Noticings – March 6, 2024

El Salvador
“A rich and spirit-filled experience.”

Back in 2018, my wife Cynthia and I had the sincere privilege of being part of that year’s mission awareness trip to El Salvador. The trip is organized through the East Central Ontario Regional Council (our wider church body – formerly known as Bay of Quinte Conference). The roots of it began years ago during the El Salvador civil war when refugees (and some exiles) fled to Canada. Some arrived in Ottawa, and strolling down a street noticed a church called Emmanuel United Church. Emmanuel happened to be the name of their church back home in El Salvador (Iglesia Baptista Emmanuel IBE), so they ventured in, and a relationship was begun. It evolved over the years as the Salvadoran community was welcomed into Canada and a realization emerged that their hosts couldn’t really understand where the Salvadorans came from, or what they went through. So, a visit was arranged down to El Salvador, and that strengthened the partnership, and in years following more trips were arranged so many more of us could learn about these people and learn from them.

Cynthia went again in 2019 as a last minute substitute leader, and this year she is going once again in leadership. (Like so many things, these trips stopped during Covid.) The group leaves tomorrow (Thursday March 7) and will be there for a week. As always, the group is a mix of youth and adults, going not to do mission work, per se, but to have an awareness experience and learn. And I can tell you from personal experience, it is a life-changing one. My visit to Romero’s church in 2018 is still vivid in my mind, and inspired a treasured song for me.

Congregations (including Faith United) have been very generous with donations of school supplies, personal supplies, and monetary donations for 4 water cistern projects and school computers. The United Church always strives to work directly with partners in other countries. Our partner church in El Salvador, Iglesia Baptista Emmanuel (IBE), has numerous missions they run, including a school, a youth art centre, and many missions in the villages in the hills. The travelling ‘pilgrims’ will visit some of these mission places, help run a vacation bible school day, and work on the new cisterns, as well as learning about Salvadoran history, Saint Romero, the civil war, and much more.

If you would like to follow their journey you can do so in 2 ways. The first is through a Facebook group (click here), and the second is through an Instagram account (click here). And please pray for their safe travels, and for a rich and spirit-filled experience.