A Blessing in Learning

By Nelly Monrroy

"En nombre de la sangre y de la tierra, juramos mantener tu excelsitud sobre todas las cosas; en los prósperos días, y en los días adversos…" In the name of the blood and earth, we swear to maintain your magnificence over all things; in the prosperous days and in the adverse days… This was part of the Guatemalan oath that the children and staff shared with us in the welcoming at Xesic II. As we wrap up our time in the aldeas, we cannot help but understand the significance of these words to the people we are visiting for the first time and those we've visited previously. The reference to the blood reminds me of the bloodshed during Guatemalan civil from 1960 to 1996 - and the decline of the Church. The reference to the earth reminds me of the significance of Sister Earth to the Mayan people, and their dependence on it for their nourishment. And I can't help but feel for the people of Quiche in these adverse days - more than 20 days to date without rain, which in turn affects their crops and hence, livelihoods. Yet, they are a joyous and loving people. They might not have many material goods, but they share what they do have with such love and generosity, that we can't help but feel unworthy.

Previously, Ellen shared that a carpet of pine needles (or pine needle covered floors) is used to welcome royalty or important people. We've been welcomed with pine needle covered floors at every aldea we've visited. We've also been showered with rose petals - being showered with rose petals signifies that we are being showered with blessings. We were showered with blessings by beautiful children that were excited and happy to see us. We've been blessed by experiencing Christ's love through the love that the children, teachers, community leaders, and parents have shown us as they have sacrificed more than we'll really know, to welcome us and thank us for being present. For coming to them. For sharing God's love with them. We have been blessed with the gifts they've shared with us. We've received gifts of food and tokens of appreciation and love both material and through their smiles, hugs, and general acceptance of us.

Today many of us - including Fr. Alfonso, were blessed to be able to share and take part in a procession with the community of Xesic II as they marched through their aldea with a statue of Santa Elena (Santa Cruz del Quiche's patron saint) as they prayed for rain. Several of our missionaries felt compelled to volunteer to carry a large and heavy wooden box that carried Saint Elena and to march with the people of Xesic II.

As the days have progressed, we've not only shared God's love with the people of Quiche, but also learned about their rich history and culture and we've been able to share and be a part of it. As Dcn. Pedro said, we came to learn, not just to serve. In learning more about Guatemala and its people, in seeing how they live and how they love, the eyes of our hearts are opening to the Lord, and we are seeing Christ in these beautifully humble people.

Please continue to pray for us. On Thursday, we travel from Santa Cruz del Quiche to La Antigua for the last stretch of our mission. A special thank you to everyone that has made it possible for us to bless the people of Quiche because of your generosity. Thank you, and God bless you!