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Friday was our last day in Ahuachapán, and it started out pretty close to what has become our usual routine: breakfast at 7, off to the build site by 7:45. We are pleased with the progress we’ve made this week. Many veteran members of this mission have highlighted that the chance to build up a home isn’t a given. Some of us spent the morning building walls, and others mixing “mud concrete” to create the subfloor of the Sanchez’s home. Although we finished only part of one room, we still take some pride in our contribution. We are blessed to be able to help build their home.

That afternoon we gathered at the community center for some farewell festivities. Our partners and community members shared gratitude for our presence, and we shared ours for their hospitality and grace. Afterward, about 60 children from the community joined us for games, crafts, Legos, and fun.

Many of us worked to construct crosses from popsicle sticks and build tambourines from paper plates. There is acute joy and enthusiasm in these simple activities, especially when the children create works of art compared to our fumbling efforts. Parents stood by, watching us struggle with eager kids and language barriers, but connecting through shared laughter and construction. Before leaving Gestamani for the last time, we shared some small gifts with the masons who guided us with saintly patience on site all week. We are tremendously grateful for them.

On our last night together we shared several reflections. Our experience has been a blend of beauty and difficulty, full of contradictions and challenged notions about life. Coming home will be no different. We are bringing home hearts full of friendship, joy, purpose, and perspective, but also concern, sadness, and even agony for challenges this community faces every day.

Praise in the Night, the 134th Psalm, concluded our contemplation of the Psalms of Ascent. It calls on us to bless the Lord and in turn ask for the Lord’s blessing. Together we considered what it means for us to be blessed. Many of us find the joy we’ve seen in the community here in Getsemani inspiring. We are thinking of the blessings of family and the closeness we sense among neighbors here. We are thinking of simplicity, and how our time, attention, and a simple game brought us closer to the children at kids camp today. We are thinking of things we take for granted, clean water, favorite foods, a comfortable environment. We are thinking of the holidays and if we can reconcile how much we have with the need in the community here. We will think of the Getsemani while we are home, and hope to return to build on the relationships we’ve crafted. We pray for God’s blessings, for both our new and old friends in El Salvador and for ourselves.

 

– The El Salvador Team