Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Mission

It is July 21st and we recently returned from Honduras.  As always, the trip was amazing and fulfilling in our global mission quest.  We have been traveling to Honduras every summer for the past 5 years now with friends from the Presbyterian church to work with a nondenominational program called HOI.  HOI is a fantastic organization that does so much outreach and assistance to the people living in the rural area of the Agalta Valley in Olancho, Honduras.  This year was the first time that Roy, Heather and I all went as a family.  What an amazing experience to share together.  The only missing link was our eldest daughter Stephanie, and I hope to complete the missing piece some day in the future with her to join us as well.  The village we worked in this year was a place thirsty for the love of Christ.  They had a church in the center of the community, but no one could tell us the last time a priest or pastor came to open the doors.  They felt they were abandoned from the church and many were hesitant to open up and trust in the Word we wanted to share.  No one showed up for the adult bible study we wanted to share.  The were receptive to prayer and the home visits that Fr. Roy, Pastor Wilmer, and Pastor Joy gave.  Many opened up and shared their heart-aches and asked for prayer.  The worship service on the last day far exceeded previous year's fiestas we'd done in the past.  What a glorious experience.  After the team left for the airport to return to the US, Kitti Ginn and I waved them off with a strange sense of excitement and uncertainty.  We had decided prior that we would stay a few extra days to research what type of mission opportunities were available that were supported by the Episcopal Church. 

 El Hogar was started about 33 years ago by an Episcopal priest whom is now retired in our diocese.  It is supported nationally by the Episcopal Church but also relies on funding and volunteers from all faiths.  The school in Tegucigalpa is the original site which was initially started to assist street boys in the city and provide them with a home, food and education.   This site houses 103 students (27 girls and 76 boys).   El Hogar has grown to now 4 cooperatives, 2 are strictly boy centers for vocational training, 1 co-ed elementary school (Teguc site) and the newest site is at Santa Maria for all girls.  I was told that boys are more often cast off from families than girls, but many factors are changing the dynamics of the increase in need for girls.  Girls are now being trained in vocations as well – El Hogar Esparanza for example has volunteers come in that train the girls in beauty skills (hair, nails, make up etc). 

 The Agricultural Center is about 1 hour outside of Tegucigalpa and houses 56 boys.  They work the farm in the morning learning agriculture skills with cattle, chickens, farming (they produce corn, red beans, soy beans, zucchini, and plantains).  They also have a Tilapia fish hatchery.  As you may already know, Honduras is the leading country of import for the US for Tilapia.   In the afternoons the boys attend classes for 3 years.  They can obtain a high school diploma as well as learn the vocation of farming.  After 3 years, they have the option of attending workshops at their Technical Institute.  The Technical Institute houses 88 boys and provides technical training in carpentry, electricity, plumbing and mechanics.   There is no volunteer housing available at this site only, but volunteers can commute here from other centers.  The program can house a total of 15 per group at any given location (that is their van size).  I’d love to talk more about this or you can find more information on their website at www.elhogar.org


Global mission is definately an inspiration to our ministry.  However, we also enjoying our ministry in the states as Roy has had a call to St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Bonita Springs.  Our move from Wisconsin back to Florida was filled with teary goodbye's, but the welcome from the parishioners of St. Mary's has been such a comfort in this new transition in our life.   We look forward to the next phase of "Our Faithful Journey".

Until next time.  May God bless you and richly fulfill your life.  Listen to His voice in your life and reach out to do the work he is calling you to do.

Love,
Marcia

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Madness

Oh my!  I have been so unfaithful to this blog, and I am truly sorry.  I do want to share all of our challenges, successes, and what not.  It just seems that life gets away from me and I do not take the appropriate time to write it all down.  Well, so much has happened since January.  LOL!!  First bit of most exciting news is that we have been officially welcomed and announced as new members and Roy as the new Associate Priest of St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Bonita Springs.  Roy will begin his first day on June 5th.  We are actively searching online for rental property in the Naples area and are busily purging and sorting what we are taking and what bits we never unpacked and don't need.  What a frantic Spring Madness we'll call it.  On a calmer note, I do continue with my devotional time in prayer in Icon Writing.  I recently completed by first commissioned icon for St. Mary's Chapel called Our Lady of Walsingham.  See photo...
Speaking of icons, I have also taken on my first student, or shall I say students.  Earlier in the year, I taught a class of elementary aged children a simple form of icon writing in watercolor medium.  Two of those students have progressed to a more complicated form of icon study and are currently working with me on Sunday afternoons in separate forms.  Timmy Tucker is 9 years old and is working on the icon Christ the Teacher in the traditional egg tempra medium.  Brenna Delaney is 12 and she is doing The Transfiguration in a water based medium called Gouache.  I am thrilled to pass this historic tradition of devotion on to a new generation.  I pray they will continue their spiritual journey and be able to increase their prayer life with in this technique.


