(para español, dele clíc aquí)
Well, we have had a full third and fourth week here in the US!
After the first two weeks in Palm Desert, Phoenix, San Jose, and Portland, we cross-countried it to Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina to visit former volunteers Angel Cruz and Emily Nelson, who organized gatherings with their friends and family, and with whom we made wine from North Carolina grapes, went to the state farmers’ market, and got José a winter coat!
He’s needed his coat from North Carolina on, as we traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where we stayed with former volunteer Mike Tarkey and a member of one of this year’s delegations, Ronnie. There, we spoke at Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University, meeting with the campus ministry teams at each school in charge of sending student groups to visit El Salvador and speaking with students about solidarity work. We arrived on the tail end of the Ferguson October events, and had the chance to speak to activists in the city and protesters on Saint Louis University’s campus about their radical work battling systemic racism and police violence.
Fr. Tom Royer, a longtime friend of FUNDAHMER and leader of the Calavera sister community group since the late 80’s/early 90’s, met us in St. Louis and we traveled with him and Edith to Champaign, Illinois. We had dinner with folks who have been to El Salvador over the years that evening, and over the next day we visited elementary, middle and high schools as well as a 3,500-acre corn and soybean farm. We thought about bringing a couple combines back for the communities in Morazán, but had trouble imagining those giant wheels on the road up to Cacaopera! Later that night, we spoke at the Friends’ Meeting House in Champaign, and met some great folks with a lot of interest and care for the work and communities in El Salvador.
From Champaign, we headed to Chicago for a night on our way to Michigan and had the chance to share some time with two former volunteers, Simon Cecil and David Applegate, before heading on to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Michigan is home to RISES, the group who has accompanied their sister community, Monseñor Romero, since the eighties. We spent some time with Cheryl and Roger “El Guapo” in Grand Rapids and visited Fountain Street Church, whose congregation supports scholarships for students in the community in El Salvador. The next day we headed over to Detroit for RISES’ annual benefit concert, where were heard some lovely music, spoke about FUNDAHMER and El Salvador, and reconnected with the members of the RISES board.
We met Larry Buffam, from the Cayuga community, in Detroit, and he is accompanying us in our journeys in Ohio this week. We’ve been to Columbus, where volunteer Owen Needham is working on an organic farm, and we went to Otterbein University to share with the students. Right now, we’re in Cincinnati, where we met with the St. James Sister Community Committee for dinner last night (sister community in El Salvdor: Jardines de Colón), and that’s where we’ve stayed today to visit Larry’s son and his family and to speak at their local Quaker meeting tonight. Tomorrow we are off to Akron, Ohio, to Archbishop Hoban High School!
See the slideshow below for some pictures of the last week… it’s been a busy time, but it has been fruitful and good for the spirit to reconnect with old friends, share about the sister communities and the relationships face-to-face, and meet more people here in the U.S. interested in El Salvador and the work of building relationships of solidarity!