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El Salvador 2008: Update from St. Paul’s

The following article appeared in a recent newsletter from St. Paul’s in Natick:

“As I write these brief notes for St. Paul’s Reporter in the Miami Airport, I am surrounded by my fellow mission team members. Some members are trying to reach home, others resting, others talking about trip. As has been the norm someone is trying to help someone with something……

“This moment, this time is typical of our week together. Our time on this trip has been defined by relationships; our relationship with the team; the staff of the Salvadoran Diocese; the parishes of Santa Maria Virgen; and San Marcos Communidad.

“The two tangible goals of our week were to reconnect with the members of Santa Maria Virgen (St. Mary’s sister parish) and help build a road for the village of San Marcos. Well, we toiled and sweated with the villagers of San Marcos to build over 100 feet of new concrete road directly in front of the village church. We attended two services with the members of Santa Maria Virgen and helped them clean and mow a field. I am not sure if this is the correct term since we used machetes to do the mowing. Judging by the bear hug from Padro Julio, Rector of Santa Maria Virgen, and the warm handshakes and gentler hugs from other members — we reconnected.

“Our group also achieved a more intangible goal — that of gaining a greater understanding and sense of communion with each other and the people of El Salvador. This goal became more realized everyday as the memories piled up and began to tell a story. There was; the laughter and patience of the group on the long drive to and from the work site; the site of the children of the village shovel and lifting the rocks in San Marcos; listening to Daniela, their Dioceses doctor, explain how the diocese runs medical and dental clinics in some of the poorest villages in the country; the celebrations of masses in both English and Spanish; the long discussions with Vince, the diocesan’s man-about town, who patiently explained the difficult recent history (civil war and gang violence, and earthquakes); and even visiting our driver’s Arcielo’s, father’s grave- who was killed by government soldiers during a protest at the start of the civil war.

“If you would like to learn more about our trip you can come to our September presentation (date TBA) or better yet catch up with me, Mary Erickson, Joan Hellmuth, Sandy Hall or The Rev. Mark Mckone-Sweet at coffee hour. But be careful though after talking with us you maybe next!”

– Ron Burns Missioner to El Salvador

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