Remembering The View From Here

I have a blog because my brain stopped cooperating with me sometime in college: a possible side-effect of one too many late night Route 44 cherry vanilla Dr.Peppers from Sonic study enhancers. For instance, I remember a younger (less gray) skeptical me taking a trip to see the ministry of Compassion International for myself and coming home a different person. But, thanks to my blog and its handy dandy search function, I know that trip was in August of 2005.

I need my blog’s help to remember the date and a few minor details from that trip. But there’s plenty about El Salvador I’ve never shaken from my memory. I remember the houses made of corrugated metal. I remember a woman asking if I wanted her to kill her only chicken to make me lunch. I remember staring out a bus window for miles wondering angrily Why didn’t I know all this existed before now?

Now, four years later, I’m leading a Compassion International trip. For the third time. I’m finally getting the hang of it: specifically, when to explain and teach and when to just shut up and let everyone else experience the third world for themselves. Without interruption or interpretation.

I did a lot of shutting up today.

Compassion Bloggers on bus in San Salvador

I stared out a bus window and remembered what it was like to see El Salvador for the first time. Beautiful green grass – possibly stolen from Ireland – outlined by rusting homes and coffee plantations.
Shaun Groves looking out bus window in San Salvador El Salvador

I listened to bloggers gasp in the seats behind me at the damage left in hurricane Ida’s wake two days ago and wonder out loud what it would be like to lose everything so easily.

I took it all in. Ancient trees uprooted. Rivers brimming. Mud sliding on pavement.

The Compassion International office in San Salvador. New and much expanded over the last four years. A sign of growth – now serving the physical and spiritual needs of 35,000 kids – with room for more.

Stacks of letters from sponsors and the same lecture I heard years ago about how important letters are to children.

I looked around the bus today at one point and felt simultaneously sorry and thrilled for the bloggers staring out windows taking pictures.

There is so much they will never forget about this place.

And if they do, there’s always that handy dandy search function.