencho opened a window for me when he visited Toronto last year; but here in El Salvador it is like moving from black and white to technicolour. I can smell, hear, taste and feel more.

Karen:
The hope of the people speaks loudest to me in El Salvador. The system may have sin or evil in it, but the people are people with hope.

Eileen:
Being here with Chencho has re-personalized my experience with liberation theology. Liberation theology is not that alive where it is not as needed, as in Canada, but here I am face to face with Chencho’s passion. I realize somethings have not changed, but I have changed, and the ways I can contribute are greater.

Pam:
When I began reading liberation theology texts in the 80s I experienced on this one hand identification and on this other hand alienation. Travelling to El Salvador and working closely with Chencho has been part of a reconciliation for me, a reconciliation with Latin American men; and also an opportunity to see liberation theology in an embodied form, to see what it does in the lives of people.

Chencho closed the reflection with the reminder that liberation theology is possible in any place but it must be linked to the state of our countries. Liberation theology is a response to the theology of the center, Europe, and it is possible to develop a theology separate from this, even in Canada. He reminds us that developing this theology requires powerful questions about creation, resurrection, beauty and our reality in Canada.


Blog 5: The Flow  | By: Eileen Grace Dalusong & Ben Kidd, MDiv students

Chencho’s instruction was clear. He said, “Do whatever you want.”

What a relief! To me, this meant no expectations, no rules. A sense of freedom prevailed. I hurriedly passed the message on to the other person who will be working with me on the homework that was due the following morning.

Pamela, our professor, a few minutes ago, had asked two to pair up and get going with tomorrow’s group work – prepare the liturgical reflection for Day 5.

To add to the duo, two more had joined in; first there were two, now there were four of us.

At the start, we were not exactly sure what to do.

By this time, our Mayan Spirituality guide, Antonio Neri Murillo Rivera, ‘Neri’ for short, had already bid us farewell and had exchanged hugs with everyone in our group, as he prepared for his early morning bus trip back from El Salvador to Honduras where he lived and worked. So, now we were on our own – sans a Mayan person to ask about how to do a Mayan ritual properly.

We began the process by blue-skying on a central theme. Unanimously, we thought about zeroing in on a “vivencia” we heard the day before, a life-altering personal story - a story of struggle, of emotional depth and transcendence, of someone who had experienced abuse, tracing the movement from trouble to grace. We thought of selecting a Scriptural reading to go with it – from Genesis 8: 6-12. The more we discussed, the more we observed how each of the four of us were different in our own way. In the end, the more we favoured using less words - more silence in between the moments of reflections.

“Los simbulos hablan.” The symbols speak, as Neri had taught us earlier.

The idea was beginning to form more clearly.

As there were four of us, we thought of selecting four items that would best represent transformation toward a new life. Immediately, we came up with a leaf (green foliage), earth (dark sand), a seed (coconut nut), water (a bowl of fresh water). Then after much deliberation, we thought it best to gather on the beach’s shoreline fifteen minutes earlier instead of the swimming pool at the house where we were staying. It felt more natural.

Somehow, it seemed to me like there was “a flow” happening within our midst. Our task was merely to listen mindfully to what came and presented itself, a moment at a time, and express that through the symbols that gave themselves to our conscious thought.

While we all stood in a circle on the line that we drew on the sand, we reflected on each element and how the symbols connected to the conversation of a life, a new life: the leaf symbolized the light transformed into life; the dark sands of the earth symbolized the earth rotating between night and day; the nut carried by the wind symbolized a new creation in new places; the water that washed over us symbolized cleansing, healing, and sustenance.

Following this, everyone was asked to walk toward the waves as it washed the shores over and over, and to do this silently. When this came to pass, each one was invited to wash each other’s feet. The sensation transpired in further silence.
With no words to span the experience, the silence was complete unto itself. We then walked back to our beach house, home to us for five days now.

