Sunday, March 10, 2013

At the airport!

Flat Stanley and Thunder are keeping themselves busy before we depart!

Last photo in El Salvador!

Good byes are never easy, so instead we decided to say see you later! We have created amazing bonds with our group, the bus drivers, and the beautiful people of El Salvador!

So until next time, see you later El Salvador, we will miss you dearly!

Love always,
Raegan, senior at ODU, majoring in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Theology!

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Third Day on the Job

It's so beautiful here ! It's the 7th day and so much has happened since our arrival. Today was the second to last day for the house building! We put two rooms in the house and almost finished putting up the "wonder board". The family is getting so excited and it brings joy to our hearts just to see how happy they are. One of the boys that is living in the house told us it was magnificado! Steven, the "project manager" is a wonderful man. He is so strong and always has a solution to whatever problem we run into. He's like a little ball of muscle. His son Carlitos, who's 10, always comes straight to the worksite after school to help. He LOVES the camera and is always taking a bunch of photos. Kevin, a boy from Nan's parish, comes straight from school as well and goes straight to work. He is 19 and is adorable. He's the Salvadoran Tyrone. His birthday was yesterday so we got a card for him and we all signed it. At lunch today we sang happy birthday and gave him some quesadilla(which is delicious by the way and not the kind of quesadilla you are probably thinking of). "But, he loved it and I loved seeing that smile on his face. Nan is an amazing woman and I look up to her to much. She always has the best attitude and is hilarious. I love the group of people I have gotten to work with these past few days and it is going to be so hard to leave them."- Skylr. "I got to know the people living the house today more which was really awesome. One of them, Nicole, was asking me about my family and I told her about my parents and my sister and brother. Afterward, I asked her about her family. She told me that she doesn't have a dad. Also, her brother died years ago when he was shot by one of the gangs for no reason. It made me feel so accepted that she felt comfortable enough with me to share that. I have found that the people here are so genuine and caring."-Danielle.They accept us all and really want to get to know us. This trip has flown by! We have two full days left and only one work day. "I am not ready to leave but I am excited at the same time because I can't wait to share my experience here."- Danielle. At the work site today we got so much done that its hard to believe. However, we broke up into teams and each team had a certain task which helped a lot. It just shows that teamwork can take you very far. "Also, on the way to the site I saw a little boy on a bus stopped next to us so I waved. He got the biggest smile on his face which caused me to smile just as big. Seeing this happen shows that a simple smile and wave can brighten anyone's day."- Skylr. On the way back from the site all of us were singing in the van to the music Jorge ,our bus driver, had on his phone. It was so much fun. We stayed over at the site to get some extra stuff done so when we got back we headed straight to dinner. We had pizza ! It was delicious. After dinner, we had a quick reflection then had to pack because we changed rooms. We are now in a dorm style hallway so it will be interesting to see how much sleep we get tonight with 10 girls living in one area. Can't wait to see you all soon!

Danielle, freshman ODU and Skylr, ODU sophomore

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gremlins be snatching our people up!

It was a tough day today at the orphanage! All the ninos were sick, over half the babies were in the infirmary. The day went really slow because there were more workers then babies most of the day.
Melissa número dos and I took a nap today at lunch because we were so tired from fighting off a gremlin in our room last night. Luckily Katie and Dani came in to save the day. Gremlin= curtain flapping in the wind. We were all cracking up over how silly we were acting.
The afternoon seemed to go a lot quicker because they joined forces and added the grandes ninos and medias ninos together in one room.
For those who don't know, I feel in love with a set of twins last year that are still in the orphanage. Joselynn and Root just celebrated their first birthday two months ago and are beginning to walk. I taught both of them this week to dance, blow kisses, stick their tongue out, and make the Oh Oh Oh noise by hitting their hands against there mouths. Each day I spent with them I fall more deeply in love and hope that one day I will be able to adopt the.
On our way home we found out that the house building crew was going to stay later to finish up their project for today. So our wonderful driver Mario drove us to get ice cream.
After dinner we had a very short reflection because all the students in the group had to pack up to move rooms. We are now all in one big room with separating walls. There is a picture below of our new home. There is also a picture of our friend the gecko who attends our nightly reflections, Albert!
Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Love always,
Raegan Haines
Senior at ODU
Early childhood major with a minor in Theology

Orphanage group this morning

The house build team before work today

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nearly blown away!

