Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beach day!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2014

This is going to be a short blog with mostly photos. The main thing we did today was go to the beach. And after a week of meetings and community visits, tears and laughter, pain and hope, this was a well-needed break for everyone. We left around 8am and it was about a 2 hour drive there. When we arrived, it felt like all the stress and anxiety from the week just melted away. Together we swam, searched for shells, ate lunch, and just generally enjoyed the day. It was a wonderful way to end the week.


Happy Alisha



Life is good

Shrimp, rice, beans, tortillas, and salad for lunch

Coconut water straight from the coconut

Blanca and Balmore

Idalia, Cecilia, and Margarita



Goodbye beach

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Giving Thanks

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Giving Thanks

This morning we accomplished a lot. We had a meeting, we cooked, and we ate. Today was our Thanksgiving lunch. So we started cooking in the morning and then had a meeting. Our meeting eventually moved from the chapel to the dining room because we had to continue/start cooking. At noon we finished the meeting. We went back into the chapel where Katherine led us in prayer and we had Holy Communion. Then it was time to eat. The entire Pastoral Team was there and our Compañeros group as well. It was a huge feast and sharing it together made it even more special.

Peeling potatoes

Chopping potatoes
The turkey got done early

In my little apron

The end of the meeting

All of us together

Holy Communion

Carving the turkey

The feast

Serving up food

My plate

Getting ready to eat

Not soon after lunch we visited a community that is building a new school. Two girls in Iowa raised $27,000 to built a school in Mediagua. Their names are Maria and Niah Howard, and they are building the school in memory of their Sarah, who died in 2010. At the end of the blog is the story about their organization.
We arrived in the community and got to look around at all the work that was being done. We also met with the Directiva to introduce ourselves and explain our work. They talked about the school being built and their hopes for the future school. About chatting, they offered us nuegados (a sweet snack made from yucca) and horchata (a delicious rice drink).
Then we made the trek down to their only water source in the community. It wasn’t a pleasant trek down and I couldn’t imagine doing it on a daily basis. And the water source itself was pretty horrible. It was inside a house-like structure. The rainwater falls onto the rusted tin roof into the gutters and then flows into a giant cement basin. Sometimes animals fall in, die, and decompose in the water. But that’s the only water these people have to drink unless they want to walk all the way to Berlin to buy water. There are not many options. So I give many thanks to God for being fortunate enough to have running, safe water.
After visiting the water source and faucet area, we climbed back up to the top of the hill. We said goodbye to the community and headed back home. We had a quick reflection meeting and then it off to bed. It had been a long day.

The 1st to 6th grade school

A view from the school
The new school

Tiles for the new school

Resting with Kathy


The Directiva

Walking down to the water source

The water source

The roof

Inside the water tank

The water faucet where people fill up their cantaros

Flor de fuego

One of the houses

Climbing back up
Not too sweaty
Below is information about Art for El Salvador taken directly from the website:
Art for El Salvador Mission Statement: Through the sale and celebration of art in our home communities here in the US, we aim to support projects of development for those suffering from the inequalities of extreme poverty in El Salvador.
The Story: Art for El Salvador was formed in the summer of 2010 by Niah, Maria, and Sarah Howard. The summer of 2009 Niah and Maria had the opportunity travel to El Salvador on a mission trip with the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Center. The project began the next summer as a way to give back in some small way. The sisters set up at the local farmers market in Dallas Center and sold their own artwork and pieces donated from friends and community members- drawings, painted boxes, t-shirts, photographs, etc.
At the end of the first summer, the three sisters were in a tragic car accident in which the youngest, Sarah, did not survive. It was around Christmas in 2011 when Niah first mentioned the idea of building a school in El Salvador in Sarah’s memory. Since then, this has been our organization’s central focus. Even though Sarah never officially got the chance to visit El Salvador, through this school her memory and legacy will live on there for a long time to come.
In the fall of 2012, Art for El Salvador became a student organization at the University of Northern Iowa. We have been extremely fortunate to have Denise Tallakson, a professor in the College of Education, as our ambitious, devoted, and generous advisor. At UNI, a committed community of students and faculty has become an essential part of the project. As an organization, we hold regular art nights to make art to sell and have hosted several events such as our annual Art from the Heart fundraiser in the winter and the UNI Latino Fest during fall 2013.
Since its creation in 2010, Art for El Salvador has grown significantly to include a variety of people. From local elementary students organizing their own art shows to college students at the University of Northern Iowa participating in art nights, the project has become much more than three sisters setting up at a local farmer’s market. Hundreds of people have heard the story and become a passionate part of this effort. When the school is built, a whole community of people will be proud and able to say that they had a part in making it happen.
The most essential piece of Art for El Salvador is the community aspect of it. This is not just a few people’s project; this is not only a family’s project. This is a project that a whole community of people have ownership in. This is Dallas Center’s project; it is UNI’s project; this is everyone who has come to an Art Night’s project, everyone who’s visited our stand at the farmer’s market’s project, everyone who’s donated artwork, time, or money’s project. And this is all of your project as well. This includes people who loved Sarah dearly and people who never even had the chance to meet her. That is a beautiful thing and we can’t thank you enough for your support.
I highly encourage you to check out the following links about Art for El Salvador.