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. 



This is a different year. We arrive in 2016. We leave in 2017. But that's not what I mean. Our team is bigger and almost half of them are youth/young adult. But that's not what I mean either. It's different because every year is different. No matter how many times we come the Lord has something new, something different to teach us. The awesome part is understanding that He can and does teach through others.

We spent part of Saturday meeting the families that will be receiving houses. There was a genuine joy and excitement on their part - maybe because it was New Years Eve, maybe because their prayer for a new home was coming to life - either way, itnleft an impression on us.

It's been a different pace, slower, as we start this weekend, but it is good to get to know our team a little better and the community a little better. It's inspiring to look to God together, and lean on Him.

Our devotion this morning was from Galatians 5, talking about "faith expressing itself in love".  What a privilege to step into the reality of that truth, together, El Salvadorians and Canadians!