And the new leaf of life had just turned over… 


Blog 6: Worship  | By Larry Schneider, MDiv student 

Nery Murillo inspired us immensely with his Mayan-inspired morning worship on our first two full days in El Salvador. On our third night there Nery and Chencho met with five of us: Emily, Karen, Nicole, Andrew and Larry, to educate and train us in preparation for leading worship the next morning. He challenged us to begin our process by considering what was moving us and then using that as the heart of our worship. We should then invite the grandparents (ancestors) to the ceremony, a crucial part of all Mayan spirituality, mirroring the ‘cloud of Christian ancestors’ in our tradition, presented in symbolic form from each of the four cardinal points of the compass. Included in this invitation are all present and around us: El Salvadorans, Central Americans, Canadians and the ancestors. At the center of the celebration must be “the creator, the one who has formed us,” our God. All of these three elements must be present in order for the worship celebration to occur: purpose, invitation, and creator-centeredness.

We knew that our celebration would be the beginning of the day on which we would journey to San Salvador to visit and commemorate the sites and work of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed while preparing the Eucharist on March 24, 1980. We unanimously felt that our purpose must be to honour M. Romero’s mission and journey in Christ’s footsteps, and to invoke his memory powerfully as we began our day. Nery and Chencho asked us to allow ourselves to be inspired by our readings and knowledge of M. Romero, his words and teachings, and what had been evoked in each of us in the past two days. We considered many possible symbols: corn, light, a radio, glasses, shoes, a broken heart and avocado. After lengthy discussion we came up with the following service for the morning of Saturday, May 18.

We opened with prayer, followed by the presentation of the four elements and their meanings: the candle, to represent the light of M. Romero’s life and his Christian mission, which lives on in the Salvadoran people; an avocado, brought to life by rain and whose seed awaits growth and new life and promise, as did the Archbishop’s work with the people; a radio, to symbolize M. Romero’s brave radio broadcasts to all the nation; and glasses, to represent those which he wore, allowing him and the Salvadoran people to see their reality through new lenses which promised the life and hope of Jesus, through peaceful resistance to their oppression. We then invited everyone to remove their shoes as a symbolic representation that we were about to travel today in M. Romero’s footsteps, and moved individually four chairs to our right.

We then heard a reading of M. Romero’s own words spoken shortly before his death: "As a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people."

A meditation on walking in the shoes of others in order to understand their reality was presented, focusing on the conscious journey of the Archbishop into the face of danger and death, for his people, and inviting us all to be mindful of this during our journey on this very special day. Next we each silently contemplated walking in M. Romero’s shoes. We all then joined hands, now strengthened and united by the Archbishop’s life and words, and walked the remaining three-quarters of the circle until we reached our own chairs. A closing prayer ended our morning celebration, and I moved away changed by our experience, humbled by our meditations upon the man whose life and sacrifice would be the focus of our day and the people for whose rights he worked and prayed.

shoes


Blog 7:  San Salvador | By Lynn Holt

We stood in a ring around the rose bushes. One planted for each of the dead: six priests, the housekeeper, and her fourteen year old daughter. We were at UCA, a Jesuit university in San Salvador. In the university’s memorial museum we saw the priests’ clothing, one father’s blue polo shirt and khaki pants ripped, stained with struggle. In the university’s photo albums we saw the bodies that had worn them so comfortably. We saw reports, pictures of their deaths. We saw the smears of blood on the ground, we saw their swollen faces and exposed bone. In the university chapel we saw them in a cloud, floating high above those who killed them. In that chapel we saw others, too. Above the entrance were drawings of contorted bodies and gaping mouths. We saw art that sang the suffering of the poor, strung up by the pain of their people.

We went deeper into the city. We saw Archbishop Romero’s tomb, his body draped in the stone habits of nuns. We saw the cathedral that sprawled wide above him, the dome depicting celestial bliss. We travelled more, saw the room where he lived, six months wrapped in those stone habits. His little room in the sacristy, stifling hot and barely room for a bed. Down the hallway we saw the place where he was shot, slightly to the left of the altar, hit through the heart while preparing Communion. He died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Somehow the chapel was peaceful, women arranging freshly cut flowers in the lazy sun of the afternoon. No screaming or gunshots, no sign of what had transpired other than some words over the altar. Nothing seemed wrong, and yet in that chapel the history of a country changed.

