Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Personal realities

First, the realities of my life here in the countryside.

The water is scarce, because they are putting in new water lines. But I do have enough in my tank on the roof to take a shower, enough in my pila to do clothes, though it’s almost empty, and enough in rain water barrels to water plants. I, of course, have two large drinking-water bottles. But we are in the dry season – hot, with little rain. I hope they finish their work soon.

Access is still through a pasture to get to Dulce Nombre or down and up a ravine to get to the road in Candelaria. Thank God for four-wheel drive.

Monday I went into Santa Rosa on a few errands and got the car washed. I noticed the back-up lights weren’t working and had them checked. A part had to be replaced – costing about forty dollars. Costs for my pick-up (maintenance and fuel) are among my chief expenses here – the roads and the amount of travel really wreak havoc on vehicles.

Electricity was out on Tuesday, from 7 am to 4 pm. I wasn’t home and so that didn’t affect me.

Internet has been out since Sunday evening and I waited at home on Wednesday for the technicians who arrived mid-afternoon.

But then I have watched as Isaías, the son of a neighbor, has been building a house out of adobe for his family.

Second, the real realities of life.

Tuesday afternoon, I presided at a funeral. The husband of the woman who died, probably as a result of hypertension, is very involved in the church. The couple had also suffered the death of one of their sons twenty-two days before in a motorcycle accident. It was a sad time in the small village, though many people arrived, including the remaining five sons and one daughter, some of whom have studied in universities. The pain was deep, especially in some of the woman’s sisters and in the woman’s parents who were there beside the coffin in the small church.

What can one say – except that grieving is normal but we must not grieve as those who have no hope (the reading form 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that I chose). We prayed for the woman, for her son who died less than a month ago, and I asked those present to pray with me for the wife of a cousin who died nine days before.

As I may have written before, these funerals are not easy, but I find them a place where God lets me be present to serve, offering - I hope - words of hope and consolation.

Third, what makes sense of this all.

Tuesday, before going out to the funeral, I had a workshop for leaders in the villages to prepare them for leading services for Holy Week. In terms of our faith, the mystery of death makes sense only in terms of the death and resurrection of Christ – and our call to share in that mystery and to live with hope.

Sunday, I went to a village that has had a lot of problems in terms of its pastoral life, compounded by a delegate who is a cacique, a dictatorial leader. He wasn’t there at the celebration. I had gone to do the Scrutinies for several young men who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. To make a long story extremely short, we worked through a series of problems, openly, in a pastoral way, which I pray will enable the four young men to be ready for their Eater baptism. It was a moment of grace, when we were enabled to break through, to solve a problem, without recriminations or blaming people for irresponsibility. I reached out in the evening (before the internet went out) to the catechist who had fallen behind in his responsibilities and, I pray, avoid, ill feelings.

Fourth, the little and big joys.

Hanging up the wash this morning, I sense an incredible smell in the air. Coffee plant in flower. It’s one of the beauties here than I cannot share. Not only does if fill the air with a beautiful perfume, but it reminds me of my childhood. Our neighbors had honeysuckle which has a perfume much like that of the coffee flower. Ah. What joy.

I am also beginning to hear the chicharones – the locusts that fills the air with their chirping around Holy Week each year. I also saw the dead body of a chichara, a bigger locust which chirps in the night. Soon the concerts will begin.

This afternoon I have also been hearing the sound of what I think might be a bird – it’s like a warble, with a little water sound. I have yet to see the bird or animal, but it another of the joys of life here in Plan Grande.

And, the chorchas continue to visit.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Joys in serving in the countryside

The rains have ended and the days are sunny and warm – even hot. Because the road is now dry, I can now use the back way into Plan Grande, past the cemetery, without worrying about getting stuck in the mud.

The evenings are still quite cool – great for sleeping.

Leaving my car up the hill was a pain – but it was really a blessing in disguise. I had a good number of opportunities to speak with people, including the guys working on paving the road here. I may have to make walks to different parts of the community a part of my schedule. (I do need to walk for my health.)

Today I went with Padre German for Mass in Debajiados – one of the remotest villages, but one that I enjoy visiting. I ended up preaching there. But I also had a chance to stop and take several photos of the view on the road to Debajiados, including this one.

Then I went to Oromilaca for a funeral. Padre German had called at 5:45 am to ask me if I’d take the funeral since he already had four Masses scheduled for today. Of course. I find funerals a wonderful way to serve as deacon. 

Here are photos of a tree I saw on the way back from Oromilaca.

Tomorrow I’m off for a Celebration of the Word with Communion in El Limón, where I’ll also lead the scrutinies for two catechumens. Then back to Plan Grande for an afternoon Mass. I still have to prepare my homily and I’m putting it off by writing this post.

Holy Week is coming and so I’m busy getting ready. I’ll be working with leaders from the communities next Tuesday to help them prepare celebrations in their villages. Padre German will have his usual several Masses on Palm Sunday, three Masses on Holy Thursday, one Easter Vigil in Dulce Nombre with about 40 baptisms, and four Masses on Easter Sunday.

I’m planning to be in Dulce Nombre for the Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Easter Vigil Masses. But I will be in Concepción for a Holy Thursday Celebration of the Word with Washing of the Feet and Communion. Good Friday I’m out to a village. I also plan on visiting at least one village each of the first three days of Holy Week, visiting the sick and maybe presiding at a Celebration of the Word with Communion.

In the next few days I’ll also be preparing the texts for our parish’s special Stations of the Cross on Friday, April 7.

I also may be working with Sister Pat, one of the Dubuque Franciscan sisters in Gracias, for an Alternatives to Violence Workshop in the prison in Gracias, Lempira, on April 3 and 4.

And then I’m off to two weeks in the US starting the Thursday after Easter.

Monday, March 20, 2017

In the rains - and more

The last few days we have had a lot for rain and it’s been a bit chilly. Sunday we had sun! But today it is cloudy, though the sun might peak through later.

We’ve had no water for several days here in Plan Grande. They are replacing the waterlines. Yesterday morning there was water for some folks for a short time, but they turned off the water since there was a broken pipe. After it was fixed, the water was turned on (from the tank up the hill) and we had water for a while.

They are paving the road here in Plan Grande and so there is no really good direct way to get to my house.

I can get here from Dulce Nombre by driving through a cow pasture.

From Candelaria it’s down to a ravine and then up and up and up. The hills are very steep. 

Wednesday, returning from a trip to Cucuyagua, I took that road. It had rained and so it was slippery. I started up one hill (seen above) and had to back down and use an alternative road.

The next day I had a meeting. After a whole night of rain, the road was very slippery. I gave a ride to a neighbor but as we went down the road, on an S curve, I felt the car fishtailing. But we got to the bottom of the ravine safely. Going up on the other side, at one point I thought we wouldn’t be able to go up. The car stalled and I started it again and, by the grace of God, we made it.

So, I’m now leaving my car with folks who live closer to the main road and walking home. That means that when I go to seek the car I have a ten-minute walk uphill!

The other night, the electricity went off in the whole region for several hours. But yesterday, the electricity was out from 7:05 am to 7:00 pm.

But that’s all part of life.

Thanks be to God there are also signs of hope.

A growing mango tree by my house.

Chorchas (orioles) pecking and singing at the kitchen window (and other windows of the house.)

Cows in a nearby pasture.

Celebration of the feast of Saint Joseph yesterday in San José Quebraditas.

Kids in Plan Grande  greeting me as I walk down the hill to the house.

And the promise of a paved road.

God is good.