Life in El Salvador

Waving the White Flag

We may all be weathering the same storm, but we are certainly not all in the same boat. I’m not sure where I first heard this sentiment over the past few months but it surely rings true in El Salvador. The unique challenge of this COVID-19 crisis is that it is a crisis unlike anything that we ever expected to face in El Salvador. I suspect that many working cross-culturally might find themselves thinking the same thing. We were tentatively prepared for an intense tropical storm, an earthquake, civil unrest, an uptick in violence, and other possible scenarios. But to experience something so devastating while the rest of the world also was thrown into chaos seemed unfathomable. Yet, here we are living through these extraordinary days. The COVID-19 pandemic has […]

Faithful

Faithful. I can’t really think of another word to describe how I felt after reviewing and evaluating how things went around here in 2019. We just published our 2019 Annual Report so feel free to take a look. In the meantime, here are a few highlights: Last year we inaugurated the Lighthouse Resource Center. Since opening our doors, 350 clients have walked through those open doors, and 11.14% of them have entered into our “level system” where they have the opportunity to invest more of themselves and receive more of an investment from us. We’ve learned the issues facing these clients are complex, but we are reaching them. For our first year, we are pretty excited to see that members of our community are making decisions for change, finding healing, […]

Ten Years On…

This past November marked ten years since we, the Snyder family, stepped off a plane and into our new lives in El Salvador. See that picture? It was taken of our family shortly after we arrived in El Salvador. A decade on and here we are. Life doesn’t look like we thought it would…but it rarely does anywhere, does it? I think everyone who chooses to live their life on a mission does so with the grand idea that they will change the world somehow, or have some impact that echoes in a profound way. The truth is that it really doesn’t work like that at all. Instead, if we choose to live our lives on mission then the world we step out into is the very thing that changes […]

Planting

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  Warren Buffet is quoted as saying those words, and no doubt his intent was to make a point about business investments. But really, those words can speak to any investment. One thing I have learned over the years is that urban ministry is much more about investing than anything else…more about planting than harvesting. It’s about walking the streets to find that one available piece of fertile dirt, perhaps hidden behind a graffiti covered wall or some barbed wire. It’s about digging deep in my pocket for that seed, then casting it, maybe not even believing myself that it will take root. The planting is hot and exhausting, it’s relentless and it feels like it will […]

For Freedom – Por la Libertad

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”      Galatians 5:1 What does freedom mean to you? Think about that…what does it mean to truly be free? For political prisoners, it means freedom of expression. If you owe a debt, freedom is having economic means. If you are locked in, opening the door is the way to freedom. For so many in El Salvador, freedom means being able to flourish, to grow, to breathe and live without fear or stress or worry. Unfortunately, the situations that face our clients pose great barriers to that kind of freedom. Their lives are complicated as things like entrenched poverty, hopeless violence, and the lack of […]

World Cup Fever – Fiebre Mundial

All month long, soccer has dominated every conversation and public space. It doesn’t matter that El Salvador’s national team didn’t even qualify (neither did Team USA by the way). Favorite teams, players, and predictions about the final are on the TV, the radio, and everyone’s minds. One of the beautiful things about the World Cup is the community that surrounds it. Our staff have had a contest going to see whose team would last the longest. It has been a great opportunity to forget about the stress of work, and just have some fun together. It’s very much needed when so much of what we do revolves around addressing heavy things like addiction and abuse. The World Cup has helped us to open our doors to our wider community as […]

Today I Saw Jesus – Hoy He Visto Jesús

Today I saw Jesus in one of my co-workers. This particular man recently suffered some significant health challenges. He had every right to call out sick and not show up in the office today. But he did anyway. You see, he directs a micro-enterprise where our clients get a fresh start making cards. He is their biggest fan…encouraging them, cheering them on, helping them to reach for healing and new life. They were here to work and so he was here too. This simple act of selflessness, of love for others, reminded me of who Jesus is and why we do any of this. I aspire to have this kind of dedication, this compassion, this deep love that says “others before me.” Instead I so often focus on my own […]

Expectation vs. Reality – Expectativas vs. Realidad

Laura Bubar, an art teacher from Maine,U.S.A worked as a volunteer for five weeks with us, here are some of her thoughts on the experience… Any time we begin a journey or step out and take a risk, we have expectations. We make assumptions about what that journey will look like or what the consequences of that risk will be. I entered a journey here in El Salvador five weeks ago and despite my best efforts to make no assumptions, I had formed expectations for my journey. Two years ago, while researching ministries in El Salvador, I came across the website for Mission To El Salvador. My cautious heart then followed their work (from a safe distance) for the next two years, reading this very blog, and watching to see the work […]

Being a Woman in El Salvador, Part 2 – Ser una Mujer en El Salvador, Parte 2

Being a woman in El Salvador means being strong, courageous, and inventive. It means not giving up. It means working, raising children, and moving forward in your life. Too often, it means doing all of these things alone. In 2015 185,625 women in El Salvador were registered as the head of their households according to an official survey conducted by OISS (Organización Iberoamerica de Seguridad Social). Of that number 2,689 of those women registered were between the ages of 15 and 19. These women are supporting their homes economically and emotionally and most often without the help of a husband or partner. There are many single moms involved in our programs, and I admire each and every one of them. They earn money for their families, raise their kids, and […]

Blog Series: Being a Woman in El Salvador, Part 1 – Ser una Mujer en El Salvador, Parte 1

A few months ago I read a story that has haunted me ever since. A 13 year old girl walked from her house to the local tienda to buy paper to finish her homework. On the way she was murdered for her cell phone. Sadly, her story is not an isolated incident. Too often my stomach turns as I read another story of violence against women in the news, hear of another femicide, or talk with one of our female clients about her life. El Salvador is such a beautiful country with such beautiful and strong women, but statistics show us that those women are at risk. Latin America as a region has high rates of femicide, sexual abuse, and exploitation against women. El Salvador has consistently been one of the region’s […]

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