Today was a day to enjoy the love and passion of El Salvador. As we set out on our journey the bus yet again had a near mirror damage accident with the wall. We are finding out that it is quite common to almost hit a lot of things in a vehicle. The day started with a visit to the UCA, The University of Central America. There we spoke with and enlightening American journalist named Jean Palumbo who was present in El Salvador at the time of the civil war. He shared with us the history of the US involvement in the years leading up to the civil war which allowed us to put many prices of the puzzle of history together. We visited the site where 6 Jesuit Priests and 2 women where murdered in campus and the beautiful rose garden planted for them. After the UCA Mary Ann parted with us to return to return to her town in Izalco. We moved on to La Devina Provendencia, the site of Oscar Romeros murder. A lovely Carmalite Sister shared with us Senior Romeros home, belonging, and the story of the day of this death. The stories where very moving and the love in this area still continues for him. Interesting fact included that Oscar Romero's heart was attempted to be relocated to his tomb in the capital city but when it was exhumed the heart was still intact like his death was just yesterday.
We then moved on to the community where Ann, another Missionary, has set up a Soy Project. There they make most of the food using soy. We had soy patties, veggies, Jamaica (the juice not the country) and some really delicious coffee with soy milk with cinnamon infused in it.
Next we moved on to the base community that Ann is a cofounder of. We talked to three members of the community, Anna, Hector, and Gustavo. The happened to be four students from the USA to talk to us about studying abroad in El Salvador and the projects they are working on. Gustavo is an amazing witness to the word of God. He was telling us how we are on our bibles and now we are all in each others bibles because of this journey we are on together. Each of our stories is our gospel being written everyday. He is also an amazing musician, Rick was telling us he gives free guitar lessons to those who are willing to learn. He writes his own music and shared three songs that he has written. They were beautiful songs written in memory of Romero, Padre Octavio Oritiz and Hermana(Sister) Silvia Arriola all in which were martyred during the civil war.
At the base community they have a quaint little artisan shop which we all purchased souvenirs to take back to the states with us. Which included Los chocos, chocolate covered bananas rolled in nuts, that did not even make it to see the bus. They are muy bueno!
Before we headed back to the retreat center we stopped at a local lo out point called la puerta del diablo, which means the devils door. Seven out to the fourteen took a walk on the wild side and climbed or the very top. Which was extremely windy and most of us were in skirts. At the top we were concerned we might just blow away, we all made it down safely though.
Over all it was a very amazing day. We saw most of the country from atop the mountain, and could see God's beauty in not only the land but also the people. It is going to be very hard to walk away from it all come Sunday morning.

Beunos Noches!

Melissa Holehouse and Raegan Haines, both seniors at Ohio Dominican

Orphanage day 2 because Im bad blogger :)

