Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Friday morning was a parents' meeting at the school. From what I can gather it's a monthly meeting where the parents come and the teacher meets with the parents of their class as a group and lets them know what's going on and can answer any questions. When it was time for the meeting to begin, Lilian and Norma stood at the gate to the school/church with a list of the students and their parents' names. As a parent would arrive, they were to sign their name on the list to indicate their presence. I looked at the list and thought you might like to look at it as well. You'll notice that some of the parents have a beautiful and fluid signature, some of them "sign" by putting their initials, and some of them used a fingerprint instead of signing. Norma explained to me that those who use a fingerprint are those who cannot write. Those using intials have a limited writing ability. (I blurred the written names intentionally.)

I know that illiteracy is a problem here. More than once on flights to and from El Salvador I have filled out customs/immigrations forms for the person sitting next to me because they could not write. Most figures that I've seen show that the illiteracy rate among adults in El Salvador is around the 20% mark. However, as I looked through the folder for the parents' meeting and saw page after page with thumbprints instead of signatures, it still shocked me and I hurt for them. These are mothers who cannot enjoy reading a sweet love note that their child makes for them or be able to write a note of encouragement to their child and stick in in their backpack for them to find the next day. These parents cannot correspond with their child's teacher through notes. These same parents, though, are making sure their own children will not miss out on these things.

As I looked over the thumbprints on the page, I recognized several of the moms from church among them. And several of them are the same moms that I see walking to and from school every day to escort their children to and from school. They know that school is important and they are willing to expend time and physical effort to get them there.

As a parent, I'm always impressed at the dedication of the parents and students in getting to school. Most of the kids at the schools here in La Palma walk to school. Some have to ride a public bus into town which means paying about 35 cents each way and then walking the remainder of the way to school. In the past years, my own children have ridden school buses that picked them up at the front door, or some years walked a few short blocks to and from school, or were driven to and from school. The years when they walked to school, when it was raining (or snowing/icy) I picked them up from school. The students here don't have that option. If it's sunny they walk, and if it's rainy they walk. Here's a picture I took about a week ago of a group of the kids in the afternoon classes arriving in the pouring rain. Some had umbrellas and some did not.

Education is important and the parents of these students know it. For this reason, even in the pouring rain, they walk to school.

(Sidenote: There are, however, some families who cannot afford all or part of the money that it takes to send their child to school here. One of the programs that the church has in place is a sponsor program where you can help offset these costs. If you want to know more about this program, you can email Ralph McClurg at rmcclurg @ mo-net . com and he can get you the information you need.)

As important as school education is, though, I know that the spiritual education of the children here is even more critical and is a big part of the focus of Monte and myself. Our Sunday afternoon classes for the youth are growing and the kids seem excited about them. But this Sunday is when Ruth and I start teaching Sunday School classes here as well. Here's one of the little guys I hope to have in class. This is Kevin and he's got such a darling smile and loves to peek around corners and pews at me and give me a huge smile and twinkle those gorgeous eyes at me. :) His mom is not a Christian but comes to church regularly. I am working with Jose to set up a time to study the Bible with her.

Please be in prayer for the ongoing efforts here in La Palma as well as the new ones that are beginning. Great things are happening here and we're excited that God is allowing us to be a part of them.


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