Sitting next to me in the van was Kenia, whose family lives in Los Calix. She works for Foundation Cristosal, and was a joy to talk with in the van on the way over to Los Calix.
When we arrived there we were lead to the "templo", which is a tent made of wood with a roof. There is a cross at one end -- so powerful to see a "templo" -- a church, in the middle of this humble community -- a wooden "tent" with a cross at one one. The Gospel of our Lord is powerful here!
The dream of this group is to create an compound for the church and the community. More on that in a bit. Kenia, as the project manager for this project. Not only is she from this community, she is an attorney, very bright, and very motivated. Kenia became the first member of the community to attend and graduate from college in 2010. I was so impressed with Cristosal for hiring her -- what a stroke of brilliance! A bright light shining. More, as I found out later and did not appreciate when I was hearing all of this, one man sitting next to her, who spoke so eloquently about the needs of the community AND the environment, literally with one hand, was her uncle. A powerful voice and force for change, and someone who is open to collaboration and the movement of the Holy Spirit. Beautiful!
We heard from the members of the Bishop's Committee of the Church -- Cristo Rey. Initially in this project more members of the community were involved. Their input and support were garnered for this project. Very smart -- this MUST be a collaboration to be successful. Their input was sought and honored, as was the input of Bp. Barahona -- a wonderfully intelligent and practical man (hence the kitchen and storage building). As the work wound down it is now left to the faithful of the Bishop's Committee. They were present, and it was clear they were very active in all of this. They come together to dream together -- how beautiful is that? More, working with Cristosal, those dreams will come true.
It was also gratifying to me to be here in Los Calix after having preached at the ordination to the transitional diaconate of Fr. Antonio. Apparently he has been called "Father" for a while, for that is who this community of faith sees him to be. A quick smile, a warm heart -- describe him well. Hard working, he and his family (here he is seated at far left next to his wife) moved here two years ago from El Maizal, where his wife Arili had family close by. A move that Cristosal helped with, with director Noah Bullock literally putting all their positions piled carefully and with love in his pick up truck, with the family in the cab and back seat of the cab. I was moved to tears to hear that -- this IS mission and ministry. Caring enough to move a family, preparing their home for them in advance. Their home was donated to them by a member of the community -- Daisy -- a wonderful woman whose family own the casita that Antonio and his family now live in. The part of her family who owns this now lives in the United States.
After going over the plans for the new compound with the Bishop's Committee, including the plan for a "super mercado" -- we went to Fr. Antonio's home for lunch. I'm excited about the plan for a "super mercado" to serve the community, and to be a source of income to sustain the church. Brilliant! Now, the group just has to come through with the business plan! Well, at Fr. Antonio's home we were treated to the most delicious lunch -- green beans Rellenos (never had that before -- one word -- DELICIOUS!) and rice with veggies. Loved this meal, served separately with tortillas and broccoli -- yum!
After lunch we headed over to La Villa Tortuga, for a boat ride on the swamps among the mangroves. Wow -- so beautiful! I was put in a life vest, and was lead by our boat driver to the side of the boat. I had to wade out into the water and they pulled the side of the boat low so I could climb in. Okay, thank GOODNESS I bought Keen shoes (thank you Julie Reid!), and thank goodness my legs and arms pulled me up. Fr. Antonio wanted to carry me piggy back to the boat -- well, THAT wasn't going to happen. See that woman with the shades and the big hat -- that's me!
We road for about an hour in the boat through the swamps. It was beautiful! We saw capuchin monkeys in the trees, birds -- you name it. It was amazing. And it was cooler than what we'd experienced at Los Calix. I had been perspiring non stop for over 4 hours, and was grateful for the breeze. More, I was grateful for the time spent with these wonderful people. What a blessing!
I'm very impressed with the work of Foundation Cristosal -- they are making a difference in the lives of people in a powerful way. In a way that is unique -- transforming lives not by giving money to people, but by teaching people how to get what they need done, and to have a plan that others can buy into. A very powerful affirmation of mission and ministry! Thank you Foundation Cristosal!
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Location:San Salvador, Los Calix