On Wednesday and Thursday, we faced new challenges on the construction site and in the Casa de Salud. In three half days, the medical team has seen 90 patients working alongside Dr. Elsy and Dr. Edgar. Heartbreaking realities of life in this community have introduced to patients with dengue, scabies, parasites, chagas, malnutrition resulting in growth deficits and anemia as well as general primary care concerns. Thankfully Dr. Edgar is in the practice of treating the whole patient – mind, body, and family. God is indeed good.
This year marks Cliff Smith’s third trip to Ahuachapán providing dental care to this community; this year he noticed a shift in the level of care from emergency to restorative. With the preventative measure created three years ago, members of this community have taken noticeable steps to improve their own dental care.
Things have a way of happening in their own time in El Salvador, despite the best-laid plans and entrenched expectations. We came into Wednesday expecting to unload cinder blocks at 11 AM. The blocks arrived early (of course) and the delivery team was in a rush to unload because another delivery needed to be made. We unloaded about a third of the blocks using what we thought in our western mindset was a pretty effective human chain (click here for video). Ha! But, as often happens here, we were humbled by the local Salvadorans; while we took a water break, the delivery team unloaded with precise efficiency, literally tossing 2-3 20-pound blocks at a time to one another with bare hands and some with bare feet! Once the blocks were all unloaded, some had to be moved from one pile to another. A cinder block wall was eventually amassed in front of the Sanchez family’s current dwelling. This wall, however, is one of hope for these blocks will literally bring safety and shelter to the Sanchez family. Our team is humbled by this holy invitation to build hope.
With the blocks secured and bit more masonry completed on Wednesday, we spent an evening in Ataco to experience more of El Salvador. We used our time to rest from physical labor, partake in a little tourism and enjoy some fellowship. Our dinner on Wednesday was memorable for the location, cuisine, and in some cases, the after effects.
A few of us were feeling less than 100% Thursday morning and our numbers were down to start the day. The focus on the build site was mixing a “mud cement” to establish a subfloor for the Sanchez’s home. The mixing was both hard and tedious, with some fatigue definitely starting to set in. Our local mason team’s capacity for this work seems insatiable, even our bus driver got into the mix (literally) and taught us a humbling lesson in cheerful endurance. Another group spent time wedging and working mortar into small spaces as cinder blocks continue to rise. This takes some precision and the heat and awkward angles add to the degree of difficulty. The children in this community worked alongside all of us eager to help. On a day when we felt challenged by our own physical limitations, God has provided, this community came together to support our team and the labor needed for today’s work.
Thursday night we enjoyed a joyful dinner with Dr. Edgar and his family, Nurse Lilly and Dr. Elsy. We are grateful for Dr. Edgar and the team’s commitment to the Casa de Salud and the community in and around Getsemani. Our collective efforts to do our best to do God’s work are bolstered through our relationships in El Salvador. Having time to connect on a more personal level with the medial team and with Dr. Edgar’s family is a worthwhile blessing.
Amid our humbling challenges today, we learned, as is mentioned in Psalm 131, to ensure our “eyes are not raised too high.” The joy and perseverance we see here in our partners and in the community resonate with the end of this Psalm, “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.” It is our shared faith and hope in God that bridges divide and bind us as brothers and sisters in Christ.
James White and the El Salvador Mission Team