I love St. Patrick’s Day. He really inspires me. I am always awed by his story: to be kidnapped and enslaved, then escape, become a priest, and return as a missionary. He must have had some PTSD from his capture during which he endured many lonely years, probably abuse, and hardships of many other kinds.
Here, two priests are responsible for serving 42 communities. Three religious sisters, one other missionary family, and our family help with 17 of those communities. Four of the communities have a tabernacle and a regular weekend Mass. The other 14 have small chapels that are normally dark and locked up, opening for occasional communion services or Mass—sometimes only once every three months.
Some days I feel like I’m not doing much—I have this vision of getting up in front of the congregation, preaching the Gospel from my heart to a church full of people and playing guitar while leading beautiful hymns. Then reality hits: I don’t speak Spanish that well, and I can’t play the guitar. This missionary life has been a lesson in putting what little I have at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, even my weakness.
Right away, Sister Gregoria said she wanted to introduce us to some people who needed a new roof. Their house was a dirt floor, rusty tin walls, and a Hefty-bag roof. Our hearts were moved to help Herman, Sara, and their son Gerald. They are a sweet, hard-working couple.
After we put a big, wooden cross up outside our front door, we had a crazy forty-eight hours. We had been going slow and steady, meeting people one at a time, accompanying the missionary family already here to remote pueblos for prayer services, and brainstorming what this community could use. Moreover, we were still acclimating to the heat, caring for a newborn, and running the kids to and from school four times daily because they each have different daily schedules. Then we put the cross up…