It was a pleasure and honor to be invited to the village of Tototepec for the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel (September 29). The rainy season will soon end, and harvesting of the corn and bean crops will—hopefully—be able to begin in mid-October.
So the next few weeks are vital to the people of the
mountains. And St. Michael the Archangel is seen as the being that can
determine whether the poor families will have a decent harvest and be able to
eat this year, or if the harvest is less than ideal and the poor families will
suffer this year. Here “the Evil One,” “the Devil,” is specifically called “Hunger”
in the prayers of the people. And the prayer is that St. Michael assist them in
warding off this terrible evil.
I went to Pascala del Oro with the bishop of Tlapa, Dagoberto
Sosa Arriaga. The road was terrible (which is the main reason he asked me to
take him), but we were able to get there and back. Other vehicles that tried to
make it there for the village festival had to turn back.
|The statue of St. Michael is taken from the church and processed through the village.|
The statue is allowed to "rest" for a short period of time in several homes during the long procession
|One image of the procession with St. Michael in Tototepec|
|One part of the road to Pascala del Oro|
|Bishop Dagoberto had to "encourage" this burro to get out of the middle of the road|
|Juan Manuel, Hector, Juan, and Lalo in the programming meeting|
Of course, the sunrise in Xochitepec is always incredible. And the sky becomes an amazing kaleidoscope of colors when the storm clouds begin to move in.
|Just another "normal" sunrise in Xochitepec|
|I wonder how the villagers can "interpret" this sky to suggest that a storm is approaching|
I took Doña Julia from Xalpitzahuac to visit her son (Juan) and daughter-in-law (Cecilia) in the hospital in Tlapa. Their first child, a girl they named Jasmín, was born a month ago, but her health is delicate, and the doctors told the parents that it was very unlikely that she would live much longer. I visited the hospital daily all last week.
At the parents’
request, I asked Father Juan (he is called that even though he is still a
deacon), from the Cathedral of Tlapa, to come to the hospital to baptise
Jasmín. When other families saw him walk into the hospital carrying the red
book with the baptismal rite, many asked him to bless or baptise their sick
children. Father Juan ended up celebrating five baptisms that evening, as well
as many, many blessings. It’s a pity that there is not an organized health
ministry for Tlapa’s hospitals
At the request of some teachers, I visited a junior high
school in Tlapa, in the poor neighborhood of Zapata. The small school has 580
students, and most of them are indigenous students who were rejected at junior
high schools closer to their home because they don’t speak Spanish well. The
dedication of the teachers, students, and parents is noteworthy, but it is
challenging to offer a quality education to the students.
|Doña Julia and Cecilia looking at a cell phone photo of Father Fred Monk,|
director of Mission Mexico. They say they remember his visit to their village in 2006.
|Father Juan and Juan (the father of Jasmín) shortly before the baptism; the baby's father is convinced|
that someone is his village put an "evil spell" on his newborn daughter
|These are four "classrooms" used by the junior high students last year|
|The red roof on the left is that of new classrooms built this past year. But it is still|
incredible that 580 junior high students fit in the buildings shown in this photo
And this morning, on my way to pick up a Canadian friend at the airport in Mexico City, I stopped off to visit Fresvinda, a woman who is a sparkplug of organization in the very poor neighborhood of Cuernavaca called La Estación. I know that many people from southern Alberta have visited La Estacion, and surely many have met Fresvinda, who coordinates many programs at the Women’s Center. People have probably read about the violence in Mexico, and sometimes that violence strikes home. Two months ago, Fresvinda’s 22-year-old daughter, Citlalli, was murdered here. “Citlalli” means “star,” and Fresvinda now claims that she has a special star looking over her work. It’s a beautiful image, but tears flowed when Fresvinda referred to it—and what a pity that such imagery has to be made possible by such senseless violence.
So life goes on, the struggle goes on, and Mission Mexico
tries to assist as best it can. Thank you to all who make possible this
sharing. I think that many times it isn’t the financial assistance that makes
the big difference; it is the simple fact that people care. That encourages
greater faith, hope, and love—and it’s tough to put a price tag on those
realities and to measure their exact impact in the lives of the impoverished. But they are definitely important! Have a great week, everyone.
|Mike MacDonald and Fresvinda talking during a quiet moment at the Women's Center in La Estacion|