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Celebrating Life

Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012
Last Sunday, the same weekend that I spent in Las Nubes, I hiked down the mountain with Elsa a little before 7:00 and I went straight to El Pueblo de Dios en Camino. This day was the day that the community was going to celebrate the life of Carlos Acevedo (the catechist that was martyred) as well as the lives lost in the Mudslide of Montebello. Since I arrived so early, I began my day by helping Anita with some last minute things that had to get done- setting up chairs, sweeping, getting supplies ready, etc. Around 8:30, we took some large photos of some martyrs, some crosses, and some signs to the Ermita. If you recall, this is where the discovered bodies were laid out during the mudslide for family members to come and claim. As people arrived, we distributed flowers and signs with scripture verses on them. All in all, there were well over 100 people that came to share in this special service! Around 9:30, we all began a procession through the streets of San Ramon. This was a super chivo experience for me. The young and old alike were walking through the streets of San Ramon singing songs of liberation together. A large wooden cross led the procession, followed by huge pictures of some martyrs that were particularly close to the community. I was asked to help to carry the picture of Silvia, one of the martys that Anita knew very well- I was definitely humbled. As we walked through the street singing together (well, I was listening) we also shouted out chants. So somebody would scream out “Viva _____ (martyrs, victims of the mudslide, Monsenor Romero, Christian Base Communities, etc)” And we would all respond “Que Viva!” Which means, in a sense, “Long Live the King!” Or in our case, the presence of those are still with us. This was just a really cool experience of solidarity with the Salvadorians.
 

Finally, we arrived at a large park. This park is made of the dirt mound leftover from the mudslide. So essentially, the earth that we were standing on was once part of the upper volcano and had caused many deaths. While nobody can confirm it, the park is also a sort of mass grave, since it was never formally overturned to ensure that no body parts were left. So we were really standing on holy ground, with a cross to commemorate the event. Here, we (over 100 of us) had a worship service. We sang songs, learned about Carlos Acevedo and the Mudslide of Montebello, and had communion together. Several youth from the community shared the sermon with us. At one point while we were singing a solemn song, the youth spread hundreds of rose petals all around us in the park. To me, these red petals among the dry, brown ground signified so many lives lost- a solemn occasion indeed. All is all, it was an incredible experience. But perhaps the most exciting part of it was that they used pan dulce for communion. Pan dulce is essentially any type of bread that is sweet- cookies, pastries, etc. I’m convinced that if churches in America gave out cookies instead of cardboard wafers for communion, all of our churches would be packed!

Tags: casa de la solidaridad, casa network, el salvador, praxis