David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

After the healing phase

After a road trip to test Nancy’s travel ability, we decided we are ready to return to El Salvador.

The return is similar to our initial move in 2009. Hurricanes Ida and Agatha had passed through Central America, leaving thousands homeless and many dead. We visited a community that experienced a 4 foot wall of water and mud originating from the local volcano that raced through the community. Boulders as big as a 4 story building were moved miles and settled in roads and fields. Many Salvadorans were missing and presumed to be under these boulders, making removal of the boulders a very emotional experience for the affected families.

The street in front of our house in Batres floods when we have an evening rain. With nine days of rain we have to assume our home has water damage. The River Grande is just couple of miles to the east of us. Each year families living along the river are evacuated to the public school in Batres. The Mayor has established a settlement away from the river for these families, but they will not move from their river front homes. This is all they know – this is all they have.

On a sunny day neighborhoods in Puerto Parada are under water during high tide. Recent pictures from Juan Carlos show families walking in waist deep water. Many of their homes are made from black plastic and others from palm branches. Nine days of rain will cause them to collapse and wash away, leaving no evidence of anyone living there.

During three months last year, we drove past homes in Puerto Parada that were in water for that entire time, yet the families remained in their homes in these unhealthy and unsafe conditions. We are there advocating for change within the communities and the government.

The most significant changes to the infrastructure are those we see in Oikos projects. When Oikos acquires a property, they evaluate it for the elimination of erosion and mud slides to prevent risk to the mountain poor living downhill and to make it suitable for agriculture. Oikos also improves roads and drainage in the project areas by constructing barrier walls and diversion channels.

Our project partners will take us to visit the recent destruction in the east. They want us to witness how their vulnerable country men live. They want us to take pictures and write about it in this journal. They want you to know what life is like in Central America.

David y Nancy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nearing Completion

We have been home since mid-July. Our R & R became a medical leave in August when Nancy had surgery to remove a large growth from her abdominal wall. It was important to keep it intact during removal, requiring a large incision. A week later she had cancer surgery.

We did back-to-back surgeries to shorten the healing process for a timely return to El Salvador, but this placed much stress on Nancy’s body. She is healing, the incision scar is improving but the point of surgery is still tender. Fatigue is the biggest problem. We walk a few miles every other day and Nancy is taking yoga classes for strengthening and flexibility. A wrong movement can cause a spasm that takes a night’s sleep to heal. It will take Nancy’s body years to mend and regain its strength according to her surgeon.

A common question of many is “are you going back?” We have written before how difficult it is for healthy people to live and work in the east. Nancy’s safety and healing is the most important concern we face in our return. This may require different living arrangements and require us to finish our mission in weeks, not months as our contract also ends at the end of October. We will budget just enough time to finish the Alambre school project and begin a second school project in Canton Guadalupe. Many dear friends across the country have blessed us with donations, allowing us to purchase desks, computers and equipment for these schools.

We are struggling with some issues. Our 3 week R & R has become a 3 month separation. The emotional break has been made. We are out of their sight and minds as the emails have faded. On the other hand we are starting a relationship with another school and looking for a Rotary Club in San Miguel to partner with in 2013 and raising funds another food security project for 2012.

We never expected to end our mission on this note, but we believe God is ending the mission he started and on his terms. Our call to El Salvador was a clear message as we heard His voice in our hearts telling us to move to El Salvador. It took us two years to figure it out, but in those two years every door was opened allowing us to move closer and closer to the time we would depart. It was never more clear. Now it’s just as clear that it’s over.

In light of our current situation, we can only smile as the Lord has a different plan for us. It was our plan to return in August and here it is the beginning of October. We are both so very grateful to be home to deal with these health issues in familiar safe surroundings. We believe we are in God’s hands and in His protection. God provided the events of the last months to keep our sight on Him; we are in awe of His timing, His endless love and His protection.

Growing in faith is the goal always before us and we can witness to God’s presence so obvious to us in El Salvador. Sometimes we fear losing this closer walk with God as we return to life in the US.

David y Nancy