Last week, the public hospital in Gracias, Lempira, was out of medicine, out of food, and many of its personnel (including nurses) haven’t been paid for months. The hospital asked the local parish for help and they sent 300 pounds of beans.
Last week a new civilian-military airport was inaugurated outside of Gracias. There are stories going around that money was diverted to political campaign. Whether that’s true or not, the other story is that the land for the airport was bought, with Honduras federal money, from a local politician who is running for the presidency. In contrast, an alternative site for a regional airport was donated by the municipality of Concepción, Copán.
Elections are coming – in three weeks. But the economic situation of the country is fragile and desperate.
But in the midst of this people are living their lives – with all the joys and sorrows.
Today is All Souls Day, the remembrance of those who have died. It is not the big day it is in Mexico but people visit and place flowers on the graves of their beloved.
Today I was visiting as many of the Maestro in Casa centers as I could to give them the forms for some partial scholarships that St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames is providing for next year. One person I met said this aid was very important since the mayor where he lived has not come through with a middle school which they could really use.
As I was driving through one community I stopped to talk with a woman with some kids who had this diamond shaped object that I thought was a kite. No, it was something they would be placing on the grave of a child who died.
When I got to another community I stopped and visited with a woman who is a catechist and whose husband had been killed several months ago to prevent him testifying in court about a murder in the village. I greeted everyone, giving two kids lifts off the ground. She asked me if I wanted lunch. I said no, but she brought be some squash and a coffee.
Later she told me that she would probably be moving out of the village. I think she feels threatened and so wants a safer place for her and her four kids. It is sad that she feels a need to move, because a justice system doesn’t work and people hold grudges. But I see a great resilience in her, which comes in great part from her faith. I pray that she and her kids may find a loving and safe home wherever she moves.
As I drove today, my heart was heavy.
But yesterday was another story.
I decided to go out to El Limón for thirty-three baptisms and a wedding.
Padre German was late and apologized to the people. As he was leaving Dulce Nombre, the priest who is the chancellor of the diocese was coming into Dulce Nombre.
He heard confessions for about an hour – first of the guy who was to be married and then of the godparents and parents of the children to be baptized.
Mass began – in the kindergarten since the church would have been way too small. It was well decorated and had a kids wading pool as the baptismal pool.
The first to be baptized was the woman who would be baptized. Soon after her three year old son was baptized, together with a swarm of kids under seven. The youngest was three months old.
It was a joyous occasion as people looked on as Padre poured loads of water on the children. Some enjoyed it, a few cried, and it appeared that the devil was coming out of two as they squirmed while being baptized.
The Mass proceeded with the wedding and then the Eucharist.
The newly-married couple were the first to receive and Padre German did something I’ve not seen before. He had each of them give first the Host and then the chalice to each other.
He then asked me to distribute communion.
Afterwards I left quickly because I had several things to do in Santa Rosa, but not without some joy.
Interestingly, today as I passed by the El Limón church they were having a meeting of church representatives from the sector. I went in to greet them and I saw the newly-married husband there – already involved in the church.
Padre German’s new policy on baptism of children under seven and the catechists work with them have brought incredible results. Not only is he busy baptizing these small children (about 800 or more by the end of December) but people are coming back to participation in the church.
These two days have been a blessing for me – opportunities to be present to people, to hear their sorrows and see their joy.
These next two weeks I’ll be very busy.
First of all, I have to finish preparing some materials for religious education this weekend and have them printed on Monday. Tuesday and Thursday this week and the next I’ll be going to four different parts of the parish to do workshops with the catechists, mostly helping them to see how to use the materials in a participative way.
This will be work – but fun.
Pray for us.