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Photo of the Week - Week 26

Monday, July 11th 2022 9:06 am

I realize that my photo of the week is a few days late. The best I can say is that time moves differently here. Just imagine I did this a few days ago!

I was so happy to be back ministering with the Santa Clara Nutrition Clinic! We spent a few days walking through a new neighborhood and found many new families who could use the help of the center. We also distributed essentials to some families on a different day. On Thursday, we spent the morning with a single mom, preparing "Fideos con Pollo y Verduras" (Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables).

There was a while that I thought Sister Yanira was saying "Videos" instead of "Fideos" and busied myself taking videos of vegetables but I realized about half way through that there was a food word that was close to the word video. Great laughter and hilatrity ensued, especially when I recounted my error in broken Spanish at lunch with the sisters. Poco a poco!

In addition to the mom, a few other moms in the neighborhood came over and we all worked together cutting vegetables and chicken, cooking the pasta and then bringing it all together. Sister Yanira took the lead and everyone pitched in.

This little girl sat patiently on a bench, watching intently as everything was prepared. As other children got bored and wandered away, she stayed close.

When it was time to eat, I gave her the first bowl, a gift for her patience. Besides, it could have just been my imagination, or perhaps a motherly intuition, that caused me to think that she looked really hungry.

Everyone gobbled up the delicious dish (including myself, it was really delicious!) and as we left, the young girl left too, returning to her home. The whole time, I had assumed that she was with one of the women, but it turns out she was on her own. The generous women who were preparing the food didn't give two thoughts to including her in the day. I spent a few minutes marveling at that silent inclusion.

On our way home, we stopped by a well where boys were pulling water out, filling 5-gallon buckets and carrying them back to their homes. We were fortunate to meet this girl's abuela (grandmother) who is caring for her. Sister Yanira let her know all about the clinic and how we can help their family.

The gifts I receive here are so rich and full of blessings. Being a part of the clinic and the community - who is so accepting and welcoming to me, a lot like the little girl in this photo - is such a bountiful gift to me spiritually. Gracias a Dios!

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Encuentro in Cooking - Lessons in Life

Sunday, March 6th 2022 1:17 pm

This week, I have noticed the dance that difficulties and love play here. In the struggle of living in really difficult situations, mothers and grandmothers still make jokes and laugh while they work. A young mother who feeds her baby before herself smiles broadly when she is told how beautiful her baby is. I realize I have a choice, too. It’s possible for me to focus only on the struggle or only on the love. I am deciding to honor them both and see the harmony in the totality of the reality here. 

Now that carnaval has ended, Sister Yanira and I are back to our ministry at the nutrition clinic. On Thursday, we made plans to return to a large family we had previously visited to demonstrate how to use soybeans. Called soya here, soybeans are included in what people receive from the clinic. Sister Yanira packed up some educational materials about hygiene in addition to two cups of soybeans that had been soaked overnight, bread crumbs, some oil, vanilla, cinnamon and a blender. We also stopped at the market, an open-air area that has booths filled with all different types of food. We picked up carrots, onions, garlic, a pepper, a couple tomatoes, flour and some eggs.

When we arrived at the house, a bunch of the kids greeted us with big smiles and lots of laughter. The first time we came, they were shy and unsure, but they must have decided that we were safe because they were so happy to see us. A table was moved, a bench placed in front and the youngest children quickly sat down, ready to learn. We were joined by older siblings, some to greet us and do other things, others stay and help with the children, preparations and cooking. The grandmother and the two mothers got things ready for our time together, cleaning everything we planned to use.

Sister Yanira gave the beans to one of the women to cook for some time on the stove in their kitchen. As Sister Yanira worked, she would show the process and then pass it on to one of the women. I appreciated that. It wasn’t a demonstration. It was a social time, where we talked, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company while we worked together. A couple more moms and children appeared, interested in learning what was happening and joining in the work. 

At some point, the kids lost interest and left to play in the yard as we worked. Dogs and chickens lingered nearby ready to pick up whatever we might drop. All the work was done in the center of the yard. There were multiple buildings surrounding us, all made with the repurposed wood, metal roofs and dirt floors. There was a small building for a living area, another for a kitchen and an outhouse toward the back of the yard. The yard contained some trees for shade and/or fruit. There was no grass, only packed dirt. 

