Posts Tagged With: rancho

Drunk in church & reflecting on my fast

Sunday – 9:00am – In the back seat of the old gray missionary van on the way to communion services in the ranchos – middle of nowhere, Coahuila, Mexico

Trying to write a journal entry in this van is like trying to build a house of cards during an earthquake. Very difficult to do. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it is kinda difficult. ๐Ÿ™‚ But as you can see from the title of today’s entry, I got some pretty interesting stuff to talk about and didn’t want it to slip my mind. It also felt really strange yesterday not writing in my journal after having written everyday for the past 40 days. I can kinda see now how writing is therapeutic and can help you make sense of things a little better.

Now just to clear things up, I was not drunk in church, at least not on alcohol. But there was a drunk guy that wandered into Mass. I’m assuming he was a by-product of the concert last night at the Presidencia. Thankfully he was a very quiet and respectful drunk. You could definitely tell he was drunk though. His breathing was loud and labored. His walk and stance were a little bit wobbly. He weaved in and out of the pews a couple of times and had a couple of different seats before he finally settled on the same one for the rest of Mass. He also stomped his foot on the kneeler a few times. Oh, and at the end of Mass he walked up to the front pew and did a little dance too. To the credit of everyone there, they didn’t seem bothered or overly curious, with the exception of some stares by a few kids. What I felt kinda bad about was my initial reaction. I was worried that he’d be a distraction and that he shouldn’t be in Church. Wasn’t it Jesus that said he came to save the lost? Isn’t that one stray sheep just as important as the other 99? So for the rest of Mass I tried to pray for him instead of keeping an eye on him. Figured he could use my prayers more than my judgment.

Now that I’m a couple days removed from my fast I can also do a little bit of looking back on the experience. At this point I’m thinkin’ mainly of two things: guarding my growth and following my heart. When I think about the fast and all the graces I got during the fast, I’m amazed. The graces of chastity, patience, and perseverance are just a few that come to mind. I’m also thinking how awesome it was to have that sacrifice (hunger) to offer up. Now I’m realizing that I have to guard those graces. I have to continue to look to develop them. I’ve got to continue to look for sacrifices to offer up so that I have ammo against my weaknesses and temptations. Maintain the momentum. Yeah, that’s a good way to sum it up.

I’m also thinkin’ about the whole clarity thing, in regards to my mission post. When I started my fast, I was under the assumption that “clarity” meant figuring out which country I wanted to go to. Never did I thinkย  when I started my fast that it might actually mean figuring out whether or not I would even go back into the mission field. What does seem clearer is that I don’t think I’m at peace with going back out into the foreign mission field, at least not at this point in my life. Maybe later in life, once I’m married? Who knows…. My heart is ready to pursue friendship and see what develops. That’s alot easier to do if I’m stateside. Plain and simple, it’s what I want for my life. I believe it’s my calling and so not only do I want to pursue it, I HAVE to pursue it. I also don’t think it would be fair to mission partners and people that we’d be serving if I had a heart divided between missions and marriage. It seems wise to pursue the vocation of marriage with a single, undivided heart, and then whatever else is next will fall into place.

That being said, I pray for those of you who are also discerning your vocation in life, that you would be patient, persevere, and receive clarity and peace. Please pray for me too as I pursue friendship and ultimately marriage. Till next time, take care and God Bless!

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 36

Day 36 – Monday – 10/29/12

The first thing I realized this morning is that the last day of my fast is All Souls Day. It’s always neat when a big day like a birthday, anniversary, or something else falls on a feast day, because it gives it added significance. In this case I can offer up the last days of my fast for all who have passed away. And since Saturday marks my first day of normal eating again, not sure how I’ll celebrate for breakfast. Probably cook and eat a whole pack of bacon ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve got three, maybe four days max to regain my normal appetite before the group gets here. That’s when Marta’s cooking starts!

