Beach Day- Are we the courageous ones?

As I woke today it was a hard one to do. It is the last of many I will experience for some time maybe forever in El Salvador. Change in my life I have realized is a hard one to do. Everything I experienced on this trip was worth the change in mindset that I needed to take before I stepped on the plane.

You see, in the States I was yet again frustrated with where my life was at. The anxiety of not knowing the plan that God has for me started to overwhelm me so much in the States that I was not listening to anyone and in the end I was especially not listening to God.

The day before the trip started I made the decision to go to Reconciliation and Mass. Throughout talking to the Priest that day, he told me I needed to yet again trust in the Lord. He knew that this is what I struggled most with and so he told me that I needed be like a child holding tight to his Mother in a frightened situation. He said I need to take hold of the Lord and not let go.

In my time in El Salvador I have seen so many great examples of people doing just that. Clinging to God, not letting go, and completely trusting that He is going to take care of their every need. As the waves today came crashing in around me, I was able to see how important the message that I was sent off with for the trip is the one that I will take home.

As uncomfortable as change is, it is always happening. As change is a constant thing, I hope that I will not only cling to God but also have the joy that the Salvadorian people do each day as they encounter the unknown.

Tomorrow I will step on the plane to go home. Please pray for me to continue to hold on to the Lord and I will pray for you!

In Christ’s Love,

Sarah Pauline

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Las Esperanza- Hope!

Today we went to Cojutepeque, where Lay Missioner Rick Dixon is working with several Christian base communities in the large parish of St. John the Baptist. In the morning we were able to spend our time with the children in the zone of La Esperanza meaning hope. The people of Esperanza built their homes right around the railroad tracks and squatted the land numerous years ago. During the war they went as close to the Volcano as possible and came back to the railroad tracks when the peace agreements were signed. The zone of Las Esperanza has 150 families living in it and is the second poorest zone in the country.

We started the day off by walking through the zone to get to the hermitage to be able to visit with the children. While doing this Rick told us that most people are able to get water into their homes and almost all have electricity. The road that we walked on was made of dirt and stones were placed every which way so it would be very difficult to get a car into the zone. I cannot imagine what happens when the rain does not stop. It looks like the road would wash out and they would have to be very careful finding a way into the city.

When we arrived at the hermitage all of the students had huge smiles on their faces and were dressed in their best clothes. We formed a huge circle and two of the boys gave us a history of why the chapel was built and why they had a black Christ.

To summarize their words:

The land that the chapel is built on was owned by a woman named Maria. She died in 2007 and she longed to give her house for a community project. In 2010 they decided to build a hermitage to be able to give catechism classes to the children. Father Louis helped find the funds to build the hermitage and the people of the zone helped with the construction. In 2010 they built half of the hermitage. They finished it in April 2011 because a mason came and gave of his time. The community came together to help with the physical labor of the project and they finished in August of 2011. The hermitage has a beautiful statue of El Esperanza, the virgin of hope, pregnant Mary, that a family donated. All together the hermitage cost $11,000 dollars to build.

The chapel also has a crucifix of the black Christ that comes from Guatemala. 400 years ago the villagers wanted to have a special Jesus to understand their own salvation. In order to have this image made they asked a wood carpenter to make it. The village people worked a cotton field to be able to pay the carpenter and the reason that it is black is due to the color of wood that it is.

After the boys got done telling us the history of the hermitage the students asked questions of us. They first wanted to know what we ate. I think most of us responded at the same time “Hot Dishes” and then we had to explain what it was. One of my favorite questions they asked was what we do for fun. One of the missioners told us to explain ice fishing and to see the look of the children’s faces was priceless.

When we were done asking questions we then got into groups to play English board games that the older children made. For me the hardest part was to slow my talking down. The students that I was able to work with knew so much English. My group finished first so I taught them how to play “Go Fish”. It was a ton of fun playing the card game with them as I not only got to see them talking in English but also saw how they worked together to make sure that they were saying the correct thing.

When almost all the groups were done I went outside to see the younger students playing with balloons and Robin teaching a group of children songs. They all were following along with the actions and even some of the older children were singing the songs. Before we left the zone the children wanted to show us where they gather each day to play. They took us to a Mango tree. When I looked up in the tree I saw at least 10 children already in it. It cracked me up that Darren could not keep his feet on the ground and not five minutes into being at the tree, he was in the tree!

