What images come to mind when you think of El Salvador? Is it the lush landscape dotted with coconut and mango trees, the majestic misty tops of the more than 20 volcanoes? Or maybe is the people, with big smiles and even bigger hearts? Maybe you consider the years of political and social turmoil? So many choices for a small country!
El Salvador is a country rich in history, culture and faith. Walking the halls of the MUNA museum, we view a mural painted by Antonio Bonilla that illustrates the centuries of political and social strife Salvadorans have endured from colonialism to the Civil War and beyond. Bold colors and dramatic figures draw you into the story, and while some of the images may be a bit hard to digest such as depictions of the deaths of religious and political martyrs, and the pillaging of colonial Conquistadors upon the indigenous people, all are necessary in telling the complete story. It is the harsh truth. Yet, through all of the ugliness of it’s past, Bonilla used the murals last panel to depict an image of a deer and jaguar, symbols of hope and peace. And that is what this trip is about: building hope and fostering peace through relationships.
Working with Habitat for Humanity is the catalyst for change. We are doing much more than building homes, but building love and bridging barriers of language and culture. As we begin our journey we are asking ourselves what is our intention while here. Is it to learn, to seek enlightenment or transformation? What will be our defining experience and where will God take us? These are questions we will discern and seek answers to.
– Patty Arcia