Mission El Salvador Day 8
For our last full day in El Salvador I returned once more to the construction site. There was a foundation still to be dug and I was determined to see it as complete as possible before I left. Others returned to the daycare to get one last day with the children. Others spent their last day sanding and painting at other construction sites. For our last full day the work was the same. But the spirit was different. The sun felt cooler. The load felt lighter. There where more hugs. There where more smiles. There where more jokes. And no complaints were spoken.
The work was the same but we were different. Our eyes were more open. Our hearts were more full. Our faith was more alive. Sometime this week we must have become El Salvadoran. Who could be filled with such joy while working this hard in the hot sun? Only my brother Carlos from El Salvador. Carlos is physically and mentally handicapped and homeless. Yet he is joy incarnate. He will race you down laughing with a wheel barrow full of dirt. His hugs will lift your body. His smile will lift your soul. Who can communicate love through the boundary of another language? Only my sister Clara from El Salvador. My little sister Clara likes to sneak up behind you and will tickle you. When you turn around laughing the adorable smile and gleaming eyes you see will pierce straight through your heart. Without a word her shining face will communicate love loud and clear. So how else can I describe this change in us than to say the Holy Spirit is making us El Salvadoran. Solidarity is a gift to the rich.
While no complaints were spoken we all shared one complaint in the silence of our hearts. Do we have to leave now? How do we leave now that we have fallen in love with the people of El Salvador? What happens next? Can we carry the spirits of El Salvador without our brothers and sisters to guide us? Can we be El Salvadoran in our hearts when our body’s must return to the land of decadence. How can our lives match our souls when the culture around us teaches such radically different things? Thankfully the El Salvadoran people have been answering this question all day.
Every El Salvadoran we met today was waiving, hugging, smiling, crying and calling Adios. If you had the same Spanish teacher that I had then you may remember her saying this should be the least common form of goodbye. Latin America is a hello culture. So if you have to say goodbye to a friend you say “Hasta Manana” literally “See you tomorrow”. If this isn’t true but they are a close friend you say “Hasta Pronto” literally “See you soon.” If you just can’t promise soon but you don’t want to be rude you say “Hasta la vista” basically this means “I will see you when I see you.” In older Spanish culture you would only say “Adios” if you had reason to fear you may never see your loved one again. Because the word is derived from “Vaya Con Dios” or literally “Go with God.”
Did I mention Latin America is a little bit Catholic? All day we have been asking in the silence of our hearts “What do we do know, how can we be good Christians without you… El Salvador…” And all day the wise people of El Salvador have been answering us aloud. “If we cannot take us with you, go with God! Take God with you!” Truly the El Salvadorans have God with them. Whatever we can leave here for the people of El Salvador it is nothing compared to what they have given us to take back. They have given us a deeper, more real understanding of our Father. So my challenge to you with this post is to live like a pilgrim. You are not an American. You are a refugee of the kingdom of Heaven. And until the day when we can return home we must defend and cherish the treasures of our home. Everywhere you travel, Pilgrim. Vaya Con Dios! When you speak to our Father remember to pray for the people of El Salvador.