Actively serving the Ottawa community for 60+ years

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Service Learning

Emmanuel encourages both youth and adults to participate in Service Learning trips which:

  • Allow us to use our hands and feet to help others
  • Visit other Countries
  • Host partners from other countries
  • Participate in Habitat for Humanity builds
  • Learn about other cultures

These trips allow us to serve and grow spiritually by working on various projects. In the past, there have been visits to partners in El Salvador, Nicaragua, as well as Habitat for Humanity builds in North America.  Learning and spirituality were the focus of visits to the Iona Community in Scotland, Christian Centre for Reflection and Dialogue in Cuba, New York City and Toronto. A recent initiative is Camp Chipembi in Zambia led by EUC leaders in partnership with the community there. Service learning trips also occur within Canada, meeting with youth from other faith communities.

El Salvador Pilgrimage ~ March 2024 ~ A Blog Written by the Pilgrims

Counting the hours to El Salvador!! Wednesday we travel from all parts of Southern Ontario and converge on Dorval, Quebec. Thursday, Air Transat takes us directly to San Salvador. If you are so inclined, we appreciate your prayers, your good will and thoughts, and your attention. We will post a blog on this page every day, starting Wednesday. The blogs will be written by first-time travelers, seasoned travelers, youth, adults… follow our journey with us!

Day 6 ~ from Éric Hébert-Daly

Working in two small communities, our group split into two groups to do some manual labour in Montepeque and San Rafael. Digging holes for fence posts, digging deep holes for a septic system, working to move and install five water collection systems and spending some time with the children of the two communities teaching and playing games. It was a full day.

While I spent most of my day helping to dig holes of various sizes, I was struck by a number of things that will stay with me. The women of the village were there alongside me, doing some of the heaviest work in the hot sun… working with us to hold the barbed wire away from our work sites as we switched out and held it away from them as they dug. They spoke with such joy about their greenhouse and the bathrooms they would be able to install as a result of the new septic system.

The time spend with the children was fascinating. One young boy, who was deaf and unable to speak was introduced to us by the other children who had all learned sign language in order to communicate with him. It was an incredible example of the beauty of living in small communities where people look after each other and make a commitment to care for those who need a little help. It’s true in some of the most rural parts of Canada, and it’s true in the smallest communities of El Salvador.

I keep being reminded that relationship is everything. Between people in every circumstance… within the population of El Salvador, between us as pilgrims, between our populations that are normally separated by 5500kms of geography.

This isn’t charity. This is learning from one another, growing in God’s embodied and relational love and being transformed in the process. Thanks be to God. #uccan

by Ryan McNally

Some of us are early risers, enjoying a cup of coffee, looking across the landscape and talking with Daniel, the groundskeeper. Others enjoy the morning cool for a few extra minutes of much needed sleep. Either way we continue to gather to eat, worship and make our way into relationship.

That was our word for the day: relationship. we were reminded there are many different types of relationships, and that building relationships takes time and effort.

Our morning took us to Collegio Bautista Emmanuel, the school operated by IBE. We started by meeting the senior staff and hearing about the school. It was at this time that we presented the six computers. It was hard to tell who was more excited, the students or Walter, the technology teacher. They will be used extensively for students’ graphic design projects.

It was then time to visit classrooms. The youngest children were excited to tell us how old they were, while the junior students showed off the English greetings they had learned. The middle school students had been practicing asking questions in English and we were all “interviewed” at least twice. We gave them a chance to make real their classroom learning.

With the sound of a bell the games literally began. There were basketball games, relay races, and soccer. Talking, laughing and more questions. At 12:00 the final bell rang and the students began to make their way home; the school day running from 7:30 to 12:00.

Our group, joined by some staff and the graduating class, was fed a fabulous barbecue. There was steak, baked potatoes, and all kinds of vegetable whose appearance or name we did not recognize. Now is a season with many types of squash.

I was talking to the school psychologist seated beside me, and I asked if he noticed a difference in students since the pandemic. We talked about the large number of students experiencing anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties. He said his days were very full.

All of these moments were times of building relationships with our hosts and with each other.