For lunch, we went to a restaurant that was on top of a huge foothill. The view of the Volcano’s was breathtaking. When it came time to order Erica made it a point to tell the waiter that my plate could not have any avocadoes on it!

In the afternoon we went and visited Cerro Las Pavas, which is a pilgrimage site for La Virgen de Fatima and we also visited with Father Louis who is the Pastor of St. John the Baptist. It was inspiring to hear how he has broken up his parish into zones so that each one has its own base community. They learn the faith together, fight for Social Justice, and share their resources in the zones. Each Sunday the parishioners come together from all the zones and celebrate Mass. At the 10:00 am service at least 600 people come to Mass and he stated that the attendance is high at all of them. Sometime into our visit one of us asked another question and Father started the answer with it is 4:15 right now; I have mass at 4:00. All the people from the States jumped from their seats and Father laughed.

It was a great day in Cojutepeque. As I got in the van for the last ride “home” from a sight visit I prayed that I will not ever forget the faith of the El Salvadorian people.

Listening to the story from one of their own… Santiago Nonualco (Martyr Site of the Maryknoll Sisters)

This morning was an early start as we left the Hotel to pick us Sister Carol and Fr. John Spain. My heart was already heavy knowing what we were about to do. Today is the day that we drove out to the sight of where four women, three sisters, and one lay missioner were martyred during the Civil War.

Throughout our time at Santiago Nonualco, Father John told us what he remembered of this horrific event 31 years ago. When we arrived on sight, Father had us gather around the road and he first told us the events leading up to finding the women.

Summarizing Father John’s Words:

Sister Ita and Sister Maura flew from Nicaragua to El Salvador on December 2nd. Jean Donavan and Sister Dorthy went to the airport to pick them up and take them back into the city in a white van. Somewhere on the ride back, the National Guard overtook their van and drove it to the farm land. The people of the village remember seeing a white van come up the road at 10:30 p.m. right around curfew time. After that they heard machine gun shots and two single bullet shots. The van went down the hill again but this time it was playing loud music and the doors were open.

The next morning a farmer found the four bodies in the gulley by the road. He went directly to the judge of the town. The judge with his secretary went out and looked at the bodies, made drawings of what he saw, took off and kept personal identifying items, and then decided the best thing to do was to bury them. He had the farmers that had gathered around cut the fence, dig a shallow grave and lay the bodies to rest.

The people of the town were afraid. As the civil war continued more and more bodies would show up alongside the road and what they typically would do in the past, bring the bodies to the church and wait for the families to come and identify them, was not typical protocol anymore. Due to this it was not uncommon for El Salvador families to find the disappeared in shallow graves but very uncommon for Maryknoll.

When the people of the village heard what happened they got word to the priest who then got word to the Officials. The first person on sight was Robert White who came at 8:00 a.m. on December 4th. The Friday before the events occurred six prominent opposition people were killed and their funerals were on Wednesday. Because of this, numerous newsrooms had their cameramen on sight in El Salvador. It was not until Wednesday afternoon that the women became officially missing.

At this point Father took a break in telling us what happened that week and we got ready for Mass. He continued during his homily. However, instead of starting where he left off he first reflected on the Gospel and what it meant in El Salvador in the 1980’s. The Gospel you see was on the Great Commandment, the Commandment of Love.

He stated that the teaching comes out of controversy. It is in the struggle where some of the best places are where we can witness the gospel. This happened especially in El Salvador in 1980. The people were not just using words but were able to witness with their lives. Father John made it a point to tell us that no one was naive in being in El Salvador. Everyone knew the dangers but stayed as this is where they felt God calling them to be.

Throughout the Civil War for every religious that was murdered or disappeared, numerous lay El Salvadoran people, with the same faith were martyred. The church was being persecuted because it was trying to work blamelessly. Oscar Romero changed the attitude of the people. Romero knew that Father Grande was doing the correct things in his parish. He could see that Christ was suffering in the people; Christ was suffering in the Church

At this, Father John turned back to the events of Dec. 2nd. Sister Dorthy and Jean had already gone to the airport once that day to pick up two other sisters that flew in from Nicaragua. At the time, they thought they were going to pick up all four but because the flight was oversold, Sister Ita, and Sister Maura made the decision to let the two others go before them. Sister Dorthy and Jean brought the two sisters to the convent in San Salvador where they dropped off a bag of duty free candy on the table and took the Jeep up into a village in the Mountains. When Father Paul, another Maryknoll priest, saw that the Jeep was gone and the candy was on the table he assumed everyone had made it back safely. He thought it was a little strange that Ita and Maura missed breakfast but thought that they had went up to the capital that morning. When they missed an afternoon meeting he with the others got alarmed that something was wrong.

