Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Love a Rainy Night Update

Bags of the items we collected in Buenos Aires
It has been two weeks since the awful disaster of mudslides and flooding that struck Tres Unidos and Shamboyacu. Fourteen days of hard work with days that have brought more rain to already beaten down communities.

The first few days following November 2nd were long and exhausting. Taylor left early every morning and returned home after dark each evening. His goal each day was to bring hope to the people who had lost everything. He did this by bringing the love of Christ with him. He took the time to listen teach person's story and prayed with them. He also brought in things that were desperately needed water, food, clothes and even a tent for a family who lossed their home.

Hygiene bags for families
November 3rd Taylor helped organise a truck to bring in drinking water and food to the community. He also went around asking what else the people needed. Taylor also asked the community in which we live to help support the flood victims. There was overwhelming support from the people of Buenos Aires. Throughout the whole day on Friday people knocked at our door bringing donations of food, clothes, shoes, blankets, jackets and cooking supplies. I was so touched by the generosity of our community.

A few people I spoke with explained why it was so easy to help. They said it could have been them in need and they would want someone to be generous and help. They also explained the great fear they all have whenever the rains come. One woman shared how fear overtakes her whenever she sees clouds forming in the sky. She said the only thing more terrifying is the sound of rain at night. Not knowing if this rain will be enough to bring a flood crashing through her door at 2:00am. Can you imagine living in this constant fear?
Our youth group from Buenos Aires and the donations.

That evening five members of our youth group came to our house to sort through the items collected. We wanted to separate the clothes into their proper category before arriving the next day. We also wanted to make sure that only the clothes free of holes and stains made it to Tres Unidos. How many items do you think we needed to discard? Just ten items. Only ten of the hundreds we received were not in the condition to be donated. Incredible. The people of Buenos Aires gave the best to the poor.

Taylor and the youth had to walk across this tree to get to Pairiso
One of the young men sorting through the clothes spoke up. "This is mine" he said as he laid his own clothes on the piles to be brought to Tres Unidos. What a testament and what a beautiful sight.

On November 4th Taylor and twelve teenagers from our youth group brought the donations we had gathered. In one day our pueblo of Buenos Aires was able to fill a truck which also included ziploc baggies filled with personal hygiene products to be given out to families.

The youth were excited to help not knowing what to expect. For many of the youth this was going to be their mission trip let alone their first time out of the district of Buenos Aires. What the youth found in Tres Unidos was something none of them had seen before. As they pulled into town they came across the house of a family that had six feet of water running through it when the flooding hit. That water took everything they owned but Praise be to God they were able to get to safety before it happened. In the streets everyone had what ever belongings they had left strung out on lines to dry. Somber dirty faces.

The view as they were hiking to Pairiso
Half of the youth group stayed in Tres Unidos to hand out the donations they brought as well as to pray with people with some fellow missionaries. The other half left Tres Unidos with Taylor in an effort to get to the man who had lost his family. This man lives in the pueblo of Pairiso which is an hour drive from Tres Unidos. The bridge leading from Tres Unidos was washed away in the flood. Thankfully the river was low enough that they could drive through it to get to the other side. The drive to Pairiso was uneventful but the moment they arrived to their destination another mudslide hit. Taylor had a split second decision to make- Do they abandon their mission to Paraiso and raise the mudslide down the mountain to cross the river again before it gets to Tres Unidos? or Do they continue on as planned and just trust that God will work everything out?

The mudslide rushing in

Taylor decided to continue on with the plan in search of the man who lost his family. This man was on the family farm higher up the mountain when the disaster struck. He learned his parents, his wife, and their two children died when he returned to Pairiso. As you can imagine he was devastated. They were able to locate the man where his house once stood. Nothing was there except two rocks laid to mark the graves of his family. The youth group sang to this man and prayed with him. Taylor embraced him and tried to bring him the hope of Jesus Christ. Trying to console someone who had lost every earthly possession is extremely hard. What do you say to someone who has only his life and the clothes on his back? Without the Holy Spirit there is nothing you can offer him. The Holy Spirit gave Taylor the message He wanted the man to hear.

The return trip was much more difficult because of the new mudslide but it was all worth it! Being able to bring a little comfort to a suffering man made all the struggles seem so easy.
This is where the house stood in Pairiso. The two stones on the bottom right mark the grave
of the people who died during the mudslide.

