Monday, December 19, 2011

Hasta Luego Albuquerque & Feliz Navidad!

My time in Albuquerque has flown by. It definitely does not feel like it’s been six weeks. Although there have been some struggles, homesickness and growing moments, I’ve had a truly amazing time here and have met some wonderful new friends. But, I am definitely excited to be going home for Christmas for two weeks and to ring in the New Year with my family. I think this is the most excited I have ever been to go back to Missouri.

Since I’ve been slacking on the blog posts this month, I’ll try to give a quick update of what’s been going on.

An “Emergency” at the VOICA House
Sr. Angela saved a bird. Although I’m sure some people won’t find this story interesting, I thought it was absolutely hilarious, and it shows you how amazingly kind this woman is. I was downstairs studying Spanish when I heard Sr. Angela yell down to me, “Hiliary come upstairs. We have an emergency!”After telling her that yes, I do like animals but I have no idea what to do to save this bird, Sr. Angela took action. She got a towel to keep it warm, water for it to drink, we watched over it from the window and she even  suggested that I go outside to keep it company because it was lonely. She also asked what I thought a veterinarian would do. So, I thought about my father and the other veterinarians that I have met. My answer, " absolutely nothing. " Luckly, after about 10 minutes of shock the bird was off and ready to go. Thank goodness, because I definitely wasn't ready to put together a funeral.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
On December 12, Catholics celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, when Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego near present day Mexico City, Mexico in 1531. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas and highly revered and celebrated in Mexico. Here’s a very short version of the story if you’re not familiar with it. According to the Archdiocese of Mexico, more than 8 million people make the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe each year during the months leading up to the feast day and on the feast day itself. Because there is an incredibly large Hispanic population in the Southwest, there is a huge celebration here in New Mexico. Below are some images of the native dancers at the Mass at San Jose on the Sunday before the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe.

The dancers performing outside the church before Mass.
The mini dancer!

Inside the church performing at the end of Mass.

Sr. Marisa: Hero of the Week (Héroe de la Semana)
Each week the local Univision television station (Spanish) in Albuquerque chooses a Hero of the Week. Sister Marisa (or Hermana Marisa in Spanish) was nominated by the Catechism director at San José and was featured as last week’s Hero of the Week. She truly deserves it! And, I made the background footage!

Las Posadas
Las Posadas is a nine day celebration commemorating Mary and Joseph’s search to find a room in Bethlehem. Here in New Mexico and in other large Hispanic communities, Mexico, parts of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador it is tradition to hold Posadas beginning December 16 and ending December 24. Typically, different families in a neighborhood will take turns scheduling a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 16th of December and finishing on the 24th. Every home has a nativity scene, and the family hosting the Posada acts as the innkeepers. The neighborhood children and adults go from house to house, holding candles and singing a traditional song about Mary and Joseph searching for lodging. At one house after the other, they are turned away (also in song), until the weary travelers reach the designated site for the party, where Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. In our young adult group at San José we reenacted the Posadas on Wednesday and ended with a piñata and fiesta full of delicious foods and new candy!

My candle for the Posadas.

During our Posadas for the Young Adult Group at San Jose.
The piñata. It was definitely a lot more difficult than I remember for birthday parties as a child. There were guys on the roof holding the piñata and moving it around while people tried to hit it.

Inside my goody bag.

Tamarind flavored candy. I wouldn't say it  compares to Starburst or M&M's, but it was pretty good!

Christmas Plays
Nearly every night this week there was a some sort of Christmas play and/or party. I'm definitely not complaining about it. I had a blast. Below are some pictures from the plays at San José along with a few from the Christmas pageant for Saint Mary’s, the school where Sister Kay works.

The cast of the play put on by the older members of the youth group at San Jose.
Play put on by the Catechism teachers at San Jose. I absolutely loved the clouds!
Sr. Marisa talking to the Catechism students at San Jose.
The adorable cakes someone in our Kindergarten class brought in for the Christmas party.
Christina with our kindergarten students.
The pageant at St. Mary's School.
Christmas Pageant at St. Mary's School.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Breakfast with Santa

Mary's back in town for the weekend. Thank goodness! I needed to have some "20 somethings" conversations. Being around people my own age is definitely one of the things I miss the most about formation, and I'm guessing it's also one of the reasons that VOICA likes to send at least two volunteers into the mission. Luckily, Caitlin will be here in one month!

Mary, Sr. Angela and me posing in the backyard with the first snow of winter.
This morning we went to "Breakfast with Santa," a fundraiser for Casa Angelica. It was a wonderful event filled with delicious food, friendly people and fun activities for the "kids." Too bad I didn't actually take a picture of Santa. That probably would have been a nice touch.

Kids making Christmas cards. The boys was so cute--it was this long note to Jesus about how he hoped he had a great birthday.
Orbit, the Isotopes (minor league baseball team in Albuquerque) mascot.
Sr. Angela and Sr. Kay enjoying breakfast.
Mary making her card.

Saint Francis Xavier

Today, the Catholic Church honors St. Francis Xavier. He along with St. Thérèse of Lisieux are patron saints of missionaries! It sounds weird to call myself that, a missionary, but when you get down to it I guess that's what I really am. Here's a link to an article if you want to learn more about St. Francis Xavier and his life.