The plane seemed to float on the heavy air as it passed over a bank of jagged mountains, made a big U-turn over the ocean, and skimmed the sugarcane fields south of the San Salvador airport. After two hours on the tarmac in Miami for a rain delay and nearly three hours in the air, even the bouncy landing felt good.

I’m in El Salvador for a week-long mission of building relationships with churches, assisting a maternity hospital, meeting government officials, and generally getting an education about El Salvador, its rocky history, and the role some Baptists have played in the country’s struggle for social reform.

As Campbell University Divinity School students enjoy their fall reading days, I’m traveling with a team from Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where Edgar Palacios is an associate pastor. Edgar is a native of El Salvador, a Baptist who worked for peace and justice, who had to leave the country during the country’s long civil war that lasted from 1980 to 1992, and who played a role in bringing about the final peace accords.

You’ll hear more about Edgar and the good people of El Salvador in the coming days. It feels like fall back home, but here it’s a sultry 86 degrees, the parrots are chattering, the mosquitoes are out in force — and I’m going back inside.

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