It is Fall and I am reminded by the leaves changing from their shades of greens into brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows - that life changes. And soon, my delight in all the Fall beauty will change into acceptance, as the leaves drop one by one, or fall in one quick swoop, and the colorfully clothed trees will stand naked.
In the past, I often wondered how my friends in the Ixcán could have survived so many hardships and surmounted incredible obstacles without some of the resources that we take for granted here in the US; resources like: professional counseling, spiritual direction, area social services, 9-1-1 emergency assistance, abused adult centers, support groups, quality health care professionals and facilities, food pantries, etc.
I am thinking about water. In the United States potable water flows with just a twist of the hand and wrist from spickets, faucets and hoses. Dishes are cleaned, clothes are laundered, grass and flowers are refreshed, bodies are cleansed, thirst is quenched - due to precious water that comes instantly and without much effort... here.
In Guatemala, that isn't the case.
During a recent visit in the home of Petronila Baten, I watched her: peel a banana, rise from a chair, pick up a rag and wipe the table, grab a broom and sweep a portion of the cement patio floor where we sat. We do these simple acts without thinking twice. But, two weeks ago, Petronila wasn’t able to do any of them. Only twenty-seven years old, Petronila suffers with crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis.
It is Lent, the season in the liturgical church year when Catholics and other Christian traditions reflect on the gut-wrenching passion of Jesus to his glorious resurrection.
The festivities of Christmas and the New Year have quieted, and I ponder now on what word or message will be given to guide me in 2019? And what comes to mind is a little girl named Miriam.
In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch plummeted Central America. On the 27th, rain pounded the Ixcán region of Guatemala. That was also the day I moved from Playa Grande to the village of Santiago Ixcán.
A few weeks before I left Guatemala for the U.S., six members of our villages’ health post committee came to see me, saying the clinic needs a cement floor for the outdoor waiting area.
Sadly, alcohol abuse has increased at an alarming rate in Santiago Ixcán over the past ten years. There are no easy answers.
It is the liturgical season of Lent, the forty days before Easter when the Christian faithful focus on the passion and death of Jesus and are invited to look deeper at one’s life and repent
I call these women "Las Luchadoras" – The Fighters. They are women abandoned by the fathers of their children who struggle daily to provide for themselves and their children.
Fr. Stan modeled a radical surrender to do what he perceived as God's call on his life. He didn’t run even in the face of death.
I once heard that the first step in evangelization is hospitality. Ixcán Ministries' mission outreach emerged from opening the door.
Justice = The quality of being fair in our relationships with God, others and the earth. The story of Glendy and her family.
I’ve heard it said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” That works if the parents can read and books are available. In most rural areas in Guatemala, the general populous doesn’t have extra money to purchase books.
A humble man, a poor simple farmer, came to the blue door of the mission house. “I heard that you help people in need...Could you help me build a house for my family?”
The needs seem endless like the sea. I roll up my sleeves and the day’s activities reflect the Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Clothe the Naked, Bury the Dead, Shelter the Homeless, Comfort the Sick, Visit the Imprisoned.
Recently, when I was explaining what I do as a lay missioner and included “reverse mission” in the list, someone asked me, “What is that?” Good question.
I am reminded in this season of Easter how resurrection happens, how we can be the instrument of life for one another, how Jesus
acts in us and through us when we do whatever for the least of these, how both giver and receiver are “fed” in very different ways.