David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Thursday, November 25, 2010


In previous journals we have mentioned the small projects we implemented at the public school in La Granja, the community north of San Salvador where our sister parish children attend public school K-9. Earlier this year through the gift of a friend from our church in West Bend, we donated electronic equipment as well as English/Spanish dictionaries. The electronic equipment supports a new music and cultural program for the children of this school. The school leaders suggested we return in mid November for a fiesta.

We accepted the invitation and revisited the school. The children greeted us at the gate. They were all smiles and some in traditional costume. We were seated at a long table facing two raised areas that served as performance stands. Greetings were extended by the staff and one 2nd grader offered a 3 minute greeting and welcome in excellent English on behalf of the students.

The CD player provided the amplified music for the children’s singing and dancing. They had been rehearsing for days and were excited to give their performances. Mothers in attendance were equally excited and proud of their child’s performance.

The children were not in uniform today, wearing street clothes. Many of the girls were extremely thin, especially their legs, some signs of malnutrition and possibly of disease. The picture became clear that these are children from very poor families.

And yet, as part of their hospitality, we enjoyed an abundant lunch of fried tortillas piled with sauce, beans, cucumber, egg, lettuce and a tomato slice with a side of fried yucca, topped with grated cabbage.

After the fiesta we asked about their needs for next year but today was a day of thanks and not a day for asking. Thanks giving continued with picture taking and fond goodbyes. To be back at the school was a joy in itself and we were delighted to see the previous gifts generate the music, dance and language program.

This was a day of blessing. Everyday is a day of thanks. Gracias Señor!

We would like to dedicate a journal to answer questions. Please contact us with your questions concerning any aspect of our journey, past, present or future at slindeent@aol.com .

David y Nancy

Sunday, November 14, 2010


El Salvador and Honduras share a lengthy mountainous border. High in these mountains the air is fresh and cool. All winter this air remains suspended on the mountain tops until the early November winds push it down between the crevasse of this volcanic mountain range, down into the valleys and finally across the flat lands of Usulután. It is fresh; it fills the chest and lungs with long awaited relief.

We returned to milder weather. The sting of the hot harsh winter air has been exhausting. It prevented restful sleep and caused much stress with the continued need to launder often to keep clothes and bedding clean. We are more relaxed, feel strengthened, breathing in routine breaths of fresh morning air. The body is functioning normal again.

The winds also move a lot of dirt. None of the homes are sealed, thus dirt accumulates on the floor, furniture, kitchen area. Cleaning table tops and floors twice a day is a small price to pay for the comfort that the cooler winds provide.

Hot humid winter and its rains are ending as we head into hot dry summer. The frequency of rain has diminished with the second Sunday in November the end of the rainy season, but the official end of the hurricane season is month end. David finished his four month project of patching the leaks in the roof. No leaks with the latest rains; we’ll test the patch job next winter. Summer - winter, only two seasons in Central America.

There’s a lot of evidence of seasonal change with the budding of fruit trees. Our avocado tree has buds but not as many as three years ago according to Gabriel. He said our fruit tree peaked three years with an abundant crop and hasn’t been the same since. When the avocados drop, it’s too late. They need to be picked fresh from the tree. Avocado with egg salad is a rich and tasty treat.

Birds are building a nest in the roof of the porch. The schools are closing for two months. The campesinos are waiting for the harvest of coffee and sugar cane, back breaking work that makes them old before their time. The rural boys 10 and older join their dads in the harvest of coffee or sugar cane during their school break.

Schools closing, trees budding, nest building, fresh cooler air. It’s a time of renewal. We get ideas of doing great things that we can only imagine, like back packing to the bottom of an old volcano or canoeing thru a port canal. All this fresh air brings vigor to the mind, needed rest for the body and renewal of the soul.

This transition is a surprise for us. While we are enjoying these changes, our Salvadoran friends tell us they think this time of the year is “too cold”.

David y Nancy

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where’s the Reformation?

On the way to Sunday worship we drive through the very heart of commerce in Usulután. Street vendors are selling from the edge of the pavement where large busses and trucks blow their diesel exhaust in the faces of women and children selling vegetables, CDs, clothing, and much more.

