Thursday, January 6, 2011

“Lend me your shoes so I can walk in your steps...”

Five days in and we are still learning! After we completed our morning service at our three sites (one at Illobosco and two at Las Delicias), we toured the University of Central America where we listened to Dean Brackley, a theology professor, speak about the culture and lifestyle of El Salvador. Two remarks stuck with me. First, a native Salvadorian remarked, “Lend me your shoes so I can walk in your steps” as she expressed her opinions on the need for change. Though we are only here for a week, we truly have picked up a “pair of shoes” and been immersed into the culture of El Salvador.
Each day remains a new adventure where we experience the joy and power of service, acquire a better understanding of a third world country, and share fellowship with our peers and the Salvadorian natives. A few memories that continue to touch my heart remain working side by side with the natives whether we are bending rebar into precise rectangles, using a machete to cut down limbs in the woods, or sharing words of encouragement; there is truly something special about embracing another individual’s culture. It is difficult to describe, but as the cliché goes, “it is the simple things in life that mean the most.” In El Salvador, I feel like the natives appreciate these the most. Granted, the affluence of North America is not present here, and though times are tough, maybe in the end simple is better? The exchange of a smile with a child, or the look of hope on a father’s face as he helps build not just a house but a home for his family is priceless, and the appreciation is undeniable.

Throughout the week as we have compared and contrasted the lifestyles of our two diverse cultures, one aspect continues to intrigue me—t he concept of a strong work ethic. I always used to think I was a hard worker, but when you watch a twelve year old, malnurished boy logging a wheel barrel of plus fifty pounds of dirt/concrete or using a pickax to dig an entire trench single handleling, you start to question if you really know what hard work is… For me, at twelve, I helped with yard work, but only every so often on the weekend, which I am sure I complained about doing. Furthermore, I spent my summers playing sports or capture the flag at night. Once again, you start to wonder when these children get to be kids? Of course, it is great for them to have a strong work ethic, and it is beyond impressive. Yet, one still wishes they could just be kids! Another problem though they do not even have any toys!

The second thought that impacted me were when Professor Brackley shared with us that “You cannot change El Salvador in a week, but El Salvador can change you.” When thinking about these words, I could not agree more. From these expereinces, I believe that I have grown- grown in my awareness of a country in need, grown in my appreciation for another culture, grown in my commitment to serving underprivileged areas not just miles away but in my own community back home. In the end, it is true we did not change El Salvador, but the steps we took in the Salvadorians’ “shoes” has changed us, and the lives of the familes and communities that we helped and provided hope for as we were there.

Julie Knox is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University and a member of Kappa Delta Sorority.

1 comment:

Lindey said...

I am in awe of how a community can change a "servants" heart. It's pretty awesome to hear how you and your team traveled to El Salvador, as God's servants, to help the community and will leave with your "bucket filled" too.