El Salvador Day 02: Two Red Books on Holy Ground, the High Price of Immigration, and Meeting Jon Sobrino

We thank you so much for all of your comments, please keep them coming!

Today was a full day, an emotional day. Here鈥檚 the scoop, dear reader鈥

You know what鈥檚 weird? Hearing someone proclaim your native country to be an 鈥渋mperial nation鈥 to your face.

That鈥檚 what happened yesterday during our history of El Salvador presentation yesterday as Carlos explained how the US government has been culpable in Salvadorian oppression for decades and we heard a similar thought, in different words, today during our presentation from another man named Carlos who explained the two major problems in El Salvador, economics and violence. But let me step back for a moment because we witnessed profound images before we listened to this story.

The Red Books

Our first stop was at the University of Central America where we traveled through a museum dedicated to the martyrdom of six Jesuit priests and two women who were executed in 1989. I encourage you to read about the full story on another website, as in the meantime I want to talk about the emotions involved in seeing this museum. First, the museum was located in the offices of the Jesuit priests, meaning we learned of their lives in what was once the space where they worked their message. There were photos on the wall showing the firebombing the soldiers did to the offices, bringing home what this space once was. We saw clothing and items belonging to Rutullio Grande and Romero, plus the actual clothing the Jesuits wore as they were executed. Bullet holes were like聽 pockmarks across the fabrics and stains of blood and other bodily fluids from the assassination that night are still clearly visible in each garment. Combined with bullet-riddled Bibles, torched paintings of Romero, and photos of the two women who were also killed, the museum was a haunting tribute to their lives. Continue reading

El Salvador Day 01: Airports, Buses, and Arrivals

I鈥檒l start off by saying the wifi internet access in our guest house isn鈥檛 doing much for us (okay, it isn鈥檛 doing anything). My posts will come as frequently as possible, pending other internet access is found here and there. And with that, on to the main event鈥

Our trip to El Salvador began this morning with the best sort of travel drama 鈥 airport drama. Most everyone arrived at or around 3:30am just as we planned but when we hit the lines, all of Continental鈥檚 computers went down and they couldn鈥檛 check us in. Domestic flyers? You鈥檙e all set. International flights? Not so much. After an hour鈥檚 wait or so, they rigged a manual system including hand-written ticket vouchers which we would turn in for real boarding passes at the gate once we went through security. The clock to our 5:20am flight ticked down and I didn鈥檛 get through security until 5:20am with several members of the party behind me. The flight was held, however, and everybody made it onboard just fine.

Well, almost everyone. Jenn B.鈥檚 travel drama began with a missed alarm鈥 and a missed flight. We tracked down her cell phone number thanks to UTS student Sonja being willing to be roused out of bed at 4:00am and look it up online in the student directory, but Jenn鈥檚 phone was off and all we could do was leave messages and pray there was no emergency. Turns out Jenn knew just what to do when she woke up and made the proper calls to the Center for Global Education and is on a flight to join us tomorrow. This is an odd twist of fate for us, as she鈥檚 also bringing along a box of t-shirts we had made up for the group that got left behind through it鈥檚 own sort of odd traveling drama. Finally, with drama behind us, we got our trip underway. Continue reading

Our Group T-Shirts Are Ready

Jackie F. has passed along to me the image of the t-shirts our group will have during the trip. Click the pic to see it enlarged:

The only Spanish I know is what I learned on Sesame Street over twenty years ago. Anyone care to enlighten me on what the t-shirt reads in the comments section? (Update: translation and the shirt’s origins are in the comments. Thanks, Jackie.)


Pre-Trip Reading: Witnesses to the Kingdom

Students going to El Salvador have been assigned a handful of books to read before the trip and after the trip, each requiring a brief written reaction piece. Here’s one of mine:

Witnesses to the Kingdom: Martyrs of El Salvador and the Crucified Peoples by Jon Sobrino

A figurehead of liberation theology, Jon Sobrino is a respected theologian who’s writing about those who have gone before him who engendered both his respect and represented something profound in their theology or what they represent theologically. He鈥檚 writing about martyrs.

Rather than tour through all of the stories Sobrino tells of martyrs, I want to address his writing style and philosophy because that is what intrigues me most as a writer. With all due respect to those who have died for a cause, all I can say about reading these stories is I was struck by how I鈥檝e never even contemplated this sort of thing to be a part of my life. I don鈥檛 know anyone who has died for a cause and I don鈥檛 know what cause I believe strongly enough in to offer my life. I鈥檝e heard it said many parents would die for their children though perhaps I need children in order to truly understand this idea. I鈥檓 still wrapping my head around the concept of martyrdom, even after reading the stories in Sobrino鈥檚 book, though something tells me it鈥檚 going to come up more than once on the trip. With that said, exploring why Sobrino’s writing style is so powerful definitely intrigues me and is inspirational in terms of my own desire to produce better writing. Continue reading