Please continue to pray for the people of Tres Unidos and Pairiso. There is still a lot of work ahead to rebuilding their lives. It will take many months especially now that we have entered the rainy season two months early. The community of Tres Unidos will need to rebuild their church as well. Please pray that the help and support they need will come. Our hope is to continue to journey with the people over these upcoming months since there are no missionaries currently living in that zone.


The people of Tres Unidos trying to dry whatever they had left.

Padre Francisco celebrated mass in the plaza of Tres Unidos on November 5th
because the church needs to be taken down due to a missing wall.

The river crossing before the mudslide. 

A house frame is the only thing left standing.
The special forces arrived to help bring supplies and to rescue people.

The waterline on the house is where the dark brown meets the light brown.
It is over the door at about six feet.

Part of the missing wall in the church in Tres Unidos

More rain coming in
Hiking back to the truck

The youth handing out donations to the people of Pairiso.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I Love a Rainy Night

Rainy Nights. The cool breeze and the soothing sound of rain drops on the roof normally sends me to sleep. The sound of rain is a welcomed sound in our house. Living without clean water is hard and something that our family has become accustomed to. We have safe drinking water Praise God but we do not have access to clean water to bathe in. Our family has come to depend on the rain! Typically at the sound of rain there are screams of joy heard throughout the house. Whatever we were working on comes to a complete stop and everyone runs to their station to help collect the rain water. Once we have filled all of our buckets and garbage cans we all change into our swimsuits to bathe.

Last night around 1:00am the rain started to fall. Taylor and I both awoke to the sound. Quickly Taylor ran outside to position our buckets to collect the rain. We both dozed back off to sleep happily knowing that in a few hours when we awoke once again we would have plenty of water for awhile. Joyously we went about our morning praising God for hearing our prayers and for providing the rain for our pueblo.

That joy soon ended when we received word of the utter disaster some nearby pueblos were in. The rain that was a godsend for us destroyed houses, hopes, dreams, and lives of others.

The zone of Tres Unidos is where the single men missionaries have been living over the past three years. Tres Unidos and their alturas, mountain villages, were hit hard by the rainstorm. We were told that the rains caused mudslides in the upper pueblos and traveled down the mountain. At the same time the river next to Tres Unidos grew and swelled beyond the banks. The river swept through town in the middle of the night taking houses, animals and belongings along with it. What it left behind was mud and tears. The community is grieving the loss of things and hope. But praise the Lord no one lost their life there.

Unfortunately that was not the case for many other communities. The community of Paraíso suffered a lot including the loss of a family of five. It is believed that over the next few days more people will be found dead or severely injured.

Currently no one is able to reach any of the communities beyond Tres Unidos due to the fact that both bridges were washed out. The president sent in the military today to rebuild the bridges and to search for the deceased. The hope is one of the bridges will be complete tomorrow so the missionaries can go in and access what is needed in each of the pueblos.

What do the people need right now?
 Prayers! They lost everything. They have lost their hope amongst all of their possessions. 

Food and clean drinking water. Taylor and the Carmody family spent the day bringing in food and clean drinking water to everyone that needed it. Tomorrow they will be returning to bring in more food and drinking water. They will also be taking the time to pray with the people and remind them that God is there with them amongst their sorrow.

What will the people need over the next few weeks?

More Prayers! It will take time to heal from this and to rebuild. They will need many prayers to help them see the good in all the sorrow and also to help them see the need of everyone around them.

Medical Supplies and medicine will be needed over the coming weeks. There is a good chance that the people will get sick from contaminated water. Many people have outhouses and when the water rushes through town it takes the sewage with it contaminating everything. 

Clothing, shoes, and school supplies. Families lost all of their possessions. We will be bringing in all of the clothing that our friends from Holy Family Parish gave us. This will help many people but there is a chance it will not be enough.

Bibles. We will be bringing in Bibles again since many people lost their Bible.

A new church. Unfortunately the church in Tres Unidos was damaged beyond repair. The mudslides took out one of the walls supporting the church. Since then the church has been slowly collapsing all day. We will need to take down the church for the safety of the community.
Cleaning out the church. 

Please consider donating to help with the flood relief for these communities.

Please pray for Taylor as he helps with the disaster relief efforts. Please pray that God will protect him from any illnesses that he might come in contact with.
~ Katie

Sunday, October 15, 2017

And we are back

Wow it has been some time since we have blogged. Sorry about that but we figured blogging while we were in the states would have been pretty boring.

