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,