El Salvador Mission Notes – March 2012

Details on this year’s upcoming mission are below.  Full planning has begun and there’s already 14 participants, but room for more!  Please check out the information and let me know any questions you have!

Meeting Notes:  El Salvador Mission 2012
Mission Synopsis
The El Salvador mission is a building mission.  The goal is not only to provide a family with a safe home, but also to build relationships with the Methodist Church of El Salvador and the community of La Providencia.  We stay at a residence near the community we build and work as a team, joined on our work sites by local masons as well as the homeowners and their families.  We are coordinated in our mission by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission an Juan De Dios Pena.
El Salvador means “The Savior” and has a population totaling six-million people.  60% of the population lives in unsuitable housing.  It is currently estimated that the total housing deficit is 551,000 homes.  Many of the people you will spend your week with have no electricity or running water.
We travel to a community called La Providencia near the city of Ahuachapán.  The Methodist church of El Salvador has built two churches and a medical clinic in this community (a third is near completion), built with the help of VIM missionaries just like you.  Ahuachapán is in western El Salvador, near the Guatemalan border.  The elevation is approximately one mile.  We reach Ahuachapán by either flying into San Salvador or Guatemala City, then travel 2.5 – 3 hours by bus / van to Ahuachapán.
Meeting topics

  1. Discussion of this year’s project, travel time, project length, and food purchase /distribution program we will participate in this year.
  2. Forms necessary to return in order to participate in the mission:  International Mission Profile and Release of Claim.  In order to participate in the mission, this must be returned to Jamie no later than March 4th, 2012.
  3. Registration fee:  A $100, non-refundable registration fee is due with the registration paperwork, no later than March 4th, 2012.  The registration fee should be paid by check made payable to Apex UMC.  Please be sure to write “El Salvador Mission 2012” in the note area.  Checks should be sent to Jamie and he will get them to the church. Along with your registration form, you must also send your completed International Missioner Profile and Release of Claim form as well as a separate sheet of paper listing your name as it appears on your passport, your date of birth, passport number, and passport expiration date.
  4. Discussion for new members about Brian Dubberly & Juan de Dios as well as their roles in the mission.
  5.  Discussion of how airline travel is coordinated.  No individual purchases.  We use a Christian travel agency that specializes in mission travel.  This prevents fluctuations in travel expense member to member.  We will use either Guatemala City or San Salvador as entry points, depending on cost & logistics.
  6. Cost of home(s) for 2012.  2011 expense was $4,500 per home, plus a $350 coordinator fee.  The cost of the projects is being paid by Apex United Methodist Church.  Participants in the mission are responsible for their airline, room & board, and mission registration / insurance costs.  Estimated details are below.
  7. Estimated cost of mission of an 8 day mission, based on 2011 expenses:

 

  • $1.00        VIM online registration fee  (Due April 7th)
  • $17.00        VIM international mission member registration  (Due April 7th)
  • $21.00        Trip insurance coverage for length of stay ($25,000)  (Due April 7th)
  • $344.00    8 days room & board @ $43 / day (due May 15th)
  • $913.23    Roundtrip airfare, including all taxes & fees, est. (due May 15th)
  • $1,296.23    Total expense per mission member – 2011 mission
  • Other opportunities to serve / help the community:  See attached list of opportunities.

Suggested Packing List
For Working:

  • Cement trowel, the six-inch or so diamond shaped one is perfect.
  • Work Gloves – a few pair (they often get wet / ruin / fall apart)
  • Close-toed shoes suitable for working and walking in all day.
  •  Hat
  •  Sunscreen (remember the altitude and how close to the equator you’ll be and apply often.)
  • Shorts vs. Pants (depends on the leg protection you need for the job you’re doing)
  • Shirts suitable for working in direct sun / warm weather

Day to Day:

  • Water bottle.  You want a good one that screws closed.  The ones from REI are excellent for this.
  • Bath items:  soap, deodorant, toothbrush, etc. (bring all as 3oz or less in a clear baggie and put them in your carry on in case there’s a luggage arrival issue.)
  • Flashlight
  • Hand disinfectant wash gel (bring lots of little bottles)
  • Medications you take (make sure to bring them in your carry on and bring only the amount you need while you travel as well as be sure to have them in prescription bottles that have your name on them.) A copy of your prescription in case we get stranded.
  • Sunglasses
  • Close line/clothes pins (this can be helpful in getting your dirty clothes dry, but not a necessity.)
  • Casual clothes (we are often able to have clothes cleaned for a minimal expense, but this is not guaranteed.)
  • Something suitable to wear to church (pants) no tie and jacket necessary.    Women should wear a dress or skirt & top
  • Swimsuit (you never know… we’ve had access to places to swim before.)
  • Toilet Tissue (if you prefer your own kind, bring it) also, the small travel size rolls are often necessary at job sites or when out sight-seeing.

Helpful Tips
1.    Safe water is supplied at the hotel and job sites, but you should consider bringing dry drink mixes like Gatorade, crystal light, etc. for some variety and for electrolytes.   You can pour them into your water bottles and add water at the job sites.
2.    Bring a camera.  Always ask if it’s okay to photograph someone (?esta bien?), but you will find most people love having their pictures taken and seeing them on the screen of your camera.
3.    Consider keeping a journal.
4.    Snacks from home.  Local stores have lots of beverages, chips, etc., but local types and flavors.  Bringing dry snack items from home is okay as well.
5.    Books, bible, games, musical instruments (within reason), etc.  There’s lots of down time to hang out early in the day and at the end of the day.
6.    Don’t bring or wear any flashy jewelry.  There’s no sense in attracting attention and also remember and respect the fact that the people you’re spending your time with, on average, earn less than $5.00 per day.
7.    Bring something to snack on/eat when traveling into El Salvador.  The airline will only serve a small snack and it’s a long ride to Ahuachapan.  By the time you reach Ahuachapan, you will have been up more than 12 hours.  Juan is usually able to find us a place to stop and eat near San Salvador (yeah for Pollo Comparo) prior to making the drive to Ahuachapan as well, but delays in eating can happen.
Things to keep in mind
1.    Water  – Do not drink the water in El Salvador.  Do not brush your teeth with the water.  Do not open your mouth in the shower… you get the idea…  You will be provided and have access to all of the water you need for drinking and brushing your teeth.  It’s a good idea to get into the habit of filling up your water bottle whenever you see water available, so you’re always prepared.  Labeling your water bottle or putting your name on it is also suggested.
2.    Hand Sanitzer – Do use hand sanitizer before eating/handling food.  Keep a little bottle with you all the time and you’ll be set.
3.    Climate – El Salvador has a very warm climate.  There’s not a lot of seasonal change to it because of how close it is to the equator.  Ahuachapan is in a relatively cool part of the country and is high in elevation.  You should assume temperatures of 90s during the day and be pleasantly surprised if it stays in the 80s.  The nights are cool and in the 70s.  Sunset comes very early, at about 6:30PM, so evenings cool quickly and are refreshing.
4.    Food – The hotel we’ll be staying at will provide breakfast and dinner.  We’ll each lunch at the worksite or sometimes in a nearby church or school.  Don’t purchase or eat any food on the street.  We often have access to a small grocery store or can stop atone on our way back to the hotel at the end of the day to purchase small items.  Packaged foods purchased in a store should be safe, but use common sense.
5.    Money – The U.S. dollar is the official currency of El Salvador.  Bring cash, but singles, fives, and tens are probably most appropriate.  Most people bring $100 – $150.  Remember, you’ll have to purchase your own food when traveling as well.
6.    ID – Always have your passport with you.  I would suggest making a copy of the inside front pages and placing it in your carry on as well as leaving a copy at home, in case your passport is lost while traveling.

What’s next?
Registration completed, deposits received, project commitment to UMVIM, Brian, and Juan de Dios, air travel arrangements, immunizations, passport, future meeting planning.
Thank you all for participation in this wonderful mission!

How to contact Jamie:
Jamie Stockman
(919)730-8831 Mobile & Text
Email:  jamie@jamiestockman.com
Contact info (just in case… while you travel)
Pastor Juan De Dios Pena
Contact:     Pastor Juan De Dios Pena
President of the United Methodist Church of El Salvador
& UMVIM Coordinator / El Salvador
Apartado Postal #23
Ahuachapan, EL Salvador
503-7160-3335 Mobile
503-2413-2495 Work
juandevim@yahoo.com

Insurance
Insurance is applied for at the time of the UMVIM application process.
Contact person at UMVIM involving insurance questions:
Contact:    Charlotte Starks
404-377-7424 Work
Charlotte_starks@umvim.org
If not available, ask for Dalton Rushing or Leslie Martin.
Insurance Provided by CMA Agency:
Contact:    Athena McQuillen
CMA Agency, Inc.
770-534-9911 Work
1-800-209-5442 Extension # 2222
770-532-3502 Fax
amcquillen@cmaagency.com or dmoody@cmaagency.com
Emergency Contact:    800-335-0477 in U.S.
317-575-2656 Foreign

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