Experience in San Andres Itzapa and Parramos (Guatemala)

How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Mattew 5,3)

We, Andrea and Clara,two Sisters of Sion went to Guatemala with a group of students and chaperones from Kansas City to share life and work with the aboriginal people. We stayed from March 8th to 14th and each day we had a special job to do – building stoves, chicken coops, concrete floors… etc.

We also had an activity with the women who are part of the project called, ‘Sharing the Change’ program. Their aim is to guide the external assistance towards the construction of development and solidarity communities in San Andres Itzapa and Parramos. They served us traditional foods and drinks and the evening ended with dancing. Some of the participating women we had met before, since we had gone to build their stoves and chicken coops. All the preparation was beautiful and done with much love and affection.

Also part of our program was a visit to a school called, ‘Valle del Durazno’ which supports handicapped children. We had different activities and games with them which were done with great joy and love. In addition, we went to an orphanage called, ‘Los Gozosos.’ There were approximately 24 children and young people. They were so lovely and kind; it was really to see the eyes of God in their eyes and in their sharing.

Part of our experience was to visit the sick and we brought them some bags of food. They were very happy that we were able to spend time with them. They were very poor and most of them were illiterate, but despite the poverty that they live, they are very brave and wise people who have managed to get ahead, in spite of the conditions in which they have lived.

Really, this experience has been wonderful and it has been a blessed opportunity to share with these people because they gave us so much energy, joy and love. We felt very happy sharing with them. It was so necessary to see their faces, laughing and singing. Their hospitality and kindness was remarkable. We could see God´s face through them. It was like the butterfly effect, with a simple flutter of a butterfly, it can be felt on the other side of the world, that is to say, there is a minimum change.

We felt that God had invited us like Abraham, “Leave your country, your kindred and your father’s house for a country which I shall show you; and I shall make you a great nation. I shall bless you and make your name famous; you are to be a blessing!” (Genesis 12, 1-2) Abraham left his country and family for a country that he had not known before. He started something new in his life and he responded with courage and faith. Perhaps he met different faces, realities and communities just as we did.

Abraham recognized the voice of God in his life among the people. We, in turn listened to the voice of God through these handicapped children, women and elderly. Our intense sharing in all of their works brought us to the end of each day when we prayed together. We were very grateful for the deep experiences we have had and we cried together. God was with us – Emmanuel.

God had invited us to leave ourselves, to go to these people and to respond to them. We can be a prophet in our own time going beyond ourselves and having an encounter with the people. That is actually to have an encounter with God. In our Constitution #15 it states:

“The events of our world and of our lives urge us to hear the cry of the poor and to respond a new to the call of God to do justice. This commandment resounds urgently in our days through the calls of the Church.”

It is necessary to hear and to respond to all these different realities that happen around us. This experience in San Andres Itzapa and Parramos has deepened our understanding and such an experience has made a tremendous change in our lives.

“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to…”. (Matt. 28, 10)

Father Theodore said that we must leave ourselves so that the love of God enters into our hearts and that is why we are giving our time and gifts to these people. We thank God for this wonderful experience and for each one that we met in Guatemala. We thank the Lord and ask God’s blessing on our students of Kansas City, chaperons, Phil, Melinda, Sr. Audrey NDS and all the workers that were part of this deep experience of silence, prayer, reflection and work.

We will save this experience as a precious stone in our hearts so that it will help us when we need a precious stone to walk and to live out the plan of God.

Sr. Andrea Chacón Carmona NDS
Costa Rica, March 2019