Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Much accomplished during Thanksgiving trip to Guatemala mission

by Deacon Gary Franz, for the Inland Register

(From the January 17, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

We spent our ninth Thanksgiving in a row with the Sisters of Charity who serve in the diocese’s mission in Guatemala. We are deeply grateful for another two weeks with Sisters Immaculata, Marie and Liz. Sister Immaculata is very much better than she was a few weeks ago when we were keeping prayer vigil over her illness.

The visit by eight of us was a bit of a stress and at the same time an opportunity to get much done. We came with many cases of toys and medicines for children from area schools here in the Spokane Diocese and Yakima Diocese, a large bag full of antibiotics, chocolate for the chocolatiers in Ixtahuacán, an oversize roto-hammer bit to drill and blow a rock by the fish hatchery, and many goodies for the season for the Sisters.

Our suitcase of antibiotics was held at the airport for customs and health department release. The plan was to pick it all up on Friday after Thanksgiving when two of our party needed to go back to the states.

So we worked in Nahualá at the clinic in the midst of the city preparations for the radio station’s 50th anniversary and the festival in honor of Santa Caterina. We removed wet soil from one of the clinic outer walls, sealed the wall, scraped the green stuff off that was growing inside the clinic, then sealed and repainted the inner wall of the clinic – all bright and shiny again! We also installed cabinets and a sink for a kitchen in the apartment over the clinic for a dentist, repaired plumbing, and installed a gas stove. Now all we need is for a dentist to be assigned,

The Guatemala gathering: kneeling in front is Loren Franz. Standing, from left, are Pat Franz, Sr. Liz, Linda Debevec, Laura Dahmen, Sisters Immaculata Burke and Marie Tolle, and Lois Dahmen.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful visit with the Sisters, some other Sisters from up country, Father David Baronti, and Dave Dodro of Spokane, a full-time volunteer at the mission. We even had two turkeys, the group was so large (and the leftovers were a real treat).

On Friday Father Baronti and I went to Guatemala City to reclaim the bag of medicine. Two members of our party went back to the airport, and on to Seattle. But the red tape on the bags was too thick and we did not get past the health department release requirement. We did get Guatemala-manufactured tempered chocolate for the ladies in Ixtahuacán. And the first of our car woes appeared with Father Baronti’s sedan overheating. That stuck thermostat got fixed Saturday morning in Tecpan, and we also discovered that there was a slow radiator leak (add water every 30 miles). We returned to Novillero and Ixtahuacán for weekend duties and work.

We returned to Guatemala City on Tuesday to get the medicines and to meet Father Luta Nsubuga, who serves at St. Patrick Parish, Pasco, and who was coming to visit from Spokane via Washington D.C. We also experienced a second car casualty when Father Baronti’s pickup had a water hose break. While that was being repaired, we did get the health department release, but then had to wait until the next day for a customs broker to determine the duty on the medicine. So we met Father Luta at 10 p.m., spent the night in Antigua, and rested up for another day of fun.

Part of the task list for the Thanksgiving trip to the Guatemala Mission: sealing the outer wall of one of the clinics. (IR photos courtesy of Deacon Gary Franz)

Wednesday was quiet in the morning with a visit to the shrine of St. Herman Pedro, obtaining a source of materials to blow the rock, and then about six hours of waiting for the customs broker to establish the duty, pay the duty, and get the bag released. We finally arrived back in Novillero at about 8 in the morning Thursday in time for Father Luta to celebrate Mass with the whole crew at the convent. We finished the projects in Nahualá later that day, packed, and were on our way to Guatemala City on Friday morning for the flight home. We remain very thankful for our time with the Sisters of Charity and with Father Baronti.

(Post script: Sister Liz has returned to New York and Father Baronti’s car radiator is fixed, but the pickup was declared dead five days later from a loss of all oil. Fathers Baronti and Luta celebrated Mass in Ixtahuacán in the Ki’che language and confirmed more than 100 youngsters. Father Baronti is getting a new pickup thanks to some Spokane generosity. And there is a twinkle of hope for a nurse-postulant in Guatemala to perhaps take vows and support the medical mission – prayers are most welcome.)

Earthquake Relief Fund News: Thanks to all who have donated to help victims of the November earthquake: a total of $9,640. More information will be shared later as it becomes available.

(Deacon Franz is a member of the Guatemala Commission.)

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