Renewal, Transition and Beautiful Reflection
In my last reflection, I didn't realize I would send another, but then Sister Michelle L'Allier, a Little Falls Franciscan Sister invited me to talk about religious life and my time in Bolivia on her podcast, Engaging Franciscan Wisdom.
Time to Come Home
Over the past few months, I've found that my energy has been less and less. I patiently waited for it to return, but as time passed, I realized it just wasn't returning. I had some medical tests, but everything was normal. Finally, a few weeks ago, I talked to my community and made the decision to return home.
Fiesta, Fires, Families and Fun
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 there, 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!
New Ministry in Yaguaru
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.
A Little Bit of Sadness - Patience and Love
I've had some sadness lately. There's really no reason why, it just has quietly and persistently been inviting me into myself. It's a hard thing for me to admit, possibly even more to myself than to others. And yet, here I am.
Rediscovering the Beauty of Hospitality
In my discernment, the phrase that most calls to me is “Radiating Christ’s Love”. This beautiful sentiment speaks to not only my personal acceptance of Christ’s love and how it lives in my heart, but suggests that this same love goes out from me into the world.
One Word. Gratitude.
This is my humble attempt to tell you about the incredible and joy-filled time of my 50th birthday, but words are inadequate sometimes to express the depth of my feelings, so know that this time was absolutely precious to me and will live deep in my heart for all time.
Photo of the Week - Week 31
Today I celebrate my one-year anniversary of the profession of my first vows. As I considered how I might honor this special day, I decided spending time with my sisters in community with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration would be just the perfect way to celebrate!
What It Sounds Like Here
Someone sent me a message with a request. It's interesting how a person can get used to things and stop noticing them, and I realized that was happening a little bit here now that I have been in Bolivia for about 7 months.
Photo of the Week - Week 29
Meet Jose. He's an 86-year-old blind man who, with great sorrow, explained that his family has abandoned him.
Photo of the Week - Week 28
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!
Feliz Dia De la Amistad - Happy Friendship Day!
As I spend my time coloring a special little something for one of my friends here in Bolivia, I have been reflecting on my many friendships, past and present.
Photo of the Week - Week 27
I have been appreciating the faith of the people here in Ascención. Little gestures and big processions are outward representations of a deep faith that runs through the church here.
Photo of the Week - Week 26
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!
Love and Gratitude, Invitation Accepted!
¡Qué alegría! What joy! These last four weeks have been filled with great joy. I have been reflecting lately about a temptation I had at times during these weeks.
Photo of the Week - Week 25
Sardines, chocolate, candy, coffee and infant care items - one store's offerings. I am back in Bolivia, and after arriving in Santa Cruz and before leaving to return to Ascención, I was blessed to go along to pick up supplies for the Santa Clara Nutrition Center.
Photo of the Week - Week 24
This incredible work of art is painted on the wall of the church in Ascención. At first, it seems like a nice mural depicting three times in Francis' life. As I looked closer though, I realized that the three scenes are set in Ascención!
What About the Animals?
Hello! I am still in the United States, but wanted to show you some of the animals that are at the convent and farm. I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice my Spanish too - so here goes!
Photo of the Week - Week 23
Friends and adventures! Before I left for the United States, Hermana (Sister) Yanira and I travelled to Santa Cruz together. Hermana Yanira proclaimed we were going on an "aventura"!
Photo of the Week - Week 22
I am actually in the United States right now for some time with community, family and friends but thought it would be a good time to show you something that I found interesting.
Photo of the Week - Week 21
WARNING! BIRD NERD ALERT! It was a big moment on Wednesday, but I didn't realize it until today! We were returning from taking some food to a woman and her two kids who live far out in the country, and both Sister Yanira and Don Gary (our driver) were patient and kind enough to stop along the way so I could take photos of birds I spotted. They both knew I was getting close to a milestone in my life list, so they were indulging me very kindly.
A Fiesta! Dancing, Praying and Celebrating Life
This week, we celebrated the founding of the pueblo (which is the word for both the town and the people of the town) on Ascension Thursday. It was both a surprise and a joy to experience a week of fiesta (party). There was so much happening, it would take too long to describe it all. For now, I would love to tell you about the dancing!
Photo of the Week - Week 20
Meet Mia Mandarina! You might remember me mentioning a cute little baby Brown Agouti that stopped by the convent for a visit. Well, she decided to stick around!
The Making of a Saint - and Nerviness
Today is the feast day of Madre Maria Hueber, the founder of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis, the sisters I am living with here in Bolivia. It so happens it's my turn to lead prayers this week. I tried to talk them out of it, but they wouldn't budge.
Photo of the Week - Week 19
I have a few official responsibilities here at the convent. I remember when I got my list, I was so excited to have some jobs like the other sisters. Doing these tasks really help me to feel like I am contributing in community. I help clean a few places, I help decorate for birthdays and on Sundays, I make the refresco for lunch.
The Gift of Memories
In my reflections this week, I realized that I have been blessed by the return of memories. I didn't realize I wasn't having them, but once I began to again, it became evident. I wonder why there weren't memories until recently?
Photo of the Week - Week 18
The skies were clear and bright as I snapped this photo. Admittedly, it's not very attractive. I still find it fascinating though.
Photo of the Week - Week 17
Welcome to May! I will be spending the next four days in Yaguarú, a special small town where the sisters minister Thursday - Sunday. I thought it fitting that I use the Mary I saw in the church there back when we went there for the end of Carnaval.
What About the Food?
Moving on to the topic that got the most questions - food! Here are the questions, and here are the answers!
