The house creaks lightly as the cool breeze licks columns of volcanic dust up into the air. A mangy chicken, it’s wing feathers long since shredded by the advances of the yard rooster jerks and clucks between our legs and picks at the loose end of my shoelace. Beyond the thin plywood wall two lean dogs lay sunning themselves in a dappled dust bed, their soft whiffling breaths churning small rivulets in the talc earth.
In this small, neatly kept hut lives Jesus, a native to El Salvador’s Volcan region. Its two bedrooms house her three children, three month old son and husband. She tumbles from her door, hair wet and clothes neatly pressed for our visit with little Alexander perched precariously on a hip. The dogs apathetically drag their limbs from the path and regard us with a passing curiosity. We take our seats in a small anteroom formed from plywood, clear plastic sheeting and a corrugated tin roof. The only light filters lazily through the plastic window falling silently on the thin layer of dust on the dirt floor. Our visit is twofold, to provide a small gift of a few bags of beans, rice and sugar; and to provide encouragement to a recent attender at the local worship service.
Through our translator we learn that Jesus and her husband Juan Carlos had recently begun attending the El Volcan campus of the Iglesia Gran Commission (Church of the Great Commission). She chats easily about their decision to begin attending a Protestant church, citing their many support activities provided for her other children. The conversation is familiar, despite a vast culture gap and a shocking level of poverty we talk about many similar concerns. She asks for prayers of patience with her children, that her husband would continue to find regular work, that her children stay in school and follow her into the faith. One of nine siblings, she laughs wryly when asked if she wanted any more children and said Alexander would be the final one. When I ask for permission to make a few photographs she smiles demurely and nods, fussily tucking the baby’s clothes into place and holding him up for his close up.
Soon the conversation winds down, a one eyed dog slinks between our feet and we close our meeting with a prayer. In her prayer over us she thanks us and the work we are doing for the nearby church. The IGC’s after school program provides her three children with tutoring, medical care and a free healthy meal a day thanks to the generous donations of sponsors in the United States. Next year, the community center will open a dental clinic, and computer education center in order to teach children competitive workplace skills. If you feel moved to donate any sum, please visit the IGC’s website linked here.