Let’s Be Real
Let’s be honest, mission is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not always rewarding, frankly it rarely ever is. And the girls, are not angels, they are in fact human. Broken humans like the rest of us. But did I really come here to be thanked and rewarded instantly for my efforts to be patient, gentle and loving? Maybe I had fantasized a little bit before coming here that maybe, just maybe, it would be a thank-filled job and that I would always be filled with joy because I was ‘serving Christ’. Well, I’m here to say that is not the case. In fact, I would say 90% of my life and work here is not easy, thankless, and just dang hard. A constant test of patience and love and questioning whether I am supposed to be here, or ‘am I even helping/making a difference?’.
Sometimes I wish the girls would listen to me for 1 minute, or that I would be rewarded by a ‘thank you’. Well, that’s because I am an imperfect human, and as humans we desire reward and praise. But I think when I get into this mindset, I am missing the whole point. The real mission is that I’m not ‘supposed’ to be rewarded for the work that I’m doing here. The reality is that these girls have gone through A LOT in their short lives, and they don’t have anyone else in which they can express their hurt. Which means we get a lot of sassy remarks and kids not listening. But I think in those moments, when we love them more by being patient and not lashing out, we are building their trust. And occasionally, they show us gratitude and trust by listening, giving a smile, hug, or even saying thank you (!!!).
Now, I don’t wish to sound as though I am ‘complaining’ or fishing for a thank you. Because I am not. I simply felt like I should be honest. This is real life, its not perfect, its quite messy in fact. But I pray in the messiness that God will sanctify my imperfect work in Heaven, and I pray especially that it will not be a missed opportunity for grace.
So how about a little update on what’s been going on here in the Hogar? It has been a busy 2 months. With Holy Week, Easter, the celebration of the Divine Child Jesus and the whole month of May celebrating the Virgin Mary. It all started with Palm Sunday when we had a procession through the streets of our little town with palms and singing Hosanna. That Sunday we also did an activity to help us prepare for Holy Week, we made a Stations of the Cross-activity book. It was so nice to see the girls being so creative with their stations!
On Thursday the girls didn’t have school, so we spent the day gardening, doing homework and later going to Mass in the evening. Friday morning, we woke the girls up at 5am and started a procession with the town doing the stations of the cross. We carried the crucifix throughout the town praying the rosary and stopping at each house that prepared “an alter” for each station. We don’t often get the opportunity to experience the cultural activities and events in Bolivia because we are busy here with the girls, so I really enjoyed this experience! Later during the afternoon on Good Friday, we went to the veneration of the cross service at the church. At night we ALL watched the Passion of Christ. All of Bolivia still has deeply rooted Catholic traditions, since it was only a little bit ago that the Catholic church was the official church of Bolivia. On Good Friday no one eats meat, and none of the restaurants sell it either. No matter if you are Catholic or not, everyone seems to have some recognition that Good Friday is a sacred day.
On Saturday we had our day off, so we took the opportunity to go to confession at the Maryknoll house. The Maryknoll priests are missionaries as well, so they all speak English, there is something very nice about being able to go to confession in my own language! Even if I can understand the priest when he speaks in Spanish, it is comforting to be able to speak my first language. Afterward we went out to dinner and later that night us three volunteers went to the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral! It was beautiful! I love the Cathedral because it has a more European architecture, and a more reverent Mass, which I love. After Mass we came back to the Hogar and hid Easter eggs which we had stuffed the night before.
On Sunday the girls had Catechism class in the morning, they were all very excited to go because they had a carnival for Easter! After Mass us volunteers went across the way to eat Easter lunch with the community of sisters. After lunch we had an Easter egg hunt and gave all the girls popsicles. Plastic egg hunts are not a thing here in Bolivia, but the girls know about them because of past volunteers. It was fun to have something from our culture in the USA.
The week following was the novena for the Divine Child Jesus, we had a procession from the girl’s school with the statue of the child Jesus, to the church a mile away in Pucarita. I had never been to this church, even though its so close, because when they have Mass, the sisters go, and we stay back to watch the girls. It was nice to be able to see more of the area we live in.
May is the month of Mary. And boy oh boy do they celebrate here! In the beginning of May the girls were assigned an area of the Hogar where they put up pictures of Mary and quotes or sayings about Mary. They were so creative, and I loved seeing them use their creativity!
On May 15th we celebrated Día de la Familia (day of the family). The order of sisters that live across the way came over and organized stations of games for the girls. They split us all up into groups with the girls and we went from station to station playing games with the girls, and the girls winning prizes! Afterward there was cake and, some fun games of soccer. It’s rare that we get to play with the girls without having to organize or wrangle kids. So it was really fun to simply play with them and not worry about anything else! After playing for a while we all prayed the rosary and had some yummy dinner, and flan for dessert!
May 24th was the feast day of our patron here in the Hogar, Maria Auxiliadora de los Cristianos (Mary Help of Christians). This feast day is celebrated here as the anniversary of the Hogar. After school all the girls who go to school in the afternoon (the girls only have school for 3.5 hours a day and they either go in the morning or afternoon, we have a mix of both morning and afternoon girls) came home and quickly changed into dresses before heading out in groups to the town over, Pucarita, to go to Mass. After Mass we came back to chicken, French fries and rice. As well as a special cake and soda gifted by some of the sisters.
On May 25th the school had a celebration of Dia de la Madre (Mother’s day), Dia de la Familia and the feast of Maria Auxiliadora. All the students went into school in the morning and we started with Mass. After Mass the classes had prepared dances to perform. It seems as though there is a celebration here every couple of weeks! It definitely makes life less mundane.
Anyhow, please enjoy these pictures! Thanks, for stopping by.
Come back soon!