we gather from near and far
to hear our sisters and brothers,
from caserios and cities,
expressing in spanish and english.
yet a common voice speaks out above all.
hope, faith, peace, and perseverance
resonates and flows through all our souls.
we all feel. we all know. we all join together,
to pray and to love.
-Barbara Nicholson

Throughout the day we have had many moments of God’s grace. I specifically noticed 3 connections where the immense presence of grace spoke out to me. The first was at the morning mass. Towards the middle of the service, the priest called the children up (now, this whole sermon was in Spanish. We sat towards the back and we were only going off of my high school Spanish that was retained, and a muffled PA system) he said, “Come up and share what you thank our Holy God for today.” We saw the little heads bobble up and the little voices speak out, “la paz (peace), mi familia (my family), buen salud (good health), etc.” This amazing community, stricken with deep poverty still glistens with hope and positivity.

The second wink of God’s grace was back at our pastoral house. Jesús and Balmore (farmers from El Salvador) joined with us at our table. They spoke about how the climate has been impacting their farms. When approaching the topic of blame, Jesús proclaimed that Adam and Eve resorted to blame the snake. Comparing it to situations back in the USA, people do not feel responsible, they too also resort to blaming others. When explaining their situation here, they stated that no one is to blame. It is an issue we need to work through together. That gave me a new feeling, I felt not guilt. I only felt hope, hope to fix and hope to prosper. I felt their grace.

Our final event of the day consisted of visiting our brothers and sisters door to door in the Caserio of Cerna. One of the last homes we stopped at impacted some of us a wee bit differently. José Fernando Guardado Rivera, a 59 year old man who lives alone. When Oscar was translating our last words and as he described our prayers and our love for our community down here, José teared up. We at Heartland feel as if this is our “Heartland South”. Through our interactions we help our brothers and sisters with not just the food and resources we provide, but with the strong and passionate connection. Though directly speaking is hard, the grace and hope God gives us in this relationship speaks volumes.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” -Hebrews 10:23-24