Playa Salinitas, El Salvador

I am back in El Salvador with another great team of volunteers from Kingsland. The short three-hour flight from Houston to San Salvador hardly seems like much of a journey to me because I am so accustomed to those long 15-hour trans-Atlantic flights. But, I am not complaining. A short flight in the same time zone without the prospect of jet lag is very nice indeed.

Little Tomasa de Jesus

The three hours in the air passed even more quickly because I sat next to Nate, a young missions pastor from a church in Ohio. We talked shop most of the flight. The rest of the time we both enjoyed chatting in Spanish with a sweet 88 year-old woman seated next to us. She was concerned about not being able to carry her heavy bags. I told her that we would be like sons to her and carry her bags. I also filled out her customs form since she did not read or write. God placed us exactly where He needed us in order to help this intrepid little traveler who prayed fervently before we landed.

Team on Arrival

Once we walked out of the air-conditioned terminal, El Salvador greeted us with its usual hot and humid embrace. It only took minutes for each of us to break into a sweat as we tossed our gear onto the top of the van. After a quick lunch at Pollo Campero we headed out of town on the Ruta de las Flores or Route of Flowers, a 22-mile scenic highway through the heart of El Salvador’s coffee country.

El Faro del Pacifico

One of the familiar sights along this beautiful route is the famous Volcan de Izalco, one of El Salvador’s most visually dramatic and youngest volcanoes. Izalco formed in 1770 and erupted almost continually until 1966. The eruptions were so violent that they could be seen by sailors at sea, hence earning the volcano the nickname “El Faro del Pacifico” or “The Lighthouse of the Pacific.”
Bike Machete

Because I have traveled to El Salvador so many times before, it’s easy to allow the familiarity of sights like El Faro del Pacifico to lull me into a state of been there, done that, seen that. The challenge for me is to look beyond the familiar to notice things I have not previously seen — sort of like seeing a movie for the second or third time and hearing or noticing things I had previously missed. For example, when we stopped for fuel today, I noticed a machete wedged into the frame of a bike that had seen better days. Everyone in these parts carries a machete — the multi-tool of rural folk. Little things like this are a clue to what life is like here, clues that are easy to miss or dismiss.

So, this week I want to intentionally look beyond the familiar to see El Salvador again for the first time. We are all anxious to begin our work at Valle Nuevo, a village located more than a hour’s drive away near the Guatemalan border. We will drill a water well at the local school there where the kids of farmers and laborers attend. Our prayer is that the gift of clean water will improve the lives of the people and that sharing the Living Water will quench an even deeper thirst. We can’t wait to get started.