Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In central Iowa

I’ve been in the US for two weeks for what I used to call a home visit. It’s been a good experience. But as I left Honduras in the plane I had this feeling of a reluctance to leave – and now have times of real homesickness here in the states.

I spent time with family and friends in the Philadelphia area the first week. I also had the chance to visit the University of Scranton and speak there in three classes and at a public lecture.

The hosts in Scranton asked me to speak about my journey and so I entitled my talk “From Scranton to Iowa to Honduras, via New Orleans.”

For me it was a blessing to be forced to relate the journey that led me to Honduras. I realize that much happened because I listened – usually was forced to listen – to the poor and to people in my lives. Being a “heady” person, that is still at times a big challenge. But I am deeply grateful that so many people have helped me become who I am and be where I am.

At Scranton, I spoke from an outline, but I really think I need to take time to sit down and write the story, at least for myself.

I was also touched by the chance to visit Rosellen, the widow of a college prof, Tom Garrett. He was a great mentor, an inspiration, and, as we both grew older, a friend. We spoke for a mere two hours, a time of blessing.

Monday, October 18, I flew into Iowa and I have been in Ames, connecting with friends, doing a little speaking to small groups and getting a few things I need (or want).

As I walk into stores, looking for something specific I find myself not offended by all the things, nor do I feel myself compelled to buy – even to buy lots of books – as I would have in the past. Honduras has almost vaccinated me against consumerism. What a blessing.

Last night a friend who is a Lutheran minister asked me how I felt seeing so much abundance and opulence. I don’t feel angry or resentful or irate. But I’m still not sure why. Perhaps it’s age, he suggested. Perhaps it’s because I’ve developed a different perspective. I’ve seen some people with large houses and good incomes but who walk about worried and anxious. Their money has not bought them happiness. And so I feel compassion – not pity.

Last Friday night there was a fundraiser at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames, that is supporting me and is developing a relation of solidarity with the parish of Dulce Nombre de María in Honduras. It was a trivia night and raised more than $2000 to help the parish build small housing units to be used by people who come in to the parish center for workshops and other events. Right now the facilities in Dulce Nombre are very poor and the people, some of whom walk up to four hours to get there, deserve better. It is good to see the generosity of people for the parish.

I’ll be here another week, spending some time with religious education classes. There are great opportunities to talk with the children and youth, who have been very supportive of the Honduras project.

I’ve also had time to reconnect with friends. As they asked questions and as we talked about my ministry many things have become clearer to me about what I’ve been doing and about what has been happening to me. I also have a better idea of how I hope to make changes in my life and ministry this coming year. I really hope I can spend more time with people in the rural areas of Dulce Nombre parish. My car will help make that more possible.

My visit has been good, but next year I hope I can take a little more time to visit the US and hope to speak in a few more universities in Iowa, visit friends in the Minneapolis area, and continue my connections with the good folks at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames.

But I am anxious to return home to Honduras – that’s where I am called to be. My trip here is part of my mission. But now my home is Honduras.


Mary said...

Hi John,
Thanks for continuing to share yourself on the journey. It's funny how home changes. Mombasa still isn't home after 6 months, but I know so many places that have been home that I know I will find it again. I find your writing to be grounding. Thank you. Enjoy Ames for me. Hope you get to see my sister!

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Mary, I had dinner with Anne last Wednesday night. What a delight!