David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May 7 Final report this trip

This morning I woke up and my right leg was like Arnold Schwartzeneger's and my left leg like Jackie Gleason's. I don't know what bit me, but all was better by the end of the day. They both looked like Jackie Gleason's. Tonight Nancy and I had our farewell dinner with Dan and Toby, two missioners to the Salvadoran Lutheran Church. Dan from Illinois has served for two years and Toby from Germany for 6 months. They will be missed by the nationals and also by the visitors to Casa Concordia.This afternoon we met with the new mayor of Nejapa. Our goal was to secure her support for continuing the Rotary project. While waiting for the meeting to start, we were able to reconnect with many municipal employees who have become personal friends through this project. Church partners as well as Rotary partners came for the meeting, thus we had good representation from the project partners.The mayor agreed to continue supporting the project so can go full steam ahead. We are so pleased and relieved. Our next hurdle is securing the funding from Rotary International. We will work on the application during the next month at home.During our visit, one of the children here at Casa Concordia showed us her art work. Her talent was a wonderful surprise which we greatly admired. We learned that several more children here also are artistic. We wanted to purchase some of their work for fund raising at home for Salvadoran ministries, but the children would not sell it. Instead they gave it to us to use for that purpose. How gracious of them! We leave for the airport tomorrow morning at 9.30 am - arrive in Milwaukee at 10 pm. We are looking forward to being home again. We are very excited that our son Micah and his son Noah, our grandson, arrive in Chicago on Monday evening for a week long visit. Pray us home safely,David (and Nancy)

May 6 Report

Hello family and friends. Another good day with much action. First a follow up from last night. The meeting with our partners of Club Rotario went very well with closure and a new beginning. We really enjoy working with the men and women of this club, both professionally and personally.Wednesday is the traditional day of the Bishop and the pastors. We look forward to these gatherings because we have many friendships with these pastors. We renew relationships, catching up on their lives and their ministries. Bishop Gomez told them of our move to El Salvador to be of service in a community. They are excited about this news and many have offered their spiritual and vocational support, even though we will not be in a Lutheran community. This is true solidarity.Today was an historic time for us. Two pickup trucks of people, both in the cabs and the back beds, traveled one hour to Peidras Tontas (close to El Paisnel), then off the highway about 15 minutes into a very rural setting. The country side is a beautiful open expanse, fertile land, organized development could be a reality. The land has not been tilled in 20 years thus many native trees grow in the fields with larger ones along the edges. The land is being made available from the government through an ngo. The community will have 180 homesites in this region with land reserved for a church, a school, a community center, and a clinic. We were greeted by a community leader when we arrived. We asked about the water. Years ago two wells were dug only to find lead dominated both wells. The lead is pollution left from past gold mining. A Chinese ngo provided help to construct 11 homes and also run a water line just under 2 miles from the mountain to the community. That is the current source of water for the current community. We don't know if this will be sufficient for the proposed additional homes. Much mining in the past has left contamination throughout the country. Mining continues to be a threat to the health of the people and the land. There is currently a $70 million lawsuit against the government because the people will not tolerate more mining and the mining company is suing the government for breach of contract. We have many questions about this development. We are looking at this through North American experience, laws and culture. Practices are different here. If one buys a piece of land, there is a risk of squatters settling and it is very difficult to remove them. Therefore purchased properties are wrapped in barbed or razor wire by the owner. This is prevalent throughout the country and it is disturbing.Tomorrow we meet with the new major of Nejapa, the municipality in which the Rotary sanitation project is located. The former mayor was a very supportive with manpower, transportation, equipment and lodging for the engineering students. We need the partnership with the new mayor of a different political party for the project to continue effectively and efficiently. Please keep praying.Then we pack for departure on Friday. We'll give you an update tomorrow afternoon about the meeting results.Buenos noches,David and Nancy

