Long Island Presbytery and pure water!

(This blog is over due, due to the fact that I have not had internet capability at my house.  I still don’t – as of August 31st – but I’m using our “hot-spot”.  I  couldn’t imagine trying to do this from my phone!  This was actually written a few days ago – on the airplane ride back home:

The Long Island Delegation just left.  And sadly, I left with them.

This was a very short trip.  They were only here for 4 days.  But we have LOTS to do in that short time.

They arrived on Sunday about noon.  We picked them up and had a delicious lunch in Olocuilta.  Olocuilta is famous for its pupusas made with rice and not corn.  They are also famous for an annual pupusa festival where they make the world’s largest pupusa.  (Google that!)  And there, you can put almost anything into your pupusa: chicken, shrimp, you name it.  Me: I will stick to revuelta or frijol con queso!  Yum.

Since they arrived on a Sunday and very little is open, we did what we could as far as some historical visits.  First we visited Parque Cuscatlán to learn a bit of the history or El Salvador as depicted on the beautiful mural there.  We also visited the Divina Providencia – but only the chapel since they are closed on Sundays.  We ended our time in San Salvador at the National Cathedral to visit Monseñor Romero’s tomb.  (In a prior blog from July, you can read more detail regarding all of these places).

We landed in Berlín about 6 p.m. very tired but so happy to be “home.”

The relationship between this group of people and the Pastoral Team has grown immensely over the past four years.  I was fortunate to have been on the ground as the Mission Co-Worker in 2012 when they visited for the first time.  They were only with us for a couple of days to learn a little about out work.  The Long Island Presbytery has been working in El Salvador for 23 years.  They were working in another part of the country focusing on scholarships and medical support.  For reasons between the delegation and that organization they chose to no longer work with them.  They wanted to continue working in El Salvador and somehow met up with Kristi from Joining Hands (a PCUSA mission).  Kristy brought them up to visit us.  She thought that perhaps they type of mission they were doing might be a good fit for them.  And apparently, she was correct!  After visiting several communities on that first, very short visit, they decided to begin a partnership with Santa Crúz.  Santa Crúz is a community of 49 families with minimal resources.  Like most of the cantons (villages) of Berlín.  They are a warm and kind community that appreciates the support they are getting from their partnership and work hard and do their part to make the projects that come in be successful.

This trip, the delegation brought filters to purify their drinking/cooking/dishwashing/bathing water.  I was anxious to see this filter in action.  It is relatively inexpensive – $40 complete.  The only thing extra needed is the 5 gallon paint-style pail to attach it to.  Those are $4 each.  A lid is not needed.  Although the delegation bought a second pail with a lid so they could have more clean water handy.

This filter is incredible.  You can see a video on Youtube.  Just search Filter of Hope to see how it functions.  It is very easy to install (and 4 members of the community helped put them all together since we couldn’t do it ahead of time).

Our first morning in the community consisted of a very warm welcome complete with music by a group from Muñoces which is a ‘little’ way up the road.   I think almost every family was represented!  After the music, there were welcoming words and then a group prayer.  We chatted a bit, and enjoyed a little more music.    The delegation then showed how the filter works.  People circled around to see better and we asked for dirty, dirty water which was put into the bucket.  The water they put in looked like chocolate milk.  It was gross.  But demonstrating the filter, the water came out clear and delicious.  We all took a sip and several community people took a sip. Everyone was pretty amazed.

Then they demonstrated the cleaning process.  They need to do this once a week.  If they do this, this filter will last at least 10 years.  Such an easy system!

After the demonstration, and a few more words of gratitude and explaining to everyone that we would see them soon, people went home.  We held a short visit with the Directiva (the elected community leadership) to receive updates and talk about the needs and successes of the community and discuss the best way to go about our work.  We definitely need their input!

We took a short break to enjoy a delicious lunch of Guisquil Relleno prepared by women in the community with the “over-sight” of a member of the Pastoral Team.

Then it was time to begin our house to house to visits.  With this, we are able to update the community census to have information regarding ages, and if their children are attending school, what grade they are in.  We note if anyone is ill or has died or if there are any new babies.  It is a lovely way to develop and grow the friendship.  Additionally, at each home, everyone present was able to learn the process of cleaning the filter.  This needs to be done once a week.  We actually had the adults in the house do the cleaning so we could verify they could do it properly.  All the time talking about the importance of consuming filtered water and plenty of it.  There are so many people with kidney problems.  So many people with parasites and gastric issues.  We all hope and pray this will alleviate some of this.

