Friday, March 9, five St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners who are Iowa State University students arrived to spend ten days here in Honduras.
The main purpose is to deepen the relationship and the solidarity between the parish of St. Thomas and the parish of Dulce Nombre.
This is neither a mission trip nor a service trip, but an immersion.
That may be hard for many to understand since so many students go on service trips to do something for people and others, mostly evangelicals, go on mission trips to supposedly save the people.
But here in western Honduras, in our parish of Ducle Nombre and other parish of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, mission is a part of the life for the members of the more than 4,000 base communities in the diocese. So, if anything, the visit of these students is to reinforce the mission of the people and help them see the significance of their religious life.
The students are doing some service in the village of Delicias, Concepcion Copán. We’re living here – in a small town, high up on the side of a mountain in fairly simple conditions, with fairly simple meals. We arrive late Monday morning (after I had to stop and get a fan belt changed) and we’ll be here until Thursday after lunch.
The students were originally going to help in two projects, but the one hasn’t yet started and so they are helping the albañiles [construction supervisors] who are laying ceramic tile in the church. Since that is not a lot of work, they have been interacting with the more than 75 children in the primary school near the church.
I wish we had more arranged but the person who is a real leader in the community is with his father in a hospital in Guatemala. Ivan’s father has a very serious pulmonary problem. I don’t know what it is but it seems very serious.
Anyway, the students are interacting with the people here in many ways. The first night we went to a base community meeting. After the meeting has treated the theme the people asked for the students to introduce themselves. A vigorous discussion continued and included singing and sharing.
What had impressed me at the start of the meeting was the prayer an older woman offered, noting that the visit of the students gave them joy! When one student asked the people what they got out of their base community meeting, many talked about how they were glad that we were here.
What has impressed me about this group is their willingness to take the initiative in connecting with the people They are really seeing the human face of the members of this parish, as well as their faith and dedication.
They’ll be here in Honduras; we’ll see how it goes.
Fostering of real solidarity is what these immersions are about and I’m glad things are going well.
Note: This blog entry is being written and posted in Delicias where the internet connection (by internet modem) is better than in Dulce Nombre de Copán!