Monthly Archives: July 2016

Home Sweet Home

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I can’t believe I’m actually typing this…but we’re back in the U.S. and home safely, thanks be to God! We got in about 6pm and after about an hour in customs, we all said our tearful goodbyes and headed our separate ways. Even though some of us have only known each other a week, the intensity of this shared experience has created incredibly close bonds. We will never forget each other.

During our reflection last night, one of the missionaries shared that although our time in Guatemala is coming to a close, our ‘mission’ is just beginning. We have all come home different people and we look forward to living what we experienced.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us! We couldn’t have gotten through this week without your prayers.

Thank you also to John Sacco for the generous donations of Magnificats! We used them every morning and evening for group prayer. And for those not fluent in Spanish, they served as an aid for mass. They were such a blessing!

Finally, thank you also to Guatemala and the beautiful people who call it home. We can never thank you enough for sharing your lives with us this week. You will remain in our hearts always.

Ojalá que nos vemos el proximio año!

With Love,

Team Mercy

Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro

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Today we went to Obras Sociales, a home/hospital for adults and children with special needs. The veteran missionaries prepared the newbies for what they would see as it was a difficult visit. The home had nearly 300 residents. They were divided up into different categories – “abuelas” or the older women, “señoritas” or the younger women, babies in a nursery, and a ‘school’ where a lot of the kids were.

Most of the residents had severe special needs and they ranged in their abilities. Some could talk but not walk, some could understand but not talk, others could walk and understand but were blind, etc. Everyone was very happy to see us and danced and sang along with us. They were sad to see us go. One women broke down in tears and wouldn’t let us go. It was an incredibly emotional experience.

Afterwards, we had a free afternoon, divided up into groups and explored Antigua. Later that evening we had a special dinner and ended the night with a time of prayer and sharing.

Tomorrow we head back to Houston. Please pray for safe travels. It is bittersweet – we’re sad to be leaving Guatemala but happy to be going home. See you soon!

With Love,

Team Mercy

 

 

Casa Hogar

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Today we visited the Casa Hogar. This was a beautiful moment because we were glad to see the elderly and share different activities with them. We sang and danced many songs with them and were able to see smiles and tears of happiness. After all these activities, we were able to share mass with them. This mass was a wonderful experience because the elderly received the anointment of the sick. This was a very emotional moment as we could see the peace they gained by receiving the sacrament. Also, during mass, each of us prayed for both Father Alfonso and Deacon Pedro and for their dedication and service to God and the community.

JOEL:  today was a great reminder of a responsibility to our brothers, knowing that there are other people out there who need our help. The mass was moving as well because we were able to see people participate in the anointing of the sick.

PILAR: our visit to the elderly was very special because one of the ladies remembered me from last year and she asked me to dance. I feel very blessed that I was able to share God’s mercy with these people.

The highlight of our day was that we learned the true meaning of mercy with the elderly.  We were happy to serve these people and  to share their little piece of heaven.

After we visited the Casa Hogar, we went to the Cathedral and there we walked through the Holy Doors in order to receive the plenary indulgence. Then we rode our bus to Antigua. We have safely arrived to Antigua and are excited about our visit to the Hospital tomorrow.

 

With love,

Team Mercy

San Jose Pacho

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Our arrival to this aldea on Wednesday was very special. We received a very warm welcoming with flowers and the children were excited to start the activities for the day. All children were actively participating in all the activities and happy to see we were there. We shared songs, dance, and games. Both, the children and teachers were fully engaged in the activities.

We were also happy to spend time with the children in their classrooms.  Even though there were more students in the classrooms than usual, all of them were actively participating in the arts and crafts activity.

IAN: A little while after we preformed our skits, some kids came up to me and called me “Juan”, a character I played in the skit. I found it quite interesting because that did not happen when we preformed our skit to the two other aldeas we visited, and quite frankly I thought of that as a way as to say that our skit had an impact on them.

During faith formation, we discussed the topic of the works of mercy, forgiveness, shared a testimony of faith, and instructed attendants about the importance of praying the rosary. We were glad to see that people had many questions about what we had shared, and we were eager to answer all their questions.  Some of the adults attending the Adult formation session brought their children with them. To the children, we provided coloring pages with the works of mercy, and they were very happy to be able to do this activity.

