Transitions

The last two days have been very diffrent than the whole rest of our trip. We have spent every day since our arrival traveling to and from the mission. We visited small mountain villages and spent time in community and quiet prayer. In the last two days we have driven "all over tarnation." We transistioned from missionaries to travelers to tourists. It has been a hard transition for me. I throughly enjoyed all of my quiet time with my companions, with the local Guatemalans and with God. I loved being able to interact with local people and learn about their lives. I loved being able to build community with people. As travelers and tourists, we are really looking at people from the outside, we arent necessarily able to take the time to learn about them or build relationship with them. It's hard to look in on someone else's life for a moment in time as you try, as politely as possible, to tell the 17th person in a row that "no, I do not need a scarf." There is a danger that we stop seeing them as God's people to be loved...they instead become a mass of sales persons to be avoided. Or worse, we are blinded by fear and we stay in the safe walls of our little bus, never interacting at all. I am so blessed to have been given the last 9 days as a chance to look for Christ's face constantly and with intentionality. I challenge myself, today and in the future to always be apporpriatly cautious and not to buy every scarf, but...to never stop seeing Christ in every face.

Jen Blood

Sus Manos y Mis Manos

 

Our Guatemalan days have been filled with intensities, simplicities and thought-provoking interactions.  We’ve been asked to find kindnesses, Christ, each other … To see boundaries, impossibilities and courage …  I knew this trip would include these things.  The heart-aching challenges and miscommunications but also hospitality and generosity that is rarely seen anymore in other places.  

Delight, however, was a sentiment that I did not expect.  

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To delight is one of the greatest forms of praise that we can offer to Our Father in Heaven.  It is a thanksgiving, an appreciation an act of both the heart and the will that guides us to a place where we know God’s presence is real and felt.  

Today was especially delightful as we guided yellow-filled paintbrushes across the outer walls of Clinica Maxena.  Accompanied by a number of the clinic’s local employee’s and their children, and their children’s friends we worked in a cacophany of laughter, broken spanish phrases and discussions about how best to remove spider webs and reach seemingly unreachable corners.  Reach them we did and in the process a sincere delight began to reach across our faces.  

It was awesome to do something for the clinic.  It was a gift to use our hands.  But the greatest gift wasn’t in the job being done and the impressive result of a new coat of paint.  The gift was in the sheer delight of the process.  

We had one section left as we reached the height of hunger and heat in early afternoon.  A new friend, Tony, who is studying English in school, Jen and myself were working to complete the wall quickly before we suddenly just slowed down to start to enjoy the moment.  I started asking him questions in Spanish, and he would answer them in both English and Spanish.  When he and his friends started to laugh at us, and I chided back at them in Spanish … much to their surprise and embarrassment.  The work went quicker the more we laughed and as we finished I painted C.T.K y C.M. (for “Christ the King and Clinica Maxena”) onto a cement ledge at the side of the building.  Jen added, “2016” and we all stamped our handprints near the ledge.  

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Projects are best done together.  Projects are quicker with laughter and communication and the chance to slow down and delight in what we each bring to the table, broken Spanish and English phrases to boot!  
 

God bless you and thank you for your prayers.  The need here is great but so is the opportunity to delight and feel the presence of Christ.  

 


To journey beyond your expectations of yourself and others is to find delight in the presence of God.  



la paz y la bondad



-Raven





A Seed Planted

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   We were asked this morning to sum up our experience thus far and to do it in four words.  I usually have a difficulty coming up with these kinds of expressions.  This morning it was easy as it was so obvious.  My four words were “Amazing expansiveness of seed planted”. Fifty years ago when I set foot in Santo Tomas, I had difficulty knowing where to start.  I felt so small and inadequate but during the next four years I did get some land given to us and built some basic buildings and developed a repoire with the people of the 30 villages in the area. In one way it was so small considering the task at hand.  Now fifty years later I see what has happened.  My contribution was so small, like the mustard seed in the Gospel, but over the next fifty years it has expanded to a size that I didn’t ever dream of.  The seed was small but the many people that followed me did a great job in watering the small seed and it has grown to a size that even the birds of the air are now resting in its branches.  It was the result of lots of people and lots of work to get to where our mission has come and is today.

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   As we have toured the facilities in Santo Tomas and the surrounding areas we have seen many services that are being provided and have been helped by the mission.