May 5 update

As reported we moved to Casa Concordia, the Lutheran guesthouse, on Saturday. When we arrived, a Sunday school training program was under way. We joined the class and then had the afternoon for journaling and resting in a peacful environment.Sunday, the Bishop picked us us up and took us to the mother church, RESURRECTION. Here we reconnected with many friends and had lunch together. In the early afternoon, we traveled with Pastor Abelina to our companion church, Fe y Esperenza. This is also the community of the Rotary hygiene project.The public road needs much repair, the drive into the church and the grounds need much repair, and the plumbing has not yet been connected. Two soccer games were underway, one in the pasture having three cows grazing. The cows didn.t mind, neither did the kids. After an hour of soccer, the kids came into church for worship. They made the place very warm.After the service at Fe, we were invited back to San Salvador to Pastor Marina's home for pupusas. We returned to the area of Resurrection church. Resurrection is in the heart of the ghetto. The Lutheran community also operates a homeless shelter in this neighborhood. The Lutheran Church is the church of the poor and what better place than the ghetto. We are aware of the Lutheran Church protecting children and helping women turn their lives around. Glancing out the window of the bus, the streets are full of litter... the children, adults and street are visibility dirty. Some adults sit on the side of the street in a daze making one wonder if they are fully functional or maybe they should be cared for in a facility. Others are preying on one another for their own selfish interests or desires.We pulled in front of a gate which opened into a beautiful courtyard. We were welcomed and enjoyed the company of our hostesss and other members of the church family.On Monday morning, we attended the pastoral team worship service at Resurrection, which was followed by a special informational meeting about the repatriation of refugees to land in El Salvador which is being reclaimed by the campesinos.The government is slowly releasing land that it took from the peasants during the war and is making resettlement available. Tomorrow afternoon we will visit this land, now named Piedras Tontas, translated Stupid Rocks. We will walk this land with Pastor Chimita who is the head pastor of the churches in this region. We hope to learn of what the living conditions will be like when the community is built, their access to water, the forestation issue, and areas where outside support may be needed. While this community will not be established as a Lutheran community, it is the hope of the church to build a worship and gathering facility as soon as possible.Last night ended with a birthday pizza paryt for David at Casa Concordia. It was great fun for the children and the adults as we celebrated a milestone (65 years!). Tonight we go to another meeting to close the Rotary paperwork for La Granja and to begin the next phase of the bridge project.This morning at Rotary we learned that El Salvador has more suspected cases of El Gripe Procine. A comment was made that if someone sneezes and then oinks, there is a problem! Humor in the midst of fear can be a good thing.Updates follow tomorrow evening.David and Nancy

May 3 3rd upate

Today the news confirmed two cases of swine flu in San Salvador. We also hear from friends that incoming flights from south america have all the passengers wearing surgical masks. We plan to purchase our own for the flight home on Friday.This week I have discovered the difference between city and county cucarachas. The county ones have a nice crunch to them when stepped on....the others you don't want to know.On Friday we visited 5 families in our community. Each one has a story that begins with the last civil war. All these families and thousands others were displaced during the civil war. Suchitoto and Morazan are two places that saw intense fighting. The soldiers killed guerillas well as civilians. Refugees moved to safe places provided by various churches. Los Jardines de Colon is unique in that it was started by the refugees and the Catholic church became involved later.The spirit of those people who moved and established this community remains today. They are strong in faith and in a commitment for a better life for themselves, their children and their neighbors. On their own, they have established global partnerships, constructed buildings, and developed programs for youth, women, evangelism, catechism, and pastoral ministries. Their first priest did not appreciate their chapel, their self sustainable programs, their independence. They are still in conflict with the regional Catholic hierarchy. Maybe having Lutherans in the community will go over big with the current priest! We visited 5 families, one of which is an elderly woman was one of the original settlers, one is the natural medicine lady, one is a church leader in her 70s who has 11 children with several and their families living with her. Many generations living together is very common here. Three of these 5 families have at least 3 generations in their home. VMMs representative Danny will continue to look for a house for us. Now that he has met the leaders of Los Jardines, he can work together with them to meet our needs and expectations.On Saturday noon, we moved to Casa de Concordia. By chance we found the same cab driver on the street who had taken us to Rotary on Wednesday. It was a good surprise and he has said he will be our driver any time we need him... just call. Isn't that divine protection!Tomorrow is a busy day but we will have time to write in the evening. Buenos noches. Hasta manana.David y Nancy

