Mission El Salvador Day 3:
For the third day I changed villages and jobs. Instead of working construction I worked with the kids at one of the day cares that Sister Gloria started. Like all good students of Catholic Social Teaching Sister Gloria didn’t simply decide she wanted to build a day care and then decide El Salvador to do it in. She had been called for many years to come to the mission fields. But when she arrived she listened to the needs of the people to discern how the holy spirit would use her. What she discovered that there were many single-parent households in these villages. And the parents were so desperate for work that if they ever found it they would leave their small children tied to long ropes at their houses until they returned. Sister Gloria constructed the day care centers with the help of volunteers, like us, and named them after Mia a young girl who drowned while her parents were away.
Jesus said “Send forth the little children”. At least that’s the edited version. Children are the same the world over. And after an exhausting day with the children of El Salvador I dare tell you the biblical version was severely shortened. This is what really happened. The children saw Jesus and his disciples coming from a hundred yards off. They didn’t wait for any invitation before they burst out towards the Jesus’s Caravan. joyfully screaming. Terrified their children would get trampled their parents came rushing out next begging their kids to come back. Then Jesus probably said his famous line, but no one around could have heard it not with one girl pulling on his right arm and another girl pulling on his left and a young boy already climbing on his back screaming faster, faster, horsey!
I’m sure were relieved that Jesus was such a open loving person. But I bet the disciples were completely overwhelmed by the endless amounts of energy that surrounded them. For the girls they had to come up with chalk and crafts. And for the boys they had to invent the soccer ball. Whichever disciple remembered all the words to “head and shoulders” or the rules to “duck, duck, goose” saved the day on that trip. People often joke about “where do they find the energy?” But that’s pretty simple really. Children are tiny love engines. They suck love right out of you and give more of it back. Jesus was dead on when he said it, if you want to discern what real faith is all about study your children.
Jesus also said “Render onto Caesar”. And it has launched one of the most pathetic and tiring debates about exactly how much belongs to Caesar. Peoples deep concern with paying too much only proves how twisted there priorities really are. So I’ll put it in perspective the same way Jesus did. Whose face is on you’re dollar bill? That belongs to Washington. Now whose face is on the children you see around you? They belong to Jesus? Neither of these treasures are yours. But they have been entrusted to you, by a loving God. Now relatively speaking, which should we take care to protect? So sue me if that’s simplistic, you think there is a Eucharist without a bleeding heart? Pray for the people of El Salvador. My challenge to you for day 3 is to rush towards Jesus like the children do.