After taking a whole day to think about what I wanted to share with you about our second day I am finally ready. The day started with intense encounters with our van possibly hitting other busses and objects in the road, but all is safe. Before making our way to the orphanage we had to make quick pit stop at the pharmacy to find steroid eye drops for poor Katies eyes. With the help of nurse/ travel doctor Melissa numero dose (Holehouse) the right drops where purchased and she is feeling much better! As we arrived at the orphanage, we where assigned to new projects for the day, much better than cleaning bathroom as was done the pervious day. Melissa Ochal, going by Melissa número uno, because there are two Melissa's on the trip this year was blessed with playing with the baby babies up to 6 months. She even got to enjoy in the worlds first 6 month old tea party. Mary Ann one of our lovely missions helped with laundry for the day and took the grand tour of the orphanage which included finding the onsite bakery for a mid day snack. Raegan and Katie got to spend the day with the 6-12 month old children including Raegan's beautiful twins. They even got to try out finger painting! Melissa Holehouse and Lynda enjoyed a day with the 12 month to 2 year old children. We played games and thought our room mother some English. There was even an encounter with lovely child projectile vomiting which landed on Melissa Holehouse's foot but it is ok because feet are washable in all countries. Erica floated around to help with our general lack of knowledge in espanol. We are all greatly improving.

All and all everyone is surviving and are very safe. We have been blessed with good humor and love from all people. Our relationships are growing daily and we are mostly missing ice cold water. We are sad our time here is going by so fast but eager to bring back open hearts and love to the states.

God bless and keep us in your prayers as we continue our service!

Melissa Holehouse
Senior at Ohio Dominican University
Majoring in Biology/Chemistry

At the top of the Devil's Door

Mural of El Salvador at a base community we visited

Memorial rose garden for the Jesuit priests and two women

Who were assassinated at the University of Central America.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

House Build: Day 2

Hellooo everyone! First, I just want to say what a beautiful place, El Salvador is and how much all of us are learning every minute we are here! It is truly an amazing opportunity! Today was the second day at the house building site for a family that is in need of so much more than we are. Upon our arrival back to the site, all of us rode up the hill in the back of Nan's truck to the home of Steven, our amazing construction manager & motivator. From there, we were able to pick up our tools and lumber for the home, but we were not 100% sure how everything would get back down the hill to the home site via the truck. With that dilema, several of us grabbed a few pieces of wood and started to treck down the hill with them propped on our shoulders. As Kenna and I were walking down the hill with our lumber, there was the cuttest little kitten relaxing and purring in the middle of the road. All of the neighbors were coming out of their homes to see what all of these North American girls were doing with all of this construction supplies. The experience continued with several tries of cutting & recutting and measuring & remeasuring. There were many times we had to rearrange wood, stain with burned motor oil, hammer nails, and search for the pencil. Once we finally found the pencil and rearranged everything, we were able to be very productive and sometimes, even had designated jobs. Yesterday, I felt that we were very productive, but everything seemed to be non-visible work like digging holes for posts and filling everything with concrete. Today was full of visible productivity, because we were now working on the form and roof of the home. It was such an amazing time to see everyone working together the teaching one another about the tools. As the construction continued for the day, we ran into a few troubles with limited supplies and only having bowed wood to build with. For many other situations and people, this would have been discouraging, but with the leaders and our group, we perservered and worked through everything. If I could just take two things away from today, they would be to work hard and follow God at all times. He guides us towards what we are meant to do and we have the option to follow Him. It is through this experience that I know that I am following God's mission. God is really expressing his love through the people we are meeting and I just wish to spread that love back to them in our time here in El Salvador. Blessings and Love to you, Taylor Senior Fine Arts/Art History

Orphanage service site

Sunset at the retreat center

Mural for the victims of the civil war

Downtown San Salvador

The national cathedral is in the background where Archbishop Romero is buried.

