David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Starting School

On Monday, school began with a bang – first an assessment test. We told them we were beginners but they wanted to know for sure. It was quite thorough – we convinced them! We have an excellent teacher and the rule is no English. We are her only students at this time. She gave directions and explained introductory conversation in a language we do not know. We learned personal presentations for 3 hours and then went to another class to introduce and tell about ourselves in Spanish. These adults have had 4 years of speaking experience and are at CIS for more skill development. They asked us questions (in Spanish) and then introduced themselves. It was an intense experience. Back to our room to begin learning personal pronouns.

Done at noon – lunch break – the next class began at 1:30 to study culture, personal health and safety, communication guidelines, and our hopes for this class. Usually this class is done in Spanish, but it is only us two beginners so we converse in English with Spanish where important for cultural understanding. We took trips this week via city buses to two ngo’s and a botanical garden, learning our way around the city.

This first week of learning has been intense emotionally and mentally. The pace is consistent, the expectation high and the method difficult. It is very difficult to learn to communicate when you do not know the vocabulary or the grammatical structure. We think of it as sitting our 4 year old grandson down, speaking to him in Spanish and expecting him to obey and respond. It can’t happen. Therefore there is much self study and nightly review of class work. The pronunciation and remembering are the biggest challenges. There is not enough time in the evening to process the day’s lesson.

But the good news is that we survived the first week and are preparing for week two. It can only get better!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The start of our new life

The 6 boys from Casa Concordia loaded our 8 suit cases into the pickup truck, jumped in the back, and we were off to our new digs. We arrived 20 minutes later just outside San Salvador in Mejicanos, were greeted by Margarita, her university son Omar, and another student Casey is from New Mexico and is working on his Ph.D. in the political science and international relations of El Salvador. Most conversations are in Spanish and Casey is bilingual.

Our bedroom is on the second floor of the guest house (tiny but comfy) located in the back courtyard, with complete (cold water only) shower/toilet facility, meals and house keeping provided. It takes 4 keys to enter the house from the street to our room in the back court yard. The first door is the street door into the garage area, the second is the door from the garage into the home, the third is for the patio door and the fourth is into our room. Yet the neighborhood is safe. A large shopping plaza is two blocks away. There is a beautiful soccer/futbol field close that is used for many games happening at one time, and for national teams to use for competitions. In the early morning, it is used by walkers, joggers, runners and exercisers.

The side walk by the soccer field is filled with street-vendors selling food, clothing and house hold items. We are warned never to eat from these places since the food items lack proper storage practices. Some street vendors sell vegetables grown in the city along the river banks. The rivers receive all the city sewage and the growers water the plants with the river water. However local grocers have high quality fruits and vegetables to purchase.

We both sleep well, the street is much quieter than Casa Concordia, but we awake to our new alarm clock, the neighbor’s rooster.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nov 22 09

After the encounter, delegates visited their sister church communities on Friday and Saturday. Dinner talk at La Casa focused on the delegates sharing their stories about their time in the community, sharing achievements of the communities, and also opportunities for delegates to use their gifts and talents in these communities.

We visited our community on Saturday to celebrate the baptism of 7 boys and the promotion of 5 students to high school. We would consider this a graduation but in El Salvador that term is often reserved for higher levels of education.

It was an exciting time as the youth (4 girls and 1 boy) received recognition for their faithfulness in learning. They are all continuing on to high school, a major and more difficult step for learning, transportation, and risks. This is a major change for the community we first visited 6 years ago.

As spokesperson for the youth, Elmer told of the motivation and inspiration the students have received from their scholarship sponsors. He also said they were glad to be held accountable to earn good grades. In our world, $70.00 is a small price to pay for one year of education. Most of these students have been faithfully supported for 5 years by their sponsors. This is truly a successful and worth while project to empower poor families to send their children to school.

Let us all consider the ways we can encourage children, youth, and families to have a vision and hope for a better future.

In two hours, we move to our host family; we begin immersion school tomorrow. We are not sure of internet access so do not be surprised if you do not hear from us for a while.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov 20

After we returned to Casa Concordia from San Jorge, our friends from the Greater Milwaukee Synod arrived. The somber atmosphere we have experienced was replaced with joy as hugs and laughter were shared in this festive reunion. Lay people from around the globe and Bishops from Mexico, Central and South America, and Europe arrived for the Encounter II held by the Salvadoran Church (SLS). The purpose of the encounter is to strengthen relationships with global partners to support the SLS as it continues its mission to uplift the poorest of the poor.