Graduation is just around the corner May 24th, and though most of our family will be unable to travel to Wisconsin to be here, we look forward to a joyous reunion back to Florida in the very near future.  It has been a long time apart, but overall the journey has flown by.  I am trying to get my last minute "bucket list" of Wisconsin things to do complete.  Roy's ordination to the Priesthood has not been announced yet, but we are looking at June 16th as a possible date.  There are so many people to say good-bye to an yet, many more to say hello to in the continuation of this journey.

My job is still going well.  I plan to continue to work for CareCentrix via remote access for as long as they'll have me.  I like my work, but my passion will forever be ministry with my husband.  We are looking forward to another Mission Trip this summer to Honduras.  This time Roy, Heather and I will go together as a family for the first time.  I pray that one day Stephanie will be able to join us in mission and it will be a complete family experience.  If you would like to know more about how to get involved in Mission Honduras please email me or post a comment with your questions. 

Heather is working through the difficult time of yet another transition.  Saying good-bye to people in Oconomowoc as well as people she has come to love on campus will be tough.  This year with the flexibility of home school, she was able to work a part-time job in the refrectory prior to and during lunch.  Many in the kitchen have grown very close to her fresh outlook and smile at work. 

Finally, the last recent event to report was the WoNH Lenten Retreat.  What a blessing it was for us this year to experience Inner Healing with Pastor Sharon Lewis and prayer warrior Debra Reed.  They are friends from the Diocese of SWFL that came to Nashotah House and led a spiritual healing service on campus, led the WoNH Weekend Retreat, then completed the weekend with Pastor Sharon giving the sermon and assisting Fr. Michael with celebrating the Eucharist at Zion Episcopal Church in Oconomowoc on that following Sunday before her departure.  It was a wonderful experience that has really enhanced the break through of healing that we have seen happen at The House in the time that we have been here.  Prayer has been incorporated in to daily living at The House in many outwardly visible signs such as Healing Services, Small Group Healing Prayer meetings on Tuesday nights, 1:1 prayer with fellow students in need during trauma, before sermons, and other needs.  Not to forget the powerful OSL and DOK orders on campus. 




 In close, I am looking at Spring in new eyes this year.  Enjoying the final buds, and pop of foliage for the last time.  I am living each day with a new awareness of readiness and anticipation of the next step of the journey. 

See all my Florida followers soon!  Love and {{HUGS}} - Marcia

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

                                 (Jherlly and I on my last day in Peru at la playa)
Home and settled in to the routine rather quickly from the trip to Peru.  The culture shock coming back home was definitely trying.  To begin with the nice 70 degree difference assault was not friendly when the small plane we flew in from Houston did not connect to the terminal walk-way.  We left Peru in 80 something degrees and came home to 4 inches of snow on the ground and teen numbers, good thing I changed from my Capri's and t-shirt to something a bit warmer.  Our families were waiting for us at the terminal entrance with open arms.  They were excited to hear our tales and adventures.  Going home, the traffic was highly more sensible than from where we had just come, I only flinched once (which is better than the norm when Roy is driving.... lol).  We got home around 4:30pm after 20 hours of traveling and exhausting was creeping in.  I think I barely made it through dinner before I collapsed in the comfort of my own bed.  It wasn't until the next morning that the silence was deafening.  There is simply no noise here!  I hadn't realized how noisy 12 million people were in the city of Lima.  I probably should have taken the following day off of work to relax and assimilate back in to our culture, but I need to be mindful of my off days this year with so much going on (mission, moving, graduations, weddings, etc)  I have to watch carefully, so I went back to work on Wednesday.  It was very difficult, and a couple of times the tears flowed without warning at the nonsense of things that now seem so trivial.  We helped Cindy get her truck packed and on her way to her parish in Tyler, TX.  Saying "manana" rather than good-bye, as we know the world is getting smaller and smaller, never know when we will again meet.  We are continuing our prayers for the portion of the team that stayed in Peru and were traveling these last few days to higher altitudes.  I heard from the grapevine, that they were experiencing bad road conditions and altitude sickness, but the Lord carried them in with our prayers.  Latest report is they are back safe and sound now and preparing to return to the states tomorrow.  Blessings to Paul, Tripp, Brian and Michael for safe travel tomorrow.  Looking forward to hearing about the Inca's.  I will forever be thankful for the opportunity of this trip.  The education gained and the mission experience that we shared will be so beneficial in future mission planning.  I still have a paper to write and a power point presentation to complete to finish the requirements of the class, but I will get them done this weekend.  I wonder about the friends we made and how they are doing.  It seems so surreal, like a world away.  The one thing that I will always keep with me from this conference was the testimony of Bishop Chapman when asked what one thing Christians can use as a tool for effective ministry and his answer was a three minute testimony.  "Who I am, Who I Was, and How Christ Changed Me" is often the seed that is needed to get the attention of a nonbeliever.  To engage and identify with people.  It was a powerful yet simple concept.