A Walk with the Holy Spirit
Today, the Holy Spirit invited me on a walk. I grabbed my camera and we had a wonderful time. There were so many wonderful creations to appreciate. I decided not to do more than enjoy the time and snap some photos for you. Enjoy!
Photo of the Week - Week 15
Normally, I don't bring my camera along because it just doesn't feel right to be walking around places where people don't have enough to eat with an expensive camera. In my mind, there's a certain injustice in that. I had justified it during last week, promising that I wouldn't take it out when we were visiting with families, only when we were coming and going. Justifications only work so well though...
Felices Pascuas! Leaning into Different Pascual Traditions
Felices Pascuas! This is short because I am still in the midst of celebrating this Holy time with the sisters here. I have had a range of wonderings this week, enjoy new traditions, spending time with Sister Katie and missing the traditions I've enjoyed in the States.
Photo of the Week - Week 14
The sun was hastening to the horizon as the courtyard filled with the prayers of the rosary.
A Day of Ministry with the Santa Clara Nutrition Center
I really enjoy my ministry at the Santa Clara Nutrition Center and appreciate greatly the work that they do. This is a description of a typical day walking the neighborhood.
Photo of the Week - Week 13
It isn't the best photo. It's too dark, too close and a bit blurry - but it's a favorite because it reminds me of a special time.
A Lesson From My Week Off - And Gifts
I am back from my week off, thanks for your patience. An amazing thing happened on my week off from deep thinking and reflections - I ended up reflecting and learning anyway!
Photo of the Week - Week 12
After having a chat with God on Sunday, I am taking the week off. I am letting go of my obligations, deep thoughts, and learnings.
Birds and Nature - Enjoying Bolivian Creation
Thank you to everyone who asked questions! I got so many great ones - I look forward to answering them all. Since I got to pick, I chose a question relating to a favorite topic - NATURE! - first. Hope you enjoy the pics!
Photo of the Week - Week 11
I have seen different art like this here in Bolivia, but the imagery in this one struck me more than the others. I don't know the specific historical stories depicted in this painting, but it moves me.
Delighting in Routine...and Your Questions?
When I am in transition, I long for routine. It brings a sense of normalcy to a way of being that is all new, unknown and a bit awkward. The structure of my days with the Tertiary Sisters of Saint Francis provides me with a foundation that is constant.
Photo of the Week - Week 10
Carlita is a young woman of 15 who lives in a poor part of town with her family. She has recently been battling leukemia.
A New Invitation: Walking with Intention
I am a dreamer. I always have been. I find that here, at this moment in my life, my dreaming is a distraction.
Photo of the Week - Week 9
The most popular mode of transportation in this area is the motorcycle (moto in espanol) and so when I first arrived and Sister Yanira mentioned that she normally takes a motorcycle taxi to and from the clinic to visit patients, I decided I should embrace this part of the culture here.
Encuentro in Cooking - Lessons in Life
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.
Photo of the Week - Week 8
When these beautiful women come to call at the end of Carnaval - it's time to dance!
Newness Abounds - and a Photo of the Week
I know I am a bit late with this reflection. You might be wondering what’s new? Well, everything!
Photo of the Week - Week 6
What a strange creature! At the end of our time in Incachaca we stopped for Trucha (trout) at a restaurant and fishery. The sun finally snuck out from behind the clouds and suddenly, the place was filled with all sorts of different butterflies.
Poco a Poco - Learning and Growing Little by Little
“Poco a poco!” Karla, one of my Spanish instructors, said encouragingly as we slowly made our way back up the mountain...
Photo of the Week - Week 5
The road in front of the school has been under construction, so I have had to walk another way. It takes me beyond, to the other side of it all. As I've taken this way for quite a few days now, I have become curious about the area.
Me gusta comida! Togetherness with Traditional Bolivian Foods
For me, food is more than just the actual dish. It is conversation, relationship and friendship. It is an expression of love from the person who prepares the food and an expression of togetherness for all who partake. It is a social connection that is formed around the table in which all participants are included and invited to share in life-giving sustenance.
Photo of the Week - Week 4
This week's photo comes from the Parque de la Familia (The Family Park) where I was invited by CLIMAL, my language school, to go to last night. A total of eight of us went. We enjoyed traditional Bolivian food at a restaurant (more on that another time) and then walked over to this spectacular show.
Discovering a Growing Edge While Walking in Cochabamba
A growing edge I have become aware of this week has become apparent on my walks. I rarely see someone that shares my skin tone. In my mind, I know that it doesn’t matter. Everyone I have had personal contact with has been so full of kindness and hospitality and even with the language barrier, they go out of their way to make me feel welcome. And yet…
Photo of the Week - Week 3
Rainbows are so beautiful and they whisper to me of promises and hope. My heart smiles when I see rainbows - they have ever since I was young.
Celebrating a Culture: Happy Diá del Estado Plurinacional! (Day of the Pluri-national State)
Yesterday, January 22nd, was a very special day for the people of Bolivia. It marks the anniversary of their constitution. Over ten years old, it's a young constitution. To my understanding, this new constitution was written and ratified in the hopes of creating a nation that cherishes diversity and respects the needs of all of its people.
Photo of the Week - Week 2
I have to say, I had not intended to ever post a photo of myself as the photo of the week, but as luck would have it, being in isolation really limits the opportunity to take photos.
I arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia a little more than a week ago. The words I would use to sum up the time here so far are compassionate care. Compassionate care of me, what an incredible gift!
Photo of the Week - Week 1
Enjoy weekly photos highlighting my experience of life in Bolivia. This week focuses on the natural beauty surrounding Cochabamba.
My spirit lifted as I realized that whether or not I am successful, I am journeying “with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet” (St. Clare blessing) toward God and really, that’s all that matters.