Monday, May 28, 2018

The Holy Spirit's love for a widow

 The Holy Spirit has a great love for us. He desires us to be in union with Him and the Father and Jesus. He will go to great lengths to bring that Joy to those without it, especially for the widows and orphans. He did just that for a widow named Delfilia and her children. He called us to participate in bringing her the Good News that she is loved!

On Saturday, April 20 we were told there was a widow with young kids living in Fortaleza. We were told she was poor and she was in need of help. Fortaleza is a pueblo in one of our valleys which we hadn't visited yet. We knew that we had to schedule a visit soon so we could search for this woman and her children.

Sunday morning when we awoke we could feel that the Holy Spirit desired us to go in search for her that day. As we prepared breakfast we also started packing care package bags. We searched through the generous donations from Brillion and Reedsville, which friends from Holy Family Parish brought down in February. We grabbed some stickers, rosaries, and prayer cards to also include in the bags. We quickly prepared for mass and we headed out the door.

We had the blessing of attending mass in Porvenir a pueblo in the same valley as Fortaleza. Due to heavy rains the road was muddy in many spots but the worst part was right in front of the church. We had to walk through it to get to the church. Needless to say our little piggy, Adele, was more than pleased by this. In fact she squealed with delight when we told her to walk through it. We took off our shoes, hiked up our pants and skirts and squished through the mud. When Padre Paco arrived he shouted out his window if anyone wanted to carry him, no one took him up on that offer. He too trudged through it.

After mass we headed to the truck to make our way down the road to Fortaleza. This time the kids took time getting nice and dirty. Why did they need clean clothes anymore mass was done? A quick wringing out of the clothes and we headed in the direction on the pueblo.

As we were on our way we said a prayer to the Holy Spirit to guide us to the woman who needed His help. We had hope that we would find the woman in need in the pueblo without a problem.

We drove through Nuevo Trujillo and Firmesa, the two next pueblos in the valley, both of which we knew. We were excited to travel further up the valley. The road was surprisingly nicer than some roads along the Huallaga. There were only to washouts from mudslides but both were easily manageable. Scattered along the drive were an occasional house on a family farm or chacra. The views grew more beautiful as the drive went on.

After driving an hour we were starting to wonder when we would come to Fortaleza. Then the thought of finding one family in a town with no name to go on hit us. How would we find here? The only description we had was she was a widow and mother. We had no first name nor last name, we didn't know her age, how long she had been a widow or even how many kids she has. How can we help someone that can't be found?

Again we said a prayer to the Holy Spirit to lead us to her. We prayed he would guide us and to show us the way. As we came around a bend we saw a house with a woman drying her coffee in the sun. She was turning it over on the big black tarps using a rake so it would dry thoroughly. We felt the need to stop and to ask for directions. We pulled off the rode and stopped next to her. As we explained we were looking for Fortaleza she said we had just entered the start of the town. We then went on to explain we are catholic missionaries searching for a widow in the town. Someone had mentioned there was a widow living there and she was raising young children. We had the desire to find her and to give her some clothes for her family. At that moment a smile crossed her face. She explained she was a widow raising her four children and her grandchild. We immediately started praising God. The Holy Spirit led us to her front door.

As she led us to the back of her house we introduced ourselves. Her name is Delfilia and she is forty-two years old. The moment we turned the corner our breath was taken away by the beauty of the scenery surrounding her house. Her house was placed on the top of the valley. Below were flowers and trees. The landscape was dotted by their cattle. The sun and the shadows played beautifully on the mountain across the way. God blessed her with this gorgeous view.

We sat and chatted as our children explored the landscape and played with her young son and grandson. Her older children we down in the chacra working. Delfilia explained her husband passed away in January after a three year long deterioration after a fall from his horse while working in the chacra. She was now left alone to raise the children, to work the chacra and to sell their produce. She confessed that she did not know how she could do this all by herself. She felt overwhelmed. She was alone and all the children depended on her. The weight of all of this was suffocating her. It was then that we shared she was not alone.

We explained that God truly loved her. That he had sent us in search for her and because of Him we found her. We had brought clothes for the children, which she confessed they needed, but that we were also bringing the Good News and the love of Jesus to her as well. Jesus sought her out with the help of the Holy Spirit. He wants her to give the pain and the worry to Him and He wanted her to know that He will help provide their needs just when they needed them. I also explained that she is not the only widow that has had to raise a child bu themselves. I reminded her that Mary also raised Jesus by herself. She took care of him, taught him, dressed his wounds, bathed him and fed him by herself. Mary knows her pain. She knows what it is like to lose her beloved spouse. She knows how hard it is to make sure all of the child's needs are met and how exhausting it can be. But Mary trusted that God would take care of everything, she need not worry. She could raise Jesus in faith that everything would be alright and Mary would walk alongside Delfilia just as she did for Jesus on his way to Calvary.

