Crossing Cultures

Expectation vs. Reality – Expectativas vs. Realidad

Laura Bubar, an art teacher from Maine,U.S.A worked as a volunteer for five weeks with us, here are some of her thoughts on the experience… Any time we begin a journey or step out and take a risk, we have expectations. We make assumptions about what that journey will look like or what the consequences of that risk will be. I entered a journey here in El Salvador five weeks ago and despite my best efforts to make no assumptions, I had formed expectations for my journey. Two years ago, while researching ministries in El Salvador, I came across the website for Mission To El Salvador. My cautious heart then followed their work (from a safe distance) for the next two years, reading this very blog, and watching to see the work […]

Bandera

This past January 16th, El Salvador celebrated 25 years since Peace Accords were signed to end a brutal civil war. That same week a piece of art went on display in MARTE, El Salvador’s art museum, to celebrate the anniversary. The piece of art quite literally laid out the still fought for peace that so many long for. That artist’s name is Carmen Elena Trigueros and her piece is called simply Bandera, meaning “flag.” I recently chaperoned a field trip with my daughter’s class and Bandera was one of the pieces featured by the guide. When I saw Bandera I stood there small, struck by the beauty of the piece and the enormity of the task spilling out across the floor. The flag was white and long and stretched up […]

Sharing the Love

One of the things that I love about El Salvador is the way that Valentine’s Day is celebrated. It is more about love and friendship, than simply a romantic holiday. One of our staff members, Oscar Garcia, wrote this post to share a few words to reflect on this month. Check it out… We are in the month of February…a special month where love and friendship are heard and seen on every corner. Individuals make an effort to show love for their spouses, their families, and their friends through flowers, cards, jewelry, chocolate and anything that they can come up with to surprise their loved ones and show their appreciation. Throughout the month, we see worldwide expressions of love and friendship. Different cultures, countries, communities, and individuals find different ways […]

Traffic

Last week Jon and I set out to try to spend some time together that wasn’t with the kids, or at work, or in a meeting somewhere. It was Monday night and our day-time housekeeper decided to stay overnight so we took advantage of the unexpected childcare. With smiles and light hearts we said good-bye to the kids and jumped in the car. That was our first mistake. We got on the road and headed toward one of the movie theaters in the city. As we merged into traffic, it immediately stopped. Completely. And didn’t move. At all. We looked at each other, and the time, and assured ourselves that surely we could make the 6:30 movie starting in 45 minutes. After all, we only had 4 miles to go. I laugh […]

An Afternoon in Ataco

Well, this is not a travel blog, but I still like to share bits and pieces of what El Salvador is like. There is a colonial legacy here that adds to the color and history of the country. Learning about culture and history are important elements to take into account when living and serving outside of our own contexts. There is value in seeking to understand the story that someone else has behind their life. A month or so ago the kids and I spent the afternoon with some friends in the colonial town of Ataco. We really enjoyed just walking the cobblestone streets, and exploring some local shops. I always enjoy when I get to be out of the city and be a tourist in El Salvador. The day was […]

Independence Day Weekend

I hate when the blog starts to fall behind, but it’s inevitable with crazy weeks like this past week’s party madness. So, I am finally getting around to an update about Independence Day weekend. Independence Day in El Salvador is on September 15th. On that day in 1821 El Salvador declared independence from Spain. Today it is celebrated through special events in schools, towns, and all kinds of public places. This year we had the added bonus of a three day weekend because the holiday fell on a Monday. Some Salvadoran friends invited us to their “rancho” on the beach in the eastern party of the country where we have never been before. El Salvador never falls to surprise and delight me and this weekend was no exception. The beaches are […]

Just Barely

This month marks 5 years (5 years!!!) since we moved out of the quiet suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and into the new reality of cross-cultural ministry. I remember starting out on our journey and feeling like I was taking my first steps onto a big, tall mountain. The adventure was thrilling and the climb surely seemed possible. God felt so close, like He was breathing there right beside me. So many days He still does, and the adventure is still thrilling. But sometimes the climbing gets rough, and we reach places that we just can’t pass. Things like the death of a parent, a cancer diagnosis, or a tragic accident. These impassable places knock the breath right out of us and bring us to our knees. Or maybe the slow […]

Election Day

Today Presidential elections are being held in El Salvador. A new President is elected every 5 years, so this is the first time we have been in the country for a presidential race. Things are a little different in El Salvador, as we saw this morning as we drove to church and passed buses with various party colors weaving through traffic to get voters to the polls. The polling places had the usual traffic you see in the States, plus pick-up trucks waving party flags lining up to drop off passengers. El Salvador also has some unique policies for elections. We read in the paper yesterday that polling places are established along gang lines so that no one has to cross into another gang’s territory to cast their ballot. In […]

The Big Picture

It’s so easy for me to get focused on my own little corner of the world…the things I have to do this week, the day to day frustrations, and even the big seemingly insurmoutable problems. I can quickly feel like we are the only ones fighting these battles. Last week, our friends the Mullinaxes invited us to participate in a symposium sponsored by their mission. They are a fellow missionary family serving in El Salvador and they are involved in very similar ministry areas. It was refreshing to be there and here about other missionaries working in Latin America. We were able to learn, gain some insights, and even share a bit of our own experience doing street ministry in San Salvador. By the end of the week, I was […]

Settling In…Again

We made it back to El Salvador last Thursday night and the weekend was a whirlwind of filling our empty refrigerator, buying school uniforms, and covering books and materials with plastic in preparation for the first day of school. This morning, the kids climbed into Jon’s big red truck and headed off to school for the start of a new year. I got a lump in my throat watching them wave good-bye and start First and Fourth Grades. With the start of school, and a return to our regular routine we are back into Spanish, San Salvador traffic, and life in El Salvador. Our time in the States was wonderful and the good-byes were hard (as they always are), but it’s good to be settling back in where we belong. Ready […]