Another thing I was thinking about during my morning walk was the challenge that ministry is going to be this week. I mean, how do you focus on your ministry when you’ve got 60 people descending upon your house over the next month? How do I keep focus when after being so quiet over here for so long, we finally get some liveliness, energy, and action in our house? On top of that, it’s gonna be a slow week anyways. We don’t have any rancho visits this week so we’ll have even MORE time to think about how excited we are about the group. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not a bad thing though. Just another opportunity to grow in focus & self-control. And speaking of self-control, another opportunity of growth will come soon once the group gets here. This will be the last week of getting to indulge in long text, video chat, & phone conversations with yesterday’s aforementioned yet-to-be-named female friend. I will enjoy the heck out of it, that’s for sure, because I really enjoy talking to her. But when the group comes, it’ll be nice to immerse myself in group activities and the group schedule. It’ll also give both of us (especially her, a school teacher) a chance to catch up on sleep a little bit! ๐Ÿ™‚ Besides, I’m sure that we’ll still have some form of communication, be it texting, email, brief phone call, or a combination of all three. Another benefit is it’s one of those “absence makes the heart grow fonder” moments that is necessary for a friendship (& God-willing a relationship) to flourish.

Yesterday, God blessed me with more of the normal hunger pangs before and after eating. And as always, eating a kinda big meal, and eating it late, did not eliminate them later in the day/evening. Neither did eating two of my favorite Mexican snack cake treats later in the evening do anything to mitigate the pangs. But what I did do was elicit a brief moment of sugar-induced bliss, and a few audible mm-mmm’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ The good thing about the group being here too is that group money will pay for all of the meals, so I’ll have a little more spare money to pay for snacks! Well, lemme end this on a sorta gross and random note, as a fun-loving bachelor missionary man’s mom would be inclined to do. Yesterday after eating my eggs for lunch, I noticed afterwards, that everytime I burped it tasted like potatoes. Weird, huh? Since when did egg-burps taste like potatoes? Oh well, maybe that was God’sย  modern day version of multiplying the loaves & fishes. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 28

Day 28 – Sunday – 10/21/12

Today was a good day and a LOOONG day. Woke up a little before 7 so I could start getting ready for 7:30am Sunday Mass. What on earth was I doing going to Mass that early? I’ll tell you what I was doing. I was…………….going to Mass, that, early. ๐Ÿ™‚ For reals though, I go to the early Sunday Mass on the 1st and 3rd Sundays because all of the eucharistic ministers in the parish get a blessing from Father after Mass and then go out to alot of the rancho chapels surrounding our town and do communion services. Me and Luis got our guitars and a few other small things together after the 7:30 Mass and then headed out to our ranchos. As usual, he did Estacion Marte and I did Pilar de Richerdson. Now we did have a slight change-up today. Typically, we do those two, and then we backtrack exactly the same way we came and do a third one on the way back. But, we would also typically do another communion service at another rancho chapel on Monday, this one also being really far away.

Here’s what we figured out: we could do the two we normally do on communion service Sundays, and instead of doing the third one we normally do on the way back, we’d visit the one we normally do on Mondays. But how? Well, the route we take on Sundays and Mondays parallel each other. But, there is a feeder/connector “road” (more like a rocky dirt path through the desert) that could get us from the two that we do on Sundays, to the one we have been doing on Mondays. And after we finish the one we normally do on Mondays, we head back down that route, essentially making our entire trip a big triangle. Then, what we’ll do is take the 3rd one from Sunday, and move it to Monday, couple it with another rancho chapel visit (that we already visit on Mondays) that’s really close to it, and save time and gas. I haven’t calculated the exact amount we’d save, but it’ll be a good bit. Add up the cumulative effect (which we could have been benefitting from if we’d have thought of this route sooner), and that’s alot of savings. When gas prices are high, and your income as a missionary is low, savings are a GOOD thing. So yeah, we did the Sunday part of that plan today, and obviously the Monday part will be tomorrow. Feels good to be saving time and money. Not to mention it made us feel smart for figuring it out, and going on that lonely rocky dirt path through the desert between the two routes made me feel very brave and adventurous. ๐Ÿ˜€

Had some good hunger pangs today too. I’d say yesterday was the first day since quite early on in my fast that I did my once daily meal exactly that way, as one meal, all at once. No snacks before or after. So when I got up this morning, I was already quite hungry. I did have my morning cup of coffee, but didn’t have any food. And seeing as how I knew communion service Sundays are long (we leave 30 mins – 1 hour after the 7:30 Mass and don’t get back to the house ’till 2:30), I knew I’d have something to offer up! ๐Ÿ™‚ That was the good part of the hunger. As I’ve said before, literally experiencing strong hunger pangs, and then having your first physical food be the literal Body and Blood of Christ in The Eucharist, is amazing. The downside is that at the first chapel where I conducted a communion service, I was feeling a little weak. Nothing too bad or unmanageable, but nonetheless, I was feeling it. I was fortunate though that I had brought my bottle of Gatorade. So I took a few swigs after the communion service, and that seemed to do the trick.