                                  (Luis is a young man with special needs at Shalom).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday Jan 12th - San Andres

For those that read the blog yesterday and may be confused that I am writing about San Andres again today, I made the correction to yesterday's entry to El Salvador was the church.  San Andres is the church we went to on Thursday and  I was referencing a schedule notes for names, etc and mixed it up.  By this time keeping track of names, places, and dates is getting difficult as it is all running together.  Thursday we started with our normal routine of morning prayer at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.  We then got back in the bus for a long drive south (I think).   What I am amazed by today is the extreme diffferences in life that just a few kilometers make.  Where we are staying is in a very nice part of town, surrounded by many Embassy's and the home of dignitaries and families with higher status.  Our hotel is nice, not air conditioned - and it seems my room has better air flow than others on the team, but all in all no complaints as it is clean and refreshing after a long day. 

As we travel into the city, in some cases it isn't not much unlike other cities I've seen.   It is not until you talk to the people that you realize the culture is different. Traffic is crazier than most, and the number of people is astounding, but I am still not "shocked" because from the outside looking in it is deceiving.  There is poverty within the city of course, but many inner cities have poverty, homelessness, and gang related activity.  The big difference is when you travel up.  The more out of the city you go, things begin to change and you realize this is a different country, with extreme cultural differences.  The electricity begins to run short and the water flow stops. 

Where we went today there were a few of the homes with electricity, but none of them with running water.  This place is dry as the desert and rocky and steep.  Fr. Benjamen allowed us to use his toilet (the only one here) before the climb up the mountain.  He also talked to us about the history of the community and showed us the school.  The school was quite large and the children were well adept in singing to Fr. Benjamen's banjo playing.  It was evident that they loved and respected him.  I do not remember how far it was up that we climbed, but I can tell you it wasn't cut out with steps as we have had the luxury of up to now.  It was a rock climb for sure.  The peruvians scaled the mountain in flip flops with an ease that did not go unnoticed by any of us, some toting a baby on hip.  San Andres is proud in their catachesis training and the importance of knowledge of the bible.  The children were telling us what they have been learning so far in Romans, and I think they surpassed mine!  San Andres has another set of land that is not as high a climb, but it is undeveloped.  Fr. Benjamen explains that they must complete the work there, because that is the only way the government will give them the title to the land, if they use it.

The kids were engaging with us and if it was evident that we didn't understand in spanish they would revert to the words in english that they knew.  They quickly grabbed our hand if needed when climbing the hills, they carried my backpack, and especially Brenda was attentive to me.  Brenda showed me where she lived, her dad and uncle were building on to their house a second floor.  Brenda is 14 years old with an older maturity about her.  She was serious, but smiled often.  She asked me many questions and was quick to answer any of mine.

When we got back to the hotel, as much as I do not like sitting in the room, I have to say I was ready for a nap.  Thus no posting.  :-)  Anyway, I hope you are enjoying reading about our experiences.  We are blessed to have this opportunity of being here and learning how to incorporate the culture to empower the mission; in otherwords to utilize and enhance what is in place rather than to take over and create something that may not be able to be utilized or carried on.

