“Our prayers should be filled with names and faces.” Pope Francis
This blog is going to be a little different. Instead of sharing my thoughts and insights, I will be giving a voice to the poor and shinning a light on their beautiful stories of faith. For the past 3 weeks Intake has been living in General Cepeda, Mexico to get a taste of being in the mission field while continuing our missionary training. Let me give you a brief background of General Cepeda.
General Cepeda is home to roughly 12,000 people. The town is very quaint: full of big-hearted people, delicious foods, and an awesome cement slide for all to enjoy! Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie Summers, the founders of Family Missions Company, made General Cepeda their family’s home in 1987. Eventually they purchased what is now the Casa de Misiones, and General Cepeda has been an FMC mission post ever since. The missionaries’ (both local Mexicans and Americans) presence in General Cepeda has left an everlasting imprint on many of the peoples lives. Likewise, the people there have left an imprint on my heart.
The town of General Cepeda has many poor habitants, but at the surrounding 51 ranchos, or small ranch communities, is where you will find the poorest of the poor. One of the main ministries in General Cepeda is to visit these ranchos to pray with them, teach them about the faith, do communion services, share testimonies, and praise the Lord together. During my rancho visits I was always supremely blessed by the profound faith of the poor people. Let me introduce you to some of the people I had the great privilege to meet.
Meet Angelica, Jose, and Chuy:
The rancho, Ojo de Agua, is a fairly small rancho that is just about 10 minutes outside of General Cepeda. Usually we would visit a different rancho every night, but for one week we went to the same rancho 3 nights in a row. It was such a huge blessing to intentionally walk with the same group of people and form relationships with them.
Angelica is the keeper of the chapel keys at Ojo de Agua. She shared with us that her son suffers with epilepsy. The faith of this women was astounding. She kept telling us that she keeps surrendering her son and his suffering into the hands of God. That is how she gets through it. I told this woman that she is a true missionary disciple of Jesus. She stood up at one of our prayer meetings and gave a testimony about following the Lord closely, despite your circumstances. What faithfulness! I am confident that when missionaries aren’t there, Angelica is the hands and feet of Christ to her neighbors in the rancho. Please pray for Angelica and her son, that they can continue to be faithful lights of Christ!
Jose lives in Ojo de Agua with the rest of his family. He is a rancher who works so hard to put food on the table for his wife and children. When we invited him to come and pray in the chapel on the second night he said he couldn’t because he had to go back to work (it was 5pm). We told him that we would be back the next day and that we were having a convivo (a pot-luck). He responded with joy, “Oh then I will come tomorrow! Not for the food, but for the word of God”. I have to admit that I wasn’t very trusting of him or hopeful that he would actually come. We invite many people to the chapels and the majority of them say that they will come but never actually do. But lo and behold, come the next day, Jose walked in with his wife and children! Praise God! It is such a big victory when a man comes to pray at the chapel; there is a huge spiritual attack on Mexican men! Jose even stood up to give a brief testimony! He told us that his mother recently had a heart attack and was in the hospital. Recently he realized that he needs to have God at the center of his life and needs to have a prayer life. He was so grateful that we invited him to come to the chapel and pray! Please pray for Jose and his budding prayer life! Pray that he would have the grace to be persistent in and devoted to prayer!
Chuy is a middle aged man who ran up to our van the moment we arrived at the rancho the first day. He was so helpful to us by walking around the rancho and pointing out the houses that were abandoned and the houses which had people to invite. This happened every day that we went to Ojo de Agua! Sadly, Chuy suffers from seizures. He had one of his episodes in the chapel the second night we were there. We stopped the testimony that one of the missionaries was giving to pray over Chuy. Please pray for Chuy’s complete healing! We were all so happy to see Chuy return to us the next day, ready to invite more people to the chapel!
Meet Doña Marciana and Golla:
Doña Marciana is an elderly woman living in General Cepeda with her daughter, Golla. A small group of us went on a home visit to their house. Walking into Doña Marciana’s room was like walking into Calvary. Doña Marciana is on her death bed in so much pain all over her body, especially her head and stomach. She has been like this for 2 months. Golla is in her 60’s and is the sole caretaker of her mother. Our entire visit (roughly 1 1/2 hours) was filled with Doña Marciana crying and wailing out in pain. We prayed over her and prayed the rosary with her. Golla evangelized to us our entire visit telling us how important it is to pray for the sick, abandon everything to the Lord, and trust in his providence. We came back to visit the next day and to pray for Doña Marciana and Golla again. To our surprise Doña Marciana was asleep and therefore not in any pain for the moment! Praise the Lord! And to bless us even more God allowed Doña Marciana to wake up, not be in any pain, and even laughing and telling jokes! She even ate a piece of bread (she hasn’t been eating or drinking anything but small amounts of water)! This is how I will remember Doña Marciana.
We asked Golla what their needs were and the only thing she asked for was 2 packages of adult diapers for her mother. One package of 10 diapers cost 200 pesos or $10. That is a lot of money for a poor family in Mexico and a huge financial burden on Golla! Imagine not being able to afford diapers for your dying mother. God will surely bless Golla for her devotion to her mother. I pray she will receive her reward here on this earth and also in heaven for her great love. Praise God we were able to raise 3,000 pesos for them. Please, please pray for Doña Marciana to have a happy and peaceful death. Please also pray for Golla. Caring for her mother has been very challenging, both physically and emotionally. Golla tragically lost her husband 11 years ago and moved in with her mother so she wouldn’t be alone. You can imagine how losing her mother now is very difficult for her. Pray for her heart.
Hugo lives in General Cepeda. All 3 of his daughters have special needs and when he came to the mission house he was in need of money because his 16 year old daughter was in the hospital. We gave alms to him, but a week later he came back in need of more money because his daughter passed away and he couldn’t afford all the funeral costs. We prayed with him and cried with him. It was such a beautiful moment. Please pray for Hugo and his family as they mourn the loss of their daughter and sister. Pray also for protection and healing for Hugo’s remaining daughters as they both have medical issues.
Christian lives in a rancho called Tacubaya. Sadly, there are only a few Catholics in this very large rancho. Jehovah’s Witness missionaries have come in and converted them all away from Catholicism. Catholic missionaries are greatly needed there! When we arrived we first met Christian. He says that he is 12 years old. With our very little and very broken Spanish we were able to make a connection with him. He has such a great smile and fun personality! At the end of our prayer service we handed out some donated winter clothes to those that came to the chapel. The winter months in Mexico are very harsh on the poor living in the ranchos without adequate supplies such as blankets, heaters, and warm clothing. We gave a couple long sleeve shirts to Christian for his 3 sisters and we also gave him a package of gloves. He then told us, “These 3 pairs of gloves are for my sisters, can I have a pair?”. We did not have any gloves for him. It was so hard leaving that rancho knowing that Christian’s little hands would remain cold. Jesus tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Mt. 7:7). God, please send Christian a pair of warm gloves. Please pray for Christian; pray that he would continue to be an amazing, self-less brother and grow even deeper in his Catholic faith!
These are just a few of the stories of the poor I met in Mexico. Please fill your prayer with the names of Angelica, Jose, Chuy, Doña Marciana, Golla, Hugo, and Christian!
Dios te bendiga,
P.S. I found out my mission post in Mexico! I am going to Haiti!!! Please pray for me and the mission!