We returned to the states in April to wait for the upcoming birth of our latest child. We had to return by the 30th week of pregnancy due to flying restrictions here in Peru. We spent the first few weeks visiting doctors as well as taking some time together as a family. On June 26 we welcomed our newest child into the world. María Araceli was born without complications and has been an absolute joy for our whole family. We were not sure how the twins would handle a new baby but they love her!

We returned to Peru on September 12th. You might be asking why wait so long. Well we had to wait for María's passport and we did not want to miss the wedding of Taylor's sister Anna. She was married to her husband on September 8th. Please pray for Anna and Steven as they adjust to married life!

Since returning to Peru we have kept busy. In all honesty we hit the ground running. A few days after we landed we led a marriage retreat for engaged couples among many other classes. We also moved to a new town 20 miles from our previous mission. Our new town is called Buenos Aires. It was named this by a priest who was passing through from Argentina. Along with working within the pueblo of Buenos Aires we have also been given charge of the two valleys that are part of the zone. The valleys have sixteen pueblos between them with eight of them yet to be evangelized. We are excited to begin bringing the saving message of Jesus Christ to the people.
María Araceli

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Daughter, your faith has saved you." Update

Taylor had the opportunity to head back up to the communities of the Bombonajillo Valley at the end of March. The journey to get there was exhausting, muddy and long. A trip which normally only takes five hours ended up lasting over nine hours. When Taylor and our friend arrived to Nuevo Chanchomayo they were both caked in mud, exhausted and a little beaten up.

After a good night's sleep Taylor was ready to visit the neighboring communities. He was excited to walk the hour and a half to Primavera to visit Isabel. It had been month's due to his health issues since he had last seen her.

When Taylor arrived in Primavera he found Isabel in her house. As soon as he entered she was so overjoyed to see him. Isabel confessed that the nighht before she told her husband that her friend the missionary were going to visit her in the morning and here he was. No one knew that Taylor was travelling to Nuevo Chanchomayo. The Holy Spirit Isabel to receive Taylor though.

Isabel felt the Lord asking her to share her testimony with Taylor during this visit. Isabel was baptized Catholic but did not grow up in the faith. When she married her husband she left the catholic faith and joined her husband's religion. When she became sick their church community abandoned them. They told her it was because of her sins that she became sick. No one came to visit or to help. She was left to suffer alone. Until last year.

Isabel was reintroduced to the Catholic Church through Taylor's visits. She was given a Bible and she was shown love, compassion and mercy whenever Taylor visited. It was inbetween these visits when God talked to her. He started to call her back to the church. She had conflicting emotions about following this call because her whole life she was told untrue statements about the Catholic Church but here was a Catholic missionary living the Bible. Here he was showing the true love of Christ. Praying with her, visiting her, sharing the word with her and being a true friend to her.

She confessed to Taylor all of these thoughts and at the end asked if she could come back to the church. Taylor joyously said yes. Isabel then started asking him questions about the faith and what it means to be Catholic. Taylor answered all of her questions and she reaffirmed she wanted to come back to the church.

At the end of the visit she asked Taylor to teach her a hymn to sing to God since she did not know any catholic songs. Taylor explained most of the hymns we sing in Peru are used by other denominations as well so she probably already knows a catholic song. He asked her to sing her favorite one. As she opened her mouth Taylor described she had an angelic voice and he was so touched by her song. It was not until after she had completed singing that he realized he did not tape it. He reassured her the song was also catholic and she could continue singing it.

As Taylor prepared to leave he informed Isabel he would not be returning until September when we return to Peru. In the time he is away he encouraged her to continue to praise God through her singing, to pray daily and to continue reading the Bible.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ask and You shall receive

The Lord blessed me tremendously yesterday! He knew my heart's desires and He granted them to me.

I have been resting a lot lately due to the temperature. Daily it is over 100 degrees here. Due to this it was recommended for me to rest since I am currently seven months pregnant. The heat has caused premature births and two weeks ago a woman lost her baby due to the heat. This has been very difficult for me. I enjoy taking walks around town and visiting with people on my way. I also enjoy visiting my home visits listening to them and just being present for them. All of which has stopped since I was told to rest, until yesterday.