We were working with two cups of soybeans. It was incredible what we were able to produce with those two cups. The process took about 2 hours, but was well worth it! We ended up with 4 liters of soy milk and 30 or so small soy burgers. We all washed up when it was time to eat. The prepared food was shared with everyone. I sat with the younger children and loved watching them enjoy the food. both the burgers and the soy milk were delicious - Mi gusta!!!

If you are interested in the recipes to try yourself, click on the little image to the right to view them. Warning! They're in Spanish, but you can use Google to figure out the words you don't know. That's what I did!

Click on the images below to see videos from the day. I had a great time and I think it's clear, the food was a hit!

On Friday, a young mother came in with Elsa, a beautiful baby girl. The mom was so skinny, we worried for her. Elsa was a happy little baby though, and her mom let me take a photo with her. I thanked her for the photo, and felt gratitude for her good care – as well as gratitude that the clinic will help make sure Elsa has what she needs each month.

P.S. For the sisters at St. Rose who have been praying for Carlita and her family, thank you! She is doing better, and is in the hospital in Santa Cruz where she needs to be. For those who have time for an extra prayer, she is a 15 year old girl who has Leukemia. Her family has many struggles including extreme poverty and a bed-ridden grandma. Your prayers are just what they need right now. Muchas gracias!

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Photo of the Week - Week 30

Thursday, August 4th 2022 7:25 pm

Little feet in the doorway. That's all you could see of this little boy. After fleeting short introductions when we stopped for a visit, this shy young boy of 5 or 6 ran into his room and stayed there as we visited with the rest of the family. This serves as a reminder to me, that we can't take for granted a person's willingness to be close to us, especially a young person.

Although his older sister was all smiles and brought out chairs as hospitality for us, this youngster was shy and perhaps a little annoyed that we had interrupted his play session next door. After we began to leave, and as soon as he could see a way to get back to his friends, he scooted from his hiding place and through the opening in the fence. I bet he thought we didn't notice, but I was in time to see the back of his head as he left. Friendship is an honor and a privilege. I am hoping that when we go back for a workshop to teach his mom how to make soymilk, he will make the choice to be our friend. Whether or not he does, he is still a blessing to me because he helps me remember these important lessons.

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The grace of perseverance

Wednesday, August 5th 2020 12:30 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


"You have called me," declared Sister Michele Pettit (beginning at 32:30), making her first vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration at Viterbo University's San Damiano Chapel in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Joy permeated San Damiano Chapel in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Saturday, July 25, 2020, as Sister Michele Pettit professed her first vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. In a confident, clear voice that could not be silenced by a COVID-19 mask, Sister Michele boldly declared poverty, consecrated celibacy and obedience for three years as an FSPA. 


From left, Sisters Corrina Thomas, Michele Pettit and Eileen McKenzie

Those who gathered to witness Sister Michele’s declaration of these vows (following social distancing guidelines) read words of support and acceptance from behind their own masks. Thunderous applause erupted and smiling eyes beamed around the chapel as Sister Michele walked back to her seat. Like Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi before her, Sister Michele offers light and life to a world encountering darkness, this time in the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial divides and economic disparity. She will be here when humanity celebrates the joys of life, sorrows and even the mundane. Life in God and with God will always be an adventure. 

Nourished by the Word of God and at the table of the Eucharist, we exited through the chapel doors, renewed and filled with hope, ready to encounter the reality of life outside. 

A virtual reception met Sister Michele as many sisters logged onto Zoom and offered words of encouragement for her new life as a vowed FSPA. They shared with her a traditional greeting for newly-professed sisters: “May God give you the grace of perseverance.” And while Michele is making community history as the first person to make first vows during the COVID-19 pandemic — a true test of this sentiment — she is in good company. Twenty-two FSPA made first vows during the flu pandemic of 1918. They too knew that their call from God to religious life would find a way, even in the midst of human trials. Sister Michele now becomes the connection to future generations of FSPA.   

Is God calling you to join the next generation, to discern religious life?

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

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