By: Julie Watson
I have had the privilege this summer of staying 7 weeks in El Salvador which I have noticed it is not nearly enough time to manifest change for the people of Latin America. I've come to recognize that it will take a lifelong commitment of pursuing relationships and investing in human beings before the product of our work may truly be recognizable. The past 7 weeks have allowed time to begin to make and build relationships, learn the culture, observe the economy, practice and develop the ability to speak Spanish, and become familiar with the area of Ilopango.
One aspect of my time in El Salvador that has really impacted me has been the relationship I've began to develop with our neighbor, Delmi. Delmi's husband died a few years ago from diabetes leaving her to care for her two children on her own. Every morning she goes to a nearby mercado to purchase food for customers and then cooks the remainder of the day behind a hot grill in her garage that she has turned into a small restaurant. Within my time here, I have been able to help her prepare a few meals, learn a few of her cooking techniques, and go to the mercado with her.
Studying Spanish over the past few years has allowed me to participate in this opportunity to befriend our neighbor, however, limitations of language still have not allowed me to fully engage and learn as much as I have hoped. At the end of 7 weeks I am just beginning to feel comfortable pursuing deeper relationships with people like Delmi, but I will not be able to do so as my family is scheduled to return to the United States soon.
Ultimately, my experience in El Salvador has stressed for me how valuable the ability to speak the Spanish language is and that it will take a lifetime commitment to bring about the difference I hope to see made in the world. I would love to be able to invest more time with our neighbor and others who the Lord has placed on my heart, but the reality of that happening this trip is nonexistent. I can, however, utilize the lessons I've learned to continue my studies in language and the Word so that when my family moves to El Salvador I will be able to take my relationships with people to a deeper level - to a point that they will be able to know the love that God has for them.