Our friend Nick Green just finished his term as a Global Ministries missionary in El Salvador and is heading back to the States to start his studies at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He wrote a lovely post about the "hermandad" that is developing between La Iglesia Misión Cristiana, the church we work with here in Nicaragua, and the Lutheran Church of El Salvador, the church he worked with there.
It was really fun for us to have a role in this developing relationship. Last month, we went for a very quick visit -- driving to San Salvador on a Saturday, spending two full days getting to know some of the churches and their projects, as well as a bit of Salvadoran history, and then driving back to Managua on that Tuesday.
The highlights were:
Tim, Quinn, and I, along with Sonia and Claudina representing La Misión Cristiana, worshipped with the Ríos de Agua Viva (Rivers of Living Water) Lutheran Church in San Salvador. I was invited to preach (my second sermon in Spanish!)
...and Nick and I both assisted Pastor Vilma in communion.
The service was very different than La Misión worship services (no electric guitars) -- it had a liturgy that felt very similar to U.S. Lutheran churches I've been to. But the one thing that was just like many of the congregations here is that it was over half children and youth.
In the afternoon, we visited an agricultural project outside of the city. The church and project there are both called Fe y Esperanza (Faith and Hope), and they're in the first year of a new initiative called La Mayordomía de la Creación (Stewardship of Creation).
A group of campesinos and church folks is working with an agronomist to learn techniques for growing food organically without chemicals.
We spent a lot of time learning about and looking at organic fertilizer,
which does involve a lot of cow poop!
They have some special mixtures for making organic fertilizer, and they sent us home with a couple bottles. I am very grateful the bottles did not open in the back of the car on the way home!!
It was exciting to see a motivated, informed group of people working together to educate themselves and grow lots of great food.
We were inspired for our own work with the Nicaraguan church's agricultural projects, and to give more thought to integrating our food security projects with the one Tim is developing on care for the environment.
We also visited the chapel where Oscar Romero was assassinated.
It was a powerful experience for me -- I have wanted to visit El Salvador ever since I took a class on liberation theology in college.
My professor had been a journalist in El Salvador during the civil war, and I found Oscar Romero and the liberation theology movement very inspiring.
The church also runs a house called Casa Esperanza, where they support people in a variety of ways. Every day, they provide lunch for people who live on the street -- a scene that was remarkably similar to soup kitchens and lunch programs we've visited or volunteered at in the States. We met the small group of single mothers who cook for the lunch program and are housed there. We visited the tiny medical clinic and very nice classrooms where they hold their after-school programs. Quinn and I really liked the wooden toys and the books in the room for the smallest kids. The church also trains young people in the traditional painting style and we got to see some Salvadoran artesania being made.
We, Global Ministries missionaries and representatives of La Misión, were received with warm hospitality by the Lutheran church. We look forward to more opportunities for developing this friendship between two churches that have been long-standing Global Ministries partners meeting critical needs in their respective countries.
Quinn was a trooper on the loooong car ride. She memorized two of her picture books on the way (after having them read to her what seemed like a dozen times). She also enjoyed our time in El Salvador, especially seeing her buddy Nick again, staying at the "hotel" (the Casa Concordia guesthouse) and making friends with Alma, who manages the guesthouse.