El Salvador dia Doce

I’m leaving today! I may be leaving physically, but my heart will remain behind for a while. We had a long discussion and made arrangements. I woke at 4:30 to use the facilities and caught my last glimpse of Brandon as he climbed the stairs in the dark. Great guy. I hope we meet again someday.

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                       Bye Chamba!
That’s the stare I get then he turns back to the TV as if nothing had happened. Good ole Chamba!

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                       Bye Madalyn!
Yeah don’t get that close anymore, it’s unhealthy.

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                     Bye Orphanage!!!
Mandy and Eric take me to the Aeuropuerto with Jacob and Esau and Raquels brother, of whom I never got the name.
  The airport is PACKED. And with a lot of volunteers actually. It was great to see other churches doing similar things!
Somehow I got ushered into the wrong line by misunderstanding the Spanish speaking lady who was speaking English. It turns out it only took about 2 minutes longer, but I had to forego the “megusta mia dos pizza personales por favor” plan for pizzahut. We went through 2 security checkpoints. One was the typical one with the x ray machine. But when we got to the gate there were TSA Agents taking every single article out of every item of carry on luggage and doing a pat down on everyone.

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I sat in the best seat possible, besides first class. Even with a packed flight I was blessed to not have anybody sit next to me. If I have to sit in a chair for close to 4hrs, my situation was optimal…the only caveat being the delicious scents of amazing food that first class was eating. Luckies.

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ATLANTA and American soil! Praise the Lord!
That was the best burger and fries and rum and coke I’ve ever had, I do believe.

My next flight didn’t run so smoothly, however I did meet a sweet old lady from Birmingham, who had traveled to Costa Rica to have knee surgery. I believe her name was Brenda, but typing it out now doesn’t seem right. I told her I’d pray for her before I left…

..To get on the plane which we, within 30 min, were asked to get off due to a fire alarm going off in the rear lav!
Turns out it had been some external exhaust from the air start, but the plane had to be aired out so we moved gates.
To a whole new concourse.

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Mass exodus to Terminal T. Terminal T as in Tango.
I chatted with some other passengers for a bit while we waited to board. It seemed like everyone was working with the same problem I was facing; frayed nerves. One lady said that onflight drinks were free due to the delay.
Sounds good to me!
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Compliments of Delta.

We were finally airborne by 11:30, only 1.5 hrs behind….
I’d like to personally thank Susie and Scott Brown for picking me up from the airport so late and then further staying with me and helping me get my dead battery jumped so I could drive home. Although minor, your role in this trip was indispensable!

This will conclude this blog about El Salvador. Thanks for reading!
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BYE!

El Salvador dia Once

Brandon and I got up at 4:50 to watch the sunrise from atop the other side of

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Puerta de Diablo. It was so worth it!

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That was before the sun had risen. There is a marked difference with how quick it comes up this far south in the hemisphere than up in the Cleveland north. I would almost say it sprang up like toast from a toaster! It was absolutely beautiful nonetheless.

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We could see the Pacific from our vantage point. Absolutely stunning and awe inspiring.
Afterward I took a small nap until it was time to go to Rachel’s for breakfast.

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      Rachel Sanson. Not Rachel Schlea.

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                        There we go.
We had waffles and eggs and toast and oj and flies. It was delicious! But seriously, there had to be over 200 flies buzzing around her place. It most likely had to do with opening her windows w/o screens and making tasty smelling eggs, but that was just a theory.

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A local quesadilla man stopped by to deliver fresh made quesadillas right before we left. An uncanny resemblance to Brandon I thought.

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Since Rachel and Mini-Bayn hadn’t been to ‘la peurta’ yet, we went again at high noon. It was much warmer of a climb for sure.

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We came across a filming crew shooting a commercial. Brandon speaks fluent Spanish, so good in fact the man (holding the mic) couldn’t believe he’d only been in the country for only 2 months.

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They really put a lot of work into the bench carved out of rock that was in a huge alcove we came across.

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The graffitti was interesting and we came across one with two of the orphans names on it. Since neither can write yet, its safe to say it wasn’t them.

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I’m gonna miss them when I leave tomorrow that’s for sure.
We stopped by the souvenir stand and grabbed a few things. I’ve always thought souvenirs were kinda stupid and pointless, but ole wise Brandon suggested a fridge magnet. He went on to explain that every time I open the fridge I’ll be reminded of this trip. Good call. Plus a reminder to pray for these wonderful kids!