God Bless,
Marcia

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Days 4 & 5 Lima, Peru

Day 4 Tuesday January 10, there is a new understanding today of why death both the fear and respect of it is so prelivant in this land.  Many are faced with immininent or the possibility death everyday of their life. We went to what is called the “chancharia” translated means “pig stye”.  It is called that because when the invaders took this land (yes, they invaded this land which is another story in itself) it was in the new town (high ground new area) and they built their homes in the middle of a pig pen or pig stye.  There are 14 original families that came here 12 years ago, many did not know Jesus Christ.  When the Holy Trinity church Padre came and established the Mission Pablo, he came to the people to help them spiritually and physically.  This land is desolate, not just poor.  I have seen poverty and many but in settings surrounding of natural beauty that gives hope of God’s love.  This land if you were just to look at it from the outside without Christ is desolate.  We met Esperanza (which means Hope by the way).  She is one of the original families.   She came when her husband was killed by terrorists with her 3 children and 2 orphaned children. She crowds us all in to her small shack to share her testimony of faith with us how Mission Pablo saved her life by coming to know Jesus’ Christ.  She says she has not missed a service since they came.  She tells us a story of last year she broke her arm, she prayed for pain relief so that she could continue her work in the soup kitchen.  Even though she has nothing, she feeds 200 people in the soup kitchen every day.   God heard her prayer and she was able to continue to work (even without medical care) pain free.  Another original family we met was Marcella.  Marcella was very proud of her home, it was a little bigger in comparison and had a couch and a cabinet for her dishes and a television.  She was also very proud of the fact that her home was one of the few with electricity.  I have pictures with Alethea and her two small children (or possibly grandchildren I couldn’t tell) because her daughters were teenage and it was not clear.  All of the pastoral visits we went on the people were happy that we came to pray with them.  They wanted prayers for “salud” which means “health”.  None of the homes have running water.  Someone will bring water up the mountain once a week and they can buy a gallon for $1.  They have creative ways of making that gallon last for 8 days, and remaining clean in appearance in what they are wearing and hygiene.  Many parents left their children at home while they went down the mountain to sell fruit juice or other things.  There is very little vegetation in this part.  Since there is no running water, what little water they have can not be wasted – all the thriving plants are either for consumption or are acclimated to the dryness.

