Pastoring in the open air

Loading the vanIf there’s one person in all Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, who knows what it’s like to be out there in the streets at night, cold and hungry, that’s Pastor Joseph Moore. He personally experienced homelessness when he retired from the fire department and went through a divorce: “That’s how it got started with me, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody, but that’s how I got that particular calling.” Pastor Moore now leads the Open Air Ministries, reaching out a hand for those in need, especially the homeless, clothing and feeding them literally in the open air, a parking lot. His volunteer job involves massive coordination and organization combined with preaching, caring and devotion. Continue reading

Alice in Wonderland Soup Kitchen

Ready to pray

It’s not much of a science to organize a meal for 3 or 4 kids, or even 5, but what if they’re 50? Alice seems to be these kids’ mother or aunt, because she knows each of their names and talks to them with an even fondness. The Immaculate House of Mercy in Orange Walk, Belize, is the home of each of these 50 children every noon thanks to Alice’s effort and devotion; she is extremely organized, nothing eludes her planning sheets and no one gets away with eating before saying praying or washing their hands. She speaks to us in Spanish, but uses English for the kids; between them we can hear a mixture of languages that takes us by surprise: they understand both. At home Spanish is generally spoken but at school only English is allowed, which is the official language after having been an English colony up until 1981. Continue reading

Dreaming big with your feet on the ground (part II)

with Patricia

When we first met Patricia it felt like talking to our own moms; she is sweet, affectionate, and treats us like her own kids even though she doesn’t know us. We knew little about her, just that she also belonged to one of the most wealthy families from Guatemala and that she had lost her husband, a very successful businessman in a tragic airplane crash, which was the kick-off together with her 3 children, of a Foundation which is improving Public Education throughout the country with technology. Continue reading

Dreaming big with your feet on the ground (part I)

with Jose, Maria and Thelma at the gallery

This time the road took us down trails we had never walked through in the last year, giving a new twist to our point of view, watching reality from others’ shoes and eyes. This time we were not in the outskirts of Guatemala city, but in the nicest neighbourhood, surrounded by bodyguards, new fashionable cars and sparkling works of art. Once more, Someone is taking us by the hand while we stubbornly resist, thinking we are in the wrong direction. Once more, it is us who are wrong. I t was hard to believe that someone from this environment could see past their own reality and be able to serve others from the heart, in a country so polarized in social matters as Guatemala where these opposites almost never touch. Continue reading

Limitless Altruists

with Guadalupe, Lillia, Marcelino at Cosme Espesote

Zacatecoluca sounds like “sacate la peluca” (remove the wig in Spanish) to us, but for the Salvadorans it is something simpler: Zacate= grass, and tecoluca= owl. We don’t know exactly why we entered the city of Zacatecoluca, but we clearly know why we stayed. The view of its imposing Cathedral with the corresponding park across the street all perfectly laid out –the opposite to what we had observed in the tight and messy markets of other parts of El Salvador– surprised us and captured our attention. Asking around, we reached Father Francis; a great motivating engine of social activities in the city, who rapidly added us to his hyperactive agenda introducing us to the referent volunteers of the projects that he manages in this community that is so beaten up and so sensitive to poverty, civil war and the current ‘maras’ or gangs. But, he doesn’t fight alone in this city, Guadalupe, from his desk (when she is found there) is another ‘altruistic’ –as she is called– which by the way reflects exactly what the Spanish Real Academy sustains in its definition ‘Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness’.   Continue reading

The paths of Life

seeing through their eyes…

Many times these paths are not what we have expected, believed or imagined’, like the songs goes, but these paths make us go to every kind of place, sometimes with unexpected stops, extended joys or brief sighs of emotion. We are driving towards our objective and life surprises us during our journey. Yomaira is 41 years old and is fulfilling her dream, to become a Teacher. Since she was very young she has dreamt of educating others, to keep them away from the poverty and violence in which they were immersed. With no hesitation, she set down to teach the kids who couldn’t access school, while peeling yuccas and breastfeeding her baby in her humble house located on the south of Barranquilla, Colombia, in the neighborhood ‘7 de Abril’. Nothing and no one could make her lose hope that someday, this longing which in part she was already accomplishing, could be multiplied and get bigger beyond her expectations.       Continue reading

Everything for her dear old ones

with Inesita

In the least expected spot of the Colombian Andes, a touristic place for its colonial architecture and picturesque like no other, we didn’t expect to be surprised like we eventually were. In general, the places that attract so many visitors usually show a ‘happy community’ image, without any needs, probably hiding the least attractive side to the foreigner. For what I understand, there is always a “parallel world” that lives by different timetables and paths; it requires a change in habits to be able to casually come across it, if we are open enough to face it. Continue reading