May 2 2009 2nd update

Winter has arrived in El Salvador. Its terrible. Its only 90 degrees between 12 noon and 3, the rest of the time its in the 80s. Tonight the wind chill is 70 degrees. On Tuesday the rains started. At night it rains very hard causing flooding along the streams and low roads. Today Saturday it sprinkled most of the day, partly sunny and partly cloudy, very humid.We arrived in the community of Los Jardines de Colon on late Wednesday. Jardines is a mini San Francisco, having very little flat land and many steep grades with homes built into these steep grades. Entering the community we drove across a stream. That very stream washed away a number of homes during hurricane Mitch. While these homes are not rebuilt, there are shacks and shelters. The people have been encouraged to relocate throu government programs but they will not leave. They are in extreme danger from the next stormsWe spent two nights in the home of a single mom, Marta, and her 15 year old daughter, Marjori, who were gracious and enjoyable company. Marjori is in her first year in high school, receives a scholarship from their sister community in Cinncinati. She hopes to attend the university to become an administrative secretary. Her day begins at 5.30 to get ready for school, she leaves for the public bus stop at 6.30 for an hour ride to her school. She usually gets home around 7.30 for dinner, homework and bed at 8.30.Marta is around 40, works an 8 hour day leaving at 7.30, returning around 5.30. She works in a factory, sometimes working seven days a week. Her 19 year old son does not live with them but has a job in a city nearby. First nights dinner was eggs, beans, tortillas. Breakfast was beans, tortillas, coffee. Second nights dinner was pasta with bean sauce and a roll. Very basic but good meals. In order to keep her electic bill at $7.00 a month she does not have a refrigerator. It is important to realize that while life is frugal, guests are received with hospitality and warmth. The rain at night was so hard on the metal room that we could not even talk to each other and we briefly lost power. The roof leaked in three places. It was an exciting evening.We will write about other members of the community in our next message.We are safe ' we are healthy ' we are blessed. David and Nancy

April 28 2009

We arrived Monday safely and on time to very hot weather. Two airlines arrived at the same time, ours from Houston and one from Newark, New Jersery. From a total flight population of 500, 8 of us were foreigners and the rest nationals. Our passage thru customs and immigration went quickly. We observed all the airport workers wearing medical masks as a prevention against the swine flu. It is not here but there are wisely taking precautions.We were able to talk about the political climate. The pending inaugurations are May 1 for the municipal and June 1 presidential.There is much distrust of the current governments transition to the new party. There is much tension. We will keep listening.This morning we were able to attend another Rotary Club meeting in the city itself. The Club is 15 years old, 30 members present, all are excellent English speakers and very gracious to us. Each of us was given the opportunity to share about our clubs and Rotary projects. It was a great moment to be an ambassador form West Bend. We will meet with them next week to discuss psrtner possibilities in the future. They have active Interact and Rotaract clubs and are eager for international relationships.It is only 10 am and we already have an amusining incident. The Club met at the Radisson Hotel, a large venue for assemblies and varied action. One event was a special training for hair coloring specialists. Two young women with the craziest hair styles and colors followed us as we left to invite us to come and be models for their skills. Based on what we saw, we thanked them for their offer but declined. We can only imagine what we would have looked like on our return home.Enough for now. Hasta proxima vez (until next time)David y Nancy This afternoon we join a fellow missioner Danny to his church and community for a large gatherinmg of all his sister parish and country partners . . . another great learning experience for us.Tmorrow we attend the Rotary meeting with our familiar Club and will work on documents for the final report of the Noon sanitation project. Then we leave for two days and nights in our new community.It is another very hot sunny day today. It is almost 90 as we write. Our bedroom last night got down to 80. We took 3 showers yesterday and we only have cold water. The effect lasted for a little while