We all awoke early and headed out, at 7:45, to the Cathedral (San Juan) for the 45th convention of the diocese.
The Bishop read the role, and read the minutes of the last meeting (last year). As this is a smaller diocese than Los Angeles, I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the room (the chancel) and the number of participants. The Dioceses of Los Angeles, Central New York and Olympia were seated at one table. It was wonderful to be seated together, and Elba, our translator, helped those who needed translation. What a gift.
Our own George Woodward, Vice President of Cristosal, along with the Executive Director of Cristosal Noah Bullock were the first of the guests to address the convention. It was wonderful to see George address the convention! I am proud to be one of his bishops. Next, the Dioceses of Olympia and then Central New York addressed the gathering.
Finally, the Los Angeles delegation addressed the convention at the invitation of Bishop Barahona. All four of us gathered there, and I previously asked George to be the one to address the convention. Why? Because I had preached the night before to many of those who were gathered today. In addition, George, as the head of the Program Group for World Mission has been deeply involved in this work for many years. He has made many trips to El Salvador, and knows the country and the people well. It was gratifying to watch him skillfully address the convention, bringing our love to them, and talking about our role together. He did let everyone know that I am totally in love with pupusas (I knew that before I went to El Salvador thanks to the delicious lunches at Trinity, Melrose) -- but he assured the convention of the love and support of the Diocese of Los Angeles.
After this, there was a break in the convention. It gave us an opportunity to purchase some beautiful hand made goods from the congregation of San Andres, the church that Shelley Denney's daughter Amy served in before she came back to the United States. I bought some items to bring home to share with family and friends -- beautiful!
We then headed back to the hotel for lunch. It was almost 1:00, and we needed to be back at San Juan for a meeting with the Ministerio de Diversidad Sexual at 5:00. We ate with our Olympia friends, happily so, and everyone except Julie, Shelley and me headed to their rooms to rest. Julie Bryant, Shelley Denney and yours truly were on a mission: artisan crafts.
We travelled with Arcielo, our driver, to the Artisan Market. I saw nothing I wanted to buy -- truthfully, the handcrafts from the women of San Andres were so much better. Then we travelled to the workshop of Fernando Llort. AMAZING work! So much of the art we see in the wooden crosses from El Salvador were inspired by this most amazing artist. What I didn't post yesterday was that the tile work that was on the outside of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in San Salvador -- that this artist did-- was destroyed. I'm giving you the before and after here. The Roman Catholic Church had the tiles removed because, according to our guide Elba, people voted and said they were pagan. At the artist's studio, there was a photo of the pile of tile on the ground after it was taken down. It made me almost weep.
Shelley Denney was almost apoplectic when she saw it.
It is always amazing to me what is destroyed -- that which is so beautiful, full of emotion of the time in one way or another and then -- it is gone. I love the before picture so much more, and I have spent only a brief amount of time in this country. What do I understand? I have never, ever been so profoundly welcomed wherever I have been -- everyone has been so kind. There is an amazing sense of hospitality, I can't express enough my gratitude for being here.
Afterwards, we went to a pottery shop where the pottery is made by people with disabilities. I put aside a few items to take home -- I will return on Monday and have them prepared to be either shipped or hand carried home. One is more beautiful than another -- and to think that someone who herself is disabled started this productive workshop for others who have disabilities -- what a great gift!
We then hurried back to the hotel, rearranged our purses and purchases and
got back in the van again to head back to the church/Cathedral of San Juan. We were invited by el Ministerio de Deversidad Sexual de San Juan Evangelista to come and meet with them. Over 20 were gathered to meet us, and they were the "tip of the ice berg" -- over 70 are active in this ministry, and Bishop Barahona was with us. Bishop Barahona stated clearly that this is not about "gay rights" -- this is about human rights, and he is fully supportive of this mission and ministry. The young man sitting next to me had a pin on his shirt and I asked him, "can I please have your pin?" This young man gave me his pin, which he pinned on me, and which I had admired on him and others the day before, which I show you here. More, it turns out that they had pins for us -- well, almost all of us. There was a miscount, and when they got to me, I took the pin that should have been for me, and pinned it on the young man who gave me his. There was one short for the woman from the Diocese of Central of New York -- the young man I "pinned" pinned the pin I put on him on her. It brought me close to tears. What a gift, what a great gift.
We then headed back to the hotel. I'm tired, but energized. What an amazing country -- so much death yesterday, so much life today.
I'm preaching and celebrating tomorrow far away from San Salvador -- I wonder in my wandering what else this life might bring?
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