From Christine Culbertson-Boyle

A Sunday filled with joy and hope, we visited the church we have this partnership with, sang songs in Spanish and our youth contingent was invited to participate in the service. Minister Wanda from Brighton and Cynthia, a leader, delivered the core service and later in the afternoon we shopped at the local market (look out Bob I have goodies for the house!) and we squeezed in a visit to Starbucks too! The Starbucks menus and signs were in English and they had desserts not found back home.

Day three reflection by Helmut Enns.
After visiting the hall of martyrs you walk out behind the university, there is a garden of roses.  The two yellow roses in the centre’s were planted by a man whose wife and daughter  convinced the university to give them refuge after they witnessed bombing on their street.  On their first night there, the military descended, killing the university president, and all witnesses to their massacre.  Including mother and daughter.  The man, a gardener, would not permit the tragedy to define his life, rather the love for, and from his two torn from him.  The pain lives forever, but there is also space for love and compassion. Over the years, many red roses were planted, nourished by the soil, the rain, the sun of El Salvador.  Each honours the memory of another lost soul.  The red rose for me was Berta Caceras, executed in Honduras.  She gave her life for the Lenka people, tirelessly fighting for land and water rights. I was fortunate to walk near her on a march to Tegucigalpa.  Her daughter carries on the work, as the rose blooms, a blessing for the work that will survive hatred and violence. A struggle continuing in El Salvador, Honduras, Gaza, Ukraine and so many places. #uccan
Day three reflection by Lori Irvine Cooper

 Our third full day in El Salvador and we were warmly welcomed to join our new friends at Iglesia Baptiste Emmanuel church in San Salvador. Several people from our group of travelers participated in leading the service as well as our youth who served communion. Following a service and listening to the music, much of it in Spanish made it clear that language isn’t a barrier in worship! On behalf of our group of United Church traveler’s Cynthia presented Pastor Miguel and the congregation with a beautiful pottery chalice. We were delighted to see children we had met the day before at the bible school in a smaller community. Later in the afternoon, it was off to an outdoor market and experience more of life in El Salvador!

Day two story by Éric Hébert-Daly

There are few places where I am tempted to kneel and be in awe. Today I visited a site that inspired this in me.

When I was in my mid-teens, I saw the film Romero for the first time. Watching the film changed something deep inside of me. It made me better understand the problems in our world when it comes to power, class, poverty and making important decisions to constantly ask… how can we ensure that the world is fairer and more just. Romero embodied that for me.

It shaped my whole life. It’s the reason I joined a political party and spent 17 years of my life doing that work. It’s the reason I worked in justice causes my whole life. And today, I went back and relived that moment of my teens.

Today when I sat in the church where he was shot to death, when I visited his home across the street, when I heard the recording of the last words he spoke and the gunshot that killed him… all I wanted to do was kneel and cry.

It’s only my first day in El Salvador and it has already been a pilgrimage experience for me.

Of course, hearing this and watching a group of youth who are the same age I was when I learned about Romero made me ponder the lasting legacy of the man in El Salvador and throughout the world. A saint that has transformed many hearts.

And seeing the legacy of the palliative care home next to the church, the care and comfort of those who are preparing to leave this world in proximity to the place where one man’s life would also end… reminded me about my deep belief in resurrection.

A powerful day indeed.

Éric Hébert-Daly

#UCCan #globalpartners #elsalvador2024

First blog: Finding our way to El Salvador.

Not sleeping the night before. Bags are too heavy. Who has room for computers?

Meet Ryan and other travellers at the 401. Ryan’s halo blinds the other drivers as we pick up Cynthia and chat and enjoy our coffee while Ryan watches the traffic. Thank you Ryan!

Almost everyone finds the rendezvous early. That’s a good sign! We are excited, sharing worship resources, waiting for the last couple of people to arrive.

Maple syrup causes a hiccup at the bag check. We are not leaving Canada without that syrup!!!

The woman behind the counter is so kind and helpful I almost want to give her the maple syrup until I remember how many nights Helmut Enns slept in the sugar bush processing that sap!!

Avianca airlines you are wonderful.

So I don’t have a lot of news to share except that we have been receiving prayers by email and phone calls (thanks Doreen!), so much financial support right until the last minute (buying more maple candies from the Big Apple!).

We all thank you for your prayers and support and look forward to sharing our adventure with you in the coming days!

Almost time to board!! I need to buy another coffee.

Bendiciones hermanos y hermanas en Cristo