After intensive meetings Monday thru Wednesday, on Thursday we split into three groups and traveled to different communities in three different regions. David traveled to Cara Sucio which is a community with various global partners and various projects in members of the community, i.e sewing groups, raising chickens, corn grinding.

Another community David visited shared the current struggle they are having with the local political structure that wants to open a dump next to their water supply. We believe this is the 7th time our attention has been brought to the issue of dumps and mining poisoning the local water supply. Organized citizens can make a difference, but at the risk of their lives.

Nancy visited three communities with strong programs for youth and children. Two of the communities have concerns of no water source other than a gray river or water only during the rainy season when their cistern fills. Both communities need wells for a consistent and clean supply.

David y Nancy

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 16

We need to move forward and leave the story concerning the devastation caused by the recent rains with this closing comment. Nick, a volunteer from North American, traveled with the Bishop on Wednesday to visit the epi-center of the mud and rock slides. He stated that this zone of this planet is “dead” and he would tell us more when he is up to it.

On Thursday we left for the Eastern agricultural zone to visit with communities for our future assignment. These communities of the east have the same mountain range as our Rockies that extend all the way through Central America. The terrain is rough with numerous rivers and streams beds. In one community, we parked the car at the edge of the road and walked through a pasture, down a steep grade into a river bed for a quarter mile to the community. In another, we rode in a 2 ton flat bed for 35 minutes off the main road to the community. In another, the paved road ended at the sandy river bottom and drove in the river bed for two miles to another community.

A meeting with the community members indicated a common interest for ESL and computer training. Neither of these is offered by the public school system in this zone, but it is offered closer to San Salvador. Time and time again we witness the dedication of the Salvadoran parents to the education of their children.

The Encuentro has started so we are into more learning about our new environment. We are well – we are busy - and we will right again when possible. Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11, 2009

Dear Friends

We arrived safely and with great peace. Our current home is Casa Concordia. This is a multi-purpose residence for college students, a United Nations safe house, a sanctuary from the local gang violence, and a guest house for visitors.

Trinidad is the manager of Casa Concordia. Her married son, Jorge, was assassinated last week. He was a self employed transport driver. Other drivers were jealous of his success and hired a gang member to kill him. It happened in a busy market where traffic was stopped. His wife was with him and witnessed his murder.

The immediate family is now living at Casa Concordia for the protection it provides. The wife is a target since she is a witness and their four children are targets for the family to remain silent.

With the immediate and extended family in mourning, the mood at the residence is somber. The facility also is the epi-center for the Lutheran Response to the catastrophic
loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods. Daily accounts of the dead, loss of homes, farms and livestock are reported. The prospect of going forward for the survivors when the future has been decimated is very sobering.

Tomorrow we go to Usulatan for 2 days and nights to visit our communities and begin learning. We will send news again this weekend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

God celebrated the return of normal standard time with a beautiful sunrise. The sky was a brilliant red with gray clouds at 1000 feet. The brilliant red was reflected on the lake making the sky and water as one. After a few minutes, the sky above the gray turned gold changing the lake from red to gold. A few more minutes passed and the sky and glistening lake separated, just like at creation.

It’s a week from Tuesday when we leave for our mission. Our immigration papers are in order, banking arrangements are pending and our schedule from next Monday through the second week of January 2010 is complete. For most of November and December, we will be in a San Salvador Immersion School and living with a host family.

I just read a new book My Business My Mission by Doug Seebeck and Timothy Stoner. Their organization, Partners Worldwide, fights poverty through partnerships. They have a 20 year track record of assisting local residents establishing businesses in Africa and Central America. Their business plan is based on prayer, scripture John 15:1-15, hard work, never give up and take care of the poor. My prayer is for the pastors I will be working with, that I can clearly share this vision with them and that they can embrace “business for mission” for their members. This will provide members sustainable income to counter malnutrition and provide for better family hygiene practices.

Our blog is active again. If anyone wants to be deleted from the email and follow on the blog, it’s http://oslcslinde09.blogspot.com/. Get back to us this week.

David y Nancy