The rest of the afternoon/evening has been pretty relaxed. Ate a good, late lunch. Folded my laundry, read some more from the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). Looks to be a pretty slow and relaxing rest of the evening. The Saints played while we were away at communion services, and there are no other games to watch or chores to do. Gonna call Mawmaw Doris then Mom & Dad, and then who knows what else after that.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 25

Day 25 – Thursday – 10/18/12

Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Yes, that Luke, the one who wrote one of the four Gospels. And when I was praying morning prayer from The Liturgy of The Hours, the reading was from 1 Corinthians 15. The beginning of the reading is what really stood out to me: “Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and in which you stand firm. You are being saved by it at this very moment.” The fact that the Gospel has the power to be saving us at this very moment is awesome. Like I said, once I read that, I couldn’t shake it, couldn’t get it out of my head. Also, I finished reading Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) this morning. At the very end, Blessed Pope John Paul II quotes St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17: we have been sent “to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” This brings me particular comfort, as someone who has never been a very learned person, nor have I been eloquent with my words. But it reminded me of how Christ is the source of the power that flows when we preach the Gospel, not our own skills.

Later this morning, I’m gonna go do some home visits by myself. Luis left early this morning to bring a lady to the hospital in Saltillo, the nearest big city (500,000) about an hour away. As with all hospital visits, it might take quite awhile, so that’s why i’m flying solo this morning. Gonna try and visit the three home visits that weren’t home this week, and there’s one more we haven’t been to yet, can’t forget them either. Hopefully he gets back early enough that we can do our scheduled rancho chapel visits. This is our last week as a mission team to visit the ranchos, so we want to visit one last time, and say our “goodbyes” before the group gets here. That way, if we lead the groups to visit other ranchos instead of these, they won’t think we forgot to say bye.

Well, Luis ended up getting back alot earlier than I expected. He even got back before our normal scheduled time that we leave for home visits, so it worked out well. Our two rancho visits were also good. At our first rancho, Ojo de Agua, we had all the regulars and then some. And by the time we started, they had even brought food and some drinks! I was amazed. Some people might not think it’s a big deal, but these people are not exactly rich. And for them to even do something as simple as bring a 3-liter bottle of coke, or make some gorditos is a big, big deal. So what I decided to do before I started my talk was to put all of the food and drink on the altar. Then I explained to them about how it was not just something to eat and drink, but a gift and an offering to God. I also explained that it was an image of the early Church, when for the offerings of bread and wine, the people would bring the bread and wine themselves for the priest to consecrate into Jesus’ Body and Blood, The Eucharist. It was pretty amazing. Reminds me of one of our rancho visits yesterday too. Afterwards, an old lady, not much more than 4 and a half feet tall, no less than 80 years old, walks up to my mission partner afterwards and sticks a couple small coins in his hand. And I knew, I just knew instantly that I was witnessing the Bible story from Mark 12, where the widow put her two small coins in the collection, and it was a more generous gift than the many many coins that the rich people gave.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 21

Day 21 – Sunday – 10/14/12

Well, it appears as though I’m halfway through my 40 day fast and I’m purty happy bout dat. It’s going by pretty quick. And part of me wants it to continue a long time, but I think my belly and my not quite refined enough self-control have other ideas. haha.

It’s been a pretty slow day today. No communion services in the ranchos and nothing planned so I turned off my alarm clock. But I woke up at 8:30 when one of my mission partners knocked on the door to get the van keys. He had to bring some local guys to a prayer meeting thingy about an hour away. Since I went to bed early enough last night and had a good enough night of sleep, I figured I’d get my lazy butt outta bed. Had my morning coffee while I let the water heater work its magic. Checked my email and read a few articles, read a book, and then shaved and showered. Not showered and shaved. Shaved and showered. I could never figure out why you’d wanna shower and THEN rub some kinda foamy chemical stuff all over you. I’d rather dab a warm towel on me to soften up the stubble and shave, so that I can really wash that stuff off in the shower.

