Saturday, March 12, 2011

Santiago de Maria


Well, it was a hard morning. As I’m sure all of you know there was a massive 8.9 earthquake in Japan. I walked out of my room this morning and the ladies told me that there had been an earthquake in Japan. I went back to my room and checked my email. I saw that I had several emails from the USGS National Earthquake Information Center that I subscribe to. My greatest concern was for my sister, Laura, who is currently living in Kofu, Japan which is west of Tokyo. I got an email from her and thanks to God she is alright as is her boyfriend, James. She emailed us this morning to let us know she and James were okay. There was only minor damage done in her apartment. But she was still waiting to hear from friends who live closer to the epicenter. This morning and this afternoon I had a cup of my Japanese Genmaimatcha tea and prayed for all the people in Japan. I’m at a loss for what to do or say. Right now I will stick with prayer.


We come to you in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. We ask for your loving Mercy and kindness toward all who suffer as a result of the Earthquake, Tsunami and aftershocks which have devastated the people of Japan.

Lord, for those who lost their lives, and those who mourn them, we ask for your loving mercy.

Lord, for those who were wounded, we ask for healing and help.

Lord, for those reaching out to the wounded, give them the supernatural graces, and the practical and economic resources they need in their efforts.

Lord, for those who are searching for the dead, assist them in their effort so that all who lost their lives in this tragedy can be buried with dignity.

Father, may this natural disaster and true human tragedy become an invitation for your people to enter into the ongoing mission of reaching out to all of the poor and seeing in their face and in their need the face of your Son.

During this Lent, we say "Yes" to your invitation to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. May this human tragedy become for your people an occasion of grace and invitation to love.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord


Written by Deacon Keith Fournier

I left for nearby Santiago de Maria with Kathy, Blanca, and Idalia about an hour after I woke up. We needed to buy some parasite medication for the medication delegation that will be arriving tomorrow in El Salvador. Many people who live in the cantons have parasites as a result of drinking the water. It’s important that the people in the communities who don’t have water filters receive the parasite medication. The medical delegation comes once a year to do exams, provide medication, do dental checkups, etc. They do a lot more but I’m not sure about the specifics. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet them or see the work they do. I’m excited because I will hopefully get to observe them in action on Monday. It will be beneficial to have a better understanding of the work they do here.

When we arrived in Santiago we headed for Farmacia Aguila (Eagle Pharmacy) to buy the medicine. The ladies talked to someone behind the counter for a while and soon she’d brought over a ton of medication. We had to peel off the labels on each individual blister pocket. I’m not sure why but I think it had something to do with them selling us the medication in bulk. Kathy and I helped out to make the process go a little faster. We got a prize of a waterbottle and a t-shirt for buying so much. Woo hoo!

Next we were off to Supermercado para Todos (Supermarket for All) to buy supplies for the school in El Tablón Cerna. I’d been to the store once before and was excited to look around again. This is the one I described as a Hy-Vee/Target but much smaller. It’s the same store that sells what’s called “colesterol crema” and gun holsters next to the baby wipes. We went to the school supply section first to get tissue and regular paper. I saw a couple small books in English & Spanish for $1.40 each so I decided to buy them to read to my students. I also got a notebook to use when I go to meetings in San Francisco. After that we wondered around the store looking for toys, cooking items, cleaning supplies, and a couple other items for the school.

We had several baskets of things to buy by the time we’d finished. Kathy and I bought our personal items first. Then came time to buy everything else. It took a very long time for us to go through the line. Blanca and Idalia went somewhere else to get some things while Kathy waited in line and I guarded our other bags. It was quite a long process. The woman had to write out an itemized receipt for everything because the team needed it for their records (lots of transparency in record-keeping at the Pastoral House). I got hungry waiting for Kathy to finish buying everything so I bought a Milky Way bar since I was standing next to another check out area. As Kathy finally exited the store I said, “That’s 30 minutes of my life I’m never going to get back.” It really did take a half hour to check out.

I stood guard at the front of the store with all eight of our huge bags and a couple mops while Kathy went to get the truck. Gringos tend to attract a lot of attention, especially those of us with blond hair. Add eight bags to that situation and you’re asking to get noticed. So I had to try to fend off certain random people (usually men) that wanted to have a long discussion with me or give me a ride or ask for money. I’m not rude but sometimes people can be really pushy. I felt like I was holding the mops at a ready position so I could whack anybody that got too close.

One guy asked over and over and over again for a quarter. Per the policies created by Compañeros and the Pastoral House for all delegates I did not give anyone money. Two separate times guys asked if I needed a ride somewhere which was weird because I had a look on my face that said, “Don’t mess with me” (White girl + strange man = bad situation.) I know most of the time people are just being polite but you have to be vigilant and not let your guard down here. Common sense and understanding the culture goes a long ways. This is why I created a 50-page handbook and devoted several pages to safety tips, rules, and other information.

Eventually Kathy showed up in the pickup with the ladies in the back. We piled everything inside and headed back to Berlín. Most of the day I spent working on the computer and trying to get some other little things done as well. It seems like there’s always something to do. I’m not sure how to describe it but things move at a different pace. Slower sometimes but also quickly. Is that possible?

Also, Chelito escaped from his box today. I had put him outside in his box so he could get some sun and air. I was sitting inside the house working on the computer when Idalia told me that he was running around on the ground outside. He’d somehow managed to knock over his box and jump two feet down off the ledge he was on. The little stinker! I scooped him up and put him back in his box. It was time to find a new home. He’s getting bigger but still not big enough to be with Barbara yet.

I found a plastic tub that we usually put dishes in that he could use. But soon he’d figured how to get out of that one as well. So I got another large tub with higher sides for him. I put down more newspaper and got him another towel to snuggle. Then I replenished his food and water. He seemed more content in his new home and pecked away at his food. I washed the first tub and the little towels in his first box. Then I threw out the cardboard box since it was kind of gross. This plastic tub will be much easier to clean.

In other news I’ve have a bad headache all day and am going to bed early (10:30pm). The rest of the day wasn’t that exciting anyway. Chao!

Pulling little stickers off parasite medication

The pharmacy

The school supply section inside Supermercado Para Todos
(Supermarket for All)

Toy section

Nice toys, Kathy

Look! A book about pads that's filled with pads!

This is the same store where I saw the gun holsters

And the cholesterol cream as well

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sorry you had a headache today. I certainly hope you feel better tomorrow. I hope the new plastic tub can hold your new little escape artist.