August 6-9, 2019

I always like to arrive in El Salvador a few days before a delegation so I can do last minute prep, get a few things done and have real conversation time with the Pastoral Team about what’s been happening both here in Berlín and in Iowa.  It is easier to brainstorm ideas or solve random issues face to face.

All this and more has been going on the last couple days.

Wednesday, we were able to go out to Santa Crúz to talk to them about the delegation agenda and get the community’s thoughts to finalize that agenda.  We also discussed the second stage of water tank deliveries.   18 were delivered last year.  18 more are being delivered next week.  These are HUGE water tanks and really serve the families well.  They are very pricey but the Long Island Presbytery folks are committed to getting one for every family!  It is just taking some time!

The visit to Santa Crúz took about 5 hours with travel and meeting time.

The very next day, Cecilia, Alejandro and I drove to San Salvador to arrange the delivery and pay for these tanks.  That alone was almost a 6-hour process.  2 ½ hour drive each way plus the time at the distributor.

Today we are going out to Loma Alta to get an update on the addition to the high school that Art for El Salvador is sponsoring.  I’m anxious to see their progress!

Tomorrow, the Long Island Presbytery delegation arrives!  There are 9 of them.  It should be a good week!  This is a kind, caring and fun bunch of people.  And I love working with their partner community of Santa Crúz.  Such good people!

In between all our travels, I’ve kept busy writing reports about each of our visits and trips and sending them off to the appropriate churches/organizations. I’ve updated financial information for some churches and emailed that to the appropriate folks.  We had a bank issue – one of the most recent wires didn’t make it to the bank here!  That took quite a bit of emailing back and forth with the awesome people that take care of the finances of Our Sister Parish.  Now it is up to the banks to hopefully get it figured out!

We always have lots of ‘mini-meetings’ over breakfast, lunch or at random times.  I get caught up on the happenings in the cantons of Berlín.  I hear of deaths, illness, daily struggles, agricultural updates, etc.

And then weird things happened!  Wednesday night about 6 p.m. a storm blew in.  It is not unusual to have a storm during the rainy season.  But this storm was crazy!  Ridiculously strong winds started blowing.  We had to shut the doors and windows of the house because debris was flying.  We worried about the giant avocado tree falling on the house!  And then very heavy and strong rains came.   The rain only lasted about 20-25 minutes but it was torrential.  Finally, the wind calmed.  That is when the phone calls started both to and from us to find out if anyone was hurt.  Everyone was fine.  But whole trees fell.  Sheets of lamina were torn off roofs and sent flying.  Electricity was lost due to lines downed by trees.  What a mess.  We were (and still are) worried about people’s crops.  They are almost ready to be “doubled” for drying.  A strong wind can totally destroy crops.  But from what I’m hearing, most crops are ok.  And the wind didn’t reach everyone – depends where you are on the mountain.  Blanca lost all their banana trees.  Cecilia’s family lost banana, orange and ‘nance’ (a small yellow, somewhat bitter fruit) trees.  What a mess.  Some sheets of lamina were swept quite a way from their original spots.  Downed trees blocked several roads both in town and in the cantons.  Not just little trees, but trees that needed a chain saw.  Usually people just use their machetes for that kind of work.  Luckily, city hall has a chain saw that they let folks borrow. Scary stuff.

And then just a few minutes ago, we had a small earthquake followed by about 5 minutes of small hail.

Seldom a dull moment here in Berlín!  Has it only been 3 days?!

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