Oh my heart!

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.

The road out to Los Yanez
It looks really green but it is stunted and ear-less. And it will not produce at this point.
Lighting a ‘cohete’ – the loud boom that signals a special mass! He holds the stick with the rocket attached (near his hand), lights it and off it goes.  Hopefully leaving fingers intact.
The first Reading for the mass.  Photo taken before the sweet little boy in front of me realized he could be my friend!
Padre Santos blessing the new statue of their Patron Saint
The food getting ready to be served to all 200 (ish) people who attended mass.  Beef, rice, carrots, tortillas and pineapple soda.
Angelica, Blanca and Ismael discussing some local business
Holy First Communion
Extra gift packets from the Long Island delegation. They wanted to share with others!  Inside was a hand towel, toothpaste, toothbrush, colored pencils, sharpener, and a small beanie baby stuffed animal.


We had enough for one per family who have children in school.


Finding a place to enjoy their lunches
A lovely shady spot to eat.
Walking to Carmen’s house
This is Carmen’s home.  She is the epitome of hospitality.
We gave rides to about 30 people (all crammed in the back of the KIA). This is the face looking into the cab.
The ride out of town. This is the part that scared me as a driver. Hard to see the tracks and the drop off is pretty intense!
I wish we had had space for MORE people! They were walking to the next community. At least a half hour.
God bless her! But people come from all over to attend special Masses.
This is stunted and dried out corn that will not produce an ear. It has been over a month since there was rain on the mountain. Praying for a second chance to plant in August. But hardly anyone can afford more seed and fertilizer.  Global climate change is NOT a myth.
The last of the riders. All the others were dropped off at various locations on the way home. She came all the way to Berlin. Glad we could give rides!


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