Good evening from the pastoral house. I'm going to start by introducing myself, because most of you won't know me. My name is Leslie and I attend First Presbyterian in Des Moines. I'm here because Betty told the story of her first trip to El Salvador and it inspired me to attend. Now to the details of today's events!
It's been a very, very long day that started with at 5:30 a.m. (It's around 10:30 p.m. that I'm composing this so I apologize if there's some odd grammar or words). Some of us handled that better than others (which is of course to be expected). Now when I'm home in Iowa, I like to shower in the morning and decided to continue with that big difference is, here "showering" is a bit of an exaggeration. It's most likely going to be cold, and if your not lucky enough to have the water tank on , it's a bucket shower.
Now after that cold shock to the system, and breakfast that included a slightly sweet (but delicious) bread called pan dulcé we were loaded onto the bus with Blanca and Cecilia and our amazing driver Alfredo were were off to visit some historical sites. We made a quick stop to pickup our translator Samuel and we were off to El Mozote.
It took us a little over 2 hours to get to El Mozote but once there, a feeling of sadness and realization as well as a little awe came over me. The site of that horrible massacre, that took place on December 11, 1981 has been turned into the most beautiful memorial site. Our tour guide, Trinity, shared with us what happened on that horrible day. She told us about the only survivor Rufina, and how no one believed her story of what happened. She showed us the chapel where children were murdered for no other reason than "they would become future gorilla soldiers". The chapel was closed off from us, however we were able to walk around the side of the property to look at an amazing memorial mural that covers the side of the building to honor the children that were taken too soon, their names are listed at the bottom. The main memorial is surrounded by a fence that has figurines of a father and mother, son and daughter repeated over and over again to represent the hundreds of families that were slaughtered. They want to share the story, to bring awareness, because they never want to forget so that it can never happen again.
Just a little ways up the mountain we went to the memorial for peace keepers and a little gazebo where Blanca shared a moment of reflection and prayer with us. The views from this memorial were breathtaking.
Perquin was our next and last stop for the day. We visited the golilla encampment museum and their version of living history farms. It again was an eye opening experience. This all happened before I was born, but the peace accords were not signed until 1992 when I was a small child. I grew up after all this happened and this was the first time I had learned any of this.