A group of pilgrims from East Central Ontario / Eastern Ontario Outaouais Regional Councils visits El Salvador.

A detail of a colourful El Salvadoran tile mosaic.
A detail of a colourful El Salvadoran tile mosaic by Fernando Llort, outside Divina Providencia chapel.
Credit: Rev. Ceri Rees

As I write this we are in the midst of a snow squall off of Lake Ontario. Soon we will be in sunny El Salvador hearing the sounds of stray dogs barking and roosters crowing, which bring memories of past trips into full relief. Lately, as coordinator of this trip, I’ve been so occupied with all the logistics required for a group of 36 pilgrims that I feel I have almost lost touch with the theological and spiritual richness such a journey brings. Almost, but not.

My heart awaits the experience of greeting, renewing and deepening meaningful relationships and friendships. It longs to touch into the life-giving, hugging faith community of our global partner Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel. My body is ready for sandals and t-shirts and my soul thirsts for the deep commitments manifested from Salvadorans who work for the day when justice and peace kiss.

My soul is already lifted by the sure knowledge that we will be greeted at the Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport with open hands and hearts. Just as I have been tossing and turning at night over logistical concerns, so have our partners who are making all things ready for our experience of their country, their church, their ministry, their mission, their understanding of God at work in all circumstances.

I am grateful for their preparations and efforts which will bring Salvadoran and Canadian hands together. My suitcase is full of items we will bring with us at their request – school supplies, maple syrup, mementos of Canada to share. But my heart is even more full – full of hope, anticipation, delight, eagerness to learn how things are within a country that just elected a new president, has seen thousands of Salvadorans leave to join a caravan heading toward the U.S., celebrated last October the long-awaited sainting of the martyr and man of and for the people, Oscar Romero; and yet continues its struggle to be a flourishing country with peacemaking ingrained in its soul.

Soon family and friends, we will be there. You will be with us – all of you who helped us fly away carrying your heart-warming support, financial backing, and loving prayers.

–Rev. Jean Stairs, Coordinator of East Central Ontario / Eastern Ontario Outaouais El Salvador Pilgrimage March 2019

You can find out more about the pilgrimage of this group of 36 which included leaders, adults, and youth who shared in the mission and ministry of Mission & Service partner, Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel at www.Salvador2019.com. Please contact PIP@united-church.ca if you would like to invite participants on this pilgrimage to your faith community to share their stories. A big shout out to all the leaders, donors, and the communities of faith who made this possible. Muchas gracias. Vaya con Dios.

Does this blog pique your interest to participate in people-to-people opportunities with global partners? We invite you to find out more at the People in Partnership webpage or by emailing us at pip@united-church.ca.  

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