I have started a new ministry in the small town of Yaguarú over the last month or so. You might remember me talking about being invited to dance at the end of Carnaval -- that was in Yaguarú. I am spending Thursday afternoon until early Monday morning there in addition to my time at the nutrition center.
It's a beautiful place next to some extensive wetlands. Like many mission pueblos here, there is a central plaza that is popular for sitting and talking, or walking and talking -- especially after services at the church. The "Mary -- Undoer of Knots" that I had a reflection on is also here in Yaguarú.
My new ministry is simple. With another sister and the help of a friend in Yaguarú, we are spending time meeting the different families in town. Our purpose is to really listen to the people there, about their families, joys and struggles. What we are doing isn't quick -- getting to know people never is (even if speed dating was a popular thing -- is it still popular?) and it isn't always easy to hear of the hard times, especially when someone is still in them. Of course, as you might guess, language is a challenge as well, but as is the experience I've had here in Bolivia, people are patient and kind. Interestingly, with some of the abuelas and abuelos, we have needed additional help with language because they speak Guarayu, the indigenous language of the area. It seems to all work out in the end, and we have new friends in the town.
There are a few things that are missing from Yaguarú. There is no wifi at the convent. I hadn't really anticipated the impact that would have on my ability to respond to emails, but, as anyone who has emailed me in the last few weeks can account for, I have fallen behind on my correspondence as of late. My apologies to anyone who is waiting to hear from me.
The other is that they don't have a priest who is ministering here full-time. Unlike Ascension, where there is daily Mass every day and three Masses on Sunday, Mass is celebrated only on Saturday night here. It's when one of the priests from Ascencion can make the hour drive to come. The community still gathers daily with Celebrations of the Word and Eucharist full of music and prayers.
Next week, the town's grand fiesta will be happening. It is centered around the namesake of the church, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It begins on Saturday with a three-day novena at the church. On Tuesday, the Fiesta begins for the whole town and I hear that there will be wonderful Masses, processions, dancing and music. It concludes on Thursday. A priest who had spent some time in Yaguarú will be visiting, and I believe a bishop will be coming as well. As far as other fun, I guess I will have to wait to see!
Blessings to you all! I am still hoping to send an update every week, but there's a good chance I will be delayed at times. Es la vida! :)