Memorial for the 4 church women

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hello all!
No worries, were all happy, healthy, and safe. Today was a very exciting day because we all finally got to go our sights! I went to the orphanage and it was a wonderful experience! We all got to play with the adorable little children as well as clean up the third floor, which will be used for all the new orphans coming from the country side. Melissa and Erica even got to fold laundry!
My personal duties consisted of working with the medias or the middle children, and cleaning the upstairs bathroom. The little kids are separated into 3 groups; the pequenos, (meaning very little) the medias (meaning medium), and the grandes(meaning the big ones) The pequenos are the infants. The medias are age 6 months to one year and the grandes are ages one to two. All of the children are BEAUTIFUL and are all so full of love.
I worked with the special needs medias named Carlos and Gladys. Carlos has learning disabilities and is partially blind. Gladys has cerebral palsy. As I expected and was warned, I fell in love with these two children instantly. I got to play with them, hold them, and feed them. Usually there is one woman in charge of all the medias and there is 6 of them! Can you imagine taking care of, feeding, changing, occupying, and laying down all of those kids?! All the women were so nice and so thankful for our help. Gladys and Carlos were both happy little campers just being held and talked to. Because the women are stretched so thin, a lot of the time these two kids do not get played with. Both of their smiles melted my heart and I could not stop smiling. Feeding time was... Interesting. I fed Carlos in the time Isabelle (the woman in charge of the medias) fed five of the kids! Those kids can eat so much food so fast!
After we laid the kids down for a nap, we got to go eat lunch in the cafeteria. We got to eat rice, ground up beef in lime juice,pickled salad, a tortilla, and pineapple juice. It was very good. All of the older kids came to eat in the cafeteria and after they were done they cleaned all of their dishes, and mopped the floor. Talk about self sufficient!
After lunch I got to go clean the bathroom upstairs. It was....just not sanitary. There was bird droppings and feathers everywhere. Lots of dust and cockroaches were among some of the other fun things we found. Our awesome clean up crew consisted of Mary Ann the missioner, Lynda, and I. We found a hose and it did not fit on the sink so I became our own personal hose adapter which involved a lot of water spraying everywhere and lots of laughter. We got the job done fast and well! We got a mid day snack of coffee cake and coffee, which has become the new favorite drink since we have been down here.
One of my favorite parts of the day was watching our bus driver interact with one of the little girls. Our bus driver stayed and helped us work ALL DAY LONG. How absolutely wonderful is that ? The little girl would not let him go and constantly sat on his lap and gave him hugs and kisses. He was totally hooked.
We returned to the retreat center and got to share stories with the group that went to the house building site over dinner. We had great discussion at our reflection tonight and we have all become such good friends in such a short time.
We are now sitting here telling the missioners, Erica and Mary Ann, about the shows Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. Their responses and facial expressions are HYSTERICAL.
Thank you everyone for all of the thoughts and prayers, we can all feel them down here! We are all exhausted, but so excited to serve again tomorrow!

La tierra es un lugar de Gloria para Dios.... The world is the place for the glory of God!

Thanks for reading!
Katie Rini
Sophomore at ODU

House Build- Day Four

Hi all,
This is my first time in El Salvador and flying!! Boy, it has been SUCH a life changing experience already!
Today we started our service work today, and I chose to do the house build, and it has been such an experience!
We treated the beams with spent motor oil (which is a waterproofer and a bug repellant)that will be the post for the walls and the inside of the concrete drywall called wonder board, which is special board made of screen and concrete that this flexible and a good construction material for this area because of the rainy season and the earthquakes. We didn't get a lot done at the site today because there was a lot of foundation work (which means measuring-- and translating the measurements from Spanish metric to English). Also Skylr, Taylor, a Salvadoran boy named Kevin, and myself made concrete!!!! It was so much fun to interact with the kids of the community that had stopped by. Our project coordinator's son, named Carlos (Carlitos because he is a little boy), was our water boy and photographer. :)
I can't wait for the house to be finished because the family seems so thankful for us to be there and are excited to meet us and talk to all of us.

Some things that make El Salvador VERY different from the U.S.:
~The traffic here is outrageous! Here the cars have the right away and are very aggressive drivers. I fear a little for my life every time we get in that van (although I totally trust George our driver). The safety town rules do not apply here!

~Time is not a tangible function here. The people are very content oriented and are interested in socializing rather than sticking to a schedule.

~The amount of wild and feral animals in the streets here is overwhelming, and it breaks my heart as a person who wants to love on all animals. It was painful for me to not feed a stray dog at lunch today. It was a nursing mother who was so emaciated :'(.