The buildings we saw that day bore no scars, no bullet holes, no traces of the violence and blood that had soaked into the ground. There were roses, fresh cut flowers, a soft candlelight over Romero’s sleeping face. The things we saw were stationary, battered clothing and books of photographs, drawings and painted words. But truth seeped through that tranquility. The outlines of letters were the curve of death’s arms, the drawings kinetic, clothing torn, and photographs showed flesh once warm. Chencho spoke calmly of his kidnapping, smiled slightly at being left for dead.
We saw the memories of El Salvador, quietly cloaked in its present. The past is a bruise, tangible and painful though covered by clothing. If you touch it, you find the twinge of what happened, the nerves tangled and red with remembrance. You find the martyrs of San Salvador. 


Blog 7: Experiencing Latin America  | By Joanne Scofield, MDiv student 

el salvador

On our third day we began to experience Latin America through the eyes of our leaders, Chencho Alas and Nery Murillo. Nery, who is from Honduras and is connected to both the Catholic Church and Mayan indigenous culture, spoke to us about symbols and their importance in culture and spirituality. He pointed out that symbols can be a tool to bring spirituality in communion with life. They invite us to engage in dialogue as we explore their meaning, helping to connect us to the other.

We also had the opportunity to hear Chencho's perspective of the history of colonialism in El Salvador and the Americas. Chencho outlined a history of domination that was imposed on Indigenous people of El Salvador. True to his humble spirit, Chencho invited us to remember the context of the Spanish people, who themselves had been oppressed for hundreds of years before they set off to look for a faster route to India and came upon the Americas.

We ended the day watching the movie "Romero" with Chencho and Nery in preparation for our visit to El Salvador tomorrow. They explained that while some of the details in the movie are not accurate, the message corresponds to the experience of the people of El Salvador. It was profound to listen to Chencho describe his experiences as a community organizer, priest and advisor to Romero. It opened our eyes to the varied relationships of solidarity and conflict that existed between the landowners, farmers and church. Life stories and personalities in the movie also prepared us for the following day's trip to the memorial of the Jesuit massacre.

Other highlights have come from opportunities throughout the day to connect with local people, both those who are assisting our studies and the local community. Some of us begin each day with a swim at the beach - a wonderful gift being on the ocean. This morning Mary and Roxanne, who we met at the local craft program, brought handcrafted jewelry to the beach, which a number of us purchased as a memory of our time together. In the afternoon a few of us had the opportunity to learn to make pupusa from Mirna, our resident cook, and Jessica and Miguel, her helpers. Many laughs were had as we cooked together and then joined together to eat dinner. There have also been opportunities to run errands with Jenny and get to know the local community. As well, our hosts have been most obliging as we try out our Spanish, during breaks, mealtimes and clean-up.


 Blog 8: Earth and Ecology Workshop | By Emily Gordon, MDiv student

Our first two full days were mostly lecture-based classes, and our next two days focused on meeting people and visiting places, so it was a good change to have a more integrative and workshop-based component as the focus for our time together on our final two days. Chencho used Monday and Tuesday afternoons to describe and have us participate in what is usually a day and a half workshop he leads on earth and ecology. The workshop uses Appreciate Inquiry – so on the first day we spent time telling “vivencias” – life-changing moments that we considered as sources for values and principles. In the group that I was a part of, we named values out of our experiences of nature, such as beauty, transience, interconnectedness and humility. We chose to present our discoveries in a work of art that represented our stories, and highlighted the principle we created from Michelle's story: “Because of interconnectedness, I will engage with nature as All My Relations.” The process of creating the collaborative drawing not only reminded me of different facets of the natural world, but made me feel closet to everyone in the group as well. There is a depth to this kind of sharing that requires us to honour it and each other.

It was on the second afternoon, however, when I finally saw where this course could lead. I had signed up for the course for reasons that combined timing and fulfilling course requirements – and while my classmates all seemed to come eager to learn, my feelings before the trip were more marked by nerves. I was worried that either the class would become a moment of theological tourism or would demand some kind of change and response in me that I was unable or unwilling to give – because of the vastness of need, the reality of distance, and the challenges of organization.

