VALENCIA – For the first time in a long time, Peter DeSoto relaxed. Really relaxed. Taking a four-week vacation home to Valencia with his young family, DeSoto didn’t worry so much about the violence and the poverty that define their adopted home in El Salvador. And the post-traumatic stress he suffers since a bullet hit him in the throat early this year in what likely was random gang violence was quelled for a bit as he visited family and friends all over Southern California. “I got a chance to preach at my home church and in my dad’s church in San Diego,” he said Friday. “We spent time with my wife’s parents in Orange County. We went to Lake Havasu with friends. For the first time in a long time, we got to relax.” DeSoto, 32, runs the partnership development programs, working with churches and individuals to improve conditions in rural Abilenes and neighboring communities. He is there with ENLACE, a Christian group. The group has established a clinic there and is working to improve the economy. On Jan. 18, he and other other ENLACE workers were traveling on a dirt road outside Abelines when a masked man opened fire on their car, hitting DeSoto in the neck. Doctors removed a .22-caliber bullet, and he was hospitalized for two weeks. Gunfire is commonplace in El Salvador, which holds the horrifying distinction of being the world’s most violent non-warring nation, he said. DeSoto worries now about his safety and his family’s, but says he is driven by God to provide hands-on help. “We still feel this is right,” he said. “I worry about the kids, but I feel they’re safe. They’re where God has us.” The violence, he said, is rooted in poverty. Work is scarce and the cost-of-living high. More and more of the poor migrate to the U.S. and send some $3 billion home each year to their families. This is a country where the minimum wage is $150 a month, but the average grocery bill is $300 a month. “You see people selling fruit on the side of the road and it’s 12 o’clock before they sell an orange,” DeSoto said, adding that many factory jobs have shifted to Asia. “There is very little there – 2 to 5 percent of the people control 95 percent of the wealth. The disparity between rich and poor is staggering.” So what’s the plan in 2010, when the family’s commitment expires? “We will be involved in work in El Salvador the rest of our lives,” DeSoto said. “Whether we’re here or there, we’ll cross that bridge as a family when the time comes.” [email protected] (661) 257-5251 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The main purpose of his trip home was to see a voice specialist because one vocal cord still isn’t moving and he speaks in a hoarse, almost whisper of a voice. “I’m doing OK, but it’s slow progress, just a little bit at a time,” he said. But the DeSotos couldn’t stay away long and were scheduled to jet back Saturday night to El Salvador. There’s work to be done in Abelines, the dirt-poor town where DeSoto was shot in January, less than two years into a five-year mission to better the lives of people living in one of the poorest and most violent nations in the world. The family, Peter and Dara, their two sons, 9 and 7, and daughters, 4 and 2, are part of a Christian church ministry, one that has become their life.