By Trent Rash
“I want to create the peace of the future. I want to sing my song. I want to have a million friends and stronger will I be able to sing.” These lyrics are taken from the song “Un millon de amigos” by Roberto Carlos and is the song that has been performed for every delegation from our parish that has gone to visit our sister parish in El Salvador over the past five years. It is comforting to know that both the people of our parish and the people of the parish of La Libertad long for a future of peace that is long overdue in El Salvador.
I was honored to be able to travel to El Salvador with a student delegation in the spring of 2016. It was a vulnerable time for as I had just lost my father right after Christmas at the end of the year before. Honestly, I was not sure that I had the strength to make the trip. But I trusted that God would provide as He always so graciously has in my life.
What can I say about my experience? Words cannot give due justice. I met a people who had been through so much and yet still loved so deeply and so fiercely. I met a people who had lost loved ones and could easily have given up, yet resolved to create organizations to help move those left behind forward and create a better future for all. I met a people who were more than gracious hosts and loved the opportunity to share about their country, a country they still took pride in even though it had been through very dark times.
We have had the distinct honor the past few days to host two individuals who many of us have met during our travels to El Salvador, Zulma Hernandez and Claudia Martinez. Zulma works for Cripdes Sur, a regional branch of CRIPDES, a nationally and internally recognized grassroots organization that works in over 300 rural communities in El Salvador to promote increased access to development, basic services, employment, and improved living conditions for inhabitants of these communities. Claudia works for SHARE, an organization that strengthens solidarity between the people of El Salvador and the people of the United States in their struggle for economic sustainability, justice, and human and civil rights. Please consider speaking to these two wonderful women in the Gathering Space after Mass.
Did God provide for me on my trip to El Salvador? He most certainly did. He showed me that even through darkness and pain can emerge beauty and love. He showed me that hope never leaves us and we must never abandon it because through it we can build something new. “Behold, I make all things new.” I pray that the people of our sister parish arise from the ashes of their troubled past through their commitment to loving each other more deeply and serving each other more fully. And may we do the same for them from afar, truly creating a greater community of one million friends, longing for a future of peace for all.