  At the mission, the Clinica Maxema they are helping the people to learn better nutrition, they are treating and helping many with diabetes and they are growing over 100 plants for primarily medicinal purposes and some for nutrition.

   There is another garden in one of the villages that has more nutrition foods that are harvested and given to the people.

  We have also visited other clinics in the outlaying areas that have been helped by the mission to get started and are now serving their communities on their own as they are now ran by the government.

hen there is the school that was started and is supported by the diocese, they are teaching the older kids.  It has primarily focused on helping students to be teachers but they are trying to add other trades like seeing and computers.

 

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Words from other journeyers:

Presence of native womens dress

Patience of the people

We are so similar

Growing opportunities, challenges and hope

Prayers for those who have left to the U.S.

Peaceful function amidst disfunction

Prayerful, healing, beauty

From Dick F.

We have now spent about four days in the back of a pickup truck bouncing along rugged roads visiting many financially impoverished Mayan Indian villages. These villages are located in two very steep mountain drainages 5-10 miles long with quite steep sides. Flat space Roy do anything is hard to find. Homes, mainly simple, but a few seemingly comfortable, but a few apparently with dirt floors, stick to the hillsides, especially along the roads.

The Indians living In these homes are typically not well employed but very patient. They work at agricultural chores (mainly with bananas and coffee), work on their homes, or wait for an opportunity to work. Their patience is stoic and remarkable in their lives. And living together in very tight quarters. There is a very strong sense of community, and many smiles are exchanged.

Some of the modern world has reached them. Electricity seems to reach to the remotest ends of the roads, many folks have cell phones, and even a motor vehicle, perhaps a Tuk-Tuk.

Over 50 years the mission has developed a good clinic and school, very much friendship, and has provided a great deal of leadership to the Indians to help themselves via local health clinics, cooperatives and so forth, most of which are now staffed by the Indians themselves. The people in these helping roles are dedicated, prideful in what who they do, and respected by their fellows. Jobs seem to be the greatest need today.

Dick

Fr. Jeff Sent from my iPad; apologies in advance for brevity

Thursday at the Mission

Hi all,

Sorry this may be quick.

Today we went to one of the Mission's nutritional gardens.

We then visited the school, La Asuncion. They have just started their school year. It is always good to visit the school. They work so hard for their students. But their needs are great; including a need for help with food services, scholarship assistance and technology needs.

After dinner, we zipped to Mass. We thought Mass started at 6, but that was when Adoration and the rosary started. Mass started at 7:00. It was wonderful to celebrate with the community.

More posts coming soon...

Fr. Jeff Sent from my iPad; apologies in advance for brevity

50 Years Later...

   Today we we drove up to the Coffee Cooperative in Pasac.  The Cooperative, the Mission and Christ the King are celebrating 50 years of services.  Many people have helped to build and mold all of these areas.  Jim Tackes (my dad) of course was one of these people and I have been amazed at how many people remember him or have knowledge of him through the stories.  Today at the cooperative we were welcomed by Juan, who is now the president of the coop and was a boy when it started.  His dad and Grandfather were some of the founding members.  They showed us videos of them starting the building of the coop and recognized Jim for visiting and thanked him for being a part of the cooperative.  The coop has over 250 members and over half of them are women.  They have even had a women president.  Very awesome that it has been so progressive. We discovered that some of the beans have been shipped to Vancouver WA.

   We then went into the church - what a very beautiful open space for worship.  Again Jim had a hand in starting the construction of this building.  And then we went to a library that is funded by the coop and used for additional studies after school. There were lots of books for them to read and activities for them to do.

   Getting around from the mission is an adventure in itself - we ride in the back of a pick-up truck just as the locals do.  It reminds me of the times in Browning when I would want to ride in the back of the truck when we’d go places.

   I feel very blessed to be here, especially with my dad, and experience the graciousness of the people and to see what they have been able to continue to build and grow in these past 50 years.

 



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Prosperity for All

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” -Cesar Chavez

 

 The President of the Coffee Co-Operative (Juan) thanks Jim for his work in starting the Co-Op 50 years ago and Sheila for the support the Diocese has offered.

The President of the Coffee Co-Operative (Juan) thanks Jim for his work in starting the Co-Op 50 years ago and Sheila for the support the Diocese has offered.