VILMA: I was so touched by a letter I received by one little girl that came to the adult formation session. I was showing her how to color the page titled “The Works of Mercy”. After we came back from the aldea, while I was checking all the leftover materials we were going to organize to donate to the church, I found a letter she wrote where she said, “Thank you for sharing all your love and faith with us Ms. Vilma”. She drew and colored a heart in the middle of the page for me. She made me feel so special.

After these activities, we shared mass with the community and were happy to see the church full of people.

During our break, the community provided a nice lunch for us. We felt very grateful for their generosity.

After we finished all our day activities, we started our home visits. During one of our home visits, the father performed the anointing of the sick, and provided our food pantry donations to those in need.

With love,

Team Mercy

Pacaja

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Today at Pacaja we started our day with a very warm welcome from the children and the teachers. It was very special because they decorated the place with flowers and a carpet of pine needles. Seeing all the children filled with joy and so eager to start the activities with us filled our hearts with love for them.

CAROL: It was a beautiful day! People were so loving and welcoming.

During adult formation, people were so excited to learn more about the faith. We provided paper and pencils, and all the adults were taking notes about the bible verses that were being shared during the presentations. Also, we had many children who came to church to learn about the faith; we shared bible stories, the works of mercy coloring pages, and they were happy to know we were there for them.

PATRICK: The highlight of the day for me was the strong relationship of parents and their children. Also, the sacrifice they make to drive to the church and the amount of love I saw is something I have never seen before.

SYLVIA: this one of the greatest moments of my life. This experience puts my life into perspective. With all I saw today, I was able to experience all feelings at the same time joy, happiness, and sadness.

REBECCA: I was moved by the home visit. I was really touched by taking communion to the sick. It was a very nice moment to be able to take Christ joyfully to those who are unable to receive him frequently.

The home visits made us feel varied emotions all together of sadness and joy. This was a beautiful experience as we were able to visit the sick, take communion to those who are unable to attend mass, and share hope and love with those who need it the most. The home visits were special because they allowed us to experience something similar to the disciples as they were walking the difficult paths with Jesus but yet were full of joy for sharing the word of God.

 

With love,

 

Team Mercy

A new Aldea: Xesic IV

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Today we had the privilege of visiting Xesic IV, one of the mountainside aldeas. “Aldea” is a Spanish word for hamlet or village. Every year, the mission coordinator works with Fr. Gilberto, the pastor of our sister parish, to identity the communities in his charge that are in the greatest need. Once we’ve chosen an aldea, we enter into a 3-year commitment with them. Part of the relationship is that we commit to bringing a group of missionaries every year. This was our first visit to this particular aldea and they were overjoyed to have us. We were humbled by their welcome and touched by their affectionate smiles, hugs and grateful spirit.

At each aldea we visit we start the day with a youth rally. Today there were about 150 kids, grades pre-K – 6. They were so excited to have us and it showed in the way they responded to our praise and worship songs, games and arts and crafts. We couldn’t get enough of their hugs! That was something everyone was really moved by – how affectionate the kids were. There were no walls – they were happy we were there and they were not shy to show us!

The bus driver that brought us to the aldea told us we were lucky to be welcomed into their community. He explained that the indigenous communities that live in these aldeas are incredibly closed. They are protective of their land and their families and one must be invited to visit. The beautiful show of hospitality and welcome is a sign of their love for their Catholic faith and their trust in Fr. Gilberto, their pastor and our connection to them.

After mass, we split into 4 groups and went for pre-planned home visits. Everyone we visited were people who were either in great need or could not come to mass for some reason. There was one diabetic, 2 widows and an elderly women who could no longer travel. These people lived on the mountainside and the only way to get to them was to walk, so that’s what we did! One group walked for nearly one hour each way! Another group walked about 40 minutes. What moved many of the missionaries was the realization that as hard as the walk was, we only had to do it once. These people, whose shoes we were literally walking in today, travel this road every single day. One of the missionaries arrived in her particular home visit to find a little girl there that she recognized from the earlier youth rally. She was brought to tears at the fact that that little girl walked all that distance every day to go to school. Every day! This evening when we gathered to reflect on the day, almost every missionary remarked that their own problems were put into perspective by that walk.

