Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Letter to the Foundation

Dear Team:

Despite having a frustrating few days without phone and internet it’s actually and very peaceful and beautiful morning here. Feels like lent; hot and dry with the rising sound of cicadas (which are called chichara here). As we get closer to Easter they will grow in volume and intensity.

As I am just getting to emails (three weeks worth), I have appreciated the notes about Carl Arnold. Needless to say he has done so much for us and I hope that we can do something for him. I have asked the Tamarindo’s to pray for him and this Sunday we will have a special intention for him and his family at our community mass. We also want to say how sorry we are for Pat’s loss. We also pray for her and her family. I don’t imagine there is a day in which Pat doesn’t pray for all of us and the people of Portillo. She is now in our prayers and hearts.

One Month in Solidarity with Haiti

It’s funny to live on this side of the fence sometimes. It’s seems we are always the one’s doing the asking; but for us. A scholarship here, a hockey stick there, a radio transmitter, whatever; we ask and you give to us with such generosity. For 35 seconds on January 12 Haiti suffered that extraordinary disaster, and all of us changed. For the Tamarindo it was time to stop asking for “me” but start asking for “them”.

On our side of the fence we watched the news, prayed, discussed what we saw and decided to do something about it.

Most of the Tamarindo’s don’t or can’t remember the years of war here or the three major earthquakes (1986, Jan. 2001/ Feb 2001) but they really did see and feel (as Romero would say…”Sentir con la Iglesia”) the people of Haiti.

From January 13 to February 28 we educated ourselves, walked the town educating others and asked the people of Guarjila to give in anyway they could. Some gave money, others rice and beans, others their time and energy.

Luis Lopez first put together a power point presentation which was presented to the Tamarindo’s and their families. People didn’t need much convincing to want to help. Then we presented to the pastoral team and the community council. We then devised a plan of action which all sectors of Guarjila would be involved in various fund raising activities in Guarjila.

Our Tamarindo’s and youth of Guarjila began by collecting money door to door in special Solidarity With Haiti Cans (which had a photo of “hands reaching toward heaven:”….designed by Luis). We also sold spaghetti dinners, thousands of tamales, fried yucca, pupusas, ran soccer tournaments, played games, raffled soccer balls and bicycles, sang and danced…..

This week will be sending $1000 to the Jesuit Refugee Service for their work with people of Haiti. It’s like a beautiful Salvadoran song from the war, “When the poor BELEIVE in the poor we can proclaim freedom…..”

Facing Crime with Love

As many of you know we have had a crime wave in Guarjila over the past few months. Houses have been robbed (including my own) as well as the telephone wires. The phone company refuses to replace them (I guess after six or seven robberies they too have lost their patience). What’s frustrating is that the “crime” is really being perpetrated by 6 or 8 kids from Guarjila.

We decided to first pray for these kids by name in public places; I mean everywhere, at mass, at Tamarindo meetings. I even have a sign on my front door (which is still smashed in from a rock from the last time they came to rob me). The sign says; “Greetings Antonio, Fausto, Leonel, Luis, Alex, Marvin, Carlos, Herbert….God is watching you……He loves you…..He wants you to change…..Take what you want…..Your life is worth so much more than anything that I have…..”

We then decided to ask the “gang” to organize their friends to make music and art, and they did. We now have two new groups in Guarjila, “Rebel Youth” which has become an artisan group and “Alternative Liberation” which has become a rock band.

Last week we realized our first “collective activity”| with the youth of Tamarindo, St. Mary’s High School, Rebel Youth and Alternative Liberation. It was sort of a rock/art night with music and dancing. It was really more than that. It was a night where kids who usually spend their nights outside of doors looking in came inside. The Rebel Youth were also able to sell their art (beaded jewelry, tie die shirts and bandanas, hats etc.)

It was amazing how wonderful the Tamarindo space seemed that other night; inclusive. Simply a place of love. We look forward to another rock/art night when Bishop Chatard comes to town next week.

For the record we haven’t had any incidence of crime (at least from that band) since we began our “initiative”.

Rosibel Orellana Director of Social Ministry/ Ariel is Now in School

I just wanted to say a word about having Rosibel on staff. She has an amazing relationship with the people of this town. She seems to know where every problem is; who is sick, who is in need, who is suffering, who needs a friend. She directs the Tamarindo’s to our weekly community service... She played a very key role in our month in solidarity with Haiti, running most of the fund raising programs and really pushing all of us in a great direction.

She also works as a special need educator in Guarjila. She works very hard to see that children and young adults in Guarjila live with dignity and joy. Many of you may know Ariel the little brother of Jessica and Erica. He has cerebral palsy and right now is in a wheel chair. Last week he started school in Guarjila and is the first Guarjila student to attend school in a wheel chair. Now that is amazing…… He cried last Saturday when they told him there wasn’t school any school on Saturday. Share in our joy, Ariel is in kindergarten.