The house to house visits took 2 full mornings and two full afternoons.

The Pastoral Team has made a commitment to go back to Santa Crúz within the next two weeks to again walk house to house to make sure that they are indeed using it and (cleaning it correctly) and have no further questions.  The work of the Pastoral Team does not end when a delegation leaves!

We had one afternoon of torrential downpour.  We all got drenched but we managed to complete our mission of 12 homes under that delightful environment all the while keeping our senses of humor!  We slipped and slid quite gracefully.  Not.  But we always had a helping hand by our more sure-footed friends when we needed.  Only one of us slipped to the ground.  And then, only to his knees and fortunately, he did not get hurt.

Our last afternoon was a celebration with piñatas filled with candy, cookies and juice.  The community hired the Muñoces group to come in and play music for us again.  There were many people who stood up to express gratitude for this important gift of pure water as well as the love everyone felt for each other.  This love has grown exponentially over the years!

And with this group, there was dancing.  It was delightful.  Sadly, a storm was coming.  Una tormenta grande!  Complete with very loud thunder and relatively close by lightening!  Kind of scary.  We more or less quickly said our goodbyes and expressed our gratitude.  Words are never enough!

Our time together was all too short!  What a blessing this visit brought to all of us!

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The delegation, in addition to the water filters, arranged the gift of basic food goods for each family! Such beautiful generosity!
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The Pastoral Team ALWAYS verifies the purchases and makes sure nothing gets missed!
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The Pastoral Team is meticulous when it comes to the ‘books’ – monies spent are well cared for.
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A gift does not ‘miraculously’ happen. The Pastoral Team works hard: before, during and after a delegation to ensure that all goes well! Thank you Team!!
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John, Billie and Frank arrive! Blanca is already here – is awaiting us after a time of visiting her family!
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This is my insistence! The Pastoral Team would have done all of this, but I like the delegation to put in some sweat equity! Bagging up the food stuffs for each of the 49 families of Santa Cruz
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The Santa Cruz community hired the band from Munoces to greet us!
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After the beautiful welcome from the community, the delegation gave a demonstration of the water filter.
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We asked for really disgusting water to put in our bucket! Horchata! YUM! (ewwww)
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After the filtration, all of the gringos took a sip of the nasty water. And we shared with several people from the community. Very impressive!
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Now we needed to demonstrate how easy it is to clean the filter! This needs to be done once a week! The filter will last up to 10 years if taken care of! Amazing (check out http://www.filterofhope.com)
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The lovely sign awaiting us. A beautiful welcome!
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Dyed corn cob bits strung. Corn husks dyed and shaped into flowers. Such creative people!
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Oscar from Santa Cruz interacting with the delegation. We need to be attentive to our brothers and sisters in the villages!
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Billie schlepping with the goods to every home in Santa Cruz! Hot and muggy. These people are dedicated!
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The community leaders were taught how to install the filter systems. They were invaluable to us. We could not have done this work without them! Thank you Santa Cruz friends!
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EVERY home received a visit with an explanation to care for their filter. The hope is improved health!
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More please!!
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Delicious pure water!
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A typical water collection ‘tank’
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A bond that has developed over years of visits and friendship. Oscar and John
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The rain let up long enough to snap a photo. This does not express the DOWNPOUR that was endured. Talk about dedication and love!
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This cat LOVED Billie. It would return again and again to the top of his foot!
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The children especially! This project was worth all the effort if even one child has improved health. We hope and pray for all the residents of Santa Cruz.
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Especially, we pray and hope for the little ones!
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Make-shift water collection.
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THIS is what it is all about!
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Fruits and veggies indigenous to the community! Amazing.
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Usually my ‘selfies’ are with the babies and children. SHE wanted this photo!
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Final meeting. Words of love and gratitude
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John expressing love and gratitude to the Pastoral Team. We could not do anything without them!!
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Pinata fun for the last afternoon together! One for the boys ….
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… and one for the girls
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And what a special gift. The wonderful music from our friends in Munoces!
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Special Friends. That would be everybody in the community of course.

 

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