The Lord knew that I desperately wanted to visit with my home visits one last time before we leave. Unfortunately do to the distance that did not seem possible. Then the Lord surprised me. Yesterday morning there was a knock on our door. It was Liliana, one of my home visits. She brought some bananas for the twins and she wanted to check on me. The Lord brought her to ME!

It brought so much joy to my heart. Here I was able to be with this beautiful woman in my own home. We sat and chatted for an hour. She shared with me her stuggles since losing her husband Oscar. We talked about how great and faithful the Lord is. She watched as I made her a rosary as we laughed and enjoyed each other's company. When she left we both were renwed and full of joy.

God answered my prayers. It did not happen the way I had intended but His plan was way better!!!

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

Liliana, left, visiting in my home yesterday. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Rising waters

We are asking for prayers for the community of Nuevo Egipto. They are very special to us. We have worked with them for almost two years now. Their community is off of the beaten path. They are surrounded by rice fields which employs most of the town. On one side of the town is a canal and on the side is a river.

Last week disaster struck Nuevo Egipto. At 2:00am on Wednesday the canal overflowed its banks and swept through town. As it swept through town the excess water overflowed the outdoor bathrooms which then contaminated everything.

Many people spoke of waking up because the rising waters soaked their beds. It was then that they started alerting their neighbors and the cleanup began.

We received a call midmorning from Max, our fellow missionary, explaining the situation because his family lives there. Taylor immediately jumped on his motorcycle and headed to Nuevo Egipto. When he arrived he found a mess. Houses that were built out of mud bricks were partly swept away exposing the sticks used to frame it. Houses without cement floors now had a soppy wed mud floor. The feces was mixed with everything which will cause illnesses if not removed. No one really knows how many items were lost when the flood waters went through. But it is our guess that many people lost clothes, shoes and their personal belongings as well.

Taylor came home to report on what he found and to call in backup from our fellow missionaries. When I heard his report I broke down in tears. This community is so beautiful. They have a living faith and they willingly give all they have to anyone in need.

Taylor, Andy, Max headed back to Nuevo Egipto to assist in the cleanup along with two visiting nurses from Spain. They spent the afternoon moving contaminated mud and assisting wherever they were called. Taylor helped a single mother with young children spread gravel in her house to create a new floor. Her floor was a sloppy muddy mess but as they laid the gravel it made walking possible. At one point Andy and Taylor had to move a paralized man from his bed. His family had no way yo move him out of their waterlogged home. The water level was to the mattress on his bed. His family abandoned the home knowing that if the waters continued to rise he would most likely perish but they could not move them on their own. The family was overjoyed by the help they received from Andy and Taylor. They were able to move the man across town to a family member whose house was not badly damaged.

Unfortunately none of our missionaries thought of taking photos during their time helping the community. They were so focused on helping the people in need that it did not cross their mind until after they returned home.

Please pray for the community of Nuevo Egipto. Please pray that the waters reside and that the rain stops for a bit so the cleanup can finish. Please pray that the people will not get sick from working in the unsanitary conditions. We are also asking prayers for the people who need to rebuild.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is just one soul worth it?

This past Sunday we had another opportunity to celebrate a first for a community. The small community of Nuevo Canal received mass for the first time ever. It was such a joyous event!

Padre Paco celebrating the first mass in the community of Nuevo Canal Sunday February 12, 2017.
Nuevo Canal is a little community that Taylor initially found by searching on Google Maps. Taylor enjoys looking at our zone through this application. It was during one of his searches that he stumbled upon the little pueblo. Upon further investigation through the church archives it was determined the community was never visited by anyone from the church partly because it was not on any maps. With the permission of the priests Taylor decided to head out to the community to see the state of their faith. 

When Taylor and Max arrived they were greeted by Damel. He was so excited to see them and so happy to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Damel lives in the pueblo with his family and two other families. Taylor, Max, and our whole family has spent many days ministering to this community. We have brought them their first Bibles. We have taught them their prayers. But most importantly we have taught them about our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Max, Taylor and Gamel the first time in Nuevo Canal.

When people first heard that Taylor was driving out to the pueblo to minister to the three families the response he received was it wasn't worth his time. ''Only three families?'' ''They can travel to one of the other pueblos to attend mass and receive catechesis.'' ''Why would you trouble yourself and waste a day traveling and teaching the people when there are so few of them?'' 