For the record, Rosi was a huge part of the Tamarindo victory over St. Mary’s High School in softball last weekend. Hopefully she will have a great game against Chatard…. (now if President Mike Qualters was in town, would he play for Chatard or the Tamarindo?)

President Funes and the Road Through Guarjila

President Mauricio Funes visited Guarjila a couple of weeks ago. He was met by a supportive crowd despite the presence of a lone European protestor and a hand full of his companions who held signs that said, “Funes Has Sold Out”. In the latest Prensa Grafica poll President Funes enjoys a 73% national approval rating for his first nine months in office. Our Guarjila President Tino Guardado Menjivar presented President Funes with a signed petition from the community asking him not to approve the construction of a four lane highway which will run through the center of Guarjila. The road has currently been approved. It was also discovered that three Guarjila families have been paid by the construction companies to “sell” the project to the town.

President Funes told the people of Guarjila that he would not and will not approve any project that will compromise the integrity of Guarjila. Let’s hope that this is one promise President Funes will keep.

President Tino Guardado Menjivar

Our Guarjila President Tino Guardado is suffering from some sort of heart condition. Last week he went into a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. Despite having this emergency condition he was given an appointment with a cardiologist for June. This week Guarjila’s own cardiologist Dr. Jaime Rodil will be in Guarjila where we hope he will be able to assess Tino’s condition and work with the Tamarindo Foundation to find Tino the help he needs as soon as possible. Tino is 29 years old and deserves a chance at a long and productive life. Santos Alfaro has become the active Guarjila President while Tino recovers. Please pray for him.

Team Canada and Tamarindo Hockey

There really isn’t any connection between us and Team Canada I just thought it would get your attention. We are currently in our hockey season with over 65 players in three divisions. We have 24 players playing in our “elite division”. We will be going to San Salvador to play an exhibition match before the Minister of Sport in April as part of our growing relationship with the National Institute of Salvadoran Sport. We have already been recognized by that body as an example of a sports program with a community development/education component, which is the focus of the new sports minister, Jaime Rodriquez.


Girls Soccer 11 and Under

This week we will begin a new indoor soccer program for girls under 11. The program will be run by Evelyn Enriquez and Kenia Dubon. The team will develop a girls only program focused on self esteem building, positive role models, and healthy minds and bodies. This week the team is recruiting girls in the community and the first session will begin next Monday night.

Tamarindo Theatre/The Way of the Cross in Guarjila

We have already begun preparing the Way of the Cross in Guarjila, which is our annual stage presentation in Guarjila. We hope to incorporate youth and adults from every sector of the community, including members of the Guarjila Pastoral team, Team Indiana, Rebel Youth, Alternative Liberation and the Tamarindo.

We will focus on the suffering, liberation and resurrection of Christ by looking at life in Guarjila in 2010 (stations will treat suicide, domestic violence, drug addiction, environmental desecration, among other critical community issues)

This really is one of the biggest community events of the year with usually over 1000 people in attendance.

Thirtieth Anniversary of the Assassination of Oscar Romero

On March 24 the world community will join El Salvador in remembering Oscar Romero thirty years after his martyrdom. We will be sharing that special day with Bishop Chatard (how fortunate for them to have this day). We are still planning but we hope to attend the solemn mass at the Divine Providence Hospital in the morning and then perhaps make a pilgrimage to El Mozote and spend the day there. It should be an extraordinary celebration as the world will be coming to town.

Final Note

As we move deeper into Lent we realize that God’s invitation for us here never ends. Like the Tamarindo itself the door remains open but the commitment is inside. Let us enter that door and make a commitment to building a community of love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Calendar

March 6th
St. Mary's Delegation Departs

March 8th
Organization Meeting discussing Theater, Hockery, and the Girls Program

March 9th
Hockey Night

March 10th
Reflection Night - Lent

March 11th
Community Mass
Community Dinner

March 12th
Friday Night Meeting

March 13th
Football School
La Laguna

March 15th
Organization Night discussing Theater and Chatard Delegation
Assembly for Girls under 11

March 16th
Hockey Night

March 17th
Reflection Night - Lent

March 18th
Community Mass
Community Dinnder
Prepare for Chatard Delegation

March 19th
Chatard Arrives
Dinner Meeting

March 20th
Children's Soccer

March 21st
Community Service
Salvadoran Culture Night - Cooking

March 22nd
Maryknoll Sisters
Rutilio Grande
Music & History Night

March 23rd
Music Night

March 24th
Romero Mass

March 25th
Beach Day

March 26th
Chatard Departs
Tamarindo Meeting

March 27th
Hockey Night

March 28th
Leadership Retreat
Assembly for Girls under 11

March 29th
Organization Meeting evaluating Chatard Delegation

March 30th

March 31st