Delfilia thanked us for the visit. She was happy to know that we are here praying for her. We begged the Lord for a few days without rain so she could dry her coffee. We invited her to visit us when she is down buying supplies in Buenos Aires and promised we would return again.

Delfilia has visited us once in our home since April 20th. This time her face radiated joy. She greeted me with a smile. We joked about my prayer since it was not answered right away. In fact it rained again shortly after we left. She said she was doing well and she was thankful for us. We also returned to Fortaleza for a visit on May 12th. Again she had a smile across her face. She was happy. We chatted and she was so gracious to give us bananas. A special treat for our family since they are only grown in the mountains. Maria ate two on the way home.

God loves Delfilia and He stopped at nothing to show her that!
~ Katie

Delfilia is pictured with her youngest child and her grandson. Members of the youth group joined us on this adventure.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Why we do what we do!

Eight months ago I met Walter for the first time. We had just moved to Buenos Aires and he had just been released from the hospital. After our Sunday service a group of parish members, our animadores and our family went to sing to him and to share the daily readings with him. Just before we arrived at his house someone pulled me aside and told me that Walter was dying of stomach cancer. The doctors could no longer help him so they sent him home to die. I was also told that his family hadn't told him that he even had stomach cancer nor did they tell him that he was dying. He was under the impression that he was just a little sick and he would get better soon.

That day we all sang for him at his house and it was when we were officially introduced. Walter and his wife Doris lived next to their daughter Rosa and their granddaughter Leslie. Walter was 80 years old, fit and he had a huge love for Jesus. He had faithfully been living his faith for 30 years. He shared how painful it is for him to not be able to go to church due to the pain he has and his inability to sit for extended periods of time. I encouraged him to continue his love for Jesus and I explained that God knows his desire to go so he should not worry.

Over the course of the following months Taylor and I took terms visiting with Walter on Sundays. We ended up spending hours visiting with him and his family. We encouraged Walter to stay grounded to the Lord and that there was purpose for his suffering.

Shortly after Christmas Walter tried taking his life. He was in so much pain and he could not understand what he had done to cause God to abandon him. He felt useless and decided to give up. He was still able to walk short distances at this point and he still had upper body strength. He was able to take hold of a knife and he stabbed himself in the chest. His family had tried to stop him but were unsuccessful. He was rushed via motocart and taxi to Picota twenty minutes away. There they were able to dress his wound and stitch him up. He had just missed his artery. We did not learn of the incident until our next home visit. I prayed with Walter. I told him the Jesus loves him and that he still has purpose. I asked him if he wanted me to call Padre Paco to come out to hear his confession and to anoint him. He did desire that. Upon arriving home that afternoon from my visit I called Padre and he quickly agreed to come out to see Walter.

When Padre arrived a few days later, Walter cried upon seeing him. He was so thankful for the opportunity to confess his attempt on his life and to be absolved of his sin so he could once again receive Jesus in the Eucharist. After his confession and the anointing of the sick a peace fell upon Walter and a smile once again returned to his face.

Over the course of the next two months we spent our Sunday's visiting Walter and his family. We spent are time listening to his stories, his heartaches and his desires. We continued to encourage him to stay strong in his faith. We prayed with him, brought him communion, and explained that he is a beloved child of God.

Once again Walter fell into the deception that his life was not important. He made another attempt on his life but because he was so weak his family was able to stop him before he inflicted any injury to himself. This time the family came right away. I went over and prayed with him. I asked again if he desired Padre Paco to come and hear his confession. Again he desired the sacrament. Padre was available that evening so he came immediately to hear Walter's confession. Walter once again looked peaceful after his confession.

I continued to visit Walter weekly. Sometimes during the following weeks I would pop in unexpected to see how he was doing, to encourage him and to pray over him. I asked the Lord to heal him specifically to heal his hurting soul.

Our conversations turned from his hurts and his pains to his desires to be with Jesus. I took those opportunities to ask him to seek out those that he had hurt and to beg for forgiveness. I also asked him to give forgiveness to those he had withheld it from. We talked about the Lord's mercy and how we need to continue choosing Him until the end.

