Saturday, May 10, 2014

Moving out to the countryside

If I doubted whether I should move out to a village in the Dulce Nombre parish, this week should put most of my doubts to rest.

I’ve been out in the parish six times in the last seven days.

Sunday, I went out for Mass in the San Antonio church in Dulce Nombre and then spoke with Padre German for about an hour. There was a lot to catch up on – since he’d been gone for a week of much-needed rest.

Tuesday began the series of four workshops for catechists in these first two weeks of May.

The first was in El Limon. It was a good group with several new faces. We’re still working on catechesis preparing for sacraments. I also asked them to help me with ideas for a retreat for godparents of candidates for baptism and confirmation. I asked them to list responsibilities of godparents. The responses were an interesting mix – among them: counsel the godchildren, pray for them, and – to my surprise – respond to their spiritual and material needs. I was delighted to see that they see it as more than a merely spiritual relationship.

Wednesday I went out with two Caritas workers to El Zapote de Santa Rosa to take samples from their source of water for tests. It was great to go out with about six of the members of the town’s water board (Junta de Agua) and walk down to the source – which provides abundant water to several villages.

At the source

Members of the EL Zapote Junta de Agua with a Caritas worker (second from the left)
 It was good to see a water board at work, especially since I know most of the members.

On the way back we passed several coffee fields in bloom – a sign of hope. Also, I was refreshed by the incredible smell of coffee blossoms. The closet US smell is that of honeysuckle.

Thursday I was back in El Zapote for a workshop with catechists. On the way back I stopped in Plan Grande to see how the construction was going on the house.

Friday afternoon I was back in El Zapote, this time for a meeting of a group that is forming to work on a possible direct marketing of coffee from small coffee farmers with people connected with St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames. Ten guys showed up as I explained what the people in the US were looking for and how the US people could help. It was a fruitful meeting. They formed a board and will be meeting again at the beginning of July. In the meantime they will be looking at issues connected with the project and seeing what other sources of help they might find. I hope they can work this through.

What's important is that most of these are small coffee farmers, with only one or two manzanas - only three have three manzanas or more.

The cafetaleros
Padre German had told me that he was going to Plan Grande in the afternoon to look at a parcel of land – one manzana  (1.68 acres) - that was being offered to the parish. He had asked me to join him and two other persons from the parish. I called and he told me to come. That was easy since Plan Grande is only about 10 minutes from Plan Grande, on the way back to Dulce Nombre de Copán.

As I arrived he told me he had a suggestion for me. He would like me to move the building site to the area being donated. All except about one tenth of an acre is planted in coffee. The free area is in a beautiful spot, with great views (only a little less spectacular than those by the other site.) But the site is more open, has a place for a small garage, and is in a less populated place. Padre German also would like to build a small building for parish meetings there. 

He, the two other parishioners, and the donor kept trying to persuade me to do this. Padre also wants me to have a small chapel with the Blessed Sacrament on site. The building will become more like a house of hospitality and place for retreat than I had originally thought. Padre also thinks it would be good to have a second floor so that I can have some privacy.

I am almost convinced – although this might stretch my budget. But it will be a quieter place and will also help the parish of Dulce Nombre, since we could have parish training sessions here and I’d only need to fall out of bed to help.

I have until Monday to decide. But I probably will go ahead. That means working on a new design. Watch for news.

Today I went out to two meetings of zones in the parish.

At one, I had an issue with the zone. The catechists’ meeting on Tuesday was in their zone but no lunch or snack was offered. I was a bit perturbed.  I told the people – to their laughter – that I was angry. These women and men have come a distance, often walking. Two of them women are nursing mothers. These catechists work at least once a week with children and youth. They need to be helped.

The question was how to bring up the issue. I first asked them if they would have lunch. Yes, they said. “And how is it paid for?” I asked. Each village gives 25 lempira ($1.25). “And what about the catechists?” They got the point and promised to figure out how to provide the catechists a lunch.

Now I’m back in Santa Rosa for an afternoon of rest and reading.

Next week I’ll be busy again – with two workshops for catechists and the parish council meeting. I’ll also have Wednesday off to go to nearby Gracias to meet with the Dubuque Franciscans there for a retreat day.

Life is good. God is gracious.

What I ask for now is patience – while the house is being built. I want to move out to Plan Grande yesterday!

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