On the morning of December 4th Father Paul and another sister drove to the airport and saw the white van. It was left by the side of a different road, burned out, as a decoy. They got extremely worried and waited for further news. Sometime during the day, they heard of the grave and Father Paul went to identify the bodies. The only way that the Judge would allow for the grave to be dug up is if they could identify the women without a doubt. In this, they showed them the Maryknoll ring that every sister wears and then the judge knew it was indeed the four American Church women. In the afternoon Father John came with another priest in a pickup truck. They called the funeral home to come and take the bodies back to San Salvador but they never showed up. Father John and the priest ended up bring the bodies back to San Salvador in the back of the pickup truck.

The story of the women went around the world overnight. In this, the families made it a point to say that this was happening every single day, around the country of El Salvador, to innocent victims and that the world needs to pray that it stops.

As we drove away from the sight, I kept going back to Father John’s comment “This was not uncommon for El Salvador but very uncommon for Maryknoll.” My prayer is that it will never again feel common for people in ones country to be shot and for no one to talk about it.

As we drove into the city of San Salvador it had already been a long morning and all of us were extremely hungry. That morning at breakfast we had talked about all the fruits and vegetables that we had already tried in El Salvador and both Erica and Darren made it a point to tell us that we needed to try Avocados. I immediately chirped up and stated that I for one would not be partaking in eating an avocado as my body does not process them well, so much so, that I tell people that I am allergic to them. At lunch, we quickly put in our orders and I ordered the burrito. Three fourths into my meal, I glanced down into my burrito, to see green stuff oozing out. I was sitting next to Darren, and as I looked at him, he looked at my burrito, tried the green stuff, and we both realized that I had eaten a good amount of avocado. I was a sad sight to see. As the rest of the group was able to go to the University of Central America where the Jesuits were Martyred, Darren and I headed back to the hotel so that I could deal with getting better quickly. For the most part, I recovered by supper and knew that I would be ready for our Friday adventure.

– Sarah Pauline

Seeing God through the Eyes of His Faithful One…

Today was a long anticipated day for me. I was finally going to visit the Church where Romero gave his life not only to the Salvadorian people but the world. I was finally going to be able to hear the story from people that if had not been there themselves had heard the story from numerous firsthand accounts. From this I knew I was going to get a better understanding what happened that day. But before we went to the Divina Provdencia the group and I went to Ciuded Delgado to visit Paula.

In the States when I saw Paula’s visit on the schedule next to Archbishop Oscar Romero I was frustrated with the leaders for packing so much into the morning. I definitely had a bad attitude about the visit and as we got in the van did not anticipate what was going to happen next.

As we drove on El Truncal Highway Jorge made a right hand turn on a road that went up a foothill and Robin and I exclaimed at the same time “where are we going?” By the time we got this out Jorge had the van pulled to the side of the road and Darren jumped out telling us to wait by the side of the van. We waited for a very long time; at one point Darren came out and got Jorge, the wait got even longer. When Jorge came out we finally got the all clear that we could enter to visit Paula.

The reason why we were visiting Paula’s home is because a few months ago, with the help of lay missioner Nan Tyrolt, a youth group built her a losetta house. A losetta house is a small, safer, more dignified home that will not allow rain or unwanted critters in. The home is made of mostly concrete with a concrete base. The home that Paula was living in before, made of wood and tin, had a dirt floor, and fallen down numerous times due to earthquakes and rainstorms.

As we walked into her yard it was a hard sight to see. Not only was this beautiful old women living in true poverty but she also was living right next to the highway where she was breathing in the exhaust of all the semi’s and busses passing and has to deal with the constant noise. As we got closer to the home Paula’s dog Juguete (toy) did not know what to think of such a big group coming to visit. As we gathered around Paula’s new home Jugueta guarded the door.

Paula first invited us into her new home where she kept looking around and asking us if we thought it was beautiful. We kept responding yes. She then pointed to her bed and table and told us that these were also made from the youth group. Throughout the room she had pictures, statues, rosaries, and other sacramentals to guide her in her faith. When I looked at her bed around her bedpost hang a rosary. For me, it was a beautiful sign of true faith in God as this is something that my Grandma Deutsch did.

