Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Sister Parish report 2010

I received this letter a few weeks ago from the mission coworker in El Salvador:

NOVEMBER 1st 2010

On behalf of myself, the Pastoral Team and the communities within the municipality of Berlín, El Salvador: Greetings and blessings to all our brothers and sisters in Iowa!! Many of you are aware of the work of Our Sister Parish here in Berlin. But you may be surprised by what you are about to read. Even I was when I saw all that has been accomplished this year with your help!

The Pastoral Team and I compiled information for our annual report to the communities: listing the works and projects that we have facilitated between January and October of this year. We would like to share this same information with all of you. When a church has a community partnership, it is easy to only see that piece of the work that you yourself (as a congregation) are involved in. And for those without a partnership, but are supporting with ‘this or that,’ the work we do for the poor in this community might not be very clear. Here, I hope to share with you the bigger picture.

Summary of projects and community support facilitated by the Pastoral Team on behalf of the Iowa churches:

Projects paid with the proceeds of the Don Justo Coffee with Dignity project $1,775.23
- 26 different projects in the communities of Santa Cruz, Colonia Esmeralda, San Francisco, Delicias, Rio de los Bueyes, San Felipe and Talpetates. Projects including lamina for a church roof, chairs for community meetings, 6 pairs of rubber boots for our garbage collectors and other small projects

General Health Fund (funds from a variety of individuals and delegations) $2,296.13
- Helped 146 people with financial assistance for the purchase of medicines, transportation to hospitals and special medical exams

Blanca’s Bags Proceeds $922.38
- Several families helped with some funds for funeral expenses, food packets for 2 groups of elderly people (2 communities) and some medical assistance

In Canton El Recreo (St. Boniface) $21,735.65
- Fertilizer for each family, a computer for the museum for student use, photocopier housed at school for community use, elementary and High School scholarships for ALL the children who want to attend, salary of 5th grade teacher, display tables for the museum, corn sheller machine for community wide use

In Caserío Casa de Zinc (Trinity, Indianola) $960.00
- Fertilizer purchase for each family

In Caserío Alejandria (Burger Family) $12,591.95
- Fertilizer purchase for each family, 2500-liter water collection tank for each family, food packets and cantaros (water-hauling jugs) for each family, lamina for roofs, materials for 2 retention walls

In Canton Las Delicias (Wakonda Christian – Recently renewed partnership!) $368.95
- Repair of church doors and altar table

In Canton San Lorenzo (Burger Family) $16,608.72
- Fertilizer purchase for each family, 2500-liter water collection tanks for each family, lamina for roofs

In Caserio Los Muñoces (First Pres Newton) $1,418.43
- Fertilizer purchase for each family, financial assistance for medical needs of community members

In Canton Virginia (Dallas Center) $5,225.00
- Fertilizer purchase for each family

In Canton El Corozal (Ankeny Pres) $1,865.00
- Fertilizer purchase for each family, financial assistance for medical needs of two very ill children

In Canton San Francisco (Westminster) $7,032.55
- Fertilizer purchase for each family, retaining wall for the church, some health assistance

In Canton El Tablón Centro (Heartland Pres) $4,070.00
- Paid 3 teacher’s salaries for 3 months, provided 7 high school scholarships

En Caserio Tablón Cerna (Heartland Pres) $17,625.00
- Salary for K-2nd grade teacher, health needs support, transportation support for the formation of a Cooperative (chickens – both layers and fryers) and financing for bee hives for the same co-op.

General Education Funds $11,344.90
- Scholarships for 8 high school students, school supplies for 3 schools, sports uniforms for 3 grade levels at the boy’s and girl’s middle schools, support for the band at the girl’s school, 2 ‘technical school’ Scholarships (post high school 2 year programs), 1 university scholarship

Pick up truck expenses (gas) $1,487.00
- Gas for attending different meetings and celebrations and facilitating (repairs) $1,794.77
projects in the communities for partner churches.

General Expenses of the Pastoral House $13,055.56
- Internet, food (includes delegation food), misc. house repair, painting and upkeep
- Energy and water bills paid by Central Presbyterian Church ($100 monthly support) $1000.00

Water Filter Community Funds $400.00
- Fencing for a community center in San Simón (funds collected for their slow sand water filters that have been re-invested in their own community!)

Water Filter Expenses in project monitoring $483.15
- Transportation, communications, copies for monitoring of existing water filters in the communities.

Grand Total with two months left in the year: $124,060.37

* All these projects and tasks involve hours and hours of meetings, planning, coordination, implementation, phone calls, deliveries, travel, thought, ledger/accounting work, etc. Then on top of all this, the Pastoral Team hosts the delegations that visit – those with partnerships as well as those random visitors who come to explore the possibilities of relationship-based mission or have other Pastoral Team related needs. This year, we hosted 12 regular delegations (102 people) as well as 9 individuals. Also hosted was the Newton Medical Delegation providing 5 days of clinics in the cantons.

