Saturday the girls, Kate’s father and I went to Usme to work on the side lot and visit a couple family members who’s children were graduating from their Catechumenate class. This also marks the time for their first communion. Yep, like the Roman Catholics, the Episcopal Church in Latin America practices this tradition. The interviews with the families were enlightening and delightful. Even getting caught in the rain as we made our way up, around and through slipper, hedgy trails to get to their houses, our spirits were not dampened. As I sat down and spoke with Sandra, 25 year old, oldest daughter of 7, I was very conscious and felt very blessed to have acquired the language capability I now manage. Sandra and I spoke; well, I listened and asked questions as she spoke.
The story of Sandra’s family
7 siblings ages 9 – 25. Father died a year ago from a heart attack while up in the mountains. The father was a control freak and very closed minded to the point where he didn’t allow the children to go to school for many years, he only wanted them to say in the house! Their mother, through arguments, finally won her children the right to attend school. For Sandra and the boys this came too late. By the time their father died the sons had to give up on the hope of formal education in order to obtain work and help support the family and Sandra was Married (by age 15). This meant that they had to go through a gov. program that completes all 12 years of school in one year. The end result is you get a piece of paper that you must have in order to obtain work and a lousy education (Sandra’s sentiments). All of the younger one’s began to go to school three to four years ago. That means that the 14 year old is in 4th grade. She is discouraged by the age difference. They all struggle to get by yet they have a wonderful working relationship. Sandra, who has a 6-year-old daughter, also takes care of her four youngest siblings plus three children down the street. She is a very busy lady with a huge heart. We got along splendidly. I really hope to spend some time with her. Thanks be to God, the mother has recently acquired work at a bakery and so their will be a bit more money to help ease the stress. The children, perhaps the mother, attend Divino Salvador, the church we work at in Usme, every Sunday. The four youngest children have been attending the catechumenate lessons and are now preparing for their first communion. It is great to see such community participation.
We also interviewed a single mother and her son. She is separated from her husband and has 6 children, two of whom live with her; actually, she and the younger boy live with the elder brother. She, like the great majority of the community, she has had no steady work in a long time and the rest of her children are in as difficult situation as she is, so cannot help her, the tragic and unjust cycle of poverty. She also, by the grace of God, has recently obtained a tiny bit of work in the church helping to clean. It is not enough to live off, but it is better than nothing. What was interesting about this interview was the change of energy that took place. I entered the home goofing with the young son and the mother seemed quite stand-offish. I was already in such a good mood from talking with Sandra (although at this point quite chilly). I think it was around the third question as I helped Kate with a bit of the questioning that the ice was broken. I guess to see us make mistakes and be really human brought us down to the ground level for her. She opened up and told us about her relationship with the church, smiled and I think I even remember a bit of laughter. We also discussed how her son could get extra help for math and English. Schools here do not have the same resources I was BLESSED to have in my school system…I am now much more grateful for the Homewood school system.
Sunday was lovely as I volunteered to teach the bible study to the 10-13 year-olds. I love this group of kids; we click well. This time I spoke about ‘el camino de Dios’… something like the God’s life path for each of us. In this we discussed the characteristics of God which translated into the characteristics of this ‘path’. I really felt the Holy Spirit lead me in this discussion. Again the gospel lesson was obtuse…at least to translate to this age group. It was a marvelous experience as I was in front of the kids with my – oh so well - drawn-out lesson plan only to have the Spirit push me into the psalms. I got to touch on the Trinity again and how Christ is 100% man AND 100% God. I know this is a deep topic, but if I include a bit at a time each class, it might start making some sense, in that acceptance of the mystery way, hehehehe.