Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Update: Missions in Mexico

Buenas tardes!

We've been in General Cepeda, Mexico, for almost 2 weeks now.  Every day is somewhat similar to our training back in Louisiana -- community prayer, classes, Scripture study, chores -- but here we have the added joy of being able to serve the Mexican people.

In the mornings, we go on home visits to people living here in General and just outside of town.  Some are very poor -- imagine curtains hanging in place of doors, bare walls, and nearly empty two-room or three-room houses -- yet their faith is so rich.  When we visit, we typically read a Bible passage with them, sing praise songs, and ask if we can help with any of their immediate needs (bringing them warm blankets or filling a medical prescription for them).  They are all so grateful for the time we spend with them, especially those who are elderly or sick and rarely have visitors.

In the evenings, we drive out to the ranchos -- little towns isolated far out in the desert, some with as few as 15 or 20 families.  There are no churches in the ranchos, just little chapels where the people can gather to pray. Some ranchos will receive visits from priests rather frequently, but in others it may be many months in between such visits, meaning the people are not able to receive the sacraments.  Of course, as lay missionaries we cannot celebrate the sacraments for them, but we can bring the light of Christ to their community.  We share testimonies of what Jesus has done in our lives, and we teach them about the Catholic faith.  Most importantly, we pray with them!  Many of the people we meet are sick, out of work, struggling within their families, or wrestling with addictions like alcoholism.  Jesus promised His apostles that if they laid hands on the sick, they would recover.  We trust that Jesus will do the same through us today!

Our mission work here has given me a greater understanding of what it means to have childlike faith.  In the U.S., we tend to be skeptics; we're always looking for sound reasoning and scientific evidence.  We act as though faith in God is something we should be able to prove.  But it's just the opposite!  The poor people of General Cepeda have no need for empirical "proof" that God exists.  They believe it simply because they wake up every morning.

The faith of the poor puts my shallow faith to shame.  Never in my life have I been unable to afford what I need.  And yet what we might consider necessities are often their luxuries.  One elderly woman we visited had only a scrub brush to comb her hair.  But you never hear the poor complain about their needs.  Instead, they are constantly expressing their gratitude for everything God has given them.  How it warms your heart and makes you blush with embarrassment over your earthly riches whenever one of these little ones, God's precious poor, exclaims, "Gloria a Dios!"

Yes, glory to God!  He is so good to us.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy All Saints' Day!

I certainly felt as though I was surrounded by the communion of saints tonight as we joined together in singing and praising Jesus!  I can't believe this is my life -- I am so blessed!  In just one week we will be arriving in General Cepeda, Mexico. What adventures await me there I do not know, but I am sure Jesus has much in store for us.

Tonight we heard stories from three of our missionaries who have served at this particular mission post before, and their consensus was that, although General is one of the poorest places in Mexico, it's where they learned true generosity. Because who understands generosity better than the poor, who give out of their need?

I can't wait to be there.  I pray for an open heart so that I will be blown away by the experience of finding Christ in the people I serve.  I pray that Jesus will protect the joy that is now overflowing in my heart, that I may shine His love to everyone I meet.