Thursday, November 29, 2012


Members of our mission teams often ask Kathy and me what we do when we're not in the middle of one of our mission weeks.  I've always found that a hard question to answer because there are so many different parts to the work, but I know that I always seem to have more work than time, and I know the same is true for Kathy (and will likely be true for Darren next year). 

This week it would be easy to answer the question, because this week I've been focused on getting ready for our February mission.  On Tuesday Darren and I (and my cousin Margaret) went out to Estanzuelas to meet with Marvin, our Estanzuelas coordinator, and the cooks who will be making lunch for the mission team and our local volunteers in February.  My job was to explain to Sonia, the group leader, and to the other women the precautions they'd need to take to make sure that all the gringos stay healthy.  We asked them to use bottled or filtered water to wash fruits and vegetables, to wash hands and knives and pots carefully, to avoid some foods that are hard to keep free of bacteria, like lettuce and strawberries (a suspected culprit for several illnesses last year).  We figured out the menus for each day - typical Salvadoran foods - and agreed on a price, $4 per plate per day, that will allow them to include plenty of fruits with each lunch.  We talked about being sure to include enough non-meat items so our vegetarians won't starve.  We said how much our team members enjoy Salvadoran food and how much we'll all look forward to great lunches.

Then we drove over to Alegria, had a great lunch with Marvin at a restaurant with a stunning view over the valley below, and went through the same discussion with Mélida and Berto who are going to organize breakfasts and suppers for us at the retreat house.  Padre Juan José was, as always, a very gracious host - here he is, from Margaret's iPhone photo:
Tomorrow I head for Estanzuelas again, this time to brief our local volunteers and the health promoters who will be in charge of inviting participants to come to our clinics.  In between, I got briefing papers ready (in Spanish, with help from Maria del Carmen) and copied the invitations that the local volunteers will give to our patients and wrote to Dr. Melendez, our helpful contact with the Ministry of Health and even caught up on e-mail.  A few very satisfying days - it always feels good to have the preparations well in hand before everything shuts down in mid-December. 

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