One of the things that stands out for me about my trip to El Salvador in 2018 was worshiping in the Cristo Rey (Christ the King) Lutheran Church. I had gone on the mission trip in 2014 – the year that we helped to build the church. I must say that I decided to go on that trip because I truly felt called due to Cristo Rey. I was inspired to help build a church that had been destroyed in an earthquake so many years before so that our brothers and sisters in faith in Santa Ana would have a place to worship as well as use for a safe and loving place for the community.
The day after we arrived in 2014, we attended worship with these brothers and sisters, and I admit that I wept throughout most of the service. I thought Pastor Carlos must be wondering about me and my emotional state! But I knew that I was in the place that God wanted me to be at that time. That was a difficult and wonderful week! The work that we were to do included some of the hardest physical labor that I had ever done. It was also some of the most important physical labor that I had ever done. We were preparing the ground upon which the floor of the church would be placed. We needed to get it right!
During the week, I was able to build relationships with other workers, some from our Good Shepherd group, some from another Habitat group, and some with local people from El Salvador. By going on that trip, I was able to see and experience so much first hand. I saw the commitment of the local workers. I saw the poverty of so many. I saw the beauty in God’s creation. I saw the dedication of the local Habitat employees. I had heard of all of this from groups who had gone before me, but like so many other things in life, there is nothing that can compare to experiencing these things personally.
The original baptismal font in the old church.
Now, fast forward to the day after we arrived in El Salvador in 2018. We are going to attend worship at Cristo Rey Church! I was so excited! As soon as I got off of the shuttle bus and walked toward the church, my eyes again welled up with tears. So many memories came back to me as I walked around the grounds and inside the beautiful building. I had heard stories of those who had been able to visit the completed church, and I had seen photos of the building, but nothing could compare to seeing it in person and worshiping there with the beautiful members of the church.
The old church building, used because the original church had been destroyed by an earthquake.
The old church. We worshiped here in 2014.
I thought about Pastor Wilma seeing me wipe my eyes throughout the service and wondered if she (like her husband before) was curious about my tears. It is so hard for me to describe and explain. I simply felt so blessed to be a small part of something like this. So many hands worked so hard together, most of whom I will never meet in this lifetime. The Spirit was truly at work in the hearts of these people. I am very thankful for this opportunity and the experience to return to this beautiful place, and to see some of the inspiring people that I had met before.
The old baptismal font in the new church.
Laurie next to the dedication plaque from January 2015.
The liturgical altar linens were donated by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to Pastor Carlos.
Notice the familiar Good Shepherd on the center altar linen.