David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Friday, November 1, 2013

November visit

In mid-July we received an email from Thrivent Builds Worldwide. We checked the dates and found a Build taking place November 2-9 in the state of Santa Ana, El Salvador. I contacted the group leader who said his team had room for two more, so we joined. We are looking forward to meeting 24 new Habitat for Humanity volunteers. We will gather in Atlanta, travel to San Salvador, and then by van to Santa Ana to meet the others of the Thrivent Build in the community of Pastor Carlos. We met Pastor Carlos in 2006 and have had opportunities to see him in Salvadoran Lutheran Church functions. While attending a local fundraiser, we met Kristyn Adams, a free-lance reporter for the West Bend Daily News. We asked Kristyn to join us on the Build and tell everyone back home what a fantastic partnership of Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity are doing in El Salvador and around the globe (including the US). The three of us leave tomorrow, November 2. We will be at the Habitat site until the following Sunday. Then we travel to San Salvador to join a delegation from our church that arrives on Saturday. The 5 of us will spend the next week in our church community of Fe y Esperanza. Our major focus will be the gathering of information from the families of students receiving education support from members of Our Saviors West Bend. This continues to be a real life changer in the Salvadoran culture. Boys and girls formerly ended their education in the fifth and six grades. A growing number are now attending high school and three are attending or planning to attend the university. But it’s not an easy road for these students. One university student dropped out due to family financial problems and another dropped out of high school due to gang violence at his school. Our job is not just to hear their stories, but to pray, encourage and support their families as they search another path to achieve the educational goals for their students. Past and present travelers meet monthly to find ways to support our brothers and sisters of Fe and to raise awareness in our congregation. We have held Fiestas to celebrate the education program and fundraisers to provide hymnals and chairs for the growing congregation of Fe. Each of the families that support a student has been encouraged to make a custom photo album for the student that features the families and life in West Bend. The 5 member delegation will deliver these to the students and hope to bring back stories from the students to share with their sponsors. There are always stories - some good, others not; there is much faith and hope in our budding relationship. After the delegation returns home, David and Nancy will remain in country to visit with our partners in the Rotary Club of San Salvador and with Oikos Solidaridad. We continue to develop our relationship with Oikos. Their impact in the rural mountains is very significant. Their programs empower women which strengthens their families and their communities. An earlier photo album showed you the request made by 50 women of Hacienda Nueva for funding 10 chicken projects. The women have been trained by Oikos in the care and development of the chicken project, including handling income from the sale of eggs and chickens. The chicken project will provide financial resources for these women to support their families with a better diet. We are planning to visit the public schools of Chirilagua to see in person the improvements since our March visit. We received an email this week containing 11 pictures that the windows have been installed in the computer classroom at Alambre Public School. They look wonderful. You’ll see them in a future photo journal. We hope to complete the school projects in Chirilagua on this visit. David y Nancy