by Linda O’Connell
It’s been a full day. After breakfast, we left at 8:30 a.m. to visit the canton of El Corozal to see the new church that’s being built. El Corozal is the sister parish of the Ankeny Presbyterian Church and they provided funds for the building of this church. It was a little over an hour to reach the canton in the pickup truck on roads that make the worst roads in Lucas County look like super highways.
We arrived at Corozal a little after 9:30am. The part of the church that is done is absolutely beautiful. It will be wonderful to be able to see it when it’s finished. The community even saved the bell from their old church that was destroyed during the war to put in their new church. As we walked up to it we saw several men working to spread concrete over the rocks they’d laid on the rock foundation.
They were mixing sand, cement, and water in the middle of the church, on a concrete slab where the altar will be. They put the mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow, and then take it to where they were working. We watched them work for a while and talked to them about how long it had taken them to get where they were (1 month thus far).
We discovered that there are 6 different teams of 9 men. Each team had a member of a different family so that all the families in the canton were represented in the construction of the church. All this is volunteer labor which made it particularly appropriate that they were mixing the concrete where the altar is. It truly was sacrificial work. The organization of the project was phenomenal as the boys carried water, younger men did the heavy lifting, while the older more experienced men did the paving -- teaching a trade to the next generation. The women do their part by cooking for the workers each day.
We went to visit one of the families and they insisted that we stay for lunch. It was about 10:15 a.m. when we got to their house, so they brought out hammocks and chairs for us to sit in while they cooked our dinner. The hospitality of the El Salvadorian people if amazing. They are such gracious people and so welcoming. How many people in the U.S. would invite 9 strangers into their homes? We were able to rest and relax while they prepared a delicious meal. I suspect that they had killed one of the free-range chickens that were running around in the yard.
After lunch we came back to the Pastoral House, took a quick siesta and headed out to a lagoon in Alegría. The lagoon is inside of a dormant volcano and the water in the lagoon is green. The water level is much higher than it normally is so most of the way we walked on the road that goes around the lagoon.
It was a wonderful walk. At one point we came to an area that the ladies of the Pastoral House pointed out to us. Bubbles were rising up through the water from the ground and the water was incredibly hot; so hot that you wouldn’t even want to take a bath in it. It was like a mini Yellowstone.
We came back to eat super at the Pastoral house The rest of the night was spent working on the care packages that the folks at the Indianola Trinity United Presbyterian Church have created for their sister community of Casa de Zinc. Tomorrow we will visit Casa de Zinc and deliver these packages. Then we will go to Casa De Zacate and meet the families. El Salvador is a beautiful country and I have enjoyed seeing the museums, historical sites and beauty of the country side. But I am looking forward to meeting the people and visiting in their homes.