Paula wanted us to see her old house. As Michelle and Robin walked into her old home three birds came swooping out the door. At that moment I was so happy that she had her new home. Throughout our visit whenever someone had a question, Paula would look at me and answer the question in Spanish. At one point it almost seemed that it was Paula and I talking to each other with Darren there as the translator. Throughout our conversation we learned that she has lived on this land for around 70 years when her husband and her came and squatted the property. She stated that she has a son and a grandson that make the decision not to come and visit her. Her husband died fifteen years ago and since then she has been living alone. The only way that she receives food is by the generosity of the parish members who stop by and check on her and drop off what they can share. When someone asked her if anyone did live with her she said it was only her and God!

The connection that was made with Paula is one that I do not know how to put into words. During the experience it was as if I was looking through her eyes and was able to see God looking back. At moments during our time the sun would shine through the clouds and during those moments the faith of his servant came shining through. It was hard to step in the van as Paula was going to be yet again by herself, in a house, so close to the highway, counting on the generosity of others. In this I had to remind myself that God is faithful to his people and he will be with her each moment of the day.

After Paula’s house we went to the Divina Providencia where Archbishop Oscar Romero lived in a small cottage and was killed in the chapel. We first took a tour of the home where he lived. After that we went to the Chapel. Walking up to the Altar looking down the center aisle the realization came over me that Oscar Romero knew what was happening to him and he made the choice to become a Martyr of the church.

The rest of the day was spent with Ann, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. We first went to visit her Base Community in which she was one of the founding members. It is there that we were able to pick up some crafts to bring home with us to the States. Next we went to visit where she not only makes Soy products for the undernourished but also takes the opportunity to educate the people on how best to feed their family and has a small restaurant for people to come and eat lunch.

Today, the Lord stretched not only my mind but also my heart. I will never forget looking into Paula’s eyes. As I think of Archbishop Romero’s quote, “The Violence of Love…”, Paula has lived through this and is a shining example of how when we are facing the toughest moments in our life God is with us.

In Christ’s Love,

Sarah Pauline

Tuesday: June 19th – Las Delicias

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On Tuesday, the group had the great joy of visiting Lay Missionary Larry Par who has been in El Salvador for a little more than four years. During his time in Las Delicias he has immersed himself in the community so much so that when I watched him interact with the different people we got to encounter throughout the day I felt like he had lived there his entire life. His dedication, faithfulness, and love for the wellbeing for each one of the villagers came shining through the entire day.

We met Larry at the Library. As soon as we got to the campus the library was on, we saw that we were not the only gringo’s (white people) visiting that day. When I introduced myself to the new people I found out that they were a brother and sister pair that had both graduated from DE LaSalle High School. When I asked Jake, the brother, what year he graduated we realized that he went to school with the group of students that I was able to teach for four different years at Ascension. The world is definitely a small place!

Larry first gave us an overview of the community. Las Delicias is a semi-rural community of 600-700 families, 4,000 people. Most people go into the factories to work and average making $4.00 a day. One of the surprising facts that we learned is if you are even five minutes late for work you are deducted a day in a half pay. If you are lucky enough to have a professional job you can make as much as $300-$400 dollars a month. For an average family, they need $300 to make it through the month. Even though education is free, the supplies for the child, bus fair, and needing them also to work, is why most of the adults in El Salvador do not finish school through ninth grade. For most people to make it in El Salvador they have relatives in the States that are sending them money. Walking through the village you could see what family has money coming from the states and what family does not.

One of the major issues that each village is facing is gang violence. Because of this Larry has worked really hard on Gang Prevention and has started a football (soccer) program called Playing for peace. Four guys from the community that study at the university work with the children each Saturday. They stress to the players that God comes first, your education is second, and sports is third. Through this, they teach the students the techniques of the game, lead by example, and reflect on scripture.

Larry went on to talk about the other programs he has helped with as a Lay Missioner. Three years ago he helped facilitate the library being built and today the students are able to come and get help on their homework, use a textbook as they are not allowed to bring them home from school, and read books to each other. The plot of land that the library is on has just finished building a two room schoolhouse where the students can come and take Jewelry or Computer Classes. They charge $10.00 a month for each class and this is very cheap compared to the City which costs at least $20.00 a class plus bus far.

Throughout Larry’s time he has been able to start a scholarship program to help offset the cost of schooling for students in the village. Altogether this year they have 21 students with some sort of scholarship, five that are high school scholarships which gives the students the bus far they need to make it into and back from the city each day.

