Mission El Salvador Day 7
Early in the morning of the seventh day of El Salvador I spent delivering supplies to a school in one of the Villages we have worked with here in El Salvador. Meghan delivered supplies to the school and day care in the other. Once again I would like to thank all the wonderful people who gathered these supplies for us to donate. Thank you again; Irene, Jack, Barbara, Susan and Mary. The school I visited seemed to have plenty of kids and very few supplies.
I then returned to the construction project where I had worked on day two. Although many people have been working hard at this site everyday we are still laying the foundation. Anyone who expects immediate results in social justice has never worked in social justice. But I was greatly encouraged by the many of my amazing fellow missionaries I have met in El Salvador. Many of them have been coming on Faith In Action Together for 2,3 some as many as five years. Some had been coming or living in El Salvador for even longer than that.
When they looked at the walls of the day care we were working they could say. I put up that column. I painted that wall. Another time I noticed that the children in one village were much better behaved than the children in another. My fellow missioners explained that FAIT had been working at one village far longer. You could see the effect they had had on the children. So if you looked at the construction site at the beginning of a day and at the end you would see very little accomplished. If you talked to a child at the beginning of a day and at the end you couldn’t tell if you made an impact. But you could clearly look back through the years and see that some how day by day our the volunteers had made a difference. We where making a difference.
In my mind I tried to look at the large whole we had dug and see the house it would become but I couldn’t. It reminded me of a prayer that I had learned here on the mission. The prayer stated that we are simply “the builder” not “the architect” we “lay foundations” that someone else must finish. Indeed God is the architect here. And I trust that he can see the vision I can not. I labor day by day listening to the spirit and the house is built. And when I reflected on this more I realize the heart is like this to. This week I have spent a lot of work on my heart. God has been helping me brick by brick. When I look at my heart now versus one week ago I am not certain what it means. Something has changed but I do not know what I have started building. But when I look at my life two years ago when I first converted to Catholicism, I am so very different. Day by day God has been building me. I trust in the great architect that he only builds good things for his faithful.
After we worked today we visited the place where Oscar Romero lived one year before he died and the chapel where he was shot. In the time leading up to Oscar Romero’s death he was in so much conflict with his fellow bishops he decided to move his ministry into a small chapel near a cancer hospital he worked at. The sisters there had no place for him to live, so he asked them to clear out a tiny store room and live there. After a while in the small room the nuns decided it was not right for an Archbishop to have to meet foreign dignitaries with such a small room. So they secretly built him a house and had the cancer patients gift it to him. The house was still very, very small.
When I saw the Archbishops tiny house I could not help but think of the monastery turned restaurant we had visited in Guatemala. It was massive and gorgeous. Clearly the catholic church was wealthy in this part of Latin America. An Archbishop could easily have lived like a king if he wanted to. But when people visited the monastery they would snicker and say “In which room did they keep their secret girlfriends? How corrupt was the church back then.” We people enter Romero’s small house they say “Oh, what a godly man!” This is the power of solidarity. Romero lived the life of his flock. He lived in a time when his flock suffered greatly and so did he. We can not work for social justice if we do not seek solidarity first. So my challenge to you today is to find some way to live more simply. Take some small step towards solidarity with the poor. And as always, please, pray for the people of El Salvador.