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Photo of the Week - Week 28

Monday, July 25th 2022 7:52 am

Tuesday was a good day in my ministry, and this photo seems to reflect a divine approval of our work, especially for my friend, Sister Scholastica!

Sister Scholastica is a Tertiary Sister of Saint Francis from Cameroon who is spending a few years with her sister province here in Bolivia.

Here's what happened. On Tuesday of last week, Adriana (another woman who works at Santa Clara), Sister Scholastic and I arrived at a home to teach the family how to make Leche de Soya (soy milk).

As we greeted the family, we learned that a young man in his 30's, named Justo, was diabetic. He was very thin and very sick. Sister Scholastic has a lot of knowledge regarding diabetes and gave him and his family some ideas on different food that can help.

She left for a short time to pick up medication and a test kit. A test of his blood sugar quickly indicated that he was at an extremely dangerous level. Medication was administered and Sister Scholastica spent the rest of the morning cooking with the family and teaching them healthy, nutritious food for diabetics. When we left, they had a day's worth of food ready for Justo to eat.

The next day, Sister Scholastica visited again and happily reported to us later that his blood sugar had dropped in half thanks to the medication and food. A bit of a miracle if you ask me!

This photo was taken in their cocina (kitchen) where Sister Scholastica was cooking some plantains (verde - they had to be green!) with vegetables and a little bit of chicken (purchased with the help of those who sent money with me when I was at home - thank you for that!). I didn't do any adjustments to the photo to add the rainbow streaks - they just appeared. When I saw the photo, I couldn't help but think that it was God's way of saying "Way to GO, Sister Scholatica, my beloved daughter!"

This week, I am spending extra time praying for the families we are working with. They are such loving and caring people, my prayer is that they receive what they need to live and love. Amen.

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Diamonds in our midst

Thursday, May 18th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Twenty-six remarkable members of FSPA are celebrating their Diamond Jubilees, “commemorations that mark 60, 70, 75 and 80 years as a vowed Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The milestone’s namesake has me reflecting on the gem itself. Before I joined community I went on a cruise to the Caribbean. Because many tourists purchase gemstones while traveling there, the cruise company offers information about them (including reputable places to shop) to passengers prior to docking at each port. Though I wasn’t in the market to buy diamonds I was interested in learning about what determines their value: clarity, cut, carat and color—the 4 Cs.


I realized that I didn’t know what it takes to get to the end product, the examination of the 4 Cs. I began by turning to the internet and submitted the question “How is a diamond formed?” While much of what I read was quite technical and far beyond my simple curiosity, I closed the search engine with a bit more knowledge. Diamonds need pressure, heat and time to form naturally. It takes work to make them attractive. They do not emerge from the ground gleaming and ready for sale.


Diamond jubilarians celebrated May 10 at Villa St. Joseph with Bishop Callahan

Each jubilarian has, in her own lifetime, experienced pressure, heat and time. There is resolve in ministry to do a lot with very little. Creativity and commitment to mission have guided each sister as she found ways to defuse heated situations that can occur, especially when working to promote Gospel tenants in which all those in need--not just a few--deserve care. Time is a gift each diamond jubilarian has had and not a minute has been wasted. Their lives of ministries have been in service to the whole spectrum of life from birth to death, serving generations of God’s people in schools, hospitals, parishes and spirituality centers (among others). Each encounter hones these women religious into sparkling gems.


Fifteen diamond jubilarians were celebrated with Mass in Mary of the Angels Chapel on May 5

As I witnessed one of the recent FSPA diamond jubilee celebrations, watching the jubilarians process down the aisle of Mary of the Angels Chapel, the sun streamed through the stained glass windows and enlightened us to the gleaming examples they are as they live every day into their call to religious life. To conjure the image close your eyes and think of dazzling color and light dispelling all darkness, shining through a diamond. The commitment to prayer and service perpetually polishes their priceless lives. These are the diamonds we all can strive to imitate while retaining our own uniqueness. 

How is discernment glowing through you?

To shine like the diamond that you are, what rough edges do you need polished?

Fiesta, Fires, Families and Fun

Tuesday, September 20th 2022 2:23 pm

Many great pardons for waiting so long to post this but there was a fiesta in Yaguarú, and so I spent most of the week there. Since there's no WiFi, I can't write my posts there. Now that I'm back in Ascencion, here is a quick recap of the last couple of weeks!

The fiesta in Yaguarú was for the Catholic celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross, which the church in Yaguarú is named for. This is common for mission pueblos here in Bolivia. The town is so identified with the mission church, where the people originally settled, that the celebration becomes a celebration of the town. The festivities began when Padre Franz, a German Franciscan priest who served for four years in Yaguarú came to visit. On that same Sunday, the novena began for three days leading up to the festival. On Tuesday, the fiesta began in earnest with the Vigil Mass for the Exaltation of the Cross. That was followed by dancing and music in the plaza outside of the church. The fiesta continued on Wednesday with Mass in the morning celebrated by one of Bolivia's bishops.

As usual for Yaguarú, the music was incredible at the Masses. Great feasts, including one at the convent for the sisters as well as the priests who co-celebrated the Mass and of course the Bishop, were all there. Roasted pig with lots of delicious food was enjoyed by all. The official fiesta concluded with Mass on Thursday. Music continued all night, every night during the fiesta and through the weekend. It proved a bit much for some, but I am happy to be a sound sleeper so it was all good. Interestingly, on Sunday evening at around 10:30 p.m., the power went out throughout Yaguarú and stayed off until 6 a.m. on Monday. I didn't realize that I could sleep even better with total silence, but it was a great rest!

Over the last two weeks or so, there have been lots of wildfires in the area. They create a haze and the sun rises and sets a bright red. Although every day someone says, "Mucho humo! (There's a lot of smoke!") it doesn't phase the residents here. It took me some time to realize what it was, but it's a reality in a place that has a wet and dry season I suppose. The rainy season begins with spring in October, so hopefully, we will get good rain a bit early to help. I was able to see evidence of some of the fires on my ride back to Ascencion on Monday. It looks scary, I admit, and I wonder how much of it is natural, and how much is because of the changes to the area as more people come to live here.

Sister Yanira and I continue to visit families in the different barrios (neighborhoods) here in Ascencion. Lately, we have been visiting people who live closer to the town center. The needs are always the same, and I am always surprised at how many children are malnourished. As I am learning more, I have learned that there is malnourishment, not just from lack of food, but lack of good food. Our Soya workshops with families help with protein deficiencies, but there are vitamin deficiencies as well. Anemia is seen often as well as skin discoloration from a Vitamin C deficiency. As you might guess, the Nutrition Center helps with vitamins to supplement the children's diets when needed.

It's hard to believe, but with all the festivities in Yaguarú, I failed to take photos! I know it's hard to believe but it's true. To make up for it, I've included some photos that Sister Yanira took when we stopped at a roadside stand during our walk one day and enjoyed some Chicha (a drink made from yucca, corn and a bit of sugar - I am sure you remember me talking about it before.) She sent them to me in this order saying how funny my expressions were as I drank it.

You can see that I'm drinking out of a sort of bowl. It's a traditional "chomba" bowl made from a shell of a giant fruit that grows here. Much like a gourd, it is dried and then used as a bowl. Depending on the size, and they can get pretty big, they could be used for serving bowls or mixing bowls as well. This was probably the size of a super large soda from McDonald's! :)

I enjoyed it very much and although the photos might suggest I was scared to drink it at first, I was actually really looking forward to having my chicha out of a chomba for the first time. Blessings to you all this week! As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated. It's amazing how I can feel them even though I am so far away!

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