It was a glorious, sunny day here in El Salvador. Sorry to all you stuck in Iowa with the snow. I’ll try to send warm sunshine your way. It was Blanca’s birthday today and during breakfast Kathy pulled out the cookies we made last night for everyone to enjoy. They were delicious. Blanca opened her gifts from Kathy and Jesús. A little before 9am Kathy and I headed off to church. Something I love about church here that I forgot to mention last week is after the offering has been collected and the Eucharist is being taken to the front of the church, everyone applauds. I like the way people celebrate things, no matter how big or small. Whether it’s applause for communion we are about to receive or kids applauding themselves at school for a job well done, I think it’s wonderful.
When we walked into church this morning I noticed that the Jesus that is usually at the back of the church in a large, see-through coffin was gone. Kathy told me they took him out of the coffin during Lent. On Easter there is a processional through town when about 30 men carry the giant coffin on their shoulders. After that Jesus goes back into the coffin. When I was showing people my scrapbook of my September El Salvador trip someone asked me who was allowed to carry Jesus during the processions. Since I didn’t know I asked Kathy, and she told me that only men were allowed to carry him. Women are allowed to carry a statue of the Virgin Mary during processions. I also saw Jesus when I was in Michoacán, Mexico a couple years ago. I wonder how many churches in North, Central, and South America have a Jesus in their church. That’s something to research.
Below are pictures I took in September 2009
Inside the church in Berlín
Statues in the church
It is a beautiful church
Where the Eucharist is kept
Jesus in his glass casket
Full view of the inside
Outside view of the church
After church we went to look around the market. The market is there every day, but on Thursdays and Sundays it is much bigger. I love walking around looking at what people have to sell. There’s so much to take in. Inevitably, you run into someone you know and stop to chat. Today we saw Haydee again and Mily was there as well. It was good to see her. She is a fantastic translator for delegations. We walked by the boisterous guy who sells batteries and usually says something like “Beautiful” or “Mamacita”. In the part of the market that Kathy calls “Valley West Mall” we saw Lola, Jesús’s mom. We also briefly saw Bryan, the little boy I wrote about yesterday. Kathy and I found some pretty shirts at the market that we decided to buy. I suggested we wear them on the same day to be twins. Perhaps.
This is an example of what Kathy wants the back of the Casa's pickup truck to look like
The shirt I bought at the market. Kathy has the same one, only in pink
Lunch today was something I’d never had before: Guisquil relleno. Guisquil is a member of the gourd family. Most guisquil fruits are rippled, pear-shaped, and green. They are also known as Chayote squash. We came home from the market to see Cecelia making the batter for the guisquil relleno. It was whipped egg whites, then she added and whipped the yoke. The guisquil was stuffed with cheese, coated in the batter, and then fried. It was pretty delicious!
After lunch I finished the book, “The Weight of All Things”. It was a wonderful read about the Salvadoran Civil War and I highly recommend it. I always wonder where authors get the titles for the book and try to find the words of the title used in the book. I found the title of this book in the following passage: “The weight of the truth; the weight of all things crushed him, and he sat up and propped his back against the tree and gasped to catch his breath. His mother was dead. At the knowledge a wild grief overtook him, and he stood to confront it, a hand against his mouth to stifle the deep sob mounting up from his chest.” It was at this point that the main character, Nicholás, realized his mother was dead. I think the “weight of all things” also refers to the burden carried by people who witnessed atrocities during the war; the heaviness of bearing all that they had seen and experienced.
At the beginning of the book the author, Sandra Benitez, briefly describes two events detailed in the novel that are based on actual occurrences:
“March 30, 1980—More than 80,000 people gathered in and around the Metropolitan Cathedral for the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was assassinated on March 24 while celebrating mass. Thirty-five were killed and 450 were wounded after explosions and shooting caused the crowd to panic.”
“May14, 1980—Six hundred campesinos fleeing rural repression were massacred at the Sumpul River by Salvadoran and Honduran troops.”
The last event reminded me of when we went to Nueva Esperanza a little over a week ago. During the Civil War, the people from the nearby town of Ciudad Romero originally fled to Honduras but were forced out. I believe one of the reasons Honduras did not want refugees from El Salvador was due a conflict over a soccer game about 10 years previously (La guerra del fútbol). They also did not want Salvadorans taking jobs of Hondurans, especially Salvadorans who were “communist trouble-makers”. The people from Nueva Esperanza fled to Nicaragua.
After finishing the book I took a short snooze in the hammock (to reward myself for accomplishing a task). Later in the afternoon Miguel, from the canton of San Francisco, dropped by. San Francisco is the canton that Westminster partners with. He asked when I was going to come for a visit. After a few minutes of talking to him and Kathy we decided we’d try to go on March 4th. I’m looking forward to going – it’s on my list of things to do while I’m here. It will be nice to see the community and the church. The new church was officially opened when I was here with Westminster in September. They even let us help paint the window shutters. I also plan to visit Maria Santo Santo Cruz, who is a good friend that I was introduced to by Lynn Anstey from church.
Picture with Maria in September 2009. The two boys are hers and the girl is her niece.
While I was in the dining room talking to Miguel something outside fell to the ground. It sounded pretty loud. I went out to find an avocado on the ground. It sounded just as Kathy described it, “Like a monkey throwing rocks”. It’s not quite ripe yet but hopefully in a few days. Later on in the evening I saw Cecelia outside doing some yard work. Kathy went out to join her. And when I saw they were cutting the grass with giant machetes, I too decided to join. That was my idea of a lawnmower: a giant knife. It was difficult swinging the blade at that angle, but it was sure to build some arm strength. I’ve never understood why people in the US are so obsessed with mowing their lawns. I understand that people want their yards to look nice, however, I can’t help but think, “It’s grass, people. Grass. Let it go.”
Cecelia and Kathy whacking away
Cut that grass!!
Watch your toes!
I look a little bit too excited in this picture
Dinner tonight was enchiladas. And Sandy, they were delicious!!! Enchiladas here are different than in the US. They resemble the Mexican tostada. It’s very thin masa (dough) used to make to make tortillas. Then they deep fat fry it. Next Cecelia puts beans, lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg pieces, avocado pieces, and cheese on it. They are scrumptious.
Later that night something exciting happened. Well, for me it was exciting. I was on my way up to Kathy’s office when I heard something fall to the ground. I thought it was another avocado. I saw where it had fallen so I went to pick it up. It was some sort of fruit that looked like it had been partially eaten. I asked Cecelia and she told me it was guayaba (guava). I wasn’t sure how it got there since there’s not a guayabo (guava tree) in this yard. Kathy asked her how it got here. It was BATS!!! Bats carried them to wherever they ate, which may be a tree in the yard. Cecelia said she also found jocotes (another fruit) in the yard before that the bats dropped. If you didn’t know before, you know now, that I LOVE bats!! I even have two adopted bats (not real ones) from Bat Conservation International. I have a certificate that tells about the two kinds of bats that I adopted. What a wonderful way to end the evening!
“Love beauty; it is the shadow of God on the universe.”
Gabriela Mistral, Chilean poet
Guayaba nibbled on by the little bat