Mike and I were driven by two members of the Pastoral Team to San Salvador to meet up with Alfredo (our good and faithful driver extraordinaire). He then took us to the airport to pick up the 9 delegates from Trinity United Presbyterian Church. They arrived about 11:45. We waited in the heat outside the airport until finally the first one came out the door at about 1 p.m. The rest followed about 10 minutes later. Thankfully, everyone came out with all their luggage with no problems in Customs.
We loaded up the microbus with all their 9 pieces of luggage and 6 very large and heavy tubs – they bring things from Iowa to gift to the families in the villages with whom their church partners. Good thing we asked for the large microbus!
We had a fabulous but late pupusa lunch in Olocuilta (google that!) then headed to the guest house for the night. After walking to a late supper, we had an early night. They were exhausted having been up since about 3 a.m.
The next day, the 28th was our usual historic site visits. Parque Cuscatlán is a memorial to the civilians who were killed or ‘disappeared’ during the 12-year civil war. About 32,000 names are listed. Not nearly the full number. There is also a mural that depicts the history from the time when the indigenous peoples lived here, through the Spanish conquest, to the present. It is a good place to begin our understanding.
From there we went to the National Cathedral where Monseñor Romero is interred. Then on to the Divina Providencia (a small hospice hospital for terminal cancer patients) which is where Monseñor Romero lived while he was Archbishop and where he was martyred.
Our last historical site was the UCA (University of Central America) where 6 Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter were slain. We feel that all of this history is important for people to hear to better understand the reality of life for our rural partners.
All of these places can be found on Google. And I have written about all these places in the past.
We had lunch at the Artisan shops – there is a buffet with good and safe food and this is the only place to purchase any trinkets to carry home to loved ones. From there, we made the 2+ hour drive to Berlín. We arrived safely. As soon as we parked and unloaded the people and began unloading our luggage, a torrential rain fell. It took us about 10 minutes to unload everything. Within a minute of finishing the unloading, the rain stopped. Welcome to Berlín! Sigh.
We had a delicious supper at the Pastoral House, had time for reflections and then the delegation got busy sorting all the goods in the 6 large tubs and redistributing over the counter meds into 35 baggies of each time to be included in their door to door visit gifts.
Today, we took the (normally) 2+ hour drive up to El Mozote. It took us over 3 hours due to road construction. Then when we drove into the village of El Mozote, we saw the whole plaza was being renovated. The memorial was behind a lamina wall. We were told we could go behind that wall to see the memorial. There was nobody from the memorial foundation to talk to us so I told the group what happened in this place. Briefly: in the span of 2 days, over 1000 people were massacred. Over 400 of them were children. Mostly women, older men. This community was accused to supporting the guerrillas. The military strategy was to ‘take the water from the fish’ using a tactic called ‘scorched earth.’ Destroy everything so nothing there could support the guerrillas. It is a tragic story. Google: El Mozote and Rufina Amaya.
From there we drove to Perquín, had a lovely lunch then went to the Museum of the Revolution. This was created after the Peace Accords in 1992 with two purposes: to remember the atrocities during the war, and educate the current generations so those atrocities are not repeated. Next to this museum is an historical interactive representation of a working mobile guerrilla camp.
We left home about 7:30 this morning and arrived back about 6:30 pm. We ended the day with pupusas, reflections and then filling 29 large sacks which will be presented to our families tomorrow in Casa de Zinc.
We are exhausted. But tomorrow will be wonderful in that we get to see our friends/brothers/sisters in our partner community!
And just for the record: this delegation is amazing. Each and everyone of them with hearts of gold. They are serious when it is appropriate, they are kind to each other and seemingly everyone they encounter. And they are hysterical! It is a pretty diverse group as well. Some young, some a bit older, some older still (me haha), 2 pastors, a missions coordinator for the PCUSA (I don’t know his exact title), OSP board members, and others. I loved them from our first pre-trip meeting in Iowa. What a blessing to be able to be here with them!
(Click on photos to see the whole thing!)
Finally leaving the airport! Dave helping to load the luggage into the microbus. Lunch in Olocuilta
Group shot in front of the mural at Divina Providencia. The mural is opposite Monsenor Romero’s little home.
The tomb of Monsenor Romero.
The mural at Parque Cuscatlan.
The altar where Monsenor Romero was martyred at the Divina Providencia.
Top three photos: The UCA. We had a student guide explaining some of the things in the Museum of the Martyrs.
At the artisan shops. I had to buy several things for OSP for the Latino Fest and for when we do various talks.
El Mozote – Nunca mas!