I also explained to his family the importance of reading him the bible and to pray out loud for him and with him since he was entering the time of the final battle for his soul. They shared with me some instances of him screaming out in terror and repeating the Lord's name. I also asked them to pray that the Lord would give him the strength to not fall into the devil's trap once again in regards to his worth.

Easter Sunday I brought Walter communion and shared Jesus' glorious triumph over death. It was then that I could see the end was near. Walter had stopped eating the day before and was growing weaker. His circulation was poor and his legs were swollen. I then explained to Walter and his family that the Lord was close to having his room completed in Heaven. Walter was happy to hear that the Lord was going to call him home soon but I explained that until Jesus does call him home his pain would increase horribly and the temptations would as well. I explained to the family what they should expect to happen to Walter's body since he was no longer eating. I asked that they continue to give him something to drink and I begged that someone would always be present in his room praying or reading the Bible to give Walter strength to continue to run the race.

On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8th, Padre visited with Walter one last time. He gave him the anointing of the sick, kissed him and promised to see him soon. Walter was so weak. He could hardly talk, he couldn't sit up without help and the pain was much worse. He had now stopped drinking and it was day nine without eating.

Monday morning Rosa ran to our house and said it was Walter. I nursed Maria and headed out the door. I prayed with him and his family. I encouraged him to keep searching for Jesus because He is coming for him. His pain was so intense. I bought some pain medication but no one certified would administer the shot because they were afraid if he died the family would sue them. I begged but no one could be found. Walter was left to suffer a painful death.

Tuesday morning his granddaughter came for me. Walter was no longer talking or opening his eyes. He was only moaning. I once again ran over with my rosary in hand. As I held his cold hand and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet his eyes opened. His beautiful cloudy eyes stared up in mine. He started to pray the prayers with me. Doris, his wife, was so excited to see this response. Taylor was able to come in and hold his hand and to encourage him to keep confessing Jesus as Lord of his life.

Tuesday afternoon I returned to pray with him and his family. His pain had increased severely. His body was so hot to the touch. His moans so loud and there was nothing we could do to take away all of his suffering. We placed him at the feet of the Lord and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. Throughout the prayer his moans subsided. Peace fell upon him. As I left I told Walter the end was near and that his fight was almost over. He just needed to endure a little longer and then he would receive his joyous reward.

That night after everyone was in bed I returned to Walter's house. As I came up to the house I could see people waiting. Here in Peru people wait with the family for three days after the death of a loved one. I said a quick prayer hoping that the Lord would grant Walter the opportunity to die with prayer and I had hope that he was waiting for just that.

As I walked into the bedroom I found him lying on a mattress on the floor. The floor is much cooler and he seemed much more comfortable. He no longer had a fever and his moaning was not as intense. His daughter Rosa was sitting on the floor next to his head. She stood up so I could be next to him. I spoke with Walter for a few minutes. I was able to smile as I explained his room was complete in Heaven and Jesus was calling his name. Jesus was waiting for His beloved Walter. I then sang "I have decided to follow Jesus" for Walter. After the hymn I asked Walter to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with me. As I prayed I was hoping that the Lord would end his suffering and to call him home. As the prayer went on Walter no longer moaned and his breathing started to slow down. As we were nearing the end of the prayer I knew that Jesus was going to take him at the conclusion of the chaplet. I was filled with such joy at the thought of this. A few minutes after we concluded the prayer Walter breathed his last. Doris was at his side. He was surrounded with many loved ones and family. When we confirmed his death everyone was so touched to witness such a beautiful, peaceful, prayer filled passing. I was so humbled to pray with him until the end.

As Servants of The Good Help we have three focuses. We pray for the conversion of sinners, we search God's little ones and tell them what it is they need for salvation, and we pray for the healing of mind, body and soul. All of which were incorporated in my time with Walter.

You see Walter was one of God's little ones who needed to hear the Good News. He was also an unrepentant sinner like many of have been in our lives. We prayed that he would convert and turn back to Jesus. He did. He let go of the hatred and the anger, he gave mercy and received God's mercy. I prayed for healing over Walter. God is a healer. God always heals what is necessary for our salvation. For some it is their body, others their mind, but everyone who asks He heals their soul. He did just this for Walter. You see God used Walter's illness to heal his soul so that they could be united in Heaven.

This is my only picture of Walter. Eight months of visits and not once did I bring anything to take a photo. I don't need a photo to remember him though. Those memories of our times together are enough. I will need be able to forget his piercing eyes. Until we meet again Walter!