Day 8…

You know I am glad that there´s a pharmacy 2 doors down bc in my most recent web search for stomach issues I read that a dose of pepto bismol pre-meals controls the rumblings… and the tums are not really doing the job. Last night we experienced the Salvadoran favorite food called papusa which are served at papuserias, a place where they make papusas. It´s a tortilla dough filled with cheese, beans, a meat/any combo. It was an art to watch the cooks making each one individually and then flip them onto the grill. The natives put a marinated cabbage slaw on top in addition to a tomato salsa. ( BTW our group avoided the cabbage. 🙂 We went to a favorite pupusaria right outside the city. The owners told me that they had lived in Texas and when I said that I had grown up in Little Rock, they said that they had also lived in Russelville and Fort Smith. A lot of people here either have lived in the US/a family member who has. I also had a traditional drink called Horchata. After dinner we walked down to the overview that we had visited the previous day to see the city´s twinkling night lights. Not far from there we then stopped at a local community gathering with traditional music present by a police band. These community gatherings happen monthly and vary as to town to promote a safe family get together and local police are present along with tourist police. We were even introduced to the commissioner of tourist police who also is responsible for the Special Olympics. Our girls took over the dance floor and Tracy and Stephanie, who was feeling much better even polka´ed for the crowd. It was a lovely evening to be out and we were home by 9:30. I told you we are tired. Today breakfast will be a little later to allow a little more time in bed…
Adam, a pastoral student in D.C:.with Iowa roots no less, will be adding an entry today re: our visit to the Jesuit University yesterday. He is a great addition to our group and after you read his entry, you will understand why…

Greetings! My name is Adam Briddell, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a contribution to the El Salvador Y Nosotros blog. I am a student at Wesley Theological Seminary (www.wesleyseminary.edu) in Washington, DC, and a candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church (www.umc.org). Traveling with GATE and this wonderful group of professors and undergraduate students has been a great joy!
Wednesday was no exception.

After spending some time with a representative from the FMLN political party (which in 2009 became the first party of the left to win control of the presidency in the history of El Salvador); we then visited a cathedral in the historic downtown district of San Salvador. It was not only a beautiful house of worship, but its crypt is the resting place for Arch Bishop Oscar Romero.

Bishop Romero was assassinated in 1980, having called on the security forces of El Salvador´s oppressive regime to lay down their arms and refuse orders o kill civilians. He was killed in the middle of a worship service, and his martyrdom became a rallying point for the people of El Salvador, who would not see a peaceful settlement to their civil war until 1992.

The visit to Romero´s tomb was an appropriate precursor to our afternoon at the Jesuit University of Central America. We were able to visit a small chapel and museum on the campus, which is home to the possessions of six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter, who were murdered by government forces in 1990. We spoke with Father Dean Brackley, a Jesuit priest and professor of theology at the University of Central America.

Father Brackley was one of the first Jesuits to arrive in San Salvador in the aftermath of the 1990 massacre. He provided powerful first-hand insight into the climate of terror that gripped Salvadoran socieity in the 1980´s. This climate proved to be fertile ground for the emergence of liberation theology in Latin America.

Father Brackley described a process whereby communities began to systematize a way of doing theology from the perspective of the poor; to consider sin as more than individual transgressions, but as those systems that reinforce injustice and disparity; and that while God´s love is infinite, the Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals a preferential option for the poor.

He used a parable of two brothers to help us appreciate this idea better. A mother sees her oldest son picking on his younger brother. The mom takes the side of the younger brother, not because the younger brother is good, or better than the older brother, but because the mother is good.

When asked whether he had any advice for the group, Father Brackley paused before responding that as with any pilgrimage, we must ¨resist the urge to change the channel¨as we experience the depth of the people´s struggle in El Salvador. He asked that we be willing to ¨have our hearts broken,¨ to ´go home ruined for life,´and be able to look at our own contexts with new eyes.

Reflecting on Lent, a few days before he would be murdered, Bishop Romero offered that ¨No one can quench the life that Christ has resurrected. Neither death nor all the banners of death and hatred raised against his church can prevail… Lent, thus, is a call to celebrate our redemption in that difficult combination of cross and victory… but those who have Christian faith and hope know that behind this calvary of El Salvador lies our Easter, our resurrection. That is the Christian people´s hope.´

Thirty years later, these words remain a powerful articulation of God´s desire for justice, mercy, and that we all might find a way to stand in solidarity with the poor.

Better stop, before I start preaching…

Adam Briddell
Guest-blogger
Wesley Theological Seminary

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