Last week brought rain on top of rain to El Salvador, and those of us with friendships and hearts in El Salvador spent the week doing the best we could to help, to network, to share, to inform and to pray for relief. Tim's El Salvador Blog has kept the news flowing as the waters flowed, and we are all grateful to him for keeping us informed.
Thanks be to God that the sun has returned to El Salvador's "sombrero azul." The rain has stopped for now, but the sorrow for those who lost family members in the rain and the mud will continue to hover like dark clouds in their hearts - and they need our continued prayers. The blue sky has returned for now, but the humanitarian crisis will continue due to flooding, loss of homes and businesses, and especially the loss of crops so close to harvest - and the country needs our continued help through our churches and our networks.
Readers of this blog may recall a few stories from past postings which speak to the power of rain in El Salvador...
The Rains Came Down
Little Capes, Big Difference
Tales of Greasy and Grubby - Worship in the Rain
This week, in the midst of the chaos of the storms, I received a phone call from a friend in our sister church community. This is unusual - not too many friends have the resources to charge up their phones for a call to the US. "Oh HI!" I said, as my friend introduced herself. "What a surprise!"
"I call you only to greet you. The women in the family commission want to say HI and Francisco said it would be OK to call you. How are you? How is your husband? How are the plans for the wedding..."
The rain had drenched them. School was suspended. All their crops were lost. But..."it's so great to chat with you - to hear your voice." Stuck in the house because of a storm, a conversation with a friend can brighten the day.
I remembered being stuck in the house because of a storm...
We called it "The Dancin' House" because during our first visit to our sister church, the community held a dance for us at this house. It was small and tidy with corrugated tin walls pieced together and a strategic narrow ditch running through the center of the hard-pack dirt floor. Greasy and Grubby had been invited to spend a couple of nights with their friend in The Dancin' House.
Not too late in the evening, we were each given our own bed with a lace-trimmed flat pillow. The bedroom also served as the closet, and the family's clothing hung from the rafters over our heads and was neatly stacked in little hampers hanging from the walls. Our friend tucked us in as if we were little ones, carefully pushing the soft yellow mosquito netting under the mattresses all around us. She and her husband and two small children crowded into a hammock in the kitchen area.
We weren't asleep yet. The rain started. First as a pitter-patter on the tin roof, then more like a train running over our heads. Drip, drip, drip...the water leaked inside through small holes in the tin. Our friend placed a plastic bucket here, a metal pan there. The water flowed faster and faster through the ditch which ran across the floor. Rush, rush, drip, drip...we slept to the lullaby of the falling rain.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny. We passed the morning visiting homes and meeting with people from the church. At lunch time we returned to The Dancin' House for a delicious meal and a little rest. The clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall. We were supposed to go visit the flautas (recorders) class up in the church, but our hostess absolutely forbade us to go out. "You could slip. You could fall. You could break a bone. We don't go out when it is like this. It's our job to keep you safe. You have to stay here."
She was right. The winds came up and the rains fell harder. The locals call this, "El Norte." We sat and watched the rain. We could hardly speak to one another because the sound of the rain on the metal roof was deafening. We shivered a bit in the wind. We marveled that so much water could fall in such little time. We thought about the families who live downhill. We learned that the strategic ditch across the middle of the dirt floor served as a convenient location for a four-year-old to relieve himself when mom wasn't looking (a much dryer option than running out to the latrine during the deluge).
Greasy took out her guitar. Grubby took out her violin. With the roaring rain for accompaniment, the two guests serenaded their friends with their finest tunes. I remember that one of our favorites was "I'll Fly Away," which we sang and played with abandon, fighting the rain for the melody line. At some point, our sister pastor's younger brother flew into the house, dripping wet with his flauta in hand. The flauta class had been cancelled, and we were stuck in the house; but the rain could not keep us from making music together.