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Pointed in the Right Direction

When I first went to Lepaterique 8 years ago, I had no idea how it would change my life. I remember little Teresa that first trip; she and Carmen wrapped their arms around me. This year, Carmen’s mother shared a photo album of memories with Liz and I as we sat in the living room of their home. I’m not sure what I appreciated more; the memories, or just sitting with friends, visiting. Today, I Facebook with Teresa. We’re prayer partners. Teresa told me so the second year I went down, because we share the same patron saint. Teresa is 16 years old now.

The first time we saw the squiggles of rivers and roads on Fr. Cristobal’s big board, we didn’t know what to make of it. Now, we recognize quite a few of the bridges and turn-offs. Hey, I remember Orupule! Wow, the people came out in droves this year too. Did you see the icon of The Virgin Mary and Jesus that’s hanging in the hallway. Edwin Gerardo Medina from Orupule painted that. He’s a young man with no college education. No problem. Mother Teresa reminds us that He told us to be faithful, not successful. Edwin’s done both.

Bagging and labeling medicine with the folk from Lepaterique never ceases to amaze me. I admit I was disappointed we only had two clinic days this year; it’s not only the camaraderie I enjoy. It’s also the opportunity to sit with people who don’t have a family doctor. An example is getting to counsel the 17 year old boy who is suddenly the head of the household and is a bit overwhelmed with his newfound responsibility. It’s being able to treat an elderly gentleman for a skin infection that has been festering for years, and knowing that its now going to be gone in less than two weeks. It was also having an incredibly patient seminarian coax me into using as much Spanish as I had because he knew he was going to be leaving and I would be left to translate on my own. Thank you Fabio!

I’m not sure that the seminarians knew how much they guided us spiritually. It was powerful to not only witness them praying several times daily, but to also to join them. Every year, I rush into the chapel and see, once again, the welcoming Jesus on the crucifix in their chapel. Because of the brothers this year, prayer has become much more a daily staple in my life.

This year was truly special because for the first time, we had an all youth trip. I was blessed to be able to stay that second week. The ease with which these two groups of young people connected was amazing. We walked to the Laguna; first there was a prayer circle, then singing and some games. Learning each other’s names was difficult but fun. Shortly, we understood why Fr. Kike had given us so much food in the bag lunches – we got to share with all the kids that came up to the lake with us. That felt good for everyone. God is good. Another day we visited the extremely ill in their homes; that was uncomfortable. The homes were mostly dark, but well kept and clean. We sang a prayer and prayed some more. Questions were asked and the families were grateful for our presence. God is kind and merciful.

Thus, the intent of that first trip was to experience the culture. Yet I came back shocked to discover who I was – or rather, who I wasn’t. Remember the idea that we are many parts but we’re all one body? This “part” wasn’t keeping the body healthy. I’m still in my spiritual infancy, but thanks to the interaction with those who have far less in the way of material goods, and far more faith, I’m getting pointed in the right direction.

- Reflection by Terie Schaeffer