It was our first morning waking up in Guatemala! Most of the twenty-five of us had travelled long hours the day before in order to wake up in a beautiful, quiet and hidden away gem of a retreat centre in San Jose de Pinula (a forty minute bus ride from the airport in Guatemala City). We had spent the night there and, after a Sunday morning mass and breakfast, we were on our way. As I packed my bags, getting ready for the long bus ride to Chalice site in Champerico, I found myself feeling a bit sad and teary. I shared with this Father Duncan, reflecting on how I initially wondered why I was feeling sad: “All I did was sleep here." But then I realized the same thing that Father Duncan said to me:
“There are many things that have and are happening here.”
This, for me, sums up the Third Annual Chalice Solidarity tour so far. Between all the travel, conversation, and mission work at the Chalice sites, there are indeed many things happening. However, more than the activity, there are many things happening on emotional and spiritual levels.Mass on that first Sunday was the Feast of the Holy Trinity, a Feast that reminds us that Love does not work in isolation. That in addition to Love itself (God), there is the One who is loved (Jesus), and that the Communion of Love leads to new life, new inspiration, and to action (the Holy Spirit). Reflecting on this Communion was a perfect start and symbol of this Solidarity tour. What has not been so straight forward, though, has been who are the lovers, the loved, and the breath of new life. We have truly been working in a communion.
That Sunday twenty-five Canadians were joined by three Latin American novices of the Terciarias Capuchinas de la Sagrada Familia (who run the retreat centre). The novices had their guitars and lifted up their music and voices in Spanish songs, blending our lives, languages and worship all to the same purpose of worshipping our God- as one. At the nutrition centre- “Centro Nutricional ‘Luis Amigo,’” we have not only joined all of our gifts together as a group, but also with the Sisters, local Chalice staff, and even the children themselves. We have not come solely as the lovers and the servers, but have been loved and served through the Sisters, the extraordinarily warm welcome of the Chalice staff, and the smiles of the children. Chalice staff members have shared their stories and invited us not only into their work, but their lives. They have served us in big and small ways, making sure that we are also cared for. The children at these sites have given us such incredible love. We have joined community members in their church for prayer and song. Sponsored children have made us bracelets and braided our hair, even picked up shovels at the Andres Giron build site, where a community dining hall is being built. They have so much love and appreciation, and are wanting to also contribute to and share in the work, giving back to those (all of the many Chalice sponsors) who have given them so much.
Nutrition Site in Champerico
Once a month the site hands out bags of food.
Today group of us packaged and prepared
two hundreds bags!
Working in communion for others
Lindsay getting her hair braided by a group of youth who have started
their own business- some are currently being sponsored through Chalice.
Showing off my braid and new bracelets!
The youth were so generous that when given a donation for the braid work,
they wanted to also give Lindsay a bracelet.
Yvonne playing with a new friend.
The Andres Giron Dining Hall construction site
Prayers and songs with the community at Andres Giron
The Communion of Love whose Feast we celebrated our first day in Guatemala is most definitely at work and a model of the tour- and we are only three days into it! It is so exiting to anticipate what God will do with our remaining days as everyone in this communion continues to grow in love, refining our individual talents and unique gifts, fulfilling the purposes that God has called each and every one of us- Chalice travellers, Sisters, Chalice workers, and children to this place and at this time doing what only we as a communion in God can do.
There are many things happening here, Praise be to God!
- Lindsay (Halifax and Vancouver)