After our time of discovery, however, we were encouraged to form new groups to move from our values and principles to a vision for Emmanuel. Chencho describes a vision as something that is long-term but expressed in the present, in order to make it concrete. Together Lyn, Eileen, Kathy and I created this statement of our vision:

In 2023, Emanuel is actively involved in global partnerships related to education for peace and ecological responsibility. The community at Emmanuel lives in a way that recognizes and expresses our interconnectedness with all of creation and those around the world.

Suddenly there were words – a vision – that made action possible, perhaps even manageable. Our discussion reflected a sense of commitment and the truth of change – perhaps only small, but real within each of us. And this vision led very naturally to a range of ideas for achievable projects both at Emmanuel and supporting El Salvador and Latin America. The vision statements of the other two groups were:
1. Building positive relationships that create safe spaces to overcome ignorance and embrace diversity.
2. Emmanuel College and United Churches continue to stand in solidarity with Latin American people by working for peace through local organizations using methods that include: theological education, witness, advocacy and relationship building.

As each of our groups presented our visions and later our designs, I felt a life and energy in the room that seemed to deny the long and very hot days we had experienced all week. And I was very, very, glad I came.

El Salvador


Blog 9: Looking at the spirit, painting with the hands | By Michelle Morrison

“Looking at the spirit, painting with the hands” are words spoken by Joalgar, an experienced artist working in San Salvador teaching others to express the spirit through their work. He came to give an art demonstration to Yeny’s youth program and the 15 of us at Chencho’s house. Two students provided us with a live demonstration of their drawing techniques and told us their stories of what made them grow as artists. These two students have overcome a disability in order to express themselves through their paintings and drawings. Walter, who is blind, demonstrated his drawing techniques of measuring distance and the speed of his pencil and drew a fabulous picture of a landscape with a tree, hills and grass. Walter has won awards for the work he has done through his art throughout Latin America. Umberto, who is deaf, drew a beautiful portrait of Sam, our very own student model. He told us his story of how he wanted to draw as a child but his parents thought he was using too much paper, so he began leaving his home in order to draw in secret. Joalgar learned sign language in order to be in solidarity with Umberto. The rich complexity of language was shown through the three way translation of Umberto communicating in sign to Joalgar who was translating in Spanish to Chencho who translated in English to us. These were wonderful demonstrations and practices that showed how we can achieve almost anything with passion, support and opportunity.

Afterwards we were greeted by Yeny and her family at the up and coming Mesoamerican Peace center that Chencho’s organization is supporting. It is a place for peace and community that focuses on empowering women and taking care of the environment. Yeny’s family is working towards the peace project where they are teaching 5 main subjects to the community: the health of people and animals, reading and writing, recycling, responding to natural disasters and sustainability. Yeny’s mother Vilma, has been creating art programs for women, children and men as a tool for relaxation by teaching them card making, sewing, needlepoint, and other crafts. She also raises the animals, tends to the plants and generally educates the community at the peace center. She is a wonderful mother and woman and is an inspiration. We learned so much from her.

El Salvador

The amount of work that Yeny and her family do is significant and lifelong. Currently they are also working to prevent violence against women. Vilma has begun this by starting with her own husband and boys and organizing the men in the community. Machismo is the idea that man is the center and it is one of the driving forces of violence. By organizing the men and teaching them of women’s issues things will begin to change. It will be a long and difficult process and one that will be a struggle for years. Many of the issues that Salvadorans face are deeply rooted within the culture and violent history of the country. These are issues that the Mesoamerican Peace movement and Yeny and her family’s work are addressing. The whole world would benefit in helping Latin America as it applies to us and our solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the world. Listening to the story of Yeny, and the stories of others, I have been trying to find my place in the work towards solidarity. What we learned of Latin America was vast, complicated, and deep and was sometimes overwhelming. So how am I to stand in solidarity from another country? This was a question that tugged at me but after some thought and talking with others, the answers that surfaced were doing my part by donating money to the Mesoamerican peace movement, organizing other groups to get involved in Latin American issues, recycling, teaching others of the issues, being a role model, being more ecologically conscience and helping those in my own home town. There are so many more ways in addition to these but no matter how big or small we can all show our solidarity in some way.


