This is Veronica with the Oasis Mission Team from Michigan. We began this trip last Saturday and we still have a couple more days to go. This is pretty much my first time going international since I was six and honestly, it all still seems a bit surreal.
The people here are beyond welcoming. To the average American who is used to the hustle and bustle of the city life, El Salvador is slow and steady, taking ten times as expected to do business. At first, I was a bit impatient. To me, people were asking too many personal questions for my liking and the service never came soon enough. I was (and still am) struggling with the language barrier, having never taken Spanish in high school. In time, I learned to accept these questions as a way of appreciation. The Salvadoreans take the effort to thoroughly get to know someone (even a gringo who didn´t understand a word they were saying).
I stayed with Ghershon´s (pardon my name botching) family for the first couple of days. I was experiencing a slight bit of culture shock in the beginning and didn´t talk as much since Spanish was still too foreign to me. However, laughter is shared in every country. We, the Salvadoreans and Chinos alike, both recognize the same humor. I awoke to the sound of laughter, ringing throughout the apartment. The love in that small, foreign room was apparent. In a way, I envied that connection. I expected to find a place that was broken and bitter, haunted by its traumatic past. Instead, there was so much passion, so much devotion in poverty that my home in America seemed unreal. I was whole heartedly embraced by love and gradually, I began to respond to it.
The laughter was familar. The respect was familiar. Most importantly, the love was familiar. I prepared myself for a land entirely different, but I was pleasantly proven wrong in so many aspects. I´ve realized that Salvadoreans have stopped being the people. They are now my people.