As we thought of these questions we remembered Abraham and his courage in interceding before God for Sodom, see Genesis 18:16-33. It was here that God shared His plan to destroy Sodom for its wickedness with Abraham. Abraham boldly asked the Lord if He would spare the city from destruction if there were 50 righteous men. Abraham continued to ask the Lord if He would spare from destruction if He found 45, 40, 30, 20, and lastly just 10 righteous people. The Lord agreed to spare the city if He found just 10 righteous men. For just 10 people the Lord would have spared a whole city from being destroyed. Even though the city was destroyed God did save the only righteous people in the city, one family.
Taylor leading a Bible Study in Gamel's house.

Jesus Christ would have also died just for one person. If everyone but one person in history rejected Him He would have willingly gone to the cross for only that one soul. His love for us is so great that He willing went to the cross for each one of us. He knew our names and each of the sins He was dying for. So why can't we have that same sort of love for just one soul?

The answer will always be "YES!" Just one soul is worth. When we write and prepare our studies we are hoping that many people will come to our study but if just one soul has a personal encounter with Christ everything we sacrificed to get there is worth it!! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Happy 1st Birthday Asencio!

Today is a day to celebrate! Little Asencio is turning one! I do not think that anyone expected him to 
turn one when he was born a year ago. Praise be to God that Asencio was healed and has made a full recovery. If you have forgotten his story you can Read his story here
Here is a picture of Asencio from February 11, 2016

Those trips to the hospital were worth it though! I spent hours in Tarapoto with Keisy and her sister-in-law. We talked about family and I fought with the doctors to have Asencio's tests taken quickly. I know I talked about God's love. I remember bringing Keisy a bible to read while she waited those long hours day in and day out. I do not remember all that I said and I am pretty sure that what I said in those moments did not even matter. I think my example spoke more than my words. 

During those days I showed Keisy and her family what God's love actually meant. She was able to feel it. My words matched my actions. My words were LIVING through my example. I held her as she cried. I listened. I spoke with the nurses to help us speak with the doctor. Much of my time was spent waiting and praying. But I was present and I was there. 
Keisy, Asencio and Stiven. My has he grown!

 A few weeks later Asencio was cleared to go home. He could leave the NICU and join the rest of his family in Caspizapa. That day there was much rejoicing in their house. It was then that Taylor and I learned how God was using those days to call this family to Him. Keisy and Henri asked us if they could enter the church through the sacrament of marriage. Henri said he wanted to be this example for his three small children. Keisy and Henri were married on October 8, 2016 and Asencio was baptized into the faith  as well. It was a emotional day for everyone in attendance!
His first birthday party this afternoon.
Faustina and Adele enjoyed dancing and eating all of the snacks!

Asencio returned to the hospital in the middle of last year. His urinary tract was blocked. This was a huge complication. Unfortunately it couldn't be treated with medicine. Asencio ended up needing three surgeries to repair this problem. Since his surgery he has not had anymore complications. He is doing well and growing fast. We are all so excited to say "Feliz Cumpleaños" today!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Flood of Tears

This weekend I experienced a flood of tears. A really big flood of tears. They actually followed me along the way.

On Friday we started to tell our friends that we will be moving. Padre Paco had asked us at the end of last year to pray about moving to another pueblo. When we first moved to Caspizapa we committed to living and working here for two years. Our two years will be complete in April. We can't believe it. It seems like only yesterday we moved here and started our missionary work.

Padre Paco asked us to pray about moving to the pueblo of Buenos Aires. This pueblo is on the other end of the zone of Picota. See map below. The pueblo of Buenos Aires is in need of missionaries to teach them how to have a relationship with Jesus. We will also have the responsibility of working with sixteen pueblos that are part of two valleys in the zone of Buenos Aires.
Add caption

When we went to the Lord in prayer we were conflicted. We love Caspizapa. We have friends here. Our children have friends here and we have ministries. Moving to Buenos Aires would mean that we would have to give all of that up once again. We would have to start fresh. The thought of leaving was painful. It also means that we will be turning over our current ministries to our fellow missionaries or to the people. We have loved our ministries. We have enjoyed our time in the other pueblos and we have also found friends there. Is the Lord asking us to give this all up once again?

Yes. We could hear the Lord asking us to once again give up our friends and family to follow Him. He called us to bring the Good News to those most in need. The people most in need now are elsewhere. It is time to say goodbye and to follow His plans.

