Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm learning a lot!

Monday, 2-21-11

I had the opportunity to go to the caserío of Muñoces today which is in the canton of El Tablón with the Newton delegation. We left the house around 8:10am and arrived a little after 9am. Hugs were in store for Linda and Warren who’ve been to Muñoces several times before. The rest of us greeted the people who were there and introduced ourselves. One of the women was holding her tiny, 2-month old baby named Emerson. Kathy immediately grabbed the baby to hold him. He was pretty adorable!! Then I needed to hold the baby before giving him back to mom.

We had a little while before the rest of the people showed up for the meeting. I took the opportunity to ask William, the translator, to explain the difference between the preterite and imperfect past tense in Spanish. For some reason I just can’t wrap my head around which past tense to use when. I think I now have a better understanding of which tense to use when but it’s definitely something I’ll have to work on. Although considering that I’ve really only been seriously studying Spanish for about a year I’m doing pretty well. Okay, I took two years of basic Spanish over 10 years ago at the beginning of high school, but let’s face it, it’s high school Spanish and I spent most of the time thinking up bad words to ask the teacher. I’m glad I took the class because it taught me how to pronounce words, but the bulk of what I know I’ve learned in the past year.

We started the meeting at 9:50am. Some of the Directiva was in attendance as well as a couple teachers from the school. The teacher talked a little bit about the school, which has 53 students and goes from Kindergarten to 5th grade. Linda presented the special chair she had brought down from the US. It can be used to evacuate people from their homes in an emergency situation if they aren’t able to walk. Then Warren talked to the people in attendance about an ESL program that he’s hoping to do sometime.

We took a break around noon for lunch. While we were waiting for lunch I played with some of the kids for a while. I was taking their picture with my camera and then showing the pictures to them. I also gave some of them gum. They were too sweet to resist! Lunch today was rice, lettuce salad, tortillas, and a sort of hamburger. I managed to devour it all. After lunch we spent some more time talking to the Directiva about the door to door tomorrow. The Directiva had finished up the census so Kathy could type it all up when we got back to Berlín. And with that we were adjourned.

Linda reading to the kids

Kathy & the baby

He's so snuggly!

Waiting for people to arrive

Talking to the little girl

Meeting with the Directiva

Tiny puppy!

Can I take him home?

One of the girls I was talking to

God is love

Walking by the church

The girl's home next door to the church

The church in Muñoces

Gringo fanclub

Inside the church

Linda demonstrating how to use the chair

Away he goes

Oh no! What happened?!

We arrived back in Berlín around 2:30. We got back faster than it took us to get there because we took the short cut. We had a brief moment to rest and then we headed over the physical therapy clinic. Linda is a physical therapist and really wanted to talk to the director about some of the physical therapy equipment she has back in Iowa. After they chatted we spent a little time playing with the kids. I’m really excited because when the delegation visits are done in early March I’ll be able to work at the clinic on Fridays in the afternoons.

Perhaps I should explain what I’m doing with my time right now. Because of the back to back delegations and Kathy’s emergency trip to the US shortly before my and Trinity’s arrival the Pastoral Team just didn’t have time to make arrangements for me at the school. Plus it makes things a lot easier if I wait to start teaching until after the three back-to-back delegations are gone. It’s unusual for delegations to be so close together and it makes things really tough for the Pastoral Team. Thus, it’s much easier to have me accompany the delegations.

I’ve really enjoyed spending time with the delegations, visiting their sister communities, and seeing things through their eyes. I’ve learned a lot about the way other communities function and how different delegations work together. They’ve taught me a lot about love, compassion, friendship, and a great deal about myself. I’ve gained perspective on issues I’d never thought of before. Plus I have a whole bunch of fresh ideas for when my church comes to visit again.

A lot of what I’m learning relates very well to what I learned in my social work classes in my MSW program. It relates not only to the classes I truly enjoyed but also to the ones I wasn’t terribly fond of. There was one class in grad school that I really never liked called Organization and Community Practice. I came to dislike the class so much that I developed an involuntary eye twitch because I was so stressed out. Thus, I never thought I’d use anything in the class and had no real desire to do anything on a macro level. Since I was young I had always imagined myself working one on one with people in a clinical setting as a therapist.

To find myself less than 2 years later in El Salvador learning about how communities organize themselves to better their lives comes a quite a shock. To become more educated about churches and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help families in Berlín is amazing. To realize I’m a part of the group called Compañeros and have worked on writing policies, helped to organize a fundraiser, and gained knowledge of writing contracts is a big surprise. This is all extremely applicable to my degree and my future career. That makes me appreciate my time here even more.

At the physical therapy clinic

He was singing us a song!

This sign does not mean what you think it means
(but you shouldn't do that either)

Standing by the Romero mural by the church

1 comment:

Matt said...

It's great that you get to put your degree and what you learned into use. I'm sure the delegations and the ladies at the casa really appreciate having you around to help out.