David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Immigration from Central America

The issue of children migrating to the states from Central/South America is not getting the press required for you to be fully informed. The press writes that we and our children are at risk from diseases they bring into the country and our social welfare state will be bankrupt from their presence. Until Sunday we did not have first-hand accounts to share about the issues of immigration. But in our church community in El Salvador, we were told our Godson was sent to the states to be with his mother as the gangs were targeting him. He is just a quiet young boy in high school, sent with a smuggler to the US. Our hearts sank when we were told. The community leaders said it’s ok, he made it. However the peril in that trip puts anyone on edge. Fox news has an excellent story as to the “why” of immigration: Five children from one family witnessed the murder of their neighbor, a 21 year old man, who was gunned down by 4 men. The children lived with their grandmother as the mother had sought asylum in the US from an abusive marriage. The next day the family starting receiving death threats against the children. Grandmother changed her cell phone number many times but continued to receive the threatening calls with each newly issued number. During the past 5 years, the mother has been able to have all 5 children join her. None of the children were able to come to the US legally. Mother paid smugglers thousands of dollars to bring the children to the US one at time. Her only son, the last one, arrived last summer. He tells a frightening story of living in El Salvador where gang members were always threatening him with “join us or die”. How could a mother make this decision to send her children on a journey that has claimed countless lives? She says, “I was not going to let them kill my children. I prefer them to take the risk to get here for a better life than face certain death in El Salvador.” Today’s daily Salvadoran newspaper reports that from January 1 to March 18, there have been 913 violent deaths recorded. This is 287 more than last year at this time. This is the national reality. One Sunday in 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran this article: http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/for-child-migrants-walking-1400-miles-might-be-worth-it-b99348809z1-274901021.html The author, Jamie Stark, spends time in Wisconsin and El Salvador serving the clients of the homeless shelter operated by the Lutheran church in San Salvador. The article tells that a United Nations report found that of 404 recent Salvadoran migrant children interviewed, most left for the U.S. for family, opportunity, or to escape violence in society. It would be interesting for all of us to think about our ancestors’ reasons for coming to America. Were they very different than those expressed above? Are safety or opportunity no longer valid reasons to seek the American Dream? Our ancestors often came as teenagers. Can we hold today’s young immigrants to a different standard? David y Nancy

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring - Winter

Signs of Spring: • The ice fishing shacks have been removed from the frozen lakes and rivers this weekend. • We hear the owls calling to each other during the night. We understand this is their mating ritual. It can’t be the temperature driving this behavior, must be the longer day light. • Our local conservancy is preparing for the annual wild flower plant sale held in early May. This is a major community event in its 28th year. All these traditional indicators point us to spring, new life and preparation for the planting season. It’s been a cold winter - we have a lot of ice, but the snow isn’t deep. We will need those April showers to provide moisture for the seeds to grow. We are on final count down for our return to El Salvador tomorrow. March is the hottest month in El Salvador and points them to winter. Winter is when the April planting begins to take advantage of the start of the rainy season. It’s been dry since October, so the showers are needed to provide moisture for their crops. Last year the rains started early. It was an ominous sign as a drought followed, killing the tender plants in three regions of the country causing the price of beans and corn to escalate throughout the country. Many emails have gone back and forth in planning for our trip. We begin in La Paz to visit the new 8th grade class that started this year. We also hope to see the progress on the new roof and improvements to the rest rooms. When we visit our sister parish community, we will follow up on reports by a February medical mission regarding children with health issues. We want to better understand treatment opportunities or obstacles the families may be facing so we can bring this information back to our church family. Many of the emails pertain to the Community Development projects that are under way. The women’s chicken projects are operating and 10 students are attending 2 year technical programs. The beneficiaries of the project want to meet with us to share some thoughts they have for the future. We anticipate that they are incorporating the effects of last year’s drought into the implementation of the agriculture projects. We will listen to their hope and vision to be an encouragement and blessing to them and their communities in the volcanic range. David y Nancy