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Madalyn made pb&j for dinner, as did Rachel and I. I had a great talk with Rachel about her future with Ben. I had been praying about whether or not I should talk to her and God provided the right time and place and it really encouraged me about what she is doing about her future. Going to Africa is no small commitment! Go Rachel!

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Brandon had lent me some money for the souvenirs since I had left mine at home, so I made him a lifts thank you gift while he was out.
  It was a relaxing night. Some kids, Eric and I watched an episode of “Planet Earth” and enjoyed some popcorn. It was a stunning show! I recommend it.
  Brandon and I packed up for most of the evening until we came across the 6 mangoes I still had in the fridge. He suggested we eat them. So we did. We had a mango party right there in the courtyard. I went through 3, even tho I consumed about 1.2 total. He did the same.
  We went back into our room and proceeded to have the funniest conversation ever. It was absolutey ridiculous. I was doubled over laughing til I cried for close to a half hour. The subject of the humor was:
  Phoenix’s Own Dry oatmeal and peanutbutter sandwiches. NOW CUT INTO TRIANGLES!
BYOW (bring your own water) as none will be provided. TROLL.
and
It always come back to oats and a troll.

I’m sure readers are probably besides themselves with laughter. I’m sure.
Probably the best laugh I’ve ever had in my life. And a beautiful, final day in El Salvador. Tomorrow its back home!

El Salvador dia Deis

‘It comforts me to think that if we are created beings, the thing that created us would havd to be greater than us,  so much greater, in fact, that we would not be able to understand it. It would have to be greater than the facts of our reality, and so it would seem to us, looking out from within our reality, that it would contradict reason. But reason itself would suggest it would have to be greater than our reality, or it would not be reasonable.’

What a great quote from Donald Miller. Started the book yesterday, finished it today. It’s that good… plus I did a lot it laying down today as I still hardly had much energy. I finished patching some holes but that was about all the energy I had. Good news though; my stomach feels fine and food isn’t running right through me.

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After eating lunch I felt more energized and went up to the terrace and gingerly played soccer with these adorable boys. Miah and Chao.

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We went to the Tienda (little snack stand) down the road and took the two boys w/us.

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Mandy told us that we were having inspectors come to look at the building and politely asked us, Brandon, Madelyn and Eric to get lost for dinner (which was being prepared by a very enigmatic, Janet. She was odd, crazy-outgoing, skittish, happy, excited, talkative, and slightly confused, and only at the orphanage for 2hrs to make dinner. Wierd.). So we all planned on the pupusaria, of which made me nauseous. 15 minutes before we left, Mandy said inspection had been canceled so we didn’t have to get lost. We went anyway.

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I ended up getting two and a glass of exceedingly sour, fresh-squeezed oj. I ate one and gave the other to mini-bayn.

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After dinner we came back to a meeting about the orphanage looking for a new place.
I decided to try some of ‘enigma-Janet’s’ creation. It was Ultralime-spaghetti-pureed chicken-spinach-mush. It needed salt and was almost mediocre. I felt bad for Janet as she had spent the better half of two hours working her tail off preparing it. None of the kids liked it and there was about 8lbs left over. Oh well.
After dinner I felt like I needed to reflect and pray, so I went to the roof and laid out under the stars until it started to rain 30 min later. It was comforting and awe inspiring to see the milky-way and billions of stars complimented by distant lightning and clouds. Our God is so big and unfathomable. The whole experience just reiterated the quote from earlier.

El Salvador dia Nueve

I may have spoken too soon. I woke up at 3am with some of the worst stomach pain. Felt like a knife in the stomach. I spent the next 30 minutes elsewhere.

Thankfully Amanda caught her flight and connecting flight and has made it safely back home. Mini-Bayn and Rachel are doing fine and got some work accomplished today. I got to witness the water delivery, which is not that interesting, but I have to have a pic somewhere today.

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                            So cool.

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                       So cool again!

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           Omg stop all the coolness!

Right?
It was very clear today.. I could see farther than ever from the roof. And absolutely beautiful of course.

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Here’s a panorama that may or may not display correctly. I’ll roll the dice.

