Originally published in the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi bulletin.
As part of our “Summer of Mission and Mercy,” five parishioners took time out of their summer last month to journey to Guatemala to bring good tidings to our “sister parish” in a remote village called Las Margaritas II. This special linkage was formed with the village in 1993 and since then, representatives of our parish have been traveling there to live, work, pray, and play with this community. Although the purpose of our relationship with Las Margaritas II is not to provide relief but to open our minds and transform our hearts through the experience of cultural immersion and solidarity, this particular visit by parishioners Liz and Ayden Mosler, Jim Mong, Drew Begin, and Kyle Solomon also offered opportunities to work on the building project of a new village Catholic church. It’s very difficult to convey in words and images the transformation that happens when we move out of our comfort zones and meet another “brother” and “sister” in faith, but the following reflections capture some of this.
This experience was beyond anything that I could have imagined and the fact that I was able to share it with my son Ayden makes it even more meaningful. This was a journey like no other I’ve been on before. We spent countless hours together building the church, making tortillas, carrying water, preparing meals, playing games with the children, tie-dying shirts & bandanas, playing soccer, shucking and grinding corn, laughing, crying, sharing stories and worshiping. Although we live in two very different worlds, we are all God’s children and we all have the same basic needs and desires. This trip helped me to understand that on a deeper level.
This trip was fantastic! The people of Las Margaritas II are probably the most content and loving people I have ever met, and throughout the trip, we all had at least 2 children hanging out with us. My favorite part in the village was just hanging out with my host family, who were so giving and wonderful. This trip was the best, and I think that all teens should do something like this. It really opens your eyes.
I have recently returned from my fourth visit to our sister parish. Each time I grow ever closer to my Guatemalan family. Their struggle has become my struggle. They continue to rise above the fray of our material world that has bound me for so long. They have taught me that God and family is all we really need for happiness and fulfillment. I am forever grateful.
The trip was an amazing experience for me. It was my first time out of the country and it was absolutely life-changing. The sights we saw were breathtaking, but more importantly the people were all so loving.When we arrived in Las Margaritas II, I immediately felt as if I was meant to be there.
Ricardo Choc from Las Margaritas II
When they came here to visit us it was such a pleasure. So much time had passed since the last visit and they were not able to come for awhile. But the time came and we were reunited. It was one of the best delegations we have had together. Playing soccer together, the trip to the Laguna Lachua nature reserve, and when they helped us with the construction, the whole community was able to share with our brothers and sisters. Thanks to our brothers and sisters for the donation they gave to the construction project as well. We will always have them in our hearts and minds and we await the next time we are able to share with them the joy of our partnership.