LATIN AMERICAGUATEMALA: January 25 at Los Pajales
It’s January: the mango trees, already in bloom, will bear their first fruits during Holy week. This is the time to sow beans and corn. We are in Los Pajales, where they speak Maya-Achi, a village 10 km from Belejú (the Oblate parish of Chicamán-Quiché), where the novices from the Latin-American novitiate in Guatemala are spending three months this year in order to live a missionary experience.
In Belejú, at an altitude of 2000 meters, it’s cold and there is no water. In recompense, there is electricity. Los Pajales, on the other hand, is at 1000 meters. Here, it is warm; there is water in all the houses, but there is no electricity and telecommunications are almost impossible because the village is surrounded by high mountains. A tributary of the Chixoy (the river that feeds the hydroelectric dam, two hours from here by foot) makes possible the irrigation of family gardens.
In addition to mangoes, there is an abundance of tropical fruit trees: bananas, coconuts, pineapples, papayas and custard apples. There are 200 families, with 400 pupils in primary and middle schools. They live on both banks of the river, linked by a hanging bridge. The light is generated by solar panels and petrol generators.
We'll stay five days, camping out in the church and sleeping on the benches. We will visit the families and organize activities for children and young people; we will celebrate Mass and administer the three sacraments (Confession, Communion, Anointing of the Sick). At the end of each day, there will be a film, looked forward to by young and old. You know: wherever there are novices, there is also the cinema.
On January 25, we are immersed in full missionary activity. We get up at 6:30 for a swim in the river and Mass at 7:00 in the shade of the coral tree next to the church. We pray for the whole Congregation, for the new General Council and for vocations, surrounded by the children who at 8:00 have to go to the nearby school.
In the evening, there is the long-awaited film. The spectators are so many, so we decide to show the film outside. At 18:30, it's already dark. There are not enough seats. People sit on the ground and we can begin.
If you take your eyes off the screen, your gaze inevitably falls on the spectacle of the stars. The star of St. Eugene, tonight, January 25, the anniversary of the Foundation of the Congregation, shines in a special way ... and smiles! (Fr. Pippo MAMMANA and the Guatemala Novitiate 2010-2011).