Dear friends and family,
I hope you're staying warm! My sympathies to everyone in New England as you trudge through a winter apocalypse! This month will be news-oriented with updates about Guatemala and about myself. There's a lot to share!
Last November, priests from Guatemala met with Metropolitan Athenagoras in Mexico City (see photo). They developed a strategic plan for Guatemala, including three goals: (1) enable Fr. Fernando to succeed Fr. Andrés as leader in Guatemala by sending him abroad to study theology, (2) identify potential deacons and priests in the Guatemalan villages and train them on-site, (3) complete the medical clinic in Aguacate and develop a strategy for ongoing healthcare.
In January, Fr. John Chakos and Pres. Sandy returned to Guatemala with a small mission team to assist in Aguacate. Almost 1,000 people gathered for a marathon service with 6 weddings and 13 baptisms (read more on their blog).
February 16 was the one-year anniversary of the death of Fr. Andrés Girón, the leader and advocate of these Mayan villages. The people held large memorial services and eulogies.
This coming summer, two mission teams will travel to Guatemala. You can volunteer for one through OCMC.
90% funded: That's right, I'm in the home stretch! It's thrilling to see my team coming together. Thank you, everyone!
Purchased my plane ticket: I now have a departure date! On April 21st, I will fly from Miami to Guatemala City.
More parish visits in February and March: I can't leave until I'm 100% funded, so I will be traveling in New England and New York to seek more monthly supporters. See pictures from my recent visits on my Facebook page.
Ways to Help
Prayer requests: Please pray for personal peace as I begin saying goodbye to family and friends. Also pray for healing from wrist pain (a result of all the driving, typing, and writing).
Donate supplies: I am gathering supplies for my move on April 21st, and there are several items that you could donate (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to donate something):
- A Kindle e-reader
- E-book versions of theological writings
- Logos Bible Software
- A used Macbook for a backup computer
- Large, lightweight suitcases
- New or used cassock
- Liturgical supplies for the churches in Guatemala (chalices, censers, and blessing crosses)
Become a monthly supporter: I still need more monthly pledges before I can leave in April. Make a pledge of any amount (e.g., $25 per month) using my online support page.
I can't tell you how much I miss Fr. Andrés as we mark the one-year anniversary of his death (Feb 16). I got to know this great man as a father. Imagine driving in a car with Martin Luther King, Jr., or having tea with Mahatma Gandhi. I look to Fr. Andrés with the same degree of love and admiration.
During one car ride in 2012, Fr. Andrés stopped at a small store and walked inside with me. He walked carefully, holding my arm because of his increasing weakness. Suddenly he stopped, stared into my eyes, and said, "do you see this cassock, Jesse? This doesn't make me a priest! The people in the villages made me a priest. Always remember that!" Then we continued into the store to buy coffee and food, and his words lingered in the air. I never forgot those spontaneous, prophetic moments; the words of Fr. Andrés linger in the room where I sit and type, they permeate the churches where his people pray, and they flow through the mountain air of Guatemala where thousands of people still look to this man as a father.
Now, as I prepare to move on April 21st, I ask Fr. Andrés to pray for me and to beg God that I will serve his people faithfully. I try to honor his words from that car ride by remembering that the villages made me a missionary. Not only that, but all of you are making me a missionary each day through your prayers and support. Join me today in prayer, as we remember Fr. Andrés Girón and the villages that love him dearly.