Day 5, Wednesday January 11th, as everyday we start the day at Good Shepherd Cathedral in morning prayer with Fr. John Parks.  He and his wife Susan have shown us much hospitality in ensuring that all of our needs are met this trip.   Susan has coordinated someone to bring us a packed lunch everyday consisting of a sandwich, a juice, a fruit and a savory snack of some kind.  Fr. John has added the Nashotah House prayer to the prayers of the people that has improved our comfort zone and reduces the culture shock of this foreign land.  Yes, I am learning how to identify cultural differences and dealing with “culture shock” it’s not just a passive term.  Today the group takes a visit to another northern region of Lima to a place that is hurting spiritually.  The Anglican church has gone through some difficult times with changes in priests with different styles that have confused the people, causing anger, and divisions.  The new priest has just started about a month or so ago and his name is Fr. Carlos.  The church is El Salvador.  The building when we approach is very large.  They have much space for a school and worship center.  Many of their conveniences are more modern.  The compassion ministry is already in place here.  I only know that Compassion is a program for children in the schools that relate to issues of healthcare and diet for children.  Fr. Carlos splits us in to groups and asks us to take flyers door to door to the surrounding community to invite the people to church.  We Paul, myself, and Jherlly venture off with Don Pablo.  It is evident that Don Pablo is well respected in the town.  He seems to know everyone and walks with not just a cane – but “a big stick” if you know what I mean.  We go door to door, telling people about El Salvador and praying for them.  We talk to people on the street.  On group in particular I remember were two women and two children walking down the street.  The older woman asked us to pray for the younger woman.  I held both her hands and others layed hands on her and we prayed in the middle of the road.  It was amazing, it was if we were the only people on the block.  As we prayed small tears flowed from this woman’s eyes and I could feel that she was being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Afterwards, her face shown with smiles as you may see in my FB pictures for Day 5 – she is in a black shirt.  I will try to upload photo’s to blog upon return to states – the internet transmission is very slow here.  Anyway, she was smiling and the mother told us she is pregnant and filled with depression.  We are happy that Jesus has made this woman smile in her time of despair.  We walk from door to door, some are fearful and will only take our invitation through the window or a small opening in the door.  Some open the door and tell us their story.  One man in particular opened the door and it was evident that he had health problems – probably a stroke paralyzing his right side.  He told us that he had had an aneurysm and needed brain surgery.  Most people do not live from this surgery.  He was not a believer at this time even though his mother goes to church.  I’m not sure if the dream he had was during surgery or after surgery but he told us he had a dream.  The dream was that he was falling.  Falling literally in to the depth of hell, Jesus caught him and saved him from falling in to hell.  He said Jesus was holding on to him tight.  When he woke up, he knew he was not going to die and was saved.  He began telling people right then in the hospital about Jesus.  When he got home he told his mother that Jesus saved him.  She told him that if he believed in Jesus he didn’t need the wheelchair the doctor confined him to.  So he got up.  He walks by dragging his leg, but this man walks.  He told us he did not think that Jesus wants to heal him completely, but did not say it in a disappointed way.  Though it touched our heart.  Paul touched the man and we all prayed for him.  Afterward, I told him that the story of his dream was very inspiring and that many people would want to hear his story and please come to El Salvador to tell his story.  We walked on.  We came to what was once a market place.  It was basically an enclosed area by concrete wall with stalls inside that had doors.  People came and invaded the space and were now using it as their home.  Don Pablo says this happens frequently until the government identifies the invaders and makes them leave the land that does not belong to them.  It seems quiet in this place and not many will open their doors.  There are several children playing in here – left by their parents possibly at work.  We do not stay long.  There are many others that we meet along the way in our 2 hours of street evangelization.  One that disturbed me was a possible homeless woman we tried to talk to, she was pleasant but Don Pablo rushed us along say she was crazy and “walks with the devil”.  I was confronted with an unpleasant cultural difference in that moment, however I realized that this is their belief that mental illness is associated with demonic possession.  I was not sure how to address this difference and the moment passed.  We went back to El Salvador because we are to meet with Dr. Townsend Cameron.  He has been in Peru for 5 months, he came from Georgia with his wife and daughter as missionaries.  He is addressing what the healthcare needs are in cooperation with the diocese.  He stresses how important it is to identify what is in place for any kind of assistance and to compliment rather than replace what is already established.  He has met with the medical director at the local Children’s hospital in Lima, he has talked with the program directors of Compassion, and is now collecting his own data with daily conversation and relationship building with people in many remote areas.  His theory correlates  to much of what we are learning in the class – and in the book “When Helping Hurts”.  After this we drive back to the hotel and we have free time.  Several of us go with Paula and Fr. Ian from Good Shepherd to the Indian Market.  There Fr. Ian helped us to haggle for some gifts that we will treasure simply from the memories of the day.  We get back to the hotel just in time to change and prepare for the evening at the Diocesan Center.  They serve us a three course meal every night prepared by their own in house chef.  Today is Richard’s birthday and someone gave the kitchen staff a heads up, so for desert they brought out a delicious mousse cake and we all sang Happy Birthday to Richard in 3 ways (2 Spanish and our traditional English). Class discussion was interesting.  We talked about Cross Culturalism.  The Peruvian’s were talking about how many old beliefs were being combined with newer Christianity beliefs and still is a confusion that needs to be dealt with.  One example given was the belief in Mother Earth.  Many traditional rituals from Shamans were done in addition to prayer for the sick.  It was very interesting and a little difficult to follow not knowing Spanish very much, but the class is really helping to bring understanding and enlightenment to much of my mission experiences.  I am thankful.  9:30pm we head back to the hotel for debriefing and compline.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Reflections on mission in Lima, Peru

Day 3 January 9, 2012

Our first couple of days in Lima, Peru was started in preparation of understanding the culture.  Day one was about historical culture.  We visited sacred churches that were examples of the Maryology religious aspect of the people, the monastery of the Franciscans of St. Frances of Assessi group – and the catacombs where the bones of all the saints and hierarchy of the church were still found.  We also visited the Museum of the Inquisition and learned the history of the persecution of the Peruvians that did not follow the doctrine of the Catholic faith, which lasted 300 years.  Detailed pictures can be found on my facebook page. 