During the course of the day we were able to meet some of the people that Larry encounters day in and day out. We first went and met with two older sisters who each day take care of their nieces 6 children. They do this so that she can go and work in the factory each day. The next place we stopped was where Larry lives when he stays at the village. We got to meet the Mom and the Sister. Erica asked them to talk about when Archbishop Romero came to visit and they talked about how he came for an entire day to baptize, give first communion, conformation, and marry different people in the village. Sometime during the day they served him papusas and he only wanted beans in his.

We got to tour the school and I tried to be a student during the computer class; however, the teacher was caught up talking to another adult the entire time. At lunch we had a wonderful chicken soup and afterwards we were able to take a look at the Jewelry the students had made, and look through the books at the library.

Before we went back to San Salvador we stopped to see the Joya de Ceren, a Mayan town that was preserved in ash from three volcanic eruptions. It was a great sight to see. The highlight of the tour was seeing the countries state bird the torogoz.

As we headed back for the city we talked Jorge our driver into stopping for Ice-cream. It was a delicious treat after a very hot day. For dinner we had the long awaited papusas. My favorite was the beans and cheese. If you ever make it down to El Salvador this is definitely something you will want to try for yourself.

As a side note to the day we did get stopped yet again by the immigration police. This time they only checked Jorge’s paperwork but I was really happy that I had a copy of my passport!

Santo Domingo de Guzman, Indigenous community

On Monday morning we left the hostel for an hour and half ride out into the country where Erica works with the Santo Domingo De Guzman community. Before we left for the trip we were told to make numerous copies of our passport and to always have one with us. I did not understand the importance of this until we started on Highway 7 and got stopped by the immigration police. They first asked to see Jorge’s (our amazing driver) identification. They went on to open the vans door and ask to see our passports. As everyone started to take theirs out I knew that I did not have one with me. I did however have my laptop which has a scanned copy of my passport. I was sitting next to Darren (one of the leaders) in the van, and I told him the situation. He in the meantime kept talking to the police in Spanish. The officer would take a copy of a passport, call the person’s name, they would say “Hear” and the process would start again. I just sat there pretending that he already called my name and we got out of a sticky situation. As we were driving away my heart was beating fast and I felt horrible for not following directions. I told Darren I was sorry at least ten times and in my head a hundred. He kept reassuring me that everything was fine and as soon as we got back to the hotel we would get a copy of my passport.

As we arrived in Santo Domingo de Guzman the clouds opened up and it started to downpour. As it is with any group traveling, as soon as you arrive somewhere, the first thing you do is find a bathroom. We used the ones in the church and as the group was finishing up Darren had the brilliant idea to knock Mangos down from a huge mango tree. I ran over to help and as he knocked, I tried to catch them as they plummeted to the ground. I caught 3 out of the 5, got soaked, and had a ton of fun in the process.

The second experience we had in Santo Domingo was listening to three of Erica’s parishioners tell us the history of the communal plots of land that they can purchase and how the church has two different plots of land that the people of the village come together to farm. It came to a debate if we were going to jump in the back of the pick-up truck and ride up the mountain to see the land. In the end we all decided that we came this far we definitely needed to see the land. One of the men found a huge black tarp and they draped it over the top of the truck. As we had no idea where we were going the first hill was a tough one to handle. No one had grabbed on tight enough and we all started to fall backwards on top of the person behind us. We grabbed on tighter and had an amazing roller coaster ride up the mountain.

When we arrived at the field the parishioners showed us how to use sickle to pull weeds. Without mechanical machinery to do the work, I felt using this simple tool would be the fastest way to get it done. Throughout the morning we heard about how as many as 20 different villagers would show up to help in the parish fields. It was definitely inspiring to see.

Leonardo, a parishioner, and his family invited us to their home for lunch. It was a true immersion experience. Leonardo’s wife with the help of her daughters prepared us bean soup, corn tortias, and cheese. As we ate, a duck with her long line of ducklings wondered up to the porch and entered the kitchen. None of the Salvadorians shooed them away and it seemed like the way we would treat a dog wondering into our kitchen. The meal was delicious, and the Salvadorian hospitality is one that is hard to beat.

Before we made it back to town we walked to the waterfall. It was an amazing sight to see. Robin somehow got separated from the group and when I turned around I saw the two gentleman parishioners and Leonardo helping her navigate the way to the waterfall. Even though they did not know one another’s language you could hear all of them laughing and as an observer I was able to watch the Salvadorians make sure that Robin did not slip on a rock.

