Thursday, December 8, 2011

La Virgen María

Over the past few weeks I´ve been in a constant battle with myself over the language of Spanish. I wish I had studied more before I left. I wish I actually practiced with my friends when they tried to help me by talking with me in Spanish. I wish I had pushed myself to respond back to them with more than one word, that way I could have actually practiced having a real conversation in Spanish. I wish during all of the years I studied Spanish in school that I actually paid attention in class and challenged myself. I wish the only phrase I could remember from class was something more useful than ¨¡Pone el chicle en la basura!¨(Put your gum in the garbage! -I was caught every¨ class with gum in my mouth, you´d think I would stop chewing it after the first 3 times of being told to stop...)

I keep reminding myself that I can´t change the past and to not dwell on it. I just wish I could communicate better with those around me. There is so much I want to tell them, but it takes so long for me to form a sentence. I carefully choose what I think is important to communicate. Then, take several minutes trying to explain it to everyone. When all else fails, I switch to English and eventually we figure out the word I´m trying to find in Spanish.

I´m so impatient right now. I need to have more patience with myself and accept that it is a slow process. I need to stop thinking about it and let it happen. Everyone we meet tells me I know ¨bastante (enough)¨, but I want to know more! I want my words to flow better. I want to offer some word of comfort when I see a friend struggling.

Recently my sister in community, Ana Laura has been swamped with things to do. There are always children screaming her name outside our windows and doors at every moment of the day. When someone is sick or hurt, she is the first they call. She is always wearing a different hat (musician, nurse, cook, liason, translator, mother, friend, sister, motivator, teacher...). It is so beautiful to see her selfless love for all of those around her. She goes above and beyond for everyone. I´m constantly trying to find ways to help her.

On Tuesday, we all got up very early to take a bus to San Francisco Parish for 6:20 AM Mass. We decided to go to this mass so that we could be ready in time to meet the rest of our group (the sisters, Honduras house, and all the rest of the people visiting the sisters in San Pedro Perulapan right now). After Mass we realized we would have enough time to walk to our house instead of take a bus. As we walked, Ana Laura let all of us go infront of her. I slowed down my pace to try and walk alongside her and offer some kind of gesture of comfort and appreciation for her. I know she must have been tired with all of the work she had been doing and the fact that us girls (there were 6 girls in our room because we had 3 girls from the house in Honduras spend the week with us) were up until 1 AM talking about everything you can imagine before bed.

Before I could say anything, she looked at me, smiled, and said, ¨Isa, you have such a strong presence here.¨I was blown away by that statement. That´s exactly what I wanted to tell her. She was the one comforting everyone! Talking with her is always such a comfort for me. She uses hand gestures and sound effects. Two of my favorite things! I almost always understand what she is saying because of this. And she is currently the only native Spanish speaker in our house right now. She gently corrects my poor Spanish and helps communicate my thoughts to everyone.

As she talked to me about my strong, calm presence, I was reminded of all of the texts Fr. Theirry wrote about our mission. We always want to do, do, do. That is not our mission! We are called to be there. To follow the Cross, wherever it leads us. To remain faithful to the promises we made. To always have a presence similar to Mary´s at the Foot of the Cross. She doesn´t speak. She doesn´t push anyone away. She does not take the Cross herself. She is there, at a small distance from the Cross. She is praying and giving Jesus her gaze of compassion. That is all I am called to do. Speaking Spanish fluently and rapidly is a great perk, but it is not my mission.

I am so thankful that Ana Laura reminded me of my mission and for the example that our Mother Mary is for each of us. I´m so grateful for this Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception. I entrust my mission and all of the intentions of my sponsors and those dear to me, to her on this day. May Mary wrap us all in her mantle and keep our eyes fixed upon the Cross always.


  1. Such a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing. You make such great points about patience. I really needed to hear that. And being a strong and calm presence... Ana Laura is exactly right. That is what you are to all your friends at home and that's one of your strengths! I'm so happy that is carrying through in your mission because that's such a beautiful quality that is distinctly Courtney! I love you. Keep letting your light shine!

  2. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from El Salvador? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in El Salvador in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and a original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia, 39 Bajo C
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog www.cartasenmibuzon.blogspot.com, where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely