Humbled on the Streets of San Salvador
Blog post written by Dan Moreno, Prosper, Texas
On my first night in El Salvador we went out to feed the homeless. I kind of pictured it being very different as a North American. In the US there are usually lines of people at food pantries and volunteers hand out soup or sandwiches. When we were about to go into San Salvador I realized that this night was going to be very different then what I was accustomed to. As we headed out on the back of a truck I become curious about what this experience was going to be like. We started to drive around and our missionary “runners” banged on the back of the truck to let our driver know that they could see a homeless person or family sleeping. It broke my heart learning that the runners have known the homeless families for so long that they had memorized where they sleep all through out the city.
As a New Yorker, I’ve grown up seeing homeless people in New York City. I remember just crossing the street, passing them some change or just pretending they didn’t exist. However, while seeing the people coming out from alley ways from the back of the truck, I couldn’t pretend they did not exist. They slept in trash or on hard concrete. When they approached the truck they seemed so relieved knowing that they would eat that night. It was something I was not prepared for. We only had 144 bags of food to pass out. That sounds like a lot but as the number of bags decreased and we saw more and more people, I realized we were inevitably going to run out. It was heartbreaking to have to drive past homeless people, being able to do nothing for them. I expected to come back from the expedition feeling good about what I did. However, I felt mainly sadness. I felt like we did so much but at the same time did so little.
It’s hard for me to imagine the actual conditions these people are living in. The trash on the sidewalk is what they call home when I see it as something completely different. I still have a few days left on the trip. I have loved helping and doing so many wonderful things. However, I find myself going to bed thinking about the families and children living in the dark knowing the Gringos brought them dinner. I loved it but I just wish I could do more. I am so glad God called me to go on this trip. I am glad I’m not home right now taking my room and bathroom, roof and food for granted. I have been extremely blessed when so many others are struggling. I did however see hope, I saw the joy on some of the faces. It helped me to see that despite their tragic situations they were able to find some joy. There is still so much work to be done in this country and all over the world. Being on this trip has helped me to understand that there is more you can do then just pray. Rather then hoping others to help them I’ve realized I can be that person. I will never forget our night of feeding the homeless and I am excited to go home with a new perspective.