David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

San Julian

Our NGO project partner in Usulután is Oikos Solidaridad whose mission is to accompany communities impoverished and vulnerable. We are working together to form projects for sustainable community development and protection.

Last Tuesday we viewed the reclamation and agriculture project proposed for the community of San Julian which is in the volcanic range of Chaparrastique. We drove to San Jorge and then entered the dirt and rock spillway system that drains the mountains of thunderous rains. The spillway is in need of drastic repair as we are 5 months into the rainy season, but it is the only means to travel in and around the entire range. The safest way to travel is on foot, for long distance by horse or for transporting supplies by ox cart. We traveled by truck and it is an understatement to say that it was rough! We drove up a long distance and then we walked straight up for another long and hot distance.

After the end of the civil war, settlers lacking any environmental awareness cut trees and plowed the soil with no regard to erosion control. The effect of 18 years of poor soil management is drastic. In other communities of this mountain range, Oikos Solidaridad has implemented reclamation projects to stop the environmental destruction and has made significant progress in improving the land for agriculture.

San Julian has 900 families living in poverty; over 4500 people would have significant impact in training, health, and nutrition. Reducing the amount of runoff would benefit 10s of thousands who live downstream (like us).

Early Wednesday morning we will on our way home. We return with items we don’t use or no longer need in order to preserve them. Because of the severe tropical conditions here in Usulután, our shoes, belts, clothing, watch, wallets, and camera have become moldy, rotten or rusty. These all need to be replaced.

Our children and grandchildren will be with us the third week of September for time at the lake. We might not swim, but we will be able to enjoy familiar smells, fresh air, the turning leaves and the unique smell of the lake.

While our bodies, hearts, and spirits will be in the states, our thoughts will continue on for El Salvador as we will work on lessons plans, project proposals, and purchasing supplies for our return. Plus we will be giving presentations, doing fund raising and happily receiving donations for our projects.

We will not have internet readily available, but our state side cell phone is 262-339-2570.

David y Nancy

Friday, August 27, 2010


Nancy is teaching ESL after worship service on Sunday afternoons in the community of Puerta Parada. Puerta Parada is about one inch above seal level. It’s either soaked or under water most of the winter. As we drive in and out of the community we see homes having up to 6 inches of water in their yards and homes. The road is a muddy mess.

Many of the children do not attend school. Their families have them work in mosquito infested swamps to harvest shell fish. Our little church in Puerta Parada named My Good Jesus is a dank, dreary structure with a leaky roof. 50% of the time services and classes are canceled due to the rain.

The Bishop announced he was coming to celebrate the anniversary of My Good Jesus. We had a fundraiser to purchase paint. The day painting was an interesting experience as the children had never painted before. At the end of the day, the children and the interior of the church were painted in bright melon. After the paint dried, a youth painted a cross with the Lutheran seal on the altar wall.

The festive day arrived and it rained. The Bishop and his pastoral team arrived in Usulután for lunch at the church of the “The Good Shepherd”. It continued to rain while we ate and the question for the two hours was “can we make it to Puerta Parada?”
3 trucks and a van headed to the coast in the heavy rain.

The church had been decorated with pink balloons and ribbons for a traditional Fiesta Rosa. Balloons, fresh flowers and fresh paint made the mood very festive.

As the Bishop announced the worship service was beginning 24 beautifully dressed children and teenagers processed in. Our first Quincinera: the boys wore black pants and vests with red shirts. The girls wore beautiful mauve dresses, the younger girls in greens, pinks and yellows. The star of the day was appropriately named Estella, dressed in an elegant pink formal with a crown and bouquet of pink flowers.

The children sparkled with rain drops in their hair and on their faces and shoulders. It was a special service with the Bishop leading attended by 5 pastors and 2 catechists. They all blessed the young lady on her 15th birthday.

When they recessed from the church, pictures were taken in the rain and they processed to a pasture where a huge tent with a floor was erected for this festive day. We experienced a celebration of extreme beauty in the midst of overwhelming poverty.

David y Nancy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fish, Shrimp, Stringray

Oikos Solidaridad, our partner NGO, invited us to join them in a fiesta on the beach to celebrate a major achievement on a project.
We returned to a beach where we previously had lunch. It was quiet back in March. The water was beautiful, the local buildings a mix of every building material you can imagine, including bamboo and palm branches. Children were in the water with and without suits. Fishing ships could be seen far off on the horizon. As we were leaving, the locals launched a huge 25 foot wooden boat loaded with fishing gear. This boat travels far into the ocean to join the larger fishing ships for exchanges of equipment and fresh catch.

On this night in July the atmosphere is different. Much of the beach and some buildings were destroyed by Agatha. The waves roll in brown murky water. The beach is filled with blobs of dead jelly fish.

The first of the runner boats comes on shore. A huge red bucket contains a sting ray. The entire bottom of the boat has shrimp that are scooped into buckets and carried across the beach to coolers in waiting pickup trucks. These larger fresh shrimp will be taken to the markets of San Salvador for top dollar revenue.

At dusk, another runner arrives with more shrimp and other seafood. Later we are served three different types of fish, all fresh and sweet - a meal well worth waiting for.

Traveling the roads at night brings a unique challenge. Some vehicles have no lights. Cows and dogs wander the streets and people on bicycles have no lighting or reflective gear. The mountain roads are not marked for curves and other cautions. It takes someone familiar with this route to return home safely. We arrive safe and satisfied after a joy-filled evening of food and fellowship.

David y Nancy

Monday, August 2, 2010

Seasons of life

Time off is not a part of our current vocabulary. We are working 7 days a week equipping ourselves to walk in solidarity with members of our church body in Usulután. In the midst of immersion and ESL classes, we took the opportunity and traveled to San Salvador for a 24 hour visit with friends and the family of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, West Bend, Wi.

Eight members came to El Salvador for a Habitat for Humanity build in July. Unfortunately the “build” was held at the other end of the country, making it very difficult for us to join in on the actual construction. They returned to San Salvador for a weekend of hospitality offered by the national Habitat for Humanity. We all stayed in the same hotel for two nights. The conversation, story telling and laughter reminded us of all that we miss about family, friends and community.

Late Sunday afternoon we traveled to Nejapa to worship with our sister congregation (FE), then viewed the current “fight against hunger” project. FE sits on a 15 fertile acre parcel of land. There have been 3 or 4 initiatives started at FE to fight hunger without significant impact. With new emphasis and support from the Lutheran World Federation, there is now an agricultural training center at FE. Seven women work together to learn gardening and are currently growing vegetables in a community garden.

At the end of the day we returned to the hotel for our last evening together. We were presented with a suit case of home newspapers, mail, personal care items, school supplies and sports equipment for our mission ---wonderful, thoughtful, appreciated gifts.

During the day Pastor Pam shared the news of the death of a friend, Todd Pruett. Todd received a bone marrow transplant and was receiving treatment in Washington State. A sudden infection changed everything. Todd is special to us having had him in our Sunday school classes when he was young. He would mention this on occasion, especially to his sons. It was always a joy to hear his remembrances.

Our friends left at 4:00 am Monday. If they knocked on our door to say good bye, we never woke up.
It was quiet, we were protected from the street noise with the additional comfort of air conditioning. We didn’t hear any dogs barking, ducks, chickens, or screaming roosters. (yes some roosters scream at night) No molino grinding away outside our bedroom window at 5:30 am. We enjoyed this needed break.

Time and life move on –every day holds joys, sorrows, life, death, hope and uncertainty. We are here in God’s presence to experience all of it.

David y Nancy