Saturday, October 22, 2022

A long-overdue update on the Dulce Nombre parish

It´s been a long time since I wrote about my daily life. I have been slowing down a bit - partly I'm getting older (75), partly torrential rains and a hurricane, partly a bit of laziness.

The past few months we have experienced a lot of rain, much more than usual. The ground is saturated and the rains have been heavy. In September we had very few days without rain – and not light rains but strong, extended downpours, often with strong winds.
Houses have been damaged, roads have been washed away, parts of bridges have fallen. As a result, communities have been isolated, busses have stopped running for a few days. Life is precarious. 

Here´s the experience in one part of the parish, near El Limón. 

On July 24, part of the ramp up to the bridge.
It was repaired, but even more of the ramp was washed away about August 17.
But the rains were so intense that the river washed away half of the road on the way to Vega Redonda. Another bridge suffered intense damage, wiping out a large concrete block of the bridge.
The roads in the parish have been a challenge. 

There are a few places that are inaccessible and others where you must find a different route. A few times I have had to negotiate really muddy roads, Thanks be to God and a generous gift, I have a good four wheel drive pickup.
Last Sunday began our week of missions. Twenty-five parishioners went out to various communities to visit people in their homes. 

I was asked to take two to a distant village, San Marcos Pavas. Normally you can go there directly, but there was a landslide that wiped out a road and prevented access. So I had to take an alternative route that was much longer. 

But when I go to the place where a bridge crosses the river and usually provides access to both Las Pavas and Bañaderos, I found the area devastated. The road to Bañaderos was cut off and I had to negotiate over narrow paths to get to Las Pavas. 

Here are a few photos.
Here's a photo of the two missionaries with a woman from Las Pavas who was arranging their visit.

We, as a parish, have been trying to help and accompany the persons. 

While I was away for a short visit to our sister parish in Ames, the pastor visited a number of communities, including one where people had to abandon their homes and others were in danger.

We have a parish solidarity fund that has been used to help subsidize people medical exams and prescriptions.

We have also used it to help people rebuild their homes or make repairs. I went out a few times.
There were a few donations of clothes. Thanks be to God, the clothing was good and appropriate for our people. (The last time clothing came, the quality was poor and much of the clothing was XL – with pants large enough for three Hondurans. 

Some communities also donated food stuffs, including one that has suffered from the storms. 

I also learned of several communities where there was a need for mattresses. So I bought some in Santa Rosa.

I went out to a few communities with food, mattresses, and clothing. In one community, even the kids helped in the distribution of supplies.
While in Mar Azul, I visited a ninety-four year old woman who was dying. I prayed with her and the family. Although she couldn’t speak and the family thought she was not conscious, she was responding with her eyes and even with a gentle touch when I took her hand. She had not received communion for a while, partly because she couldn’t easily swallow. I asked the family if she had been anointed. She hadn’t. I told them I’d mentioned this to the pastor. 

Padre German went out a day or two later, which was good since she died just af ew days ago. 

This week we had a group come out to weed the parish coffee field. Twenty-five came, including about 16 young people. I went and picked them up some of them in one community.
There was a horse grazing near the coffee field. Two guys decided to give it stylish braids!
I didn’t take them back to their communities since I had planned to visit a priest friend of mine who is the priest for Amigos de Jesús which serves about 130 children from difficult living situations.

The trip was filled with surprises. The international highway had suffered from the rains.
There was even a new road sign – “Geological fault.”
In addition, the road into Amigos had been cut off for a short time; part of the road being washed away by a river. A new road was carved out a little above the washout.
I was at Amigos de Jesús less than 48 hours, but it was a time to catch up with Padre Pato, serve as deacon at Mass twice (preaching once), relax, pray, and read. It was good for me. I want to return sometime next year.
I left Thursday morning, since I had agreed to a Celebration of the Word with Communion for the end of a novenario in San Antonio El Alto for Don Efraín.

 The novenario is a beautiful tradition here after a death. People meet, usually in the home of the deceased, for nine days. People come and pray and be with the mourning family. What a great way to say goodbye to a loved one and to mourn in community.

Often the family asks for a Mass on the ninth day. The pastor was not available and so they asked me. I was most happy to go since I had brought Communion to Don Efraín and his wife several times. I drove part of the way and parked the car up from the house and walked the rest.
A good crowd was there from many villages, since family members and friends often come from afar.
For me, it is privilege to be able to be present and bring the consolation of the Church.

Friday, I had a training for new catechists. Because of the weather we didn’t have as many as I had hoped. But I did an extended catequesis on the Bible. 

Today, Saturday, I'm working at home: cleaning the house, rearranging drawers, washing some clothing (and hope it dries in three days), writing this blog, preparing for Sunday's homily.

Tomorrow, we will welcome the missionaries back with a 10:00 am in the main church in Dulce Nombre.

One last thought. About a month or two ago, after visiting a family in their home, I thought about my ministry and my vocation. I realized that I need to make a regular examination of my life, asking "When was the last time I was in the home of a poor family?" 

 Here's a picture of the home of a family we helped with clothes and food.

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