Life perspectives from the street curb

I’m sitting here on the street curb at the side of the market in San Vincente, El Salvador

There is evident economic tension within the country. I see dilapidated old Nissan pickup trucks rattle their way past. Later, a fancy BMW sports coupe whisshes by.  We are at even greater tension given where we come from and the resources at our disposal. There at the corner of the market, worlds collide – maybe just in my thoughts.

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How do we deal with that economic divide? How do these guys eek out an existence? I see a peddler hawking his wares up & down the street. He carries his entire inventory of steering wheel covers slung over his arm. How many of those few, does he have to sell each day to put a regular meal on his family table?  Do I dare make eye-contact with the approaching man trying to sell me a hammock? Do I engage the beggar who just sat beside us? Cam did – he dug out an granola bar from his back pack and gave it to the man. I had not been prepared to do that. I would have simply looked away. Was I too arrogant to be concerned for him? Did I simply feel powerless to deal with his need or unable to converse with him. Do I need to be in control of the situation? Can I even properly help him? Does giving him a handout – a few coins as he requested – really help him? Is that just a way of brushing him aside – appeasing my own conscience? read more

Contextualization

These last few days have been a curious insight into Shelter Canada for me. Having worked in missions for 15 yrs, I was very interested in seeing how well Shelter has localized their work. It always took lots of deliberate effort to clothe the work with local indigenous legitimacy. From my “newbie” vantage point, I think Shelter has done a remarkable job at this.

From engaging a local businessman to manage the manufacturing, to hiring local men to lead the construction, to following local community leadership in the selection process and the involvement of the mayors of other communities to determine future project locations, Shelter has done an admirable job of wrapping the identity of these projects in local cloth. read more

Farther along

When you walk up and down the cobbled rocky pathways of rural El Salvador, you inevitably stare the  gnawing question in the face … “Why was I born with a little blue passport?”

I have immense respect for the hard working people of rural El Salvador, who have to force their own opportunities in a bleak country. I have had opportunity heaped on my lap. Would I be as resourceful and tenacious as these families, had I been born here?  It has been a humbling honor to be present as these families have lived the monumental occasion of taking ownership of their own house. Each family has a story. Each time we leave simply thrilled to witness their joy, their smiles – and their hope. read more

Building communities – intentional relationship excercises

The first day of building houses in this week, was crazy. By 12:30pm we had built 4 new homes but don’t try this at home, we’re professionals.  That really was the key success factor. Shelter Canada has developed a number of teams of local men that are part of each house build.  They are employed by the project, and when they are not assembling the metal houses, they are pouring the concrete floors. As a result they have become really proficient at what they do. (The local employment is an intentional part of Shelter Canada’s operation – more about that in another post.) read more

Newbie impressions

First off – one of these is not like all the rest. I apologize to all the blog readers that will immediately recognize that the writer has changed.  I’m sorry for you.

But come with me. As the newbie on the team, I’ll share with you a few impressions and pictures of my 1st day on the job.  I stumbled upon the mission of Shelter Canada in a hockey dressing room (the smell is actually quite similar there and here, but that is beside the point).  I was fascinated by the idea of building houses in rural El Salvador. I had lots of questions. How do they integrate the project within the local communities? What role does the community play? What role does the local church play? How do the recipient families contribute to the house being built for them? read more

Floating up and out of Dreams

The music has started. Can you hear it? It’s time to float up another level of consciousness. This week’s dream is breaking apart, time to return to real life. Goodbye my 3 faithful readers, it’s been a pleasure.

Let me leave you with a few final thoughts. First, I’m afraid of electricity and live out each day fully expecting my electronic equipment or a lamp or some other type of specialized industrial equipment to malfunction and give me the shock of a lifetime. I imagine that my eyes are really going to bulge out when this happens, so I just keep them closed when I plug things in. That should help. read more

Caballo de la Sabana

The song below brings tears of joy to Raul’s 66 year old eyes and sets his feet to dancing. His 25 year love affair with his wife Grizelda, 23 years his junior, was just destined to be. Press play on their song and catch the vibe while we get swept up in the love.

Before they met, in 1978 during the midst of a raging civil war, Raul invested in a bus and his little business transported people between Zacatecoluca and San Vicente. One night his bus was flagged to stop at the Angulo exit by armed men who set the bus on fire. It burned to the ground but everyone managed to scramble to safety and escape into the forest. Raul lost his livelihood in a meaningless act of terror and intimidation.  read more

Mentorship and Kidnapping

My most hated word in the english language is mentorship. Ya, you heard me. Most people hate other words like moist, but I hate mentorship. Well, I should clarify that I don’t hate the word itself, I hate the way the concept of mentorship is a glorified as the pinnacle of discipleship when in actual fact it’s weird and creepy. If you harken back to 1999, you’ll recall there was/is one rule of fight club – you don’t talk about fight club. Same principle applies here. read more