I did have the hunger pangs a little bit this morning, so I was happy about that. Played the bongo at 10:30am Mass and then came back home for a relaxed rest of the day. Ate my daily meal at about 1 and I was proud of myself for not stuffing myself full. Though I did have several instances where I kinda hovered around the kitchen looking for snacks. Good thing that none were available and my self-control was up to par. Piddled around on the computer a little more. Made a new banner welcoming the missionaries from the States that will be visiting next month. Talked on the phone with Mawmaw Doris, my parents, and my best friend Chris. Have no idea what I’ll do the rest of the day. Probably read some more, Maybe do Liturgy of the Hours. Catch a football game on the internet. Who knows?

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 15

Day 15 – Monday – 10/8/12

Well, I made it through my first two weeks of the fast. I’ve definitely learned and grown alot already; I’ve definitely gained some clarity in my discernment of next year’s mission post. But, there’s still alot of time left in my fast so I’m sure there’s alot more progress to be made. I think this week I will start eating my daily meal at breakfast. Or, I might split my daily meal between breakfast and lunch to see how that works. See how it affects the hunger factor. One of the main reasons for the second option is that with a once daily meal, it’s a little bit bigger than a normal-sized meal for me. I suppose that’s a way to compensate for less meals. Guess that’s ok, as long as i’m not eating a daily meal that’s big enough to be three meals! ๐Ÿ™‚ More food = more time to prepare it and eat it. But, after morning prayer I usually have things I like to do before our morning ministry gets started and I don’t know if I’d have time to eat AND do all of that stuff. Ergo, the split-meal idea. I’ll at least try it today and see how it works out.

edit: Tried the split-meal thing and it seems to work ok. But, I think as long as I don’t dilly-dally I can eat a meal all at once. Might try that tomorrow. A meal all at once would also give me more of a hunger feeling later on in the day, that I can offer up. ๐Ÿ™‚

Earlier today we did our second to last rancho visits to Santa Ines and Independencia. Let them know that in two weeks would be our last official visit as a mission team before the 2 groups of missionaries arrive in November. At the rancho where I conducted the communion service (Independencia), I had a good chat with the lady who is the unofficial caretaker of the chapel. I’m giving her that honorary title because she is the keeper of the tabernacle keys, and i think she’s one of the few regulars when they pray the rosary in the chapel. She was lamenting the fact that few people show up at the chapel, whether it’s a rosary or a communion service. She specifically mentioned her wish that people would have a hunger for God. HUNGER. This word caught my attention for obvious reasons. It’s the type of hunger that she’s obviously concerned with, and in my fasting i’m realizing that it’s the type of hunger I too should be concerned with. I kinda smiled on the inside when she said that, because knowing that she and a precious few others like her are in that rancho keeping the light of Christ burning, is very comforting. Regardless of the numbers, it’s nice to know as a missionary that the people you serve have a hunger and a thirst for God.

Last but not least, offer up a little prayer for our mission team here. One of the guys was sick last night and this morning, and the other one has been sick today. Praise the Lord I haven’t gotten sick, but I woke up late, and have been in kind of a funk all day. I feel like it might be some kind of spiritual attack. So like I said, prayers please! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 13

Day 13 – Saturday – 10/6/12

Yesterday’s Desert Day and Rancho visits were good. It had been since the 3rd week of September since we visited, due to the fact that finances are tight so we spend even less on gas and because we wanted to do more in town as per father’s advice. We’ll be going again this week for our final visit as a team of singles before the Intake missionaries arrive at the beginning of November. When we got back and I went to buy a few things from the store and then came back to eat supper, I was reminded how even in the midst of fasting God is still allowing me to feast. When I say “fasting” I’m referring to both the “going without” that is experienced by many here in town on many different levels, as well as my own “going without” that I experience in the missionary life (combined with my 40 day fast). I had to carry two huge 5-gallon jugs of fresh drinking water that cost a mere 10 pesos each (less than $1 U.S.) I ended up carrying at least 4 grocery bags heavy with stuff. After my simple supper, I got to eat some inexpensive cookies for ย dessert ($17 pesos/$1.25 U.S.) that many people here can’t afford, and one of my mission partners let me have a piece of his Mexican chocolate to make a cup of hot chocolate. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