   Today has been a full one in Santo Tomas La Union.  We started off this morning not completely sure of what our schedule was going to be but after breakfast and an introduction to “Buen Vivir,” translated as good living, which is the nutritional program Clinica Maxena uses to educate the local community about nutrition.  We then hopped in the truck and visited the coffee co-op about 6 miles up the road outside of town in the community of Pasac.  Once we returned from the mountain towns, we had a lunch/nap break and then visited the herb gardens and learned about the agricultural projects the clinic has developed.

   With this being my fourth visit here, I have been curious to see what might grab my attention that I would see from a new perspective or possibly find interest in that I have not found before.  I am always interested to visit the co-op and sample the coffee, as well as to see the mountains towns.  Today, however I found myself thinking about how a community cares for its people.  It seems that a common theme today has been communities coming together to find ways that collectively make life better for others.  Whether it be through nutrition and health, helping farmers, or teaching children - the communities here demonstrate many good examples of knowing that unless everyone’s lives have a chance of getting better they are not as strong as they could be.

   In many ways, the work done here is more forward thinking than even in our own community.  Given the challenges that exist here with funding, education, and stability people work hard to take care of others.  Perhaps with the challenges here they know that personal prosperity is only going to come through working with and empowering others.

Colleen Dunne

From Dick Field

We stayed last night in Guatemala City In a most pretty Hostal. Today we had a 70 Mile, three-hour bus ride to Santo Tomas and the mission. The ride was through a valley containing three volcanic peaks, one "smoking" a bit; one more thing off the bucket list. The mission is an impressive operation, and it will be interesting learning all about it. I have enjoyed seeing the long history of the Catholic Church in Central American.

Dick

First full day in Guatemala

We landed in Guatemala City in the dark. I had a thought, as we flew over, that every city looks the same from above. Little rows and circles of white and yellow lights, and as you get closer, lights of red and green become visible. From above there is no crime, violence or politics. From above, some cities are bigger or brighter but other than that, they are basically the same.

That was the story of the last time i was in Guatemala and seems to be the story so far this time. From the sky and from here on earth, we are more similar than we are different. Smiles are returned with smiles, children giggle, teen agers lean in corners and canoodle.

Our host at Novo Hostel was so sweet and gracious. Our driver from Guatemala City helped us to learn the names of the volcanos we passed, and people in the backs of pickups waved as they noticed the van full of funny Americans.

My intension for this trip was to grow closer to God and build relationship with Christ. Christ is easy to see here, in the faces of my traveling companions and in the faces of His Guatemalans. There are an open, loving, welcoming, comfortable people. I am so impressed at all that has been accomplished here in the last 50 years, and so proud to get to be a small part of it.

Jen Blood

Fr. Jeff Sent from my iPad; apologies in advance for brevity

Day 1 and 2

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update for the blog. Yesterday, January 18 was a day of travel. Most of had to get up b 3 am to make our flight out of Missoula. Little did we know that our Missoula flight would be delayed for an hour as they dealt with a few minor issues; including running out of de-icer on the truck. It was a bumpy ride into cold Minneapolis where it was -11. We made it into Guatemala City around 8:30 pm CST. We journeyed to our hostel for the night. This morning we headed to the Mission. The Mission is only about 66 miles from Guatemala City, but it took over 3 hours to arrive. We are getting settled in today; had a quick tour around the grounds, a nice lunch and several of our team have walked into Santo Tomas. Hopefully someone will be able to post another entry later today.

All God's blessings, please hold us in your prayers. We are praying for you!

Fr. Jeff Sent from my iPad; apologies in advance for brevity

Getting Ready!

On January 18, nine Christ the King parishioners will travel to the Diocese of Helena's Mission in Guatemala. Our pilgrims include: Jen Blood, Colleen Dunne, Raven Dryden, Dick Field, Fr. Jeff Fleming, Barb and Norm Fortunate, Lori Gavin, and Jim Tackes.

It is our hope to blog each day that we are in Guatemala, sharing our experiences and thoughts.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Guatemala, the work of the Mission and ourpilgrims. Thank you for your support!

The Diocese of Helena has maintained a mission presence in Guatemala since 1964. The mission lies in the coastal highlands of Guatemala, about 100 km (66 miles) west-northwest of Guatemala City, not too far north from the City of Mazatenango.
The operation of the mission in Guatemala and its various projects is dependent upon both contributions to the Annual Catholic Appeal and on special donations. If you would like tocontribute to the work of the mission, click here.