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Valle Nuevo, El Salvador Visit

"A thousand saludos (greetings) for Plow Creek. I pray for Plow Creek every day," said Margarita in the attachment. I was glad I could say, "I pray for you daily, too." She than added, "We are so glad you come to visit us; thank you for remembering us; we appreciate it very much. How is so and so¦?" I heard similar words to these over and over through out our week in Valle Nuevo. And they back up their words with the best meals they can afford. What a welcome from some of world's materialistically poorest people, but some of the richest in the Spirit of Jesus.

Margarita will be a recipient of the housing project we initiated this year. There are cracks in her house's adobe walls from the last earthquake, and the termites are turning the wood post into dust. If you are interested in hearing more about this housing project, let me know.

I've visited there at least six times now, and I wasn't sure there was going to be much new. But I found I was pleasantly surprised. One was a renewal of many friendships that have been developing since 1992, when I slept in a hammock at Juana and Simon's in a dirt floor house made of boards salvaged from their refuge camp in Honduras. Today they have a cement block home surrounded by many trees, and a garden which is fertilized from an experimental compost project. Right now with help and guidance from World Vision, they are experimenting with raising chickens and flowers to sell. Even though they have a house, Juana helps with leadership of a Housing Cooperative as a way to serve others.

I gave a slide presentation to 150 of their high school students. They raised some very pointed questions when I shared how the guerrillas and paramilitaries have gotten involved in the drug trade in Colombia. Since Valle Nuevo was a center of guerrilla support during their civil war, they are now looking at the question of whether their guerrilla military fighting was worth it. Many told me they never want it again. They were so interested in the CPT peace work that the Principal just let the session go beyond the allotted time. Thirty students signed up for emails.

I also had an opportunity to talk with some of the recent high school graduates who are attending University. Jenny, one of the first graduates of the newly formed high school, stated, "One of the toughest things at the University is the fact that my goals clash with the goals of many of the other students. It seems that their main concerns are selecting the latest in fashions, and focusing their education on a job which will help them purchase a nice car, and house. Mine is to learn psychology so I can come back to Valle Nuevo to serve the community." Jenny was one of the first graduates of the newly formed high school.

Something new that excited me was an Alcoholics Anonymous group of 80-100 attendees. I see this as a really important part of God's work to improve their community. They also have a very successful hydroponic greenhouse and are marketing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. They are in the process of building another greenhouse to expand the business. This kind of economic activity is very important to their future.

Much has changed in Valle Nuevo since 1992. When we visited during March of that year, the Peace accords were signed and guerrillas came in from the hills and turned in their guns. At that time, houses were cobbled together from salvaged boards and tin because everything had been destroyed in the war. There were few trees. In contrast, today many residents have cement block houses and are working hard to create food from their rocky hills. It's a hard life, but they are not giving up.

They appreciated so much our visiting them again. If you have any interest in going along next year, let me know.

I will be giving seven presentations in the St. Louis area between April 9 and 12. I would appreciate any prayer support you can give.




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