David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Llano de Coyol

We inquire of Pastor Julio and his leadership team if they distribute food to the very poor on holidays. The answer is no. In honor of our home church Our Saviors that has a strong ministry in the fight against hunger, we offer to sponsor the purchase and distribution of food for 45 families. Pastor Julio chose the rural mission community of Llano de Coyol.

In Usulután we go to a fascinating bulk food store with 100 pound sacks of dry items every-where. People purchase 1 pound quantities or 50 and 100 pound bags of rice, beans, and flour.

The church team has assembled bags before in the ministry of disaster relief so they have a good system. For $329 we will provide 45 families with 9 meals. These items and their daily bread of tortillas will last for many days.

At the Usulután church of El Buen Pastor, we repackage the bulk items into family size quantities. We sort rice, coffee, sugar, pasta, sauce, and cooking oil into strong plastic bags.

The next day, we are in Llano de Coyol on the side of a volcano, an area rich in trees and beautiful flowers, but of extreme poverty for the people.

As each family name is read a representative comes forward to receive their bag. Old men and women, teenage girls, 8-10 year old boys claim packages. There are some smiles but mostly serious faces. Each has a picture taken with their bag; then they come together for a group photo.

We hope and pray this small Christmas blessing brings joy into their hearts, lives, families and community.

David y Nancy

David y Nancy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

El Limon

Although the hurricane season has ended for El Salvador, the Central American countries continue to suffer the effects of the storms. Damage done to El Salvador’s infrastructure by Hurricanes Agatha and Alex are still visible. In July we visited the pueblo of El Limon in Puerto Parada with a delegation from Milwaukee. The Rio Grande San Miguel had breached the dyke flooding El Limon making entry impossible. The school and community were under 3 feet of water for months. The river has receded, the standing groundwater evaporated.

Pastor Julio and his leadership team received donations from Milwaukee area churches for distribution in this community. El Limon is a flat agriculture area where the sugar cane is nearing harvest. Both sides of the road have 8 feet high cane with beautiful white plumes that add another 2 feet of height.

On Thanksgiving Day, eight of us visited El Limon, working as two teams, each with 36 bags of 2 pairs of flip-flops and a large bag of tooth brushes. We walked the community calling into yards asking for permission to enter. We explain we are from the Lutheran church and have shoes and tooth brushes. The teams delivered to 36 homes.

The windowless homes are assembled from pieces of scrap: palm tree branches, pieces of wood and metal and black plastic.

The elderly look ancient, many are barefoot as they are throughout the county, their old weathered faces with missing teeth and their dirt encrusted feet with broken toes.

At one home a little girl is getting an afternoon bath in the yard, in another the children are watching the life of Jesus on TV. Beyond the bath and TV we see harsh rural poverty.

We move from home to home on the dirt road sharing space with ox carts carrying freshly cut sugar cane and fire wood. The ox carts look as old as the Christmas story, but they are very popular, still being made and in frequent use.

In late afternoon, the cows return home. A herd of 15 huge animals pass silently. We are watchful and stay clear of their horns which appear sharp and long enough to penetrate a concrete wall - 30,000 pounds of beef herded by 40 pound kid with a stick.

After a day of amazing accompaniment, we thank God for all the opportunities He has blessed us and with this experience that continues to keep us in awe of how much we do not know about the lives of our brothers and sisters in this world.

David y Nancy