Thank you God for the grace to see that our problems, concerns and difficulties are nothing compared to the burden so many people carry in this world – help us to remember that as we carry our own cross. And, help us to do it with the same joy and peace we saw in the people we met today.

 

With love,

Team Mercy

PS – Thank you Anna Cisne for the cafecito! Such a blessing after a day like today!! Everyone sends you un besito y un abrazo:)

Only God truly satisfies

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The Gospel of John’s story of the women at the well was the theme for today’s young adult retreat. Through skits, music, testimonies and games we tried to bring home the overall theme that St. Augustine so beautifully explains: our hearts are restless until they rest in God.

We arrived at our sister parish, Sagrado Corazon de Jesus to an impressive display of fireworks, ringing bells and cultural dances. They even laid out a bed of pine needles for us to walk on; something they do for very honored guests. We were all so touched at this beautiful and thoughtful welcome.

Nearly 200 young adults gathered for mass and the retreat. It was the biggest group we’ve ever seen and we were definitely a little intimidated! Our nervousness quickly gave way to excitement and laughter as we started singing and dancing. The day was filled with praise and worship, powerful testimonies and small group sharing. I asked two of our missionaries that gave their testimonies today to share a little with you about their experience…

MONSE:  This is my second time on mission, and even though I may have already been here once before I was nervous out of my mind. You see, I was asked to give testimony today during our mini-retreat we did with the youth at Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. I was not sure if what I would say would resonate with anyone or if I was even worthy of going up there to speak to the youth. But I got up there with the little courage I had left in me and I started to speak. Even though I had pre-written what I wanted to say, I just went for it. I spoke with what came from my heart and in that moment all I could feel was peace. That peace that I felt is indescribable and unexpected. I hope that the retreatants were able to feel the peace I felt. Today has been so special, and I am so thankful for this mission and all of my mission family who have done so much for me. Thank you.

RICARDO: La experiencia de ser misionero es única.

Mi nombre es Ricardo Navarro y yo vengo por primera vez de mision. En este segundo día de misión, la pasamos con la gente de la comunidad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, nuestra parroquia hermana. Tuvimos un día de mini-retiro con los jóvenes. Cuando llegamos todos a la iglesia, vaya bienvenida que nos dieron! Personalmente me hicieron sentir muchas cosas bonitas. Hicieron que mi piel se me enchinara –flores, caminos hechos con ramas de pino, bailables tradicionales, y más de  150 jóvenes esperando por nosotros. Todo el grupo de misioneros estábamos fascinados, y a la hora que empezó nuestro ministerio, nos invadió el Espíritu de Dios porque todos—con mucho amor y entusiasmo—compartimos varias horas con ellos. Pasar el tiempo con los jóvenes llenos de esperanza me dice que este día va ser inolvidable y por diferentes razones. Les compartiré dos de ellas: estoy de misionero junto con mi hija y con el mejor equipo de misioneros que puede existir. Amen!

Being a missionary is one of the most unique experiences.

My name is Ricardo Navarro and this is my first time on mission. We spent the day with our fellow parishioners of our sister parish, Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. The day consisted of a mini-retreat with the Young adults.  When we all arrived to the church—wow, what a welcoming!! Personally they made me feel many warm things. They gave me goose bumps –the flowers, the pine needle path, traditional dances, and more than 150 young adults waiting for us. All of the missionaries were fascinated, and at the moment our ministry began, the Holy Spirit invaded the place because all the missionaries—with much love and enthusiasm—spent hours with them. Spending time with hope-filled Young adults tells me that this day will be unforgettable for many reasons. I will share two of them with you: I am on mission with my daughter and with the best missionary team that has ever existed. Amen!

Finally for tonight, we feel protected in grace and we know that is due to each of your prayers. Tomorrow we go to our first aldea – please keep the prayers coming! We’re all extremely exhausted but we trust God will provide for a new day.

God be praised!

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