Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Few Days of Rest away from HOME

Family and Friends,
As Christmas draws near, as Santo Tomas celebrates it's FEAST of St. Thomas Apostle, I have wandered to the neighboring country of El Salvador to be with a friend for a few days. El Salvador is four hours by bus and it was a very comfortable enjoyable trip. I was met my Susan Dewitt, CSJP and we drove out to the beautiful small colonial rural town, Suchitoto, where she is a Missionary. I have been an Associate of the CSJP, Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, for seven years so this journey was an important time of sharing and praying together for both our ministries, in this time of ADVENT. Guatemala and El Salvador are both experiencing times of increased violence and poverty.

Yesterday was sad for me. I had visited Manuela, who was being treated for Leukemia in the Children's Cancer Hospital on Thursday. She had lost her hair from the chemo and was receiving intravenous nutrition. She had some complications from the treatment, which is expected, but she appeared stable. She had several toys in her bed as SANTA had been through. Her dad was sitting attentively at her bedside. She was asleep but woke to our presence. I had told her in her QUICHE language, not to be sad, and she responded, "I am not". Myself and the clinic worker departed and I told her dad I would return to visit them on December 22nd. Yesterday I received an urgent call from her doctor that she was in Intensive Care on LIFE SUPPORT. Her platelets had dropped and she had an internal bleed. She died that same day. I was able to contact clinic workers to be there for the family when her body was brought back that same night to her village. This Hospital provides excellent support and high quality care and they covered all expense for her being brought home to her family. I understand the community supported and waited with the mother and other children until 3 AM when the body arrived. She will be buried tomorrow. She is an ANGEL in heaven today and at peace. This has been a very difficult time for me for acutely ill children. Christmas is a TIME OF GIVING and a blessing for those who accompany us in our work with the POOR. THANK YOU!

Today Susan and I traveled to the Cathedral in San Salvador, and to mass at the crypt of Archbishop Oscar Romero. On March 24th, it will be thirty years since his martyrdom and he is considered a SAINT already for the people of EL Salvador and Central America.

The news speaks of snow and blizzards at home, here there is drizzling rain and the lights coming and going. All over the world we are waiting for the celebration of CHRISTMAS! My love and Christmas greeting to all my friends and family from EL Salvador.