After a two hour ride like no other (see next article), we arrived at Arroyo Cumiapa.  Just about a couple of miles short of our destination, Fr. Graziano got on the cb radio to say something.  We were about to be overwhelmed. 

As the car and truck moved into sight of the village, there was an explosion.  After checking to ensure our limbs were attached, we discovered fireworks sent were sizzling in the air to mark our arrival.  About one hundred people met us at Palm Arch they had constructed.  A band played for us as soon as we emerged and we were given flower garlands to wear from fresh cuts likely from earlier in the day.  An elderly woman then sprinkled us with confetti which I stooped to receive.  (Olivia Golden’s hair by the way is an ideal confetti catching machine and she might still smuggle some into the States.)  The head of the municipality then gave us a formal greeting, saying “We are a humble people but we have dreams and we desire for better things for our people. “ The eloquence of the statement which he struggled to read in Spanish, as the indigenous Mextic language is the dominant tongue, was only matched by the sincerity in his eyes.  Usually, we mark the important meetings in our lives by how our relationships evolve and how what was once random feels destined.  It is quite another experience for someone to meet you and their placing such an enormous value on the encounter before it begins.  As it was humbly given, it must be humbly accepted.

We then were processed around the Church, quite an honor we were told, with the band still playing.  The Church was designed by our friend Fr. Massimo’s father and is simple and beautiful with wide arches for windowless windows and a warm, inviting feeling.  But as we assembled in the spare house across known as the rectory and were told that Massimo lived there for three years, our admiration truly grew.  We had a lovely mass and marveled at the painting of St. Juan Diego done by our Helen Moon.  Helen, what an extraordinary and beautiful accomplishment.  We are so proud of you and Mary on this trip.  And we can be all proud of the medical clinic built with funds raised largely by St. Helen’s and Our Lady of Fatima.  It is currently staffed by a nurse and is the only possibility for medical care in this village.

The people of Cumiapa are reserved.  The literally looked at us with mouths agape and we were reminded by Fr. Giorgio that it is likely that given the isolation of the village, many of them would never leave that village.  The children were even shyer than in Cuana, but the charm of our young people won them over. 

We than had a formal lunch with the leaders of the community of venison hunted for the occasion.  At the end of the lunch, a series of three formal requests were presented to me as the pastor of the sister parish.  With great solemnity they were read in staggering Spanish and presented to me with a copy to sign as a receipt and “signed” by the fingerprint of the commissar of the municipality as the other officials stood ramrod straight.  I will not forget the eyes of the leader of the council of elders as the requests were made with great solemnity.  Those eyes spoke to the importance of the moment.  I hope my eyes showed how important the moment was to me and to our community of pilgrims and parishioners.

When we returned, the children of Cuana greeted us for an art festival when we arrived and the night was punctuated by another mass in the chapel of the Holy Family in a barrio a five minute walk away.  A lively folk group help lead us and Fr. Ferdinand lively preaching was very well received.  Members of our group came up to him and told him how much they enjoyed the homily without understanding a word of it because of his animated style.  (I have trained you well!)  It was one of the five hottest masses I ever celebrated but the blessing of the newborn, the wonderful singing and the very warm reception of the people brought us relief.  We continue to be stunned by the kindness and generosity of the people who have shared so much with us.  They are truly a humble people who desire to make their lives a little better.  We are blessed to help them.