The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

I read that you have some rain back home, well let me share a recent rain story.

Last night, on my way back into town from the mountains, about 10pm, I’m stuck at the bridge leading into town. The river had swollen over. There are two trucks waiting ahead of me. The Dominican truckers are big 'macho' men, they're even carrying pistols. I say that not to indicate danger but to describe a certain mentality. They're the type you would think are ready to take matters into their own hands. Well, we wait an hour for the water to subside. Now, we can see that the river left us some gifts, big trees over the bridge making passage for the trucks impossible. None of them are willing to investigate further. So, I waded out over this bridge, the water was about calf high, but not rushing over the bridge. This inspires a few to follow. I begin to move a few logs but we are definitely in a fix. The only thing they can think of is, 'Father, the church has a tractor, you do something.' This is a familiar line of thought among the folks down here. It's always up to the church, or you Americans. It looked to me as if these trees weren't going to budge, so I succumbed to their line of thinking and began my three mile hike in the dark to get our tractor. I stopped to talk to a few border guards, but they were unwilling to help or get help. The idea of waking some locals up to help was out of the question in their minds. These are the same people who have no problem partying all hours of the night. Well, with no one willing to give me a ride, I started on my mission—11:30pm. By the time I arrive back to the bridge with the church tractor, the operator and an assistant, at that very moment our bridge comes into view, two trucks and my pickup are coming across—1:00am.

See, I left behind an American volunteer, Pete Benedetto, who is helping us put in acquaducts in the mountains. Pete had spent his whole day hiking in the mountains with me and two nuns. There wasn’t a descent meal involved and it rained half the time. Pete is a tall guy but not burly like our truckers sitting high and dry in the truck. But with dogged determination he heads out onto the bridge. Not knowing enough Spanish to move the men but being the engineer he knows one can move the world with a lever. He employs some of the debris to the logs and with persistence he's able to give these guys the hope that they can move these obstacles and they eventually join in to help.

An earlier bridge crossing. Yes, there is a bridge which will apear an hour later.


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