Two blocks along our route are packed with vendors selling flower arrangements. The city is beautiful with the array of colors. Two vendors have pine boughs for sale, stacked 5 feet high, offering a new fragrance of pine that we relate to Northern Wisconsin or the Black Hills.

The Salvadorans celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 2. Paint stores and flower vendors have added part-time help to accommodate all the customers preparing for the annual pilgrimage to paint and decorate the graves of the departed.

This is a busy weekend of commemorations in liturgical churches: October 31 is Reformation, November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. We are looking forward to celebrating our protestant roots in the Reformation today.

As the sermon started we listened to hear familiar words like Martin Luther, Reformation, or his foundation of “Only Grace, Only Faith, Only Scripture”.
We didn’t hear any of that.

While there are over 140 Lutheran denominations worldwide, the Lutherans of North America view the Reformation as a second Pentecost. As in the first Pentecost, the Spirit of God prevailed. Luther couldn’t be stopped by the powers of the world. He wasn’t the first and he isn’t the only reformer. But considering the place, time and invention of the printing press, Luther’s teachings influenced the hearts of men and women of Europe against incredible odds that were working for his silence. It was indeed a miracle.

This year’s remembrance of Reformation is more reflective for us. How can all believers regardless of church affiliation be a part of the “reforming” of their individual faith and belief? While our North American culture promotes Halloween with emphasis of death and fear, reformation should reveal the tremendous love of Christ. After his sacrifice on the cross, His grace prevails through the continuing outpouring of his Holy Spirit.

This is a year of reformation for us. First living in a new culture and absolutely alone in a strange place; now experiencing transformation, being aware of God’s presence like never before, in total trust for our well-being in our coming in and going out.

Blessed Reformation and Transformation to you all

David y Nancy

Monday, November 1, 2010

Formation to Implementation

Before we left for R&R, we were able to create two jobs. We connected two gifted adults from our church community with the NGO Oikos Solidaridad for the development of a web site. We hope to nurture this initial job into a possible business. First it has to be their desire, not ours.

Our first nine months represent our formation period of our mission. Now we transition to implementation. Our mission is Community Development; our two big projects with Volunteer Missionary Movement include Education and Food Security. Nancy has been working in education since arrival, teaching English to 135 students. Food Security addresses malnutrition and produces an income stream for families. A grant for our food security project is under way with the VMM office in Milwaukee. We wait for funding.

This time of waiting provides us an opportunity to develop and implement other programs that have been mentioned by our church leaders here in Usulután.

The church leaders are opening a store, providing jobs for members of the church community. Nancy and I were able to secure pledges from the US totaling $8,000 allowing for the first time purchase of inventory for cash. Two thousand dollars more will make the store a reality.

We received donations for the construction of a concrete patio at the entry of the public school in Aqua Fria. Oikos has a new relationship with this community and the Oikos programs begin with skills development for each community leader. They are well into program and this patio project will provide the emerging leaders an opportunity to test their newly acquired skills outside a training setting and into a working activity.

We received many donations of school supplies and Sunday school materials. Before we distribute these we need to develop a Sunday school program that incorporates “supplies” into the lesson plans. Current lesson plans are one hour of lecture.

Thus we return to much work, not only for us but also with our partners. There will be many meetings in the months ahead to implement these resources.

While home in West Bend, we struggled about our witness to the Salvadoran people. One purpose in being in El Salvador is for our faith to grow. Along with that, our witness should also grow as we share the good news of Jesus Christ.

During our conversation with Benjamin Alas this week, he shared that Oikos is very grateful for our volunteer work with them. They appreciate our experience, our wisdom, our values and our cultural understanding of the communities and the needs of the people.

He said “you are like John the Baptist bringing good news and hope in the wilderness. Oikos and the Slinde’s complement each other in the vision and the work for a better life for the poor. You bring blessings from God. The people of the communities remember you and ask about you, they know your hearts and your testimony of love and faith.”

We appreciate this confirmation, because we really struggled about coming back. Our heads said no but an inner presence tugged at our spirits. Go back ---- and we responded.

David y Nancy