* Please continue drinking Don Justo Coffee with Dignity and consider promoting it at your churches if you are not yet doing so. This is an EASY and delicious manner in which to provide financial support. With the proceeds of the sales we are able to provide assistance to communities that do not have a church partnership as well as the individuals who come to the house in need of assistance. Proceeds are used for a variety of needs such as medicines, exams, transportation and food for people who come to the door of the Pastoral House. So enjoy that cup of coffee! And then have another!

* The Slow Sand Water Filter project has been completed and 1,056 families are now benefiting from truly potable water! We are continuing to support the project with annual monitoring and de-parasite medicines for the beneficiaries.

* Your undesignated “General Mission Support” donations help us maintain the over-all mission.

*** If you would like to explore opportunities to participate in this ministry, I would be delighted and honored to be of assistance to help you find an appropriate avenue for you and your congregation. The needs are great … but you really can make a difference in the lives of the people here!

“I tell you the truth – whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40)

En la fe y la paz,

Kathy Mahler, Mission Co-Worker
Casa Pastoral Comunitaria de Berlín, El Salvador

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 8 Photos: Can we stay here?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recycling bins at a school on the outskirts of Berlin

These two boys wanted their pictures taken

Eating a tasty rice with warm milk snack. It is delicious!

Waving goodbye to us

Jose (73) lives here with his wife Geranade (70)

Jasefina (33) lives here with her husband Amilcar (32) and three children. Ivania (11), the girl in the white shirt, is a member of the youth group who I met in the spring

These two children, Alejandra (11) and Jerson (5) live here with their mother and another brother

Kathy's mobile office

Leticia (20) lives here with her husband Wilber (23) and their 2 year old daughter

Roxana (25) lives here with her mother Paz (46), her father Manuel (48) and her brother

Sitting on an old water filter. A few of the ones that were first installed did not work and had to be replaced. This one now serves as a bench

Maria (35) lives here with her husband Enrique (21) and three children

A solar panel on one of the houses in San Francisco!

Josefa (62) lives here with her husband Jose (68) and two grandchildren. Amanda (13), the girl in the blue shirt, is a member of the youth group who I met in the spring. She ran up and gave me a huge hug when I walked to the house. It was a wonderful surprise!!!

A little boy playing on a swing

Maria (88) lives here with her son Jose (65). I LOVED these two! They are so cute! Daniel opened their care package and explained everything that was inside.

A giant moth with eyes on it's wings - very cool

Jose (55) lives by himself. I often wonder how men are able to survive on their own. Most men do NOT cook (or know how to cook) or do laundry, etc. It's something to investigate.

**NOTE: The last six gift packages were given away at the church to people who live in the caserio of Santa Rita. Unfortunately, because of delays the first day, we weren't able to walk to Santa Rita.

Carmen (29) lives with her husband Jose (36) and five children

Cristabel (35) lives with her husband Juan (36) and five children. She walked 40 minutes with a sick child to get her package. The children's medicine came in handy right away.

Jose (75) lives with his wife Maria (72) and two children and one grandchild. He walked 40 minutes, barefooted, to the church to get his gift package.

Jose (62) lives with his nephew Adalberto (41) in Santa Rita. Jose accompanied us every day we did the census.

A butterfly on the ground near the church

The new church in San Francisco!

Inside the new church

Daniel played guitar for us while we ate lunch

The rear of the church which will probably need a retaining wall sometime in the future

A bathroom near the church in San Francisco

A water collection tank by the church in San Francisco

The new retaining wall as seen from above

The new retaining wall as seen from the road

Meeting with the Directiva (community board). At the left is Miguel, who is a member of the Pastoral Team and the liason between San Francisco and the Pastoral Team. In the middle is Jose Santiago, who is an alternate. On the right is Jose Deonicio, the treasurer.

More of the Directiva: On the left is Mirna, the secretary. In the middle is Migdalia, another alternate.

A little girl holding her family's gift package

Myself with two members of the youth group, Erica and Veronica. I love these girls!!

Veronica speaking during the celebration

Miguel led much of the celebration

The musicians

The choir

Our friend Maria and her daughter

Maria's little neighbors who walked with her to the celebration

Maria's little girl, Maria, wasn't too happy to be without mom

Maria's children: Cristian (4), Noel (6), and Maria (6 months)

A chicken tied up in the yard of the Pastoral House. She was going home with Cecilia. I asked Kathy if she was going to be food. Kathy said she saw Cecilia feeding her corn instead of only letting her peck in the grass; not a good sign for the chicken.

Uh-oh!!! Now Lynn did something bad and got the devil horns.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 7 Photos: Census 2010

Thursday, 9-16-2010

Day two of the census. This time with no rain.

Lynn being helped by another gentleman, Jose. Though Tito is still accompanying her.

Duck friends!

Making our way to the first house of the day

Not sure who is helping who

**NOTE about the census: There were several things that really stood out today when taking the census. For example, at most places the whole family was not at the house. Most of the time at least one person was out in the fields working. Some of the children were at school and others just weren’t there. I also saw a lot of young moms and moms who had given birth at a young age. Something else that was interesting, and I personally think a little weird, were the old men who have young wives. In total, we visited 55 families on this day.

