Thursday, June 23, 2011

A chatty update

The past ten days have been full – though mostly in terms of the details of daily life here in Honduras. This will be a chatty blog, and so a little long.

At a meeting with the Caritas people working on a program for infants and mothers, we talked about the difficulty of doing anything to really help the infants gain weight. Diarrhea is a major problem, due to lack of water and poor water quality.  In addition, severe poverty leaves people without resources for food. This is worse at this time of the year when the corn and beans saved from last year’s harvest is nearly depleted. There are other complications – including the lack of lack, the lack of formation of some people in using the land around their houses for small gardens, and more.

As we were talking I thought of a source of enriched rice which someone had shared with the diocesan lunch program for kids. After an email to the person who had brought it to Santa Rosa from Gracias, I located the source and sent an  e-mail. A phone call followed and we were able to get the packets from “Kids Against Hunger” from Minnesota, for the 1250 infants under two in the department [state] of Copán who are chronically nourished or are way below the expected weight.

We went to Gracias and picked up 63 boxes and they are being distributed to the program network where the Help Committees in the communities will prepare the rice with the mothers in order to feed their kids.

The provider is only asking us for $3.00 per box (about 1¢ a serving) and we’re working on finding the funding.

We will also be seeking to get the rice for the similar project in the department of Ocotepeque where there are about 331 kids in need.

Sunday I was supposed to leave with Manuel, a Caritas worker, to pick up an eleven year old boy and his grandfather, Jacinto, to take them to an eye clinic in Progreso, Yoro. Complications with getting the vehicle from Caritas ensued. Anyway, Hugo and his grandfather got to Santa Rosa and stayed with me until we left on Monday morning. 

Hugo with grandfather and uncles on their farm in Intibucá
 Jacinto had been told by some doctors that Hugo had cataracts since he can hardly see and has not gone to school since the second month of kindergarten after an accident, because of his impaired vision. We got to the clinic, Centro Cristiano de Servicios Humanitarios de Honduras, run by an evangelical organization. I had known about it since an Ames eye doctor has regularly volunteered there. Since we were late Hugo was the last patient to be seen by the US doctor there. I think she was a bit confounded by Hugo’s visual problems. Anyway, he does not have cataracts, but his vision is so poor that he needs a very strong prescription. The glasses won’t be ready for a few days.  We were able to help because a Facebook friend had made a donation which I used to help Hugo.

Wednesday, I woke up about 3:30 with a stomach ache and a bag case of diarrhea – in fact, the worst I’ve had since I got here four years ago. I won’t go into details, but it’s been uncomfortable. I did go to a doctor and am taking some medicine, as well as GatorAde to restore electrolytes.

Tomorrow I head out to El Zapote de Santa Rosa for three days. Friday and Saturday is the training session for catechists in the area. Sine the parish is initiating the Catechumenate for those 14 and older, I’ll be trying to explain the process and helping the catechists to work through the book that was prepared by a deanery of the diocese a few years ago.

Sunday we’ll celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, in El Zapote de Santa Rosa, with Mass and a procession. This feast is very important here in western Honduras since there is a deep devotion to the Eucharist here, even though the people do not have regular access to Mass. But this will be a special occasion for El Zapote. They have obtained a tabernacle for their church and they will be able to have the Eucharist reserved there so that they can come for adoration. Occasionally when one of the sisters or I am there they might be able to have Communion with one of their lay-led Celebrations of the Word. Perhaps next year they will have an Extraordinary Minister of Communion in the community. One of the pastoral workers there is participating in the two year preparation process.

The other news is that since June 2, Kevin Earleywine, a college seminarian for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, has been with me.  He’s entering his fourth year at Loras College this fall. He has spent a good amount of his time in the village of El Zapote de Santa Rosa and he tells me that it has been very good. I chose the community because it has a very well developed pastoral ministry and the people are extraordinarily hospitable. It’s also a village where a St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Student Center (from Ames, Iowa) worked on a spring break trip in 2010.

Monday another Dubuque archdiocesan seminarian, Jarrett Wendt, will arrive. I know Jarrett from his days at St. Thomas. He will enter major seminary in the fall. I’ll be placing him for a week of so in another rural village. Kevin won’t be there, so – like Kevin did – he’ll have to use his Spanish. The village where he’ll be has one advantage over El Zapote: it has electricity!

What else?

I always have to be reminded of God’s loving concern for us. Sunday I was very upset that the car we’d reserved at Caritas wasn’t there. Things worked out, eventually, but a very fascinating event happened.

I was waiting for Hugo and Jacinto get here from Intibucá. I didn’t have food in the house and I hadn’t eaten. So, about 7:45 pm I decided to go to Weekend’s Pizza (best pizza in Honduras, if not all of Central America), for garlic break and salad. I got there and saw a good Honduran friend, Erlin, who is now working with Habitat for Humanity here. He was with a group. He invited me to meet them, since one of them was a priest. Low and behold the group was from the Philadelphia area and the priest, Father Phil, had been born in Lansdowne, not very far from where I grew up.  I sat and talked with them and passed on my card to them.

The world is small.

And God is good!

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