~There is trash EVERYWHERE!!!!! The culture here is to just throw trash out of the car and out into the road or into the yard. When you ask them to clean up they will sweep and pick up sticks or leaves but leave the trash. It's so weird.

I have so much more to say but there's too much to say in one blog!
So I'm signing off for now :) see you when I get back! And keep praying for positive and eye opening experiences for everyone who is down here.

-Kenna M. Reynolds
Student at ODU
Psychology and Criminal Justice

Saturday, March 2, 2013

We made it!!!!!

We have arrived!!! And survived our first day. Our first time flyers did wonderful! Our flight went well and we made it into the country without any issues. Three Maryknoll missioners were there to greet us: Erica Olsen, Rick Dixson, and Mary Ann Carmel were there to greet us; their beautiful smiles were such a wonderful welcome...especially the Pizza Hut they had for us!

We drove about an hour to our Salvadoran home at the retreat center run by nuns. We got settled in and had good first night of sleep. However, due to the lack of a watch, alarm clock, or any device to tell the correct time, my roommate, Ashley, made some calculations and set her phone's alarm so that it would go off at approximately the correct time. When I woke to her alarm and it was still dark out, I assumed the sun hand't quite come up. As I hopped in the shower I thought to myself, "I wonder if its still a little early?" Since I didn't hear anyone up when I finished my shower, I got back in bed. I discovered later that I had showered sometime in the middle if the night. Next trip I will remember to bring an alarm clock!!

This morning we had a fantastic breakfast of beans and bread and jam. We then had a group time, getting to know each other and go over the schedule for the week. At lunch, father John Spain and Sister Carol joined us. They were closely involved with the four sisters who had been martyred in December 1980. We then visited the site where these women were found dead. There is now a chapel built there where we celebrated mass and had a short memorial for them. While celebrating mass, a group of theology students from Boston College came by as well. Melissa O. and Erica both attended Boston College so it was a good meeting.

The drive from our house to the chapel was filled with beautiful scenery of mountains, sugarcane fields, and greenery everywhere. But it is also a view filled with people living very differently from ourselves. We got to wave to cute little children, see all kinds of animals, glimpse into the windows and backyards of families. There were roadside vendors all along the road selling fruit, a very common way to make money. We also passed factories that manufacture clothes, paint, etc. This provides so many jobs, yet also only pays minimum wage, lacks benefits, and does not have to follow the same environmental laws as those in the U.S. It was very difficult to realize that I benefit from the hard work and sweat of these people without a second thought. How many other things in my life am I completely ignorant of?

This evening as we sit in our common meeting room reflecting on our day, I know we are incredibly thankful to be here. For many of us, we have longed for this journey for quite some time. I know that God has brought us all together and has amazing plans for each one of us. Pray that we would have the heart of Jesus for the people of El Salvador this week. Pray also that we would be open to all the words we hear and all the sights we see.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us, who have supported to be able to make it here, and for those who sent donations.

From Planes de Renderos, El Salvador,


Friday, March 1, 2013

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go

All 14 travelers are all checked-in and ready to go! We will be boarding shortly and heading to Dallas!

-Raegan Haines, senior in Education

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 days until departure!

The 2013 El Salvador group is getting ready to depart at the end of the week! Donations have been coming into the International Office from members of the Ohio Dominican community, former El Salvador participants and from groups and churches that the 2013 group has reached out to. We are organizing and packing up everything. Thanks to everyone for your support!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting ready!

The 2013 group has been meeting to prepare for their time in El Salvador which will be here in just over a month! This year, Ohio Dominican will send 10 students and 4 staff members to work with the Marykoll Lay Missioners. We will be working on a house build and with children at an orphanage. We will soon be collecting donations to bring to the communities that the Missioners work with. Please contact the International Office at ODU if you are interested in helping:!