Friday, June 03, 2016

After the pre-ordination retreat

Back from a retreat last week with deacon candidates in the Newark Archdiocese, I find myself in the middle of ministry, in the middle of my diakonia.

A big surprise at my house in Plan Grande has been the presence of beautiful birds around the house – including oropendolas (chorchas)  and a humming bird – as well as the clarinero who has been here since I arrived. The birds may be attracted by the flowers that are blooming in abundance.

But more than nature welcomed me back.

Sunday was Corpus Christi and I participated in the procession and Mass in Dulce Nombre. I wrote about this in a previous post but what still strikes me is the importance of carrying Christ with us in the streets of the towns and cities.

Monday, I had some errands in Santa Rosa de Copán.

I stopped and talked with the Franciscan Sisters of La Imaculada – a group of mostly Spaniard sisters whom I’ve known since I came here in June 2007. They are like a family to me, especially since I lived on their street for more than six years. They, of course, insisted I eat lunch with them. It was simple – but the food and the conversations were nourishing.

Afterwards, I went to the doctor. I had picked up a terrible cough and congestion going to the US and felt terrible. Well, the diagnosis was bronchitis and the doctor prescribed four different medicines!

Tuesday I facilitated a workshop on the Bible for the catechists of Zone 1 in Dulce Nombre.  These workshops are fun and challenging, since they call on me to find sources of creativity in myself and pull me out of my introversion.

Wednesday, my birthday, I was invited to spend the day with the Dubuque Franciscan sisters. I met them in La Entrada where three of them minister in the parish. They, two from the house in Gracias, and I went to a nearby small archeological park El Puente.

Parking under a tree I got out of the truck and I hear a voice, “Hola, Juancito”. I look and see a young soldier from Candelaria, the town next to Plan Grande. Then, around the corner comes another soldier, also from Candelaria. Both of them had worked on my house and we spoke a bit. I wonder if I can go anywhere without someone recognizing me.

After looking at the museum, we went to the site where we had a short period of prayer together. Erica, the Honduran member of their community, celebrates her birthday on Sunday and so we both got prayed for!

These sisters are my community of support, those who help me be human, faithful, and God-loving here. They are family for me.

We left the park, stopped for vegetables, and I had to have a tire looked at. No problem, the llantero said. 

With the tire inflated, we went and had a great lunch together. After great conversations and a short rest I left for home.

Thursday I had another catechist workshop. But I was a bit worried. The tire was going flat. But, trusting in God (or being totally stupid) I left. The workshop went well though there were fewer catechists than usual. I mentioned this to Padre German today and he told me I need to go out and see what’s happening.

After the workshop I went to a tire repair place in Dulce Nombre. But I had to stop in El Zapote since José, of the coffee association, had some coffee for me.

The llantero found a screw in the tire and repaired it. As he was finishing, he and a young man there (who had spent six years working in turkey farms in Minnesota) started talking with me. What surprised me was how critical he was of government, some religious leaders, and others. But what really impressed me was his sense that one of the problems is that people are seeking money above all. He said this in a very measured way; it was obviously something that he had thought about. His faith had somehow helped him to see beyond the pursuit of riches.

Returning home, I found e-mails about the exportation process for the association of coffee farmers in El Zapote. I arranged to visit El Zapote early and get the document signed to take to the Beneficio (coffee processing plant) in Santa Rosa.

This morning, before leaving Plan Grande I came upon the school kids getting ready for an environmental march, complete with signs and kids dressed up as trees!

I got José to sign the papers in El Zapote and gave a ride to a woman and her husband to Dulce Nombre. On the way she talked to me about a phone call they had that said they had won a car, but had to go wire money to get it out of customs. It sounded like a scheme to defraud the poor. Rosa had her doubts but her husband seemed very hopeful that it was true. I talked it over with her during the thirty or so minute drive. I hope they don’t waste their money on this. But people are so desperate for anything that will help them get out of the poverty they are in that they are sometime gullible. But we talked and I mentioned a few things to ask about before spending their hard-earned money.

I got to Dulce Nombre and participated in the Mass for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – a symbol of God’s love and mercy. (See my post on this, here on Walk the Way.)

After Mass I went to Santa Rosa, had lunch at Weekend’s Pizza, bought some vegetables and groceries, and dropped the signed document off at the Beneficio.

I’m now home – hoping to have a few hours of rest. The weekend promises a Sunday morning meeting with leaders of the youth groups in the parish.

So is my life these days – full of opportunities to be with people, to find ways to listen to them, to help them learn more about their faith and their lives, and to try to find ways of serving.

It’s a blessing to be here.

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