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

good news abounds: food for the poor, a Catholic aid organization, has planted its feet firmly on banican soil. they have already fixed 8 wells that were broken and today a group of 8 men arrived who will build 15 homes for people who are living in mud and stick huts. we had informed four of the five families that will receive the first five homes that they were first in line, but we hadn't decided on the fifth. so imagine what it must be like to be sitting in your yard with a half-fallen house next to you and see a priest arrive and ask if they would be able to knock down the old shack in the next hour so that the workmen could square out the area for the new house they would be receiving. i wish i'd had a camera to capture the looks on their faces.

i'll try and take some before/after shots.

november is almost upon us and i realize that i have not published the local parish schedule. i'm heading into this school year with loads of hope and ambition, to wit:

Mass 0700 sun-fri
Mass 1800 sat
adult catechism class in sabana cruz 1700 mon
meet with youth group who is giving the talk on wed nights 1800 tues
ccd 1800 tues
actual youth group meeting 1800 wed
rcia in banica 1800 thur
ccd 1800 thur
holy hour/confessions 1800 fri

that's not to mention the work in the school, boxing classes, first friday's, and all the Masses in the campos.

so, there's plenty to do, and hopefully the devil won't find any work for idle hands...

as you may know, the cave of st. francis houses a large bee hive at the entrance. to date only one group has been assaulted by the hive. today marks the second. a call came in saying that there were people stuck in the cave and they couldn't get up to them to get them out because the bees were going beserk. so, up we went to investigate. when i got to the second landing in the truck the three men and i jumped out and a single bee started making threats. i brushed it off and figured the hike up to the cave would be a piece of cake. as we began our ascent the only sound to be heard was a persistent hum. as we came closer to the mouth of the cave the hum had changed to a distinct buzz. then i heard one of the men say "here's one." i have to admit, the sight of a woman having been stung some 300-1000 (impossible to say) times startled me. she had bees in her hair and stingers covered her entire body. she just laid there barely breathing. so, we hoisted her up and started down. the bees took notice and didn't want to relinquish their prey so easily. having a full on bee attack can be quite nerve racking. they seem to get everywhere and the only recourse is to keep calm. i'd swear in a court of law that they actually entered the back of my baseball cap and knocked it off from the inside twice.

we finally made it down and took her to the hospital, which was already full of 15 or so others who had made it down under their own power. thankfully it appears as if all will be okay.

interestingly, neither i nor the man who was helping me was stung. i attribute that to good ole saint francis.

dog update:

he appears to be healing. still doesn't want to run, but at least he's walking around a bit.

my dog is injured. looks like a rear-paw hairline fracture. he decided to accompany me to the center yesterday and ran ahead of me: average speed 36.1 k/hr, total distance 1.5 kilometers. for the metrically deficient, that's 22.43 mph over .93 miles. after that sprint he decided to stay in the center for a while. when he finally made it back down to the house (thanks to a ride in the truck from maria) he slept for 18 hours and since this morning has been limping around. we'll give him a couple of days before we begin robotics surgery.

a couple of years ago i was speaking with a friend of mine about the possibility of having a family move down here to show the people that a family can actually attend Mass together and set an example that you do not need to be 70 years old to get married in the church and have a grace-filled life. he and his wife prayed about it and spoke to a couple of friends about the possibilities and then his wife found out she was pregnant, and that pretty much cancelled any plans they had about moving down here. however, through the grace of God, one of the couples to whom they had mentioned this began to pray about it and decided, prior to discovering that my friend's wife was pregnant, that God was calling them to volunteer for two years here in the mission. as i mentioned above, their primary aim is to set an example of a holy, happy family. secondarily, dave will help take care of all the communications with the groups that come down and use the skills he acquired in the army to help us operate this somewhat massive set-up we have. so, without further ado, i introduce to you the kirby family:

dave, virginia, stephen, sandy, and little william (the girl standing behind them is digna, a solid daily Mass attendent)

It wasn't set up. Nor is it a treat for our dog.


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