Day two theme is about the religious culture.  The team split up and visited many churches and worshiped with the people.  I went to Cristo Redentor with Fr. Michael, Dcn. Paul, and Richard.  The four of us and our translator Jherlly squeezed into Fr. Anderson’s Honda CR-V when he came to pick us up for church.  He gave us his testimony on the drive.  He was born in Peru, but lived for many years growing up and adult life in Las Angelas, CA.  He and his brother came back to Peru about 15 years ago for a wedding and he decided he was not going back to the USA.  He left his home his job and his family (mother, father and brother) to accept his call to Jesus and ministering to his native people in Peru.   We arrived in time for a tour of the school.  The church served 240 children of the neighborhood, feeding them 2 meals a day and teaching them primary school.  The service was started in contemporary music with drums, electric guitar and a vocalist.  I found out later, the building itself does not have power, that one of the parishioners has electricity and they “share power” with the church.   The 4 of us were asked to give our testimony to the parish during the time of the sermon.  I shared how we were resisting God’s call in our lives for many years.  We were consumed with our successful careers and building a life according to the “American Dream”.  We thought that as long as we gave our money and some of our time to the church that was enough.  I then talked about the eye opening experience we had when we went on a mission trip to a village where there was no running water, no electricity, and no cement floors.  Our lives were changed.  We realized we were not giving 100% of our lives to Christ as he insists upon.  So we decided it was time to accept God’s call to seminary.  We began to scale down by selling what we didn’t need, a car, house, pool table and basically leaving behind all that would not fit in 2 PODS that would meet us in Nashotah, WI to begin our journey.  My testimony was not unlike other seminarian testimonies, it was a testimony of faith.  I am not one to speak in a crowd, but this morning, God held my hand literally.  I was not afraid, I did not get the jitters that normally accompany public speaking and I was breathing with God’s grace and peace.  Our worship experience at Cristo Redentor was amazing.  The differences I saw (other than the obvious Spanish language spoken) was that the ushers did not “pass the plate”.   Offering baskets lay at the altar, and the people were to come up to the altar and drop their offering in the offering basket.  Many came, one by one, than all together, young, old, some with coins and some with folded papers – all giving with joy when it was evident they did not have much to give.  After the service Fr. Anderson told us we had 3 more passengers to squeeze in to the Honda CR-v (now 9 people in this small car – transit Latin style!!).

Which brings us to Day 3; the mission culture.  Today we were introduced to how the church is branching out in mission in many areas.  We visited Padre Aurelio Rodriguez at Santa Maria Virgen.  His vision is promoting hope in many ways.  The first evident is the beauty he has created in the vicinity of his church.  Plants are everywhere.  He says that plants are a natural expression of hope and God’s love.  The other wonderful ministry he supports (with the help of 21 ladies in his church) is a micro finance project.  The women sew together, knit, make jewelry and shoes and sell the items at the church to help support their families.  The court house is on the same street as the church, and Santa Maria serves many people that are in both civil cases and criminal cases for either way a judgment goes.  Then Padre took us to the Sagrada Familia mission.  It is located higher up on the mountain, some call it “shanty town” others with a vision of hope call it “pueblo jevan” meaning young town.  The young towns are built away from city in hopes that they will grow and be able to support themselves.  Sagrada Mission today (will add pictures later) was started with a piece of mountain side land bought by the diocese.  The women in the town cleared the rock by hand.  It was hard manual labor, they do this as well as cook together in the village.  The men are traveling salesmen they call it in English.  They are gone for days at times or locally as street vendors so the women are left to do all this work.  Padre is very proud of the mission – and has dreams of its completion soon.  Mission teams have come to help with the foundation and the bricks for the walls.  There is still no roof yet, but his plants of hope are all around.  He points out where the baptismal will go and where the nativity scene will go.  His vision is an inspiration!   You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Fr. Aurelio is sick with TB.  He said that because the village does not have running water, the sewage is absorbed in the ground – creating contamination in the ground, there is a cement plant to the east – creating contamination in the air, and his work at the cemetery has all been contributing factors.  The cemetery (seen in pictures) is the largest cemetery in the world.  You may not be able to notice, but some of the pictures you’ll see the graves all the way up the mountain.  The reason the cemetery is contaminated is because the ground is desert, no vegetation, and the bodies are only buried 30 centimeters down in the ground.  The smell of decay and death is evident in this place.   The cemetery is guarded and usually a bus would not be allowed in the gate for “tours”, but with Padre with us, he is a well known and respected man here.  He wants to show us how death is respected as well as feared here.  It is evident in the shrines and handmade memorials.  He told us it is too expensive to neither cremate nor embalm the bodies, so they are buried in a casket and sometimes after a respectful amount of time, the family will have someone dig the body back up and remove it from the casket so the wooden casket can be used again.   This day was so powerful.  So many things to process and take in.  I am still not sure I have gotten it all down, but the one thing I want to take away with me today is the sadness in the eyes of the boy who was thirsty.  May I never forget the thirst in the world.  May I never take for granted the running water that we often waste in the USA with unnecessities.  The people of Sagrada must drink contaminated water (which is sold to them at a high price) because they do not have running water.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Harvest Moon

Loading more fall pictures to enjoy.  We went back to Holy Hill last weekend, it is the Basilica Shrine for Mary and the home of the Carmolites.  Also adding some great photo's of the "Harvest Moon" and my newest icon I'm working on.  Blessings to you all!