Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Youth Connection- ERD-IAES at Cielo Mar

What do you get when you combine five days at the beach, ten youth from El Salvador and ten from the US, good food, a renovation project, daily prayer, a bonfire, a whistle, a pool, and a soccer ball? Episcopal Youth Connection or Enlace de Jovenes Episcopales was a joint venture between Episcopal Relief and Development and the Episcopal/Anglican Church of El Salvador that endeavored to find out! We spent five days working on renovating (scraping and painting, moving sand, rocks, and cinderblocks, pick-axing and laying cement, etc!) Cielo Mar, the beautiful but severely run-down diocesan retreat center near La Libertad, El Salvador. Cielo Mar provides churches and members of the Anglican/Episcopal Church in El Salvador with a much-needed spot for relaxation and reflection in the midst of their difficult lives and challenging ministries. For Vince and I and ten late teen to early twenties youth and young adults from around the Diocese of El Salvador, Cielo Mar became our home for these five days. We so enjoyed getting to know these remarkable young people better-- they all receive scholarships through the Diocese to study at universities, and they have an incredible vision for this church and for their country. Their lives have all been affected by the civil war that was their childhood, and their families struggle economically today. One bright young man who currently works at a maquiladora (internationally-owned clothing factory) putting stickers on clothes hopes to begin a business raising partridges to sell to five-star restaurants! When I asked about their dreams, I got answers like, "I want to start an orphanage," "I want to build houses for people in the countryside," "I want to help my family to a better situation," and "I want to see the church grow." The group from the US travelled back and forth every day to San Salvador, but during the daytime "connection" definitely happened, through work teams, mixer games, hammock time, bilingual evening worship, and soccer on the beach. We sweated together, ate together, prayed and sang together, and creamed each other at "water soccer." Enlace de Jóvenes Episcopales was a success! +Amy
Members of the Episcopal Church USA and The Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador

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