Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cold, rain, and mud

The last few days have been cold (50s and low 60s) and rainy – typical rainy season weather. Tim Malone, who had been a student peer minister at St. Thomas in Ames, has been here for a short visit. (See him at right warming himself in Quebrada Grande.)

Tuesday we went out to Dulce Nombre so he could see one of my areas of ministry. But first we got up early – I was going to say bright and early, but it wasn’t bright – to get to the 6:00 am Mass at the Catholic radio station here in Santa Rosa. After Mass Padre Efraín Romero invited us to be with him on the 7 am program, “Cafecito con Pan” – “Coffee with [sweet] bread.” (There was coffee, but no one had bought pan!)

After Mass we went out to Dulce Nombre where we went around with Padre Julio Cesar Galdámez, the associate pastor, and four young people who are directing the agricultural project. They were going out to check on the results of the project in Quebrada Grande. It was cold but seven of us jammed ourselves into the pickup.

We visited an extended family in Quebrada Grande who have a large family garden. There are fourteen children in the family, their father told me. I knew three of them already because they are pastoral workers in the parish and two of them had been pestering me to come and visit.

After they shared with us some of the music they had written, we set out to see the garden and walked through coffee fields, getting quite wet and muddy in the process.. It was quite an impressive garden – one of several hundred being promoted throughout the parish by a project funded by the Spanish organization Manos Unidas (and also helped a bit by donations from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Vacation Bible School). The project benefits some of the poorest families in 23 villages in the parish as well as pastoral workers.

There were carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, peppers, and more. On the way back we stopped at a field where we harvested a few potatoes.

When we got back they were milling sugar cane in the trapiche to get jugo de caña – sugar cane juice for lunch. After lunch, wet and muddy, we left for a quick visit to another village, even further up in the mountains, Granadillal, where we picked up some firewood the people there were donating to the parish.

The road was muddy and slippery and so Padre Julio asked me to do some of the driving. Despite four wheel drive it was still slippery and several times I wondered if we would make the steep incline. But all came out well.

Tim got a good chance to see the countryside – and I got a chance to see where some friends live and work as well as to see some of the results of a project in the Dulce Nombre parish.

This gives me even more impetus to try to see what Caritas can do to implement more agricultural and development projects in the diocese.

This will become more important as the poverty has increased in the past few months and may well increase more. As I was told last week, the poor in the countryside had been receiving government grants under President Zelaya, but the coup regime has cut back or eliminated some of these. In addition, just this week the cost of gasoline has risen. These affect the poor and thus major private sector and church efforts will be needed to help the people attain some type of food security - preferably being able to produce much of the food they need.


More photos from the visit to Quebrada Grande can be found at

1 comment:

Tyler said...

John, that picture of the family playing their guitars is pretty priceless, most especially the little boy.