Wednesday, March 23, 2011


March is a busy time here because people have spring break in the States, which is prime mission time.  We’ve had three groups come since the beginning of March.  I’ve been working at the parish, and one of my jobs is to help with mission groups-- help the trip organizers plan the trip, and then when they get here show them around and be available if they need anything.  I realized that without really noticing, I have become quite accustomed to living here, and I’ve forgotten a lot of things that to first time visitors are new and strange.  One night I stopped by to give a newly arrived group my standard ‘safety’ talk (If a kid gives you sticky candy or peeled fruit, don’t eat it unless you want worms! Mangy stray dogs are not cute, don’t pet them! No wearing tank tops and shorts, you will scandalize the old ladies and draw the unwanted attention of all males for miles around! ).  I noticed that everyone’s fascinated gaze had drifted to the window behind me.  I was kinda nervous that a tarantula had wandered in, but when I turned around, all I saw was some chickens scratching in the dirt. ‘Look,’ said someone in a rapturous voice, ‘chickens!’

the group from Benedictine, on the bridge on the way to Cala Creek to celebrate Mass

One day I was privileged to have the Franciscan group’s priest visit me at the farm.  He is a very holy, gentle person, and I was surprised when he mentioned that he had always wanted to be a long term missionary in a foreign country, but didn’t think he could do without the conveniences of the States.  But, I said, you took a vow of poverty.  He replied that in the States, he can run to Wal-Mart anytime he needs something.  That made me think, because although there are many things I miss, I have never missed running to Wal-mart. I hadn’t realized this until his question got me thinking. I don’t miss the endless running around doing errands that seemed to take a lot of my time in the States. There are times I have to do without—right now I would pay an obnoxious amount for a good mop, but there are none to be found, and I can make due with what I have for now.  A lot of the time here, availablilty has nothing to do with if you can afford it—things just aren’t available.  This can be a good thing and a bad thing; on one hand I’m not running to Wal-mart to get some small direly needed gadget for my newest big expensive gadget, but on the other hand it takes me hours to make dinner and clean up because I don’t have a microwave or a dishwasher and most everything is made from scratch.  But when I was in the States I rarely had time to make whole meals from scratch.  I think my answer to the Priest ran something along the lines that living here teaches me the difference between wants and needs, and surprisingly (to me) I have found a lot of what I thought was need was just want.  Life here certainly is not convenient…. but your mentality shifts away from the rampant consumerism that is the States after a while and most of the time the lack of convenience really isn’t such a big deal.


  1. For some reason this post brought tears to my eyes.
    I love your insights, Cathleen. And I hate wal-mart.
    And running errands.
    - Sarah (the Sheldon) Kisling


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