El Salvador

Tonight is the last class meeting for my Religion 480 class: Vocation and Christian Faith – Study Abroad in El Salvador. Over the course of the past month, as I wrote the last paper and re-read the itinerary from our trip the flashbacks and memories of our visit there came flooding back. Visiting El Salvador was an experience of a life time. It was dirty, unsafe, tiring and perhaps one of the richest experiences of my life.

While I feel this post is long overdue my mind is still overwhelmed with where to start. As I struggles with words this morning, I realized that perhaps this is meant to be a visual blog with more pictures than words. Perhaps one day the words will come, for now, it’s random thoughts and photos.

Below on the left, is my favorite photo from the entire trip. It is inside the Centro de Arte para la Paz. The vibrancy of the bush is such a contrast to the battered, church tower. Both reflect the historical abuse that the people of El Salvador have experienced as well as the hope they hold for a brighter future.

It where we heard from Sister Peggy. Her vocation in life is assisting the people of El Salvador. Here she shared with us her story of the evening she was called to retrieve the head of an 18-year-old boy that she knew from the park and then tasked with telling his parents of his murder.

One of the stations of the cross from a church we visited. I’ve seen several versions of the stations, however this one caused me to stop and reflect when I saw it.  For me, It is a visual reminder of how life is most fulfilling when we are using one hand to reach down to help others and holding our other hand up to those waiting to help us.

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This is a rose from the garden where 6 Jesuit priests along with Elba and Celina, a mother and daughter who were taking refuge with them that evening were murdered. The beauty of the rose drew me close and as I looked at it closely, there were spots of deep red inside that reminded me of blood.

My class. A diverse group, yet the bond of traveling to third world country will forever bind us.

el salvador group shotIf there is one thing I take away from this trip and know for sure from this experience is that my grandchildren will study abroad or travel to other countries as part of their life experience. Seeing first hand how others in the world live can not be replicated in any book or college classroom. A rich experience filled with memories that will  last a lifetime.