This reflection was written by Laura Davison, a freshman in Journalism at Missouri University. Laura participated in a SHARE delegation this past June with her church Good Shepherd which is located in Kansas City, Kansas.
Here I am, Lord.
Here we are: Ten of us, four adults and six students, riding a bus to El Buen Pastor, a community of about 100 people in central
But before any of us could process anything we are seeing, the bus slows and pulls off the road where a crowd of people waits. Children, mothers with babies and an old man waving a red balloon stood at the gate of the community waiting to greet us. We had arrived at El Buen Pastor.
Is it I, Lord?
It’s easier to forget that
There is nothing subtle about the need in
But the unsettling feelings, though uncomfortable, were necessary. They forced us to reevaluate what is important. And we were forced to look at ourselves and see what we wanted to change about how we treat other people.
The people of El Buen Pastor were rich is so many ways that we are poor. We have never been treated more hospitably. They were willing to give us things they didn’t even have for themselves. When there wasn’t an open pew in mass, some community members left mass and walked several blocks to get chairs so we could sit down. When the water wasn’t running for the shower and toilet in the guesthouse, they immediately began to fix the problem so we could be comfortable. In their homes, they don’t have showers and toilets. They had built the bathroom in the guesthouse so delegations could be more comfortable. It was the little things they did that showed us that we were not visitors whom they had never met before, but rather they considered us family.
I have heard you calling in the night.
In addition to visiting El Buen Pastor, we visited another community near San Salvador called Las Nubes, meaning “The Clouds” in Spanish. This community of 14 houses is nestled on the side of a dormant volcano where low-lying clouds occasionally hang. This mountain is property of a television station, and unbeknownst to the company, these families have lived there for nearly fifteen years. The community at the base of the volcano, San Ramon, had even forgotten people were living here. The people live in shacks of corrugated tin that would look pitiful even in comparison to the modest homes in El Buen Pastor. By our standards, these structures would be unfit for animals. The people of Las Nubes had no electricity, and until recently, no source of water in the village. Last year, the people didn’t even have enough food to feed themselves, so they went down the volcano to ask San Ramon for help. San Ramon is also a poor community. Even so, they have helped feed the people of Las Nubes and build a pipeline to carry water up to volcano once every eight days. This was the poor giving to the desolate.
It’s impossible to see things like this and not be compelled to act.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
As we left El Buen Pastor and El Salvador, we left with new friends, new perspectives, but most importantly we no longer felt powerless.
While El Buen Pastor needs financial support that is not the only way to assist them. We learned that our time, our support and encouragement are also much-needed gifts. Solidarity is the most important resource we can give them
The people of El Buen Pastor taught us important lessons of humility, hospitality and hope. And, we, just by listening to their stories, worries and dreams, we were able to validate their lives.
I will hold your people in my heart.