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I cleaned half of a donated oven and helped straighten out the other garage before 1 and had to call it a day. Once again I’m weak and unable to really gain much energy from food as it pretty much runs right through me. I decided to start a new book today…”Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller. It’s really great and easy to read, and oddly enough, the exact same subject Brandon and I conversed about. Honestly the conversation and book have been the highlights of my day as I have been mostly bed/hammock ridden. But I’m at peace with being sick for most of the trip. God has worked it out to His glory.

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I finally got to see and catch little gecko. Boy they have sticky feet!

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I skipped dinner, not wanting any more issues or tttbr. Brandon was kind enough to suggest, the pain, and subsequent flatus, was most likely the result of bacteria my body is not used to and offered some of his antibiotic, Ciprofloxacin he brought with him. So far it seems to be working as the pain has decreased quite a bit.
So I continue reading and bid you adu in hopes tomorrow will bring full and continued recovery.

El Salvador dia Ocho

I’m please as punch to announce my energy has returned!
For the first half of the day I was still pretty drained. As were all of us.

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Today was a work day and we all got a lot of stuff done despite getting light headed every time I stood up. That’s a picture of the kitchen we built from scratch from 9-10am.

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Actually I took this…

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Unmounted it..

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And put it here.
Mind you, these are all cement walls.
I also found this gem of Chamba.

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Laundry was fun…

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It took me a bit to figure out how to start the thing but I got it going!

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So Rachel Amanda and mini-bayn all worked in cleaning and painting a wall. And cleaning. I swapped that cubby out and made a hanging basket for posterboard. We were slated to make dinner for everyone so at 4pm we started making quesadillas. They were a smash hit.

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We made 60-70 of them and the were ready by 6pm. After we ate them I felt a surge of energy and started acting like a goofball. I was so happy to be back to my normal self after 5 DAYS!
We played with the kids after dinner and it was a lot of fun. I really love these guys. Wish I didn’t have to leave Saturday already!

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Several kids had a jump-rope-off to see who could go the longest. I think Brenda won with 112,493 jumps… or maybe it was 112. Either way, when Sarah’s mom, Kristy, was walking out the back door, Raquel, who was a story above, was dumping some water, TOTALLY unaware she was walking out. Kristy got soaked and Sarah was in tears laughing. Good times!
It just occurred to me that Kristy and Kent are leaving in the mornig… I should probably go say Goodbye!

An Hour Passes….

Well that was nice. It’s a little strange saying goodbye to someone you have been around for the last week, but don’t know too well, yet know you’ll most likely never see again. Kristy and I just spent the good part of the hour cooking cookies on a stovetop since the oven is broken. It works, but they’re not pretty. Kent made fruit art while we cooked. He ended up making a parrot out off pineapple and carrots! Clever. A fond farewell to new acquaintances!

Til the ‘morrow!

El Salvador dia Siete

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This has pretty much what’s been happening today. I FINALLY started feeling better right before lunch and decided to scarf down a large bowl of beans and rice. It didn’t feel so good for a while, but it looks like I’m almost there as I was able to hold it down/up.

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I played the piano (yes they have a 88 weighted key epiano ptl) for a bit while Brandon read and Ben Rachel and Amanda snoozed.
A lot of people went to the Market today, but none of us were feeling it.

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When the kids got home I helped keep Herbert focused for about 8 minutes before a vanbus full of us headed downtown to see the Cathedral. Apparently this is not something they do often.

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Downtown traffic was really chaotic. Almost like NYC but way smaller streets, no lane indicators, people just blocking whole roads indefinitely, and so much think black exhaust we could taste it. Once we arrived at the parking garage the very friendly attendant couldn’t seem to get the newly installed gates to work.

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We waited nearly 5 minutes to get IN to the parking garage. And boy was it pricey. A WHOLE DOLLAR to park downtown for 2 hrs.

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The cathedral was massive! It honestly didn’t look like much from the outside but once we got in it was crazy. The ceiling was so high it was dizzying!

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The pictures in the above photo are about 20-25ft high a piece.