Saying goodbye is never easy. It most often ends in tears. Well for me it does.
Ruth's friends Joany and Ivon are in the upper left. Charo is sitting in the middle of the picture in the upper right.

We decided to start with the first person in Caspizapa that understood us and offered to help- Charo. We have employed Charo since we have been here. She washes our clothes twice a week. Our relationship has grown to friendship. We watch out for one another and we enjoy taking time to just sit and talk. I knew this conversation was going to be difficult and I was dreading it.

It was really hard to sit and make small talk for Taylor and I. Charo knew something was up because we were not our normal cheerful selves. That was when we broke the news to her. It broke my heart to say the words. Charo grabbed me and we sobbed in eachother's arms. We just sobbed and the. She told her daughter Ivon. Ivon immediately grabbed me and sobbed too. Both said that they loved us and they didn't want us to leave. After we were done sobbing Taylor and I explained why we were moving. Charo understood that we needed to move. She agreed that the pueblo we were moving to was in more need and that the faith here was alive. She made us promise to visit and she offered to come to Buenos Aires to once a week to continue to wash our clothes.
Dilmer and Adela on their wedding day.

We decided it was best to continue telling our friends instead of putting it off any longer. We made our way to Dilmer and Adela's house. They welcomed us into their home as always. It was then that we broke them the news. They too were shocked and saddened that we were moving. They didn't want to hear it. Adela said "No you can't." As we explained why they understood but they still didn't like it. We explained that it was our choice and no one was forcing us into it. Again they understood but they didn't like it. As we talked they decided we would have to visit and they were going to visit us. We absolutely agreed this was possible since we are not moving to a different country. By the end of the conversation they were still upset but understood that this is our call.
Lleri and her husband Martin on their wedding day.

Lleri was the next person we talked with. She heard us but it took a few minutes for the words to sink in. Once it all registered she was concerned and sad. She was going to miss Adele and Faustina. Her family has adopted us and we are going through miss them. She knows of a good family that lives in Buenos Aires that can take care of us. She wants to make sure that we are not without family.

The last person we spoke with that night was Marta. Our amazing animador who has been such a blessing to work with.  We have been prepping her for the possibility of our moving for months now. The news was still a shock for her though. Just like Lleri it took awhile to sink in but when it did she started to cry. What are we going to do? Can you still help? Will you visit ever? Question after question through tears. Praise the Lord I can understand Spanish now because tears make it more difficult.

We have found comfort in moving through Jesus's teachings in Matthew.

Jesus said in Matthew 8:20, " Jesus answered him, 'Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."' Our Savior has also called us not to put down roots and to be prepared to go when He calls.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-38, "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Jesus has asked us to love Him more than anyone or anything. He has also asked us to follow Him. He asked us to carry our struggles, joys, and sorrows and to go where He leads. Without even knowing the way or the reason. All the faithful are asked to do this.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:29, "And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and inherit eternal life." We have left our family and friends in the States and the Lord has given us more here in Peru. We know that no matter where He calls us He will give us the friends and family that we need.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Leanor's Great Faith

Last year I was introduced to Leanor for the first time. I only knew her in passing. She was the lady who sat on the corner of our street watching the days action pass by. Much like my grandfather had done when he was alive.

I was not fully introduced to her until one day when her great-great niece Ivis came to our door asking for me to visit her. Leanor was not feeling well and she could no longer leave her bed. I went and prayed with the children who are always at our house. We prayed for Leanor and for her family. I knew instantly when I walked in that she was near death.

When I returned home I called Padre Paco and asked him to come and administer the Anointing of the Sick. That evening Padre Paco came after mass to administer the sacrament.

When we entered the room you could sense the sadness from Leanor's family. As Padre Paco started preparing to administer the sacrament he asked her family for more information about her. Leanor was 95 years old and the only sacrament she received was baptism. Her husband had been dead for over twenty years. At that Padre Paco asked Leanor if she would like to receive Jesus' body in the Eucharist. She nodded her head. After a short lesson on the Eucharist and the sacrament of confirmation Padre gladly confirmed her and gave her her First Communion. He then administered the Anointing of the Sick. He encouraged her to continue to pray and to trust in Jesus. He kissed her head and left.

It was a week later that I returned with Communion. Leanor looked much better and by the next week she was back to sitting out front of her house watching the day past by. The Lord had healed her!

