This long and informative blog post somehow got deleted, probably by me... So I am trying to recreate what I vaguely remember saying a couple of weeks ago.
It's about Darren Streff, the Maryknoll Lay Missioner who has appeared in a few of my posts. Darren began his Maryknoll mission in El Salvador with three months of Spanish study at the CIS, and while he was there - by beautiful serendipity, or as I prefer to think by grace of the Holy Spirit - he learned about our El Salvador Health Mission from Marilyn. Marilyn, who was also studying at the CIS, met me when she was visiting in Suchitoto. She's an adventurous Canadian, traveling on her own at the age of 80 (a great role model!), and we had connected over lunch at my favorite Suchi restaurant. I had given Marilyn my e-mail address which she passed on to Darren.
He e-mailed to say that our mission sounded exactly like the kind of work he wanted to do in El Salvador, and could we get together? We connected when all the Maryknoll Lay Missioners were making a retreat at the Centro Arte para la Paz, and began to talk. Kathy Garcia and I invited Darren to come to a day of our eye surgery mission in April, and he loved every minute. We could see how good he was with the patients and how much he enjoyed working with them, and we learned as we continued to work together that he's also reliable, creative, energetic and super-organized. Here's a photo of Darren from that day.
Darren's background, with years of professional work in health care planning, administration and advocacy, was a great fit with PeaceHealth, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and the El Salvador Health Mission. Kathy and I had been talking about a succession plan, as my asthma has been slowing me down and making me realize that it's about time for a quieter life. We saw a few possibilities, but once Darren showed up, we knew that he would be a ideal person to be our new in-country coordinator.
Happily, PeaceHealth Board President Sister Andrea Nenzel and PeaceHealth CEO and Chief Mission Officer Alan Yordy agreed that Darren will be a great person to carry on the mission that Sister Eleanor Gilmore began 12 years ago. We were able to introduce Darren to PeaceHealth and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in October and November, in a rapid series of meetings that we all enjoyed. Darren will be working with me until May, and then will get to take over the car and the bank account and the family support and scholarship programs and the many, many tubs of stored mission materials (his San Salvador house will be bulging!). I'll continue to be involved with the mission in many ways - helping with fund development, updating the website, and - most important of all - participating in all our missions.
It's a very happy development, and I'm grateful for Darren, one of the better gifts of the Holy Spirit. May his work with the El Salvador Health Mission be full of joy and peace.