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That’s the late 4th Archbishop and I, Oscar Romero. He is entombed below the sanctuary. He was a beloved archbishop and assassinated March 24th, 1980, four days before my four month anniversary of life. This was the tipping point that caused the civil war in El Salvador, (the assassination, not my 4 month anniversary) and to my knowledge is what kept the country behind in its economic progress as it lasted over 12 years with over 75,000 people killed.
When building the cathedral, the bishop said, that as long as there are hungry people in the nation, the cathedral will never be finished. So…. they are ALWAYS working on it. Even to this day. Its kind of backwards when you think about it.

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Outside and down a block or two, we cross through the “Plaza Libertad” on our way to a relatively humble and unassuming building.

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…”People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord examines the heart.”

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It was absolutely incredible inside! I must say it also had a resemblance to something out of star wars. I wish we could have stayed there longer, but Justin was hoping to get us back before rush hour.

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Back to our parking garage where they have single stall bathrooms lined up for men and women right next to parking spaces… it’s 15¢ if you need to use tp.

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Fortunately our parking attendant didn’t have any issues of letting us out or the garage (above).

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One of the many random stands on the side of the road. This one in particular had mostly use bottles of cologne y perfume for sale. (See what I did there? I used y instead of and. I’m almost completly fluent in Spanish probably)  Sadly we couldn’t stop and grab some.
  The rest of the day consisted of getting amanda’s plane ticket swapped and not much else… we were all feeling better and Mandy came to talk w/us about tomorrow’s work needs… looks like we’re back in the saddle boys!

El Salvador dia Seis

Sunday at the orphanage means its time to travel to Union Church in the San Salvador! Which means transporting 16+ kids and workers 30 minutes through the countryside! Rachel seems to have caught what I had and had to stay behind today. Poor boohkie. I’m still worn out, but in good spirits.

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We needed to get diesel for the Mitsubishi vanbus on the way to church…

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Fun fact: all gas stations are full service and no tipping is allowed. The caveat is peddlers and vendors tend to swarm the vehicle selling their wares. This particular station had none..probably because they were all headed to church.

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They had one of the nicest grass parking lots I’ve ever laid tires on, here at Union Church!

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Worship was very nice. I particularly enjoyed the old piano/acoustic guitar combo they had with a full backing band. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sing much without tiring, but it was great to hear all the others worship!
Sadly, during service, Ben and Amanda had to walk out when they started coming down with the very same bug…

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The service was in all english and there were at least 30 other attendees that were volunteers for different organizations present. We were all introduced.

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After church, they had refreshments outside. Me Ben and Amanda all filled ourselves with the very-much-needed apples, oranges and watermelon. It gave me enough energy to play soccer for a bit. Afterwards some other local volunteers introduced themselves to me and we chatted for a bit. I can’t seem to remember their names!

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We headed to the MULTI PLAZA for lunch. It’s actually a really, really nice mall with a massive food court consisting of at least 20 different food places. Us 3 Clevelanders went to “Go Green” for a salad. I had fun trying to order my “go summer” salad with the small amount of Spanish I know. “uno go summer y agua por favor.” That’s about it! We went downstairs to the “Super Selecto” market where we once again, stuffed our carts with fruits and veggies.
(They have their own version of the airblade hand dryers in the bathrooms of the mall which I found odd, but then again, the mall was almost up to par with US malls)
After shopping, I thought that ordering a taco from tbell would stave further food cravings on the way home. Ordering was a complete fail. I ended up having to point out what I wanted since they couldn’t seem to understand. I felt like a 3 yr old.

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On our windy way home, Ben had to stop the bus to throw up. I think it was the windy roads that did him in, cuz when we stopped he seemed to have lost the urge to.

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Remember the papusaria’s? Well, picture 6 right next to each other all with the exact same menus. How do they ever stay in business you ask? Well, as the picture shows, they are PACKED on the weekends. This was mildly packed. Eric said our normal 3 minute drive to the pupusaria would probably take over an hour because of the traffic caused by the cars and the crowds patronizing the shops.

The rest if the day is spent relaxing and recovering, listening to Ben, Amanda and Rachel recount their tales of recent bathroom trips, hanging out with the kids, trying to break the time record keeping the top spinning the longest, and a rain foiled plot to climb the opposite side of Puerta de Diablo.

P.S. It’s not ALWAYS beautiful weather out here, as most of the pictures depict. It rains at least once a day, but so far God has granted us sun for the majority of the day!