Monday, March 21, 2011

A long and busy month

Hello all. It has been a very long time since I’ve written. The problem has been a matter not only of time - but of energy.

I arrived back from my Christmas vacation with my family on the 6th of January to the usual catch up work. Then, within 3 days of my return, we had a group of students come for a single night and a day. A day after they left, a ‘real’ delegation arrived. After they left, we had meetings and more meetings with our scholarship students – along with the handing out of their first tuition assistance. 73 high school students came to the Pastoral House in the span of 2 days. Then, of course, all the student’s folders had to be put together and organized well. As well as the ledger books of accountability!

In between all this was the beginning and finalizing of the 4 agendas for the four delegations due to start arriving the 8th of February.

And then – on the 24th of January – I had to make an unexpected emergency trip back to the states because my mom had fallen and fractured her tailbone. As a result of that, it was evident we needed to find a new place for her to live – a place that would be able to give her the attention she needs due to her advanced Parkinson’s. So my sister and I spent a week investigating and searching for a place where we felt she could be happy as well as safe and well loved. And we found one. Within that same week, we were able to move mom in and help get her settled. Wow. It was a difficult and emotional week.

So I got back from that trip on the 3rd of February – and thus began more catch-up: meetings in the communities for their soon to be visiting delegations, agenda and budget finalizing, and meetings/activities we had to squeeze in before the coming delegations.

From the 8th of February through the 7th of March we had people here. For me personally, there was literally not a day in between the groups. I planned their agendas to allow at least a couple of days between them for the Team to be able to have time to launder sheets, blankets, towels (etc) and clean up after and prepare for the new. Groups always spend time in San Salvador for historical education. But still – even they had minimal time to go back to their own homes to see their families during those four weeks. We could also not attend to the everyday work – so emails were minimally attended to, papers piled high and our task lists grew.

We really can’t let that happen again – all of us need to be more vigilant of how we schedule our delegations. And I will start at this end – it’s hard to say no to groups. But in reality – sometimes it is necessary!

After the last group left on March 7th – we had 5 days to play catch up again – but we also had to start the fertilizer deliveries! There are several partner churches who donate one or two bags of fertilizer to their friends in their partner cantons! We managed to squeeze in three community deliveries – each of these requires the majority of a day – from 7 a.m. till about 2 p.m. or so. (And of course, each of those events requires a pictorial report to the donating churches – but I enjoy that kind of work!).

We also had to coordinate with the 4 communities that would receive the medical delegation. The original coordination had been done a while ago – but as the time drew nearer, more detailed organizing needed to take place! We had to help organize who would be assisting and how … and we also had to coordinate the ‘projects’ in each community because an offshoot group from the medical delegation wanted to help with a small project in each community. They painted a church one day, put up a barbed wire fence in another, helped build a sidewalk on one side of a church in another and helped put roofing on a portion of an old school to keep folks dry during meetings they hold there. All this required time as we have to travel to the communities to talk personally. It is much easier for us to go to them than for them to come to us – people would have to pay transportation to come to us. The Pastoral Team does not think that is correct. They know how small the financial resources are of the people here. And thank God, the Compañeros group in Iowa helps us with ‘gas money’ each month for such things!

Compañeros helps the Pastoral House – but in reality – Compañeros is directly helping the people of the cantons. So a big thank you goes to them from us!

So then the medical delegation time arrived.

The medical delegation did not stay at the Pastoral House this year. They chose to stay up the street at a guest house for a variety of reasons – one of which is they could all be together. We literally do not have space for that amount of people here at the Pastoral House.

Originally, we were going to prepare lunches for the delegation for the clinic days in the cantons – but they had found someone else who would prepare their food for less money. So we found we didn’t even need to prepare their lunches. We did, however, feel responsible for feeding the Directiva and community leaders who stayed to help each day. They all sacrificed a day of their own responsibilities and work to give whatever assistance they could to the delegation. They dug holes to put up posts to support shade giving tarps, moved heavy tubs, helped rearrange chairs, tables, etc. Often they searched for items the delegation needed (like tarps, tables and chairs). They also helped with crowd control and organized the people ahead of time to have a more orderly registration of patients.

The Pastoral Team also felt responsible to feed the Berlin doctors and staff who came out, the Commandos (like paramedics) and the health promoters who came out to help. The Pastoral Team paid for all that food from Don Justo Coffee proceeds. So buy more Don Justo folks!! (Yes – a shameless plug!)

In reality – we did very little for the delegation while they were here. Most of our work for them was in the coordination before they arrived.

We did accompany the delegation on their four days of clinics to the cantons. I drove the set up crew and a bunch of tubs to the cantons about an hour earlier than the rest of the doctors and support people. They and the rest of the supplies (pharmacy goods, glasses, etc.) were transported to the communities on a large flatbed truck. The Pastoral Team and I didn’t do much during the actual clinics – except if there was a ‘special case’ where we could then help coordinate future support for the people who might need a special exam or consultation. I personally had no specific task during the days – I just did very minimal translating for very random things. I served as an additional driver for their set up crew and to take the first wave of people back to Berlin at the end of the day.

So now we are done with the clinics. And we are looking to the future!

The Team and I sat down this morning to plan our next week and a half. I will be going to the States for my itineration time – I have already many churches on my calendar that I will be visiting to give updates and to share what we are doing here.

And now, 9 of the 12 remaining days before my trip are full of meetings and more fertilizer deliveries.

But – that is how it is. And I’d much rather be kept busy than twiddle my thumbs!

And I will try to be more attentive to this blog!!