This morning we took a drive out to Los Yanez – a very remote and extremely poor community of 22 families. There are parts of the drive that used to scare the daylights out of me. But with Alejandro driving, it isn’t nearly as scary as when I had to drive!
We went because we were invited to attend a Holy Mass to celebrate their Patron Saint: María del Carmen.
We picked up a couple of people (as is the custom) as we drove out. We got there only about 10 minutes prior to the start of the Mass. The cohetes (loud noise makers) could be heard while we were still 15 minutes out. They shoot those off when the priest arrives, when Mass starts, when the Scriptures are read, when the Host is blessed and again when served, and then when Mass ends.
As we drove into town, we saw lots of people from neighboring villages. Patron Saint Masses are a big deal! But the joke was – people knew that this (ridiculously poor) community planned to give EVERYONE lunch after the Mass.
So we drove up, greeted a few people and ambled over to their little church which had people sitting outside under a canopy because there was no more room inside! Of course, people made way for us and put little ones in laps so the 3 of us could have a chair inside.
Most people didn’t see us come in because we were at the back. The Mass had just begun. It was pretty much a usual Mass. Father Santos was presiding. He is a good man and greatly loved in the villages. He is a kind man.
There were lots of littles ones sitting near me. Cute little ones who didn’t seem to be shy! One in particular kept needing to pass by me to go in and out. One in front of me who kept peeking around his mom to look at me. After my first smile to him, he gifted me with multiple sweet grins! Every once in a while, someone would turn around for whatever reason, see me and grin. Only a couple of people in the village knew I was in town. Every time I made eye contact with one of my dear ones, my heart was filled.
We have a good relationship with this community. We would often visit Los Yanez when I was living here a Co-Worker. We didn’t need much of an excuse. This is one of the warmest and most loving communities I’ve ever been to. From day one, it was like we were family.
After the Mass there were so many hugs and greetings and everyone there always pours blessings on you during a hug filled greeting. They are the sweetest!
We were asked to go to the home of one of the older women for our lunch. What a feast. I can’t imagine how they managed to purchase all they did! There were easily 200 people there! They served pieces of beef (not huge, but still!!), rice with small pieces of veggies in it, cooked carrot coins, tortillas and a small bottle of pineapple/coconut soda for everyone.
We stayed and chatted for a while in Carmen’s VERY humble one room home (maybe 15’ square with her open fire ‘stove’ in the same room that she sleeps in). It is branch and sod which is see through in many spots. And her roof is old lamina.
Many people came in after lunch asking if they could fill their little soda bottle with water for the long walk back to their villages. Of course, she said yes. Mind you, it hasn’t rained here for over a month – and the rainy season typically starts mid-May. There is no running water here in Los Yanez. There has been no rain to capture in their tanks. They have to get their water from a very distant, almost dry stream or purchase it. And she invited people in to fill their bottles.
How fitting – one of the scriptures today was from Matthew 10:34-11:1.
In the case of Carmencita who shared her precious water, THIS:
Matthew 10:42 “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.“
She reinforced my belief from years of observation. Those that have the least, share the most.
Oh my heart.