Monday, March 15, 2010

A busy Sunday

A group of eight students from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames arrived on Friday – four women and four men.

Their plane arrived two hours late and so they didn’t arrive in Santa Rosa de Copán until about 9 at night, after a very long journey. Thus Sunday was a little more relaxed. We walked around town, went to the market to buy food, and spent a few hours in the afternoon at Hogar San José, the home for malnourished children under five run by the Missionaries of Charity.

But Sunday was a work out.

We got the 7:30 am bus out to Dulce Nombre. There we joined Padre Efraín Romero, the pastor, on his pastoral visits to the countryside.

The first Mass was scheduled for 9:30 am in Plan Grande. (It started about 9:45 because there were so many people going to confession before Mass.)

Plan Grande has a special place in my heart. The people are really hospitable, devoted to their faith, and hard working.

It was at Plan Grande that the first spring break group from St. Thomas spent a day hauling rocks for the church they were building, which was dedicated February 3.

The religious ed classes there wave responded well to efforts to begin a sort of connection with the ST. Thomas religious ed, sending a few cards and greetings.

There are also a few precocious young girls, who have greeted those who have visited and spent time talking with them.

And there is La Gran Familia, the village’s music group, which is quite good.

Most of the people didn’t know we were coming but provided the usual hospitable welcome. When the group was introduced at the end of the Mass there was a hearty applause. Padre Efraín invited someone to say something in welcome. The man who spoke recalled the students who had come two years before and then made an outrageous joke that I had lost the hair on my head when we were hauling all the rocks. The congregation was laughing uproariously and I could hardly translate it.

After Mass, Marlene Jolany and a few other kids spent about 15 minutes talking with the group.

We then went and had lunch in the home of a family Padre Efraín knows.

Then it was on to San Augustín for another Mass.

At San Agustín Mass started abut 30 minutes late, again because of the people going to confession. The group was tired and we sat in the back but at the greeting of peace they were greeted by so many people, including a kid who ran from the front to give the peace to the “gringos.”

We returned to Dulce Nombre. The group was tired and so I told Padre that they needed to rest, instead of going to the 7:00 pm which he celebrated – his third Mass of the day. But the group went in at the end of Mass to be presented to the congregation.

It was a full day.

For me, one of the most difficult moments was during Mass, seeing Elsa and Fernando in the front row. I’ve eaten a number of times at their house. In October where I was visiting in the states, their seventeen year old daughter died. (I don’t know the causes.) They are a comparatively well-off family, poor but with land and enough income to provide a decent life for their kids.

But death hit them – as it hits all too many people in this area.

Yet, despite all this, Elsa wants the group to come out later this week for merienda – a mid morning snack – and a chance to see how sugar cane is processed. I hope we can get out there. [Follow-up: we didn't manage to arrange the visit. Alas!]

This morning I sat outside for morning prayer and reflected on the first lectionary reading for the day from Isaiah 65: 17-21 and continued to the end of the chapter. What a promise – and a prayer – of hope for the new Jerusalem, new heavens and a new earth.
No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the child shall die a hundred years old…
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit…
They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity…
Isaiah 65: 20, 21, 23 (RSV translation)

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hey John, very neat to hear that some Iowans came down to visit! No doubt a spring break trip :)

Enjoying your posts, keep it up - and if you're back up in the States sometime before July, I'd be happy to meet up with you, maybe a good opportunity to hang out with Jim?