Wednesday, January 23, 2008


We thought we'd share with you what our schedule looks like for Monday - Wednesday.

6 a.m. -- rise and shine and showers, if available
7 a.m. -- mass at the church
8 a.m. -- back to our respective houses for breakfast
9 a.m. -- off to our respective jobs (Vacation Bible School or painting of Community Center)
11 a.m. -- Lunch Food Program for the children (Tuesday)
12 p.m. -- lunch at Bill's and John's
1:00 p.m. -- continuation of work on the Community Center
6:00 p.m. -- dinner with our respective host families
7:00 p.m. -- Adult Bible Study lead by Fr. Lane with the community
8:00 p.m. -- Daily Review with our group

So this is what was planned -- reality of getting this group to move anywhere on time makes the starting times a little flexible.

We were all very nervous about what Monday was going to be. How many children would show up? Would we be able to communicate with them? Would they like the material? Would it make any sense to them? What would the community leaders be like? Would we be able to work with them? Could we finish the painting project at the community center?

We are all used to our own routines and having some level of control and knowing where to turn when we need to correct something. We are out of our element here. This is where we have to have faith -- we are after all celebrating the faith.

The children gathered in what they call the auditorium -- a covered open air concrete area. Father Rodriguez got the children whipped up and making some noise. The children were all lined up by age group -- a line of girls and a line of boys in each group. 240 children roaring is quite a sound. At this time we were introduced to the children, we sang songs and tried to bond with them and make them feel comfortable.

Our day with them includes stories/teaching time, games, crafts, and music. The three hours went by quickly. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

While some of us were working with the children, others were starting the painting of the community center. We were surprised at how much help we had from the community -- around 15 men came. Today we got one coat of paint on the outside and inside of the building. Fumes from oil based paint in warm weather makes an interesting work environment.

Adult Bible Study took place in the church with about 100 from the church community attending. Father Lane conducted the study on the story of Gideon. He explained what the structure of the evening was going to be -- he'd read the passage in English, then it would be read in Spanish and then we'd reflect and pray on it. He did that cycle again with the same verses with different people reading the passages. He then asked questions and asked for peoples responses. Our group spoke up first. Although unspoken we all wanted to put this community at ease and give them some idea of what we were used to doing. They responded. The evening ended with singing and prayer. A huge success!

We've had to learn to work outside of our comfort level/zone. We've had to learn to measure success in different ways. We've had to learn to communicate with others when we didn't know the words. We've certainly learned the power of a smile!

At the end of the day, we spend some time reflecting on the day using these five questions:

  • What was your strongest unpleasant experience today?

  • What was your strongest pleasant experience today?

  • What did you find confusing today?

  • What new awareness did you have that you didn't have before today?

  • What did I learn today?

More about this later...


Richard Herrell said...

Thanks for these wonderful reports. Do you know you've missed the coldest weather of the season by skipping town? Go Team AStA!


barbara in DC said...

Even from afar, it's inspiring to hear of your experiences and the daily lives of your new friends and their town. The fact that a smile and faith are often enough to communicate God's love is a lesson itself.

I'm still impressed with the vast number of kids and their seeming exuberance. The language challenge must be an adventure at times!

Thank you so much for your daily journal -- it lets the rest of us feel some of the trip ourselves. Your questions for the end of each day apply as well: a new perspective for each precious day that we live and share.

By the way, the pictures are great! Tyler, if you get the chance, could you ask if they do a Blessing of the Animals at their church?

May the shower water be bountiful,


GDav said...

What a wonderful report - both in what it reported and how well it described your experience. We shivering here at home can picture being there - not only by your words, but also by the pictures. In her message, Barbara remarked on the exuberance of the kids. We hear exuberance in your reports as well. You all must be existing on adenaline and high spirits (in all senses of the word but alcoholic!). Upon your return, I hope that your energy from the trip's success will infuse us with your vitality. Thanks again for taking the time to keep in touch with us.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful posts, thank you! I've read every word.
Anne Lyn

Ascension & Saint Agnes said...

I am responding on behalf of Tyler who is now sleeping soundly at 12:00 A.M. Yes Barbara I checked and they do perform a blessing of the animals. They dress them up and do a procession through the town - that must be really cool to watch! - John