To the Ranchos!
One of our most recent blessings is that our family was assigned our “rancho” (a remote desert community) from our local priest, Fr. Daniel. It is called “Agua de la Mula” (translated as the mule or donkey’s water).
This rancho is only about 15 minutes or so from our house and most of the way is paved, with a little rough terrain. This means that we can all go as a family, without it being too long for the kids.
The kids have jumped in with us to help at the ranchos. They hold the song sheets, lead the dances, and are great little missionaries. We sometimes even stay after the prayer service because our kids want to play with some of the local kids.
For our rancho commitment, we do a visit on a Monday, then come back the following week on a Sunday for a Communion service. Due to the amount of ranchos that our parish priest is in charge of, he can only reach them maybe two times a year, if that. Unless we come to the rancho to do a Communion service, our friends in these places might not be able to receive Our Lord more than two times every year.
So…what do these rancho visits look like?
A Monday rancho visit consists of us inviting people to come to church and ringing the chapel bell to let people know that we will soon begin.
Once people gather, we begin with a prayer, then jump into “alabanzas” (praise and worship songs in Spanish). Most of the well-known alabanzas in Latin America require audience participation with dancing and clapping, which our kids really enjoy. Jessie is wonderful at leading worship with her natural musical talents and beautiful voice.
After a few alabanzas and making sure everyone has moved a bit, everyone sits and we break open Scripture. We read together whatever passage the Holy Spirit has inspired us to touch on, or sometimes we read the Gospel for that day. Jessie and I (Marcos) usually alternate leading, depending on what we feel the Holy Spirit asking of us.
After Scripture, the leader that day makes a short reflection and testimony on what God has put in our hearts to say. Sometimes we ask the participants to share, but we have learned the people are very shy, and they are still getting to know us.
Finally, we end in a moment of prayer and quiet music, asking for intentions from those present and offering up whatever intentions we have as a family.
Sunday visits are formatted for Communion services. We again break open the readings of the day, the leader does a short reflection, and after the appropriate prayers, we are able to partake of the Heavenly Bread, the Eucharist!
It’s been a huge blessing to see the kids not only participate but really flourish in these moments. They are somewhat shy to use the little Spanish they know, but they still try to communicate—a smile goes a long way. When it comes to playing with other kids, if they need to really say anything, they usually come to us to translate. We look forward to seeing what other relationships we and our kids will continue to build here.
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