In morning prayer this morning the reading was from Hebrews 13 & the words that really stuck out to me were “…imitate their faith, Jesus Christ is the same, do not be carried away…”. Simple but powerful. Experienced a very small victory/grace from my fast earlier tonight. I remember that someone told me my fast will be less of a struggle with the hunger feeling and more of a struggle with controlling my desires and will. I wanted to eat a small piece of the Mexican chocolate that Albert gave me (which I had decided to give to one of our missionary families). Almost convinced myself that it was no big deal, then I remembered about how small victories are still victories. Resisted the chocolate. Felt good. Went over to Gallo and Rita’s so she could show me how to make bunuelos, which are thin flour tortillas that are fried and then dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Apparently they have to dry overnight, and then we’re gonna fry them up tomorrow morning. Told her we were gonna save them to eat when me, Luis, and Albert go over tomorrow night to watch the final episode of one of the telenovelas. Have us some popcorn too. Gonna have a good ole time ๐Ÿ™‚

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A few of our Mexican friends

This is Senor Schlemann, aka “Pepe”. No, the last name is not a mistake. I think one of his grandfathers or great-grandfathers was a Jewish man from Europe. He runs a local tienda that sells alot of leather stuff and various assorted clothing and accessory items that local farmers might use

Don Rito & Dona Carmen, two of our favorite home visit people. This photo is somewhat miraculous, considering that every time I’d ever visited with Don Rito, he was bed-ridden with a colostomy bag & catheter tube.

Dona Maria, a leg amputee that lives by herself, we are blessed to be able to visit with her. She’s also blessed to have neighbors that check up on her from time to time

This is Goya, and her mother Dona Marciana. They are about a 45 second walk from our front door, living in a humble 2 room adobe house

Perhaps the All-Star of all of our home visits. Dona Elvirita used to go to the ranchos back in the day with Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie

Can’t remember his name, but he lives at the comedor (nursing home) half a block from our house. Super nice dude

another one of the residents at the comedor. He’s 107 years old according to the nurse, but he says he’s only 80-something. However old he is, he’s still got some pep in him

another comedor resident. She seems to get fidgety when I play my guitar for her. Perhaps that’s her ever so humble and polite way of saying I need more practice ๐Ÿ™‚

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Este semana en fotografias

A picture tour of some of this past week’s activities

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Me and Benito, the sacristan at our local church parish, St. Francis of Assisi

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scenery on the way to rancho La Rosa

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courtyard and chapel at rancho La Rosa

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inside the chapel

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the reason I do what I do

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ashes to ashes, dust to dust

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apple empanada deliciousness

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fresh homemade flour tortillas, cooked by a mexican lady named Marta. yep, they’re legit

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St. Francis of Assisi church steeple

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General Cepeda’s local graveyard, the Panteon Santa Ana

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the graves here are either very colorful, very big, or both

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DESERT DAY – PART 3

At the very moment I got to the front door, Maddie Dold was right outside and told me about a girl they had met at one of the ranchos who happened to be in town. Turns out, Maddie and Mandy had prayed with this girl and connected deeply with her at the rancho a few nights back. So last night, Maddie & Mandy, at just the right time, encountered this girl outside and got to talk with her, as well as give her some food and clothes. As Maddie is telling me this, she asks me to come and pray with them. I said yes, but told her that I felt like my prayer would be better if I went up to the chapel and prayed in front of the Tabernacle while they prayed with her.

So as I was doing that, they were praying with this girl and her family. As I was praying, I remembered Maddie telling me earlier that they were homeless and slept outside alot. Realizing that I didn’t need my sleeping bag as much as they did, I ran outside and had Mandy tell them to wait. I ran back inside and rolled up my sleeping bag and brought it out to them. I know it wasn’t much of a sacrifice on my part, but it really felt like I did a good thing. Then, to top it all off, this girl and her family thanked me and gave me a hug. The fact that in spite of their horrible situation they still were able to share love with others was amazing to me. These people, especially the young girl (her name is Alicia Guadalupe) were so beautiful and I was immensely blessed by them. Later that night, during prayer time, Maddie and Mandy shared the story with everyone. Towards the end of her sharing, Maddie confided in us that she was having a rough time in her spiritual life and got quite emotional. She asked us to pray over her.

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