My 2012 trip to El Salvador was at the very last possible hour, on Dec. 31 – I was picked up on schedule and dropped off at my lodging at 10:30 PM. The custom there is to shoot off fire-crackers and bottle rockets for both Christmas and New Years.  I later joked with the people about how my arrival was celebrated; except that it didn’t let me sleep til 2AM !

The two full weeks were a little less packed than other years, but I did manage to see lots of people and have some good conversations.  The first meeting however with the Directiva Nacional about the Word and Deed Project I didn’t handle very well.  They had not invited Alba, the Project overseer; the upshot was that a second meeting just with the two pastors and her had to be scheduled during the week – that went much better.  Reports were shared, and clarifications were made about expectations and planning. 
I look for 2013 to be a better year.  

Questions come to me about the churches.  Santa Tecla is happy with three new attendees, one of whom if he can be retained is an exceptionally gifted person.  In Huizucar the father of a large new member family came and introduced himself; later I saw him as a new face on the local Directiva, which is a positive development.  Now I await the presentation of the new plans for the Projects.  It is not easy to keep the balance between Word and Deed in a programmatic fashion.  And the truth is that the culture there is more spontaneous than we North Americans are accustomed to.  Ever heard the expression: “you make your path as you go?!”  That is OK in the jungle, but not for Christians who have been trained that things must be done “decently and in order” in the church and kingdom!

Another dimension of my visits is to encourage the meeting and collaboration of about a dozen leaders that self-identify as “reformed.”  A large part of the discussion at a Saturday morning meeting was about training/education options.  I had invited the Salvadorean representative of MINTS  – the Miami International Theological Seminary. They offer modules of education from a decidedly Reformed perspective; interesting in that this is a growing institution that has developed over the last two decades from the efforts of a former CRC missionary who is aligned with conservative churches in both North and Central America.  In the next meeting after my visit it was communicated that the group will now be receiving training from MINTS on a monthly basis. “Lord only knows” what may develop out of this relationship; please pray.

For those of you who like details, two weeks ago I received from one of the key leaders (of the National Christian Reformed Church; one congregation, one new Bible Study group) a 35 page summary/survey of classical reformed doctrine.  He is sharing that with the group at the meetings. Another thing I did was use some of the Project money for purchase of reformed books from the CRCNA publisher in Grand Rapids, Libros Desafio, for distribution to each of the participants.  I’ve already gotten several thank you notes; good literature is both expensive and much appreciated.  
Another conversation I had was with the president of the Evangelical Alliance, who also coordinates an initiative forming a group to help develop civic awareness in Christians. Next year presidential elections will again be held; he asked for any material that would be helpful in educating to that end. So I await developments in El Salvador, and the interest that the churches and those leaders show in the accom-paniment I might have for the projects and encouragement of any collaborative initiatives.

So this leaves me praying about “where to” in 2013? 

PS  I’ll be happy to see comments or questions on the comment page.