Digna (29) and her son (15)
Yes, her son. She was 14 when she gave birth

Kathy and her good friend, Chicho

Chicho is quite handsome

Maria (39) lives here with her husband Jose (48) and 3 children (and Chicho too!)

Taking a rest at Daniel's house

Daniel (51) and his wife Francisca (52) live here with 5 children. Daniel is a Delegate of the Word in San Francisco. Erika (in yellow) is a member of the youth group who I met in the spring.

Reyna (31) lives with her husband Jose (21) in Daniel's house (Daniel is Jose's father)

Gloria (66) lives here with two children and three grandchildren

Our entourage

Lynn being helped by yet another gentleman (her 3rd :-)

The stove in someone's house. This is the way most stoves look in the cantons.

Maria (71), on the left, lives here with her husband Catalino (74) and their two children

Someone pointed out that we had the same color eyes (blue)

Maria (34) lives here with her husband (35) and 4 children

Maria's cute little baby, Erick (2 months)

Sandra (30) lives here with her father (60), her two sisters, and her two children. Sandra accompanied us all three days we did the census.

These two girls walked with us quite a ways

Maria (24) lives here with her husband Andres (31) and three children

Walking to another house

Jose (45) lives here with his four children

Vicitacion (84) lives here with his nephew (36), niece, and his niece's children.
They are standing by two giant water collection tanks.

Angelia (39) lives here with her husband Ricardo (49) and their 9 children. Their youngest child is 23 who Angelia had when she was 16.


Reyna (36) lives here with her husband (35) and five children

Guillermo (87) and Maria (70) live here together

Cow friends!

Holding a tiny kitten!!

Lynn holding her friend's baby girl

Consuelo (26) lives here with her husband Guillermo (29) and three children

Making our way up the road

Holding Maria's little girl, Maria (6 months)

Maria (26) lives here with her husband Manuel (35) and their three children

Teresa (68) lives here with her daughter and two grandchildren. Teresa is Maria's (from the previous picture) mom

Walking up another hill

Oscar (39) lives here with his five children

A typical canton house

This cute little baby was afraid of the gringos

Lus (30) lives here with her husband Brijido (35) and five children

Maria (45) lives here with her two grandchildren

Brijido (72) lives here with his three grandchildren

Rosa (36) lives here with her husband Arnaldo (39) and three children

Juan (52) lives here by himself

Getting ready to meet the next family

Maria (42) lives here with four children

Walking to the next house

Mariana (74) lives here with three grandchildren

Cecilia (15) lives here with her husband Alberto (23), their son, and her husband's brother.
She is one of the youngest moms I met during this trip

Flor de Maria (32) lives here with her husband Isidro (34) and their four children and a 5th on the way

Juan (29) and Zulma (29) live here with their four children. The two youngest girls are twins. They are one of two sets of twins I know of in San Francisco.

Delmy (30) lives with her husband Wilfredo (32) and two children

Jan (87) lives with her husband Jesus (73) and grandchild

Some of the students at the school in San Francisco holding the stickers that the Presbyterian Women's Eve Circle collected and sent down

Maria (40) and her husband Alfredo (57) are new to the community of San Francisco

Maria (67) lives with her brother, her daughter, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild

Nuvia (34) lives here with her husband Francisco (35) and three children

Miguel (60) lives here with his wife Migdalia and 8 children

Bathroom in San Francisco

Mission co-worker at rest

Lynn put her rain poncho on to scare off the rain

Miguel (59) lives with his Ana (44)

Niwman (29) lives with his wife Maria (21) and their two children

Mercedes (27) lives with her husband Ruben (23) and two children

Dolores (41) lives with his wife Rina (36) and their two children

Miguel (33) lives with his wife Estela (25) and their three children

Miguel & Estela's youngest son, Jose (2)

Maria (44) lives with her husband Jose (46) and five children. The twin girls, Zulma and Veronica (18) are members of the youth group who I met in the spring. The older boy in back, William (23) is also a member of the youth group.

Maria (44) lives here with her husband Luis (43) and two children. Their son, Ernesto (21) is a member of the youth group who I met in the spring. Their daughter, Wendy (11) has Down's Syndrome.

Lynn holding another baby

Maria (49) lives with her husband Luis (48) and three children

Martha (18) lives with her husband Luis (18) and their two children (the little girl she's holding and the little girl holding the stuffed dog).

Juan (86) lives at home alone

Turkeys!! Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Maria (53) lives with her husband Fermin (54) and his son

Maria (53) lives with her husband Salvador (55) and two children

Jose (61) lives with his 93 year old mother, Jasinta

Kathy holding a cute little boy

Jose (73) lives with his wife (19) and their son.
Yes, his wife is 54 years younger than him.

Rigoberto (30) lives with his wife Maria (30) and two children

These three boys live with their parents, Doroteo (55) and Zoila (49)

Ana (24) lives with her husband Oscar (23) and their son

Claudia (26) lives with her husband Francisco (50) and their son

Maria (79) lives with her son and three grandchildren

Little kitten I wanted to take home

Tito and Lynn

Tito and me

My little thinking niche