To the Editor:
I was deeply saddened by hearing of President Trump’s derogatory comments about El Salvador, and its people.
I’ve travelled to El Salvador three times now with other Canadian Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
I wish to share with your readers the deep and lasting friendships our teams have forged with the people of El Salvador.
As a sign of solidarity with the people of El Salvador, I’ve decided to publish my Christmas Eve sermon in my local paper.
I would invite everyone to add their voices to all who are saying, “This is not what El Salvador, Haiti, and the African countries are! All peoples deserve our respect and appreciation.”
The Gift of Five Eggs
It was close to 4:30 p.m.: Time to start washing the shovels we’d been using to mix cement.
It was close to calling it a great day of work: time to get back to our small habitacion and have a beer or two with the team.
Suddenly, Simone looks up and sees Adela coming towards her, a wide big smile across her face, eyes beaming with joy.
Preciously, between her calloused hands, Adela is holding five eggs, “Por mi amiga, Yo Deseo dar estes huevos. Por Favor, toma los huevos.” Adela is offering Simone five brown eggs, the daily laying of her 5 hens.
Simone says to Adela, “No necessita – Tu come huevos por la cena.” ‘It is not necessary, you eat the eggs for supper.’
Adela insists. “los huevos son un regalo de mi carazon.” “These eggs are a gift from my heart.” Adela says. “A la manana, mi gallinas dan mas heuvos.” “Tomorrow, my hens will give more eggs.”
As a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, on all builds I’ve been on, I’ve had the privilege of encountering God in the presence of people like Adela.
Yes, God comes to us in the presence of our own humankind… most especially, in the presence of the most vulnerable and under-privileged, those we often label as the poor and powerless of our world. There in the hearts of the Adelas of this world, reside the all-generous, all-giving presence of God.
In November, I was part of a HFH group who traveled to El Salvador to support family home building projects in a small community called Neuva Esperanza… New Hope.
Our team of 13 Canadian volunteers worked alongside of Adela, in building her new home.
Adela is a 61 yrs. old widow with two grown up sons. His sons live in the capital city of San Salvador.
Since they both work in the service and hospitality industry, they are not able to get much time off to visit and even less so, to come and help out their Mom.
As eager and willing volunteers, we were there to help Adela. For a whole week, we were her surrogate family. Along with the masons, we were there to give Adela a hand in the construction of her new home.
For many years, Adela has lived in an 8-by-8 corrugated tin shanty hut. The contents of her home are a bed, a small table and a chair.
Her clothes are piled up at the end of her bed.
On her table is her small one burner propane stove. On one wall are pictures of her two sons, next to El Salvador… the Saviour – Jesus.
Surrounding Adela’s home is a rudimentary enclosure, made up of retrieved old barb wire and old mattress springs frames. This is Adela’s chicken coop, home of her five hens and two roosters.
Adela makes her living by washing clothes by hand for her working neighbours. She earns about five dollars a day, barely enough to sustain her livelihood, and yet enough to qualify for a new HFH home, at the total cost of about $2,800 CAD dollars.
In her all-generous offer of wanting to give away her daily ration of five eggs, Adela was willing to give away her evening meal, and possibly resort to eating left-over tortillas left from lunch at the work site.
In Luke’s Gospel, we are told that an Angel appeared to the shepherds and told them the sign they needed to look for, so they could truly be in “the presence of God.
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
The shepherds set their sights and hearts toward the angel’s spoken sign, and there in the manger, in the presence of a vulnerable, tiny and powerless babe, they saw the presence of God.
Without a doubt, all of the HFH team sense that Adela was truly God’s presence among us.
I’m convinced and certain that angels regularly come to us and quietly whispers in our hearts the signs where we are to see God’s presence in our everyday ordinary lives.
As I look at all the faces that are present here for this Christmas Eve’s Service, I see the presence of God among us.
Your faces speak of hearts that long to be all-generous, all-loving and caring, in the fulfilment of Jesus’ dream for a just and peaceful world, whereby all of God’s children live as brothers and sisters, in harmony with all of Creation.
All let all of God’s children shout Hallejulah!
All let God’s people say “Amen.”