Our first day "on the mountain" began bright and early. Reflecting on Fr. Eamonn's words from last night's mass, we know that being a missionary means three things: Prayer, Sacraments, and Service. We are well to be here. Our hope is to bring Christ to the people we meet today - but it is us who will encounter Christ through their simplicity.
Three teams were delivered to "the mountain" to bring medical care, catechesis, fellowship, comfort, prayer, and the Sacraments to the people who live in or near the villages of La Colonia and Mirador.
Some special encounters for us today were:
Our mission team was able to help a patient bring her daughter to the local hospital in Trujillo so she could deliver a baby. The patient herself had walked for over an hour to get to La Colonia. The pregnant daughter had been carried by villagers down the mountain in a hammock - her "transportation" from home - a place unreachable by truck. The steep and bumpy ride only added to the tension of the need for a rushed trip to town. Comforted by pillows that had originally been used to transport parts of a new altar for chapels in both Mirador and La Colonia, young Hannah breathed her way through strong and frequent contractions.
Franklin Marsan carefully drove us - Hannah, her mother, and this contributor (Therese Abib) rapidly down the mountain. With inspiration surely brought to Franklin by the Holy Spirit, he led us all through several prayers. This brought a sense of peace and calm to Hannah and helped us to focus on God's glory and the beauty of the gift of life.
We decided we would visit some of the local people in their homes. One of our visits in Mirador was to the home (shelter) of Felipe and Maria. Felipe is 67 and suffered a paralyzing stroke five years ago. He is also thought to have a stomach tumor. By his bedside, Father Eamonn offered this suffering family a prayer blanket, a rosary, prayers for healing and a blessing. Tomorrow, Dr. Dave Cooper will make a "house call" to see what other assistance we can offer.
We were sweetly invited into the kitchen of Suyapa, a resident and leader of the community of La Colonia for atole de maiz - a warm drink made with corn grinds, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Mmm - Laura Foy had a second cup! We were also offered freshly cooked corn for an afternoon snack. Seconds were had on that, too! Our corn cobs were passed along to the clucking chickens just outside the door awaiting their portion. We are in a different world here - one must help chase piglets out of the houses! Table conversation covered all things moms might say. Suyapa also expressed concern for the welfare of her neighbors - concerns about their health, education, and availability of resources.
In La Colonia, after a day of doctoring and teaching, we gathered together to celebrate an outdoor mass. It took so long to set up our medical clinic in the chapel, Father Luta thought an outdoor mass would be a wonderful idea! It was very emotional as the children of La Colonia arrived well before mass was to begin bringing with them the excitement of the opportunity to praise and worship together with our mission team. Because the preparation necessary to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist (for those we are here to serve) has not yet happened - only our mission team could receive Our Lord at communion.
We witnessed that it seems to be "our children" who bring us closer and closer to Christ and The Sacraments. One boy cried out "Yo quiero a Jesùs." ("Jesus, I want Him!") To every prompt that Father Luta gave, these precious children answered joyfully . . . Then, warmly coaxed and invited by our missionaries, almost every child came forth to Father Luta for a special blessing during communion.
Let us pray:
St. Anthony, your love for the infant Jesus made him present to you to see and hold in your arms. Help us to see and love Jesus in all the poor and suffering of the world. Move us to clothe, feed and help Jesus, in all unwanted, abused and abandoned children and people. Lead us, for the sake of Jesus, who became a child like one of us, to reverence and protect all human life from its beginning to its end. Amen.
Est 4: 17 Within Your will, O Lord, all things are established, and there is none that can resist Your will. For You have made all things, the heaven and the earth, and all that is held within the circle of heaven; You are the Lord of all.