Friday, December 07, 2007

Signs of hope

This week Gary Guthrie, a good friend who was my farmer in Iowa, was visiting. Gary has a community support agriculture farm in Nevada, Iowa, where he grows organic vegetables for about 56 families on 2.5 acres (about a hectare). I miss his vegetables but his presence here this week has been good. We talked a lot and he has seen major parts of my ministry here. And the weather has been gorgeous – sunny and warm during the day and cool at night.

Tuesday morning, we went out with Padre Efraín, the pastor of the parish of Dulce Nombre de María. We spent some time in the village of Candelaria in the municipality of Concepción. The community has 14 base communities. They are building a new fairly large church. They have no outside financial support; men for the most part are providing the manual labor and the women are cooking and selling tamales to raise funds. The church will be quite impressive.

After lunch at the parish Gary and I left for Gracias where we met Moises Rodríguez who has carved out an incredible farm on less than a manzana. Moises has been there eight years and has eked out an impressive farm on an incredibly rocky hillside.

Wednesday was graduation at the Catholic University. I went to the Mass which Bishop Santos celebrated. At the end of his homily he encouraged the graduates to work for the good of Honduras, not just to earn money for their own families.

Thursday morning Gary and I met with the bishop. In the afternoon he took us out to the Polígono factory and compound. Monseñor Santos helped found this organization which has a variety of projects. Its main work is a factory to make products from paste, which is sometimes called loofa. They are plants which are made into various products which are often used to wash and defoliate the skin. The factory is to a large extent a training program for poor young people. They work Monday to Friday and get $4 a day which is a very good salary here. Leaving we passed a carpentry business where, the bishop said, the younger workers might make only $1 a day. There is also a weekend educational project there where they can study and finish high school. Polígono also has an outreach project that promotes a variety of program in the countryside. Monseñor is very proud of this project.

Later Thursday I had to go to the Catholic University while Gary rested. I had a very good meeting with some faculty where we discussed the role of faith in the university. They will meet regularly in the spring for discussions. I am very glad this initiative is bearing fruit.

Before that meeting, I was invited to a class where a group of students reported on their study of the religious profile of the campus. It was a very good and thorough study in which they analyzed surveys from 528 students (which is about 2/3 of the student body). This will definitely help in the planning for the future of campus ministry there.

Friday Gary left for El Salvador. Sister Pat Farrell who works in Omaha but worked for many years in Suchitoto, El Salvador, dropped by on her way back to El Salvador from visiting with Sister Nancy Meyerhofer in Gracias, Lempira. It was so good to see them.

Gary’s visit was very helpful. We spent hours talking about our lives and our ministries. It really helps to talk in depth with a friend.

Visitors are a blessing.


Mary said...

Hi John! Thanks for your comment on your blog and your note to Anne. I am looking forward to being one of your visitors sometime in 2008 or 2009!

I see similarities to the young people's dreams you mention in an earlier blog - educational hopes beyond their reach financially and lack of market for those with skills.

I'm glad to hear of Gary's visit. May you have a very blessed Advent!

John Donaghy said...

Mary - writing from Uganda - is right. Young people have so many dreams. How can we help them make their dreams a reality?