Friday, May 22, 2009

Here again, gone again

Today was well-packed.

It began with trips to the Archdiocese and the lawyer to get some of my immigration papers updated and corrected. My lawyer's 96-year-old mother is in the final stages of her life, and Dra. Ramirez told me about calling a couple of parishes for a priest who would come to give her communion and the annointing of the sick. Her local parish said someone would be over, but no one came. Finally she called the Archdiocese, and a few hours later someone appeared. That someone was Monseñor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxilary Bishop of San Salvador. Rosa Chavez scarcely shows up on the Internet, but he is well known and well loved in El Salvador as a champion of peace and justice, a spokesman for the needs of the people. He makes house calls, too, it seems, and that is no surprise. Here is a churchman who lives his calling as the hands and feet of Christ.

Buoyed by that story, and with my corrected papers, I went off to the Ministry of Immigration, where I was approved for temporary residency in record time, photographed, thumb-printed, and sealed. I wish it could ever be this simple for immigrants to my country.

Then I collected Grace and we went dashing off to Suchitoto - my first taste of the kind of quick trip that's going to be part of my normal week. We hadn't set aside enough reading glasses at the higher resolutions, 3.0 and higher, for our cataract patients, and had to seek out the rest in the tub that - of course - had been sent to Suchi. They were, they always are, in the bottom box in the back of the stack of boxes, but we retrieved them, unloaded a bookcase, ate cheese sandwiches, and went dashing back to Santa Tecla and Dra. de Burgos' clinic.

For me there was some sadness in this last meeting with our eye surgery patients, but joy in hearing how well most are doing, how much they are enjoying their new vision. Yesterday one of the older men came out of his consult with Dra. de Burgos, put on his new reading glasses (3.0), pulled out a Bible in very small type, and happily began reading. Some of the women are looking forward to sewing again. A few patients will need follow-up laser surgery with Dra. de Burgos, so I will see them again.

Grace enjoyed meeting the eye surgery patients - here she is with one woman from Comasagua - and collected her share of hugs and thanks. In mid-afternoon, Dra. Daysi Ramirez, whose office is right next door to Dra. de Burgos', suggested we end the day with pupusas, the Salvadoran stuffed tortilla, so we hastened off, following Daysi's car (following anyone in Salvador traffic at rush hour is somewhere between a huge challenge and folly) and arrived live at Margoth's pupuseria where we ate too much and talked in a few languages and had a great time.

Grace goes home tomorrow, and how I will miss her! She's been a huge help, and a lot of fun, turning the dreaded chore of moving into a lighthearted exercise. Thank you seems insufficient, but THANK YOU, Grace!

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