While the leaves have been falling in the United States, we have been experiencing a rapid passing of time with a very busy schedule. Time flies when people are leaving for missions, only to come back for a split second before taking off for another adventure in the mountains. Within the past month, we have successfully sent a team to Nicaragua for a Pan de Vida retreat with the CFRs, lead a retreat for the Becas Program, and went on a well deserved community retreat. When all of this is accounted for, it is shocking how we even found time to do all of this!
The Pan de Vida retreat was a real success and even though I was not there, it was nice to hear all of the stories about the lives that were changed through the personal encounter with Christ that all of the participants experienced. Many of the missioners that were there just a few months before for the first Pan de Vida were astounded by the amount of spiritual growth that the community has encountered; it was remarkable to hear how people that just a few months earlier were radically following the Lord and walking side by side with their brothers and sisters in Christ to build a stronger community.
The retreat for the Becas program was a chance for all of us to grow closer to the children that are in the sponsorship program. It was fascinating to see the stark difference between the "city" children and the "mountain" children that we encountered when we met up with the young men and women that live with Father Max, the priest that runs a mission program in Florida. Our students were clothed in the latest fashions, with all of the best clothing that they could find. On the journey to Florida, all of the girls were painting their faces, admiring the fake beauty behind their compacts, whereas those from the mountains were plain and simple, untouched by the mainstream; it was a lesson for both students as they interacted, and interesting to see the differences.
The students heard talks about responsibility, with the theme of the retreat purposely aimed at drawing a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Lord. The students were encouraged to leave all of their past faults and failings behind to follow with more vigor and truth the path that God has chosen for every one of them. Through small groups and activities that conveyed the message of the Gospels, each student brought home something that they did not have at the beginning, a deeper love for our Lord's sacrifice.
After the Becas Retreat, we went on a community retreat to get in touch ourselves and refuel our spirits getting to know each other a little better. We spent a few days relaxing in the hills right outside of Tegulciculpa in Valle de Angeles. The retreat center is half for those seeking a silent retreat, and the other half is for youth groups and groups like ours where silence is nearly impossible. It was nice to finally get some time away from the mission house where regardless if we are in a meeting, there is a knock at the door or an emergency. In this way, all of us were able to escape at the same time and enjoy some time without having to cook, or help someone in a crisis.
We left Valle de Angeles relaxed, and continued our relaxation at Suyapa, right behind the Basilica where there is a retreat center. There were had 2 speakers, one of which was Father Max (different from the one aforementioned) who had helped with one of the mission teams earlier in September to the Mosquitia. The other speaker was one of the missionaries at the retreat center who was incredibly encouraging and had very inspiring words to share for everyone in order to help us continue doing the work that we have been called to do.
This month has been a very hectic and crazy month filled with many surprises, but the mission is still going strong and continuing through the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have all learned more about each other, and have been able to reach many new people through the different retreats as well as all of the traveling that we have been doing. It is through God's constant intercession and love that we are made whole, and are able to continue with eager anticipation for His coming.