At the beginning of the year Leanor was in the hospital. Her body was shutting down. She couldn't eat or drink. She couldn't move or talk. All of her fingers and toes were incredibly swollen and blood was starting to pool on the back of her legs and arms. The doctors determined there was nothing left for them to do so two weeks ago they sent her home to die.

When she returned home her family asked if Padre could once again anoint her. Unfortunately he was on a retreat with the Bishop and he wouldn't be returning for a week. We offered to bring her Communion and to pray for her. That night after our Holy Hour we brought her Communion. Being that she couldn't eat or drink we brought her a tiny piece of out Lord. Through the grace of God she was able to consume him. During the prayers her family was crying. As we left we reminded her that she had just received Jesus and that she should continue to trust in Him. She should trust that He is either going to call her home to be with Him or that He is going to heal her. As we hugged her we told her we would be back.

The following week Padre Paco was able to once again come to administer the Anointing of the Sick. As soon as we stepped in the house I knew something was different. Her children were filled with joy and they were smiling. When we walked into Leanor's room she was sitting up and talking. She was so excited to see Padre Paco. She joyously replied yes when he asked if she wanted to receive Jesus.

God has healed her twice now. Many people have commented that she must still be around because she did something wrong. On the contrary, we know from the Bible that God blesses some of His faithful with long lives. He has chosen to heal Leanor to remind our pueblo that God still works miracles. He has also shown our town the power and graces of the sacraments. He also shows them how He works through those with incredible faith. How many countless times did our Savior say "Your faith has healed you?"

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ugly Evangelization

The Ugly Side of Evangelization

In this missionary life we love to share the glory stories and the happy times but sometimes there is no glory story, sometimes we just have a story of ugly evangelization. The mission in which we work has zones that have been without the presence of the church, without the presence of the Gospel and without the message of Mercy. When we come into these rare places what we often find is not beautiful but indeed very ugly, saturated in sin and to some without any hope.  For this reason I think they persist in this state because those who come to them, many times from the Church, look at them and say to them this is too ugly. There is no hope here and they move on to another place. They are passed over year after year, and their souls are ever longing for the mercy of Jesus to come to them.  Yet as the years pass they fall further and further into the pit of sin and despair with a lack of Jesus in their life. 

Now one could ask, Taylor how bad could it really be?  Well in one such town many of the people are living in polygamous homes, with many cases of normalized rape and incest. For me what was worse was they had no hope of salvation. When we first arrived they asked us not to waste our time with them. They told us they couldn't have a Christian community in their town because of their sin. After listening and getting to know them over the next couple of months we came to understand why they would say such a thing and why so many before us just moved on.  Their stories were filled with abuse and neglect, they were sad, ugly and I too thought of running away like so many have.  How do you find resolution to mend lives that are so twisted?  How do you bring people into the light that have been in the dark for so long?  There is only one answer… the Mercy of Jesus!  

So we started with the Kerygma, which is Salvation History 101. After hearing this a little spark of light appeared in the darkness and they wanted this Jesus and His Love. This Love was unlike the love they have known and they were very skeptical that they could receive it. They desired to know more and how they can be apart of this Love. 

As we studied they got more and more excited. It was then that they asked about the sacraments. It was during our classes on preparing for the sacraments that again things get a little ugly.  The norm here is that when adults come into the church they receive all of the sacraments they are missing in one day together (It could be a combination of any of the sacraments- baptism, first communion, first reconciliation, confirmation and marriage), but in the room most of the couples then asked, Who do I marry? You see in this room most couples were one man and two wives, both of whom have children with him and depend on him finically. So the discussion that followed moved to a brief and intense class on the Theology of the Body for beginners. By the end the wives were crying and very happy having heard about true love for the first time and the men were very angry and for a moment I did fear my well being.  Although this was a great moment for this community of new believers, it didn't make this easier but in fact just a lot more complex. Now all of these women want to enter the church and in full communion with God, but they all share a husband. The reality is like I stated in the beginning this is an ugly situation and to this day there is no good answer; just that they now have the message of Mercy, the Word of God and the never ending TRUE LOVE of Jesus (that they have always had but now can see).  

There is no magic button or perfect ending because there is an ugliness to sin and the longer we live in it the messier it is, but Jesus came, died and was raised from the dead for ALL.  NOW its our job to get down in the gutter and do some ugly evangelization with the people who others think are too far gone.  Bring them the message of Mercy and the Hope of Jesus Christ today!