Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vacation pause

I haven't blogged much these last couple of weeks because I've been working hard on our PazSalud report to our donors (done, printed and mailed!) and connecting to my CSJP Sisters.  I've been blessed to be present when our Sister Cecilia Marie Gri went home to God at 98, dying as she lived with clarity, grace and the deepest faith.  I was delighted to join the community yesterday in celebrating our 7 Jubilarians, who've given a collective 395 years of ministry.  And today I head south, driving to northern California with my sister Kathy to visit cousins and have a vacation.  So I'll be back in July, and meantime here's a couple of Suchitoto photos:

From the Corpus Christi procession -

and from a celebration of art and artists at the Centro Arte para la Paz -

A dash of tropical color as I set out on a rainy Northwest June morning.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New clothes for a hard day

Just before I flew north from San Salvador to spend 5 weeks in the U.S. I learned that the husband of a new friend had been picked up by the U.S. ICE Border Patrol and is being held in a Texas detention facility.  Last night she e-mailed to ask if I could buy and mail some clothing for him to wear on his flight back to El Salvador - apparently the clothes he'd been detained in were pretty awful, and the alternative is either to return home in a prison uniform or to have someone supply a going-home outfit. 

Juan had trusted himself, and no doubt his and his family's hard-won cash, to a coyote who said he was a trustworthy Evangelical.  Not so, apparently: the journey was brutal and he witnessed his "trustworthy" guide raping a woman.  He was picked up almost immediately on the U.S. side of the border and whisked off to detention, where at least he's safe and my friend has been able to talk to him a couple of times.  

I called the facility and found out that what I could send for a going-home outfit is quite specific: 1 pair pants, 1 shirt, 1 pair underpants, 1 pair socks.  Shoes could also be sent, but apparently Juan has those.  So today I went shopping for the clothing, which I'll send tomorrow.  Challenging to buy clothes for someone you've never met, especially when it comes down to figuring out whether you think the guy would prefer boxers or briefs.  An odd assignment for a nun, but I enjoyed it.  And I picked boxers, on the simple grounds that they were less expensive.

So Juan will be able to take the long flight home in new, clean clothes, a scrap of dignity for a hard day. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Sandra was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder characterized, as Wikipedia says, by multiple joint contractures, muscle weakness and fibrosis.  She's 11 years old, part of a large and loving family in San José Villanueva, and in spite of the family's poverty, her grandmother has been taking her to FUNTER, an El Salvador rehabilitation foundation, three times a week for physical and occupational therapy.  She has a good and lively mind, but hasn't been to school - the family told me that the nearest government school wouldn't take her. 

It's one of those God moments: a couple of weeks ago, I told my friend Rosy Melara about Sandra.  I know Rosy as a nurse (she has volunteered as a surgery scrub nurse for our eye surgery missions), but in that same conversation, I learned that she also has a degree in Special Education.  One thing led rather quickly to another, and Rosy volunteered to teach Sandra the basics of reading and writing - we're hoping that after a year of tutoring she'd be able to enter the parish school in Villanueva.  There's a bonus to this: Sandra's grandmother, Ynes, can't read or write, and she would like to learn.  So Rosy has two pupils. 
Here's a photo from the first class.  Sandra's two-hands approach to the pencil was quite effective, probably something she's practiced in occupational therapy - she traced shapes easily and smoothly.
I'm looking forward to seeing what she's learned when I come back from my June-July vacation.  Meanwhile, PeaceHealth is providing the bus and taxi fares that will help to make this God moment a reality. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lookin' good

One of the joys last week was visiting with all our eye surgery patients as they came to Dra. Ana Vilma de Burgos' office for their final post-surgery checkups.  Most of them were doing beautifully and were delighted to let me take their photo in their new reading glasses:

A few patients had to go through more processes: one woman had an eye infection that had developed after the first post-op and needed surgical cleaning; one man's interocular lens had moved and had to be replaced; three needed minor laser treatments.  A couple of others will have to continue using glaucoma medications.  Eyes are complicated!  And to be seeing clearly once more - what a gift, thanks to our talented ophthalmologists, all our dedicated team, and Dra. de Burgos.