Blog 10: Our Last Full Day in El Salvador  | By Karen Rodman, MDiv student

The energy perhaps for some is waning a little, and also several people are under the weather, so fewer people made the trek to the ocean this morning. We began the formal day with a worship reflection prepared by three of those auditing class. Based on Psalms 198, we looked to symbols of nature that bring us joy, and drew a composite collage of things that bring us joy.

After breakfast, those of us who wished went into town to explore the market. A new outdoor market was opening today, so we got an unexpected surprise of Salvadorian dancers and music. Several people bought fresh coffee, which Mirna roasted back at Chencho’s—what an amazing smell. Others bought straw hats. The produce was gorgeous—blemish free, large, good quality and fresh—tomatoes, cabbage, mango, avocados, beans, corn, and more. Lots of clothes for sale, many donated from the North. The fish market was along the pier, and the fish were large and definitely fresh---the most beautiful fish I have seen. The harbor front has been developed and is quite attractive. I adored my ride in the back of the pick up on 15 minutes rides back and forth to town—reminded me of my childhood growing up on our family farm.

This week has been so rich, so filled with beauty, community, spirituality, nature, and new learnings…reminding us of how much we share with humanity, how little we know but together how much we know, and the blessing of community.
This afternoon we continued to workshop the Appreciative Inquiry model that Chencho has adapted into his Peacebuilding workshops.

We shared some gifts we had brought as tokens of our deep appreciation for the hospitality and love shown to us by Chencho, Yeny and those who cooked the amazing meals and made us feel so at home.

Tonight Eileen led a conversation with Yeny sharing learning and insights related to violence against women. It was an important discussion, with voices including how men can speak out against gender violence, and the particular difficulty faced by transgender people. We heard from Yeny about the dire lack of community programs and services to support abused women in San Salvador, as she and Chencho listened to what we have in the Province of Ontario to offer in terms of government-funded initiates toward the prevention of violence against women and the programs of economic independence for women. There was so much talk, and Chencho was tireless in translating form English to Spanish, and Spanish to English, but then a physical and mental exhaustion set in for all of us—not surprising after a long intense week of sharing. Our hearts and souls wanted to continue the conversation, but our minds and bodies realized we needed to draw it to the end, realizing it was time to pack for our trip home, which would take place in the morning.

Saying Good-bye to El Salvador
Most rose at 5:30 am as we had most mornings during our stay and headed for one last time of enjoying the ocean surf, marveling at the beauty and power of the ocean. We returned for worship, reflecting on Matthew 25, the Last Judgment (i.e. sheep and goats) and what it means to us in the context of our week—images and thoughts shared included: standing in solidarity, being Christian is being political, seeing the face of Christ in all.

A breakfast of pupusas and curtido (cabbage salad) seemed most appropriate for our send off. We talked about several projects we would be working on including letter writing to US and Canadian officials prior to the Honduras election, and providing material for Chencho’s Mesoamerica Peace Movement website http://discover-peace.org/.

Lots of hugs, thank-yous and blessings, were followed by a very quick trip to the airport when a bus did not come at the appointed time; but Chencho tracked it down and soon we were on our way-- with Chencho leading the way with his red Toyota crew cab with the bus behind. As we sped by sorghum fields, I noticed they had grown over the week and were almost ready to tassel; and I thought about how much perhaps we all had grown and wondered about our own emergences and that of an interfaith church…

I feel very blessed to have been part of this experience, and am very thankful to Pamela Couture and Jose (Chencho) Alas for their insight and vision in creating this program but also for being willing to trust and be open to the mysteries beyond knowing in letting the week unfold. Thanks to Sam Cavanagh for her leadership in introducing Chencho to Emmanuel in 2012. Also, thank you to the United Church of Canada for its support towards the program.

I am sure you will be hearing more from us over the upcoming months….


 

footwashing

Sam Cavanagh washing the feet of Jose Chencho


 

 


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