Wednesday, September 4, 2013

English District Convention in San Salvador, El Salvador - 2013

Where do I even start to describe what an amazing experience this was? I guess the best way is to start from the beginning.....

A few months ago it was decided that the Pearl Lagoon Congregation would travel to the convention with the León English Congregation on a rented bus. That meant that the brothers and sisters from Pearl Lagoon had to leave town on Monday on the 5:30 a.m. bus. They spent the night in El Rama and then continued on to León the next day arriving about 5:00 p.m. Pat and I met them at the bus terminal and we all hopped into taxi's to Guadalupe Park. We took them to Guadalupe Park because that is where we were to meet the bus the next morning. We walked the short distance to their accommodations for the night and once they were settled in Pat and I returned to Michelle and Miguel's for a delicious dinner of Spaghetti Carbonara.

We were up the next morning by 4:30 and jumped in Miguel's car for the trip to meet the bus. Hummm - change of plans. Instead of meeting us at Guadalupe Park we had to trek up to the cemetery and meet the bus there. In short order everyone was accounted for and we were on the way by 6:30 a.m. Next stop the border with Honduras.

group at Cebollinas Restaurant
Both the border with Honduras and El Salvador were a breeze - no problems what so ever! Yay! That put us into San Salvador by just after 5:15 p.m. - almost a full hour early. Since we were there earlier than expected the Rooming Department wasn't there to meet us - but no fear, within minutes there was a Welcoming Committee with sandwiches and water to refresh us from the journey. We were all quickly introduced to our host families and whisked away by our accommodations. Pat, me and two other members of our congregation were hosted together with Maritza Asencion and her mother. Sister Asencion (senior) is a ball of fire and still applies for the pioneer route. She loves it even though it is physically challenging for her with a lot of walking. Unfortunately, for us and her she got quite sick with asthma while we were there and spent a night in hospital which resulted in us not being able to get to know her very much - perhaps next year.

yard of steak


On Wednesday evening, after we arrived, we were invited out to a Mexican restaurant called Cebollinas for a delish meal. We haven't seen that much meat in ages! They served the steak on a long plank with different sauces and vegetables. We enjoyed chatting and getting to know our host family and their extended family from the US. 

What a feast!




Chicken and pork at Cebollinas Restaurant


We made plans with Sister Asencion to spend a short time in the ministry the next morning. However, those plans had to change when we got up in the morning and found out that she was feeling quite sick. This was very distressing for her because they had arranged to have a couple that was arriving from Granada to come for lunch - she was obviously not well enough to prepare the meal. So, we all chipped in and under her supervision prepared a nice lunch for Lewis and Dana. It was at this time though that I started to feel really sick to my stomach - Pat did too! We must have picked up some type of bug either in León or on the trip to El Salvador. Rather than visit our hosting congregation we spent the night at home and went to bed early.

The next morning we were up early to get ready for the assembly. The arrangement was that we were picked up after breakfast and taken to the local Kingdom Hall where we met with the Spanish brothers that were also enjoying hospitality with the congregation (both English and Spanish conventions were on the same weekend). Once everyone had arrived we were taken by bus to the convention site. Pat and I were still feeling rather bad and so there are no pictures from the first day of the assembly. You will be happy to note though that as the day progressed we revived and were feeling pretty good by the end of the program - just in time for dinner! Tonight we were taken to a restaurant that was owned by a local brother and sister and treated to what El Salvador is famous for - PUPUSAS!

(On an unhappy note - we were not able to meet up with our good friends, Peter and Monica Stroud. They were denied entry into El Salvador due to some paperwork issues. We were looking forward to seeing them again but will have to wait until another time. It was a big disappointment for them to - partly because they had been preparing a part on Friday's program for months and were unable to give it.)

Every morning of the convention we would wake up and find out that Maritza had prepared a delicious lunch for us - no sandwiches for us! Here is an example:

Chicken with a delicious onion sauce, rice and salad

All washed down with a delicious, natural fruit drink - in a bag! I had to be very careful that I didn't spill it all over myself..... I guess I have learned the technique since nothing spilled!

Fruit drink with pieces of fruit in it
 Saturday night for dinner we were taken up one of the mountains surrounding San Salvador to a small village with a mirador overlooking the city. There were many small restaurants that cater to the hungry, pupusa loving crowd. After stuffing ourselves - with what else but pupusas - we headed for a look at the city lights of San Salvador.

View of San Salvador at night
The group at the Mirador

Of course, the main reason we were in San Salvador was for the spiritual food - and what a feast that was! We found that it was a very emotional convention for us - the information provided was just what we needed - and the new releases are a real blessing!

Here are some pictures from the convention site:

Sergio, Fanny and Miguel


Yadira and her sisters


 It's funny who you run into down here in Central America!
Mike and Cassandra Koschuk from Ontario (we knew them when they were kids and before they were married)
 

Mariela






Hazel, Fanny, Mariela, Thalia (León Congregation)

Yaya, Debby and Kathy (Pearl Lagoon Congregation)

Calli, Skye, Debbie and Pat

Debby putting her hair braiding skills to work

Jean helping to prepare lunch


Pat, Maritza and Kathy enjoying a crepe

 Even though we were all tired come the return trip on Monday..... some of us were able to catch a few zzzz's


Thalia

We were one happy bunch



I think the smiles tell it all.....

Mariela, Fanny and Sergio