When we made it to town we went to Nahuat School. Nahaut is the native tongue of the indigenous people. The school children were waiting for us to arrive and as soon as we walked in they started to sing us songs in the indigenous language. After that with the children we learned the different Nahaut words for weather with the students. I struggled through this exercise and just like that student that is hoping not to get called on because they do not understand got picked to go in the front of the room to lead the students through the lesson. I laughed my way through and with the help of the children got through the experience. After the language lesson we next went to learn about how the students are learning how to make pottery. This was the day that the clay needed to be stomped on to get the air bubbles out and reworked. Robin and I jumped in with the rest of the children to get the work done.

Right before we left the village we stopped by a pottery store where villagers have come together to relearn the indigenous craft. Two gentlemen went with the women to take the classes and it was inspiring to hear how they have relearned the craft and other villages are coming to their town to purchase the pottery and to trade services.

The ride was a long one back. Thankfully we were not stopped by the immigration police. If anyone is wondering, yes I do have a copy of my passport at this time

Sunday- A day I will always remember…

It is hard to put in words what the group and I got to be a part of yesterday. We started the morning going to the memorial wall for all the innocent victims of the Civil War. At the very start of the memorial they have a beautiful mural done of the history of El Salvador and it ends in the national flower which represents hope and life. The next part of the wall shook me to the core. It was endless names of all the homicides or names of the people that disappeared during the war never to be found. Walking down the line of the names, people had come and marked the wall of their loved ones. The first block of names is dedicated to all of the children that had died during the war. Standing in front of these names hit me like a ton of bricks that there was a possibility that their mother or father spent the rest of their lives searching for their child never to be found. The next part of the wall is dedicated to all of the adults that died innocently in the war. The first section is for 1970-1979, after that each year has its own section. I took my time walking down the wall, looking for names that I knew or just stopping in front of a name to pray for that person and wonder. I was born in 1978. The last year on the wall was 1992. This is when I was an eighth grader. The realization that the civil war went on for this long was a hard one to digest. The second to last part of the wall has a list all of the massacres and the last block on the wall is dedicated to all of the unknown victims. I think I could of stayed at the wall forever. Walking away was a hard one to do.

After the wall we went to the Cathedral for Mass. We celebrated Mass in the crypt where Archbishop Oscar Romero is buried. We got to church early and I made the decision to spend the balk of my time in front of his tomb praying. It was beautiful to see so many Salvadorians come up and quietly touch his memorial, go into prayer, and ask for his intercession. As it was Father’s Day I thought a lot about how he fathered and is fathering not only this country but people around the world.

Father Raphael, a German priest said Mass. During his homily I wished that I knew Spanish as he stated Americans, Minnesotans, and Obama a couple of times. Sometimes when this happened people would clap and look at us and other times the nice Salvadorian Grandmother sitting next to me would look at me and smile. I would just smile back hoping that it was something that I agreed with. Throughout the Mass Romero was mentioned numerous times and while the gifts were presented at the alter they also presented a picture of a Dominican Friar who died during the war. The anniversary of his Martyrdom was yesterday.

As we were driving home Darren stated that the homily was about how happy the priest was to see that us as Americans came to see and to understand what El Salvador is truly about. However, he challenged the congregation to think about how most Americans exploit people, are imperialistic and that we have laws that allow are president to kill anyone. He wants everyone to remember that we are all humans working for the kingdom of God and Humanity.

I am still trying to process the homily as I write this entry. I do remember being told that during some parts of the trip we are going to be in discomfort and that this is ok. I was happy when at the end of Mass the Grandmother turned to me and smiled once again. She told Darren that she was so happy that we had come and I got the feeling she understood we were trying to live in the Gospel just like Romero had asked not only the people he led to do but the world.

The second part of the day was spent meeting the rest of the Maryknoll Missionaries in El Salvador. Father John sat next to me at lunch. He has been in El Salvador for over 40 years and was able to work with Archbishop Oscar Romero. It was a gift from God to be able to listen to him talk about his friend. At the end of lunch he told me that Norte Dame just finished putting out a new documentary on Romero’s life. This is something that I definitely will need to check out when I get back in the States.

There has been a lot to process since we have arrived in El Salvador but I have loved every moment of it!

In Christ,

Sarah Pauline