Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jottings from the John

New Years Eve in El Salvador is an experience that is difficult to articulate. Despite this, I feel obligated to make an attempt to honour the promise I made to my mother, who probably reminded me more than 7 times to "post on the blog!". 

Last night (or rather, this morning) I sat on the toilet in my hotel room while a symphony of fireworks I had just been watching echoed in the background. Having no immediate source of entertainment and coming to terms with the fact that since this was my first "bathroom visit" since our arrival, I would be here for a while, I decided to type out what I had just seen and experienced. So mom (and all other faithful readers), I offer you this, my Jottings from the John:

Being in bed before 10:30 PM with headphones funnelling Malcolm Gladwell's soothing voice into my ears seemed like a sufficient way to combat the impending bombardment of sound. But as the night drags on and I incrementally slip into and out of sleep, it becomes obvious that the celebration has begun, and is inescapable. Tim, Silas, Keaton, and Quinn dart past me as I emerge from the hotel room, and the sound of celebratory chaos hits me like a train. It's incessant. An unsynchronized blanket of pops, bangs, and crackles. For the brief half hour that I leave the comfort of my hotel bed it feels like fumes of burnt gun powder occupy more of the atmosphere's volume than nitrogen and I'll eventually return to bed hoping that a dimenhydrinate pill will relieve the slight nausea I feel, likely from the unorthodox cocktail I've inhaled. We all stand at the railings and watch, myself not sure whether to be irritated or fascinated; probably both. Loads of magnificent, colourful fireworks unfold all around; most of them miles from the balcony we are watching from. In contrast, small and probably inexpensive fireworks are fired off at dangerously acute angles in the streets just below. 

That's the best I can do, and it's the product of one of my more thought-inducing activities. Enough jokes about distinguishing between fireworks and gunshots have been made this weekend, so I won't make another. That's also probably one of the last things my mom wants to read after (most likely) spending most of her free time sitting by the computer and hitting refresh, waiting for my blog post. Anyway, we haven't yet started building and I am already learning a lot. Everything from Spanish phrases (feliz año everyone) to details of the Salvadoran civil conflict and how it influences our work here. I look forward to the building days, fully anticipating exhaustion and frustration. My main desire is to be cooperative, humble, and efficient. Thank you to everyone for your support and prayers and try to invest time in reading everyone's blog posts. 



  1. Great thoughts. Will pray for your cooperation, humility and effectiveness as an emissary.

  2. Glad to hear the fireworks were coming from outside the bathroom and not within:) Praying for God's blessing on all of you as you work and for His love to flow out to the people around you. Thanks for posting, Dunc! Love Mom

  3. love this Duncan! what a gifted writer you are. keep it coming! :) the VanderSlagt crew is praying for you!

  4. Thank you for posting, Duncan! Awesome description. Looking forward to reading more about how God is going to use you and the team this week. We're praying for you all, and sending much love.
    ~the M's.

  5. Praying for the team. My heart is with you all.

  6. Well written - thanks for sharing for "Jottings from the John"! I can relate very well to the delayed "first bathroom visit"! Hopefully you had a smooth move! :)