La Paz de Susan

Link here to La Paz de Susan, Sister Susan Dewitt's blog about working with PazSalud and living in El Salvador from 2009 through 2013.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Winter Green

I left El Salvador early in May and it was still summer, aka the dry season, though a few scatterings of rain had fallen.  Everything was dry and looked dry: dry brown grass on the sides of the roads, trees with few leaves or none (though many trees here are green year-round), bare and burned patches that would become milpas of corn and beans or hectares of sugar cane.  Dry, hot, smoky...April is most everyone's unfavorite month here.

I returned in June and it's winter - invierno - which means the rainy season here.  All the roadsides are bursting with thick green grasses and the horses and cattle are staked out to take advantage of the free salad.  Most, like this white horse I met along the road to Suchitoto, have ribs showing from the scant provender of summer, but soon they'll fatten up.

As always, the rain falls mostly in the late afternoons and evenings, so the mornings are available for drying clothes, walking, enjoying the coolness that follows a rainstorm.  When it rains the heavens open and a temporary river roars down my street (which is why our house is about 4 feet above street level), waterfalls gush from the stairs to our upstairs deck, all the plants rejoice and all the humans head for shelter.  Everything, everything gets soggy - even crackers supposedly completely wrapped in plastic.  Often, out here in the country, the lights go out, as they did the other night, for 3-4 hours and there you are, enjoying the rain by candlelight.  It's a wonderful time, the font of life here, the green winter.

- Susan

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tumultuous Times

This past month has been absolutely wonderful and - at the same time - somewhat terrible. 

Wonderful: I spent an amazing four days seeing the best of Ireland with Sr. Andrea Nenzel.  Our hosts, Joy and Michael Moore, turned themselves inside out for us, and shared their family stories and histories as well as the sights with us. 

And wonderful: Ireland was followed by our Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace Contemplative Retreat in Loughborough, England - the last of the three Contemplative Retreats, and an amazing experience of gathering ourselves as a community to take what our facilitator, Sr. Nancy Sylvester, calls "a long, loving look at the real.-

And wonderful: I got to spend time at St. Mary-on-the Lake in Bellevue on either end of those travels - time to visit with the Sisters and with my sister, time to pack up for my July move to a community house in Seattle.

And wonderful: while all this was going on, Darren had located the perfect base house in San Salvador, with plenty of space for all our tubs and equipment, and even for a few guests.

And wonderful: Darren flew north for meetings with PeaceHealth and we had an excellent meeting with our El Salvador Advisory Group, got many details straightened out, and continued what's been a great experience of transitioning from me to Darren as our in-country Coordinator.

But somewhat terrible: I came back to the northwest in early May barely breathing.  Seemed that my bronchial stent had become completely plugged.  Fixing that required two rigid bronchoscopies (full anesthesia), the first followed by a night in the hospital.  Breathing got better, then worse again, and not long after my return from England I ended up in another hospital with a pneumonia diagnosis. 

Now, thanks be to God, things seem to be mending.  I'm breathing well, I'm headed back to El Salvador on the red-eye tonight.  For the next four weeks, we'll be busy moving to the new San Salvador house - and I'll be connecting with as many friends as possible.  It's another whirlwind, and there's even a few days in Cartagena, Colombia tucked into the mix (a visit with my niece Carol and her husband Gus Aponte)....  It should be wonderful, but I imagine quite a few tears may also be shed.

-  Susan