As I usually do three times a week, I jumped on the number 800 bus to go to the local seminary here in China. Oddly enough, in this city of some 4 million people, the bus had a lot of open seats that day. I sat down on one of them. All of a sudden, I felt wet. I reached my hand underneath my leg to double-check and bingo: I had chosen the wrong seat! I had not only sat in water but water that smelled like fish.
My guess was that somebody carried fish in a bag that had a hole in it and put it on the seat, and I was the lucky one to sit there that morning. To make matters worse, I was wearing khaki pants.
Looking around the bus, I simply started laughing and saying to myself, “What’s the worst that can happen when I smell like fish? Pope Francis asks us to smell like sheep.”
Rodrigo Ulloa, M.M.
In 1960 I received my first overseas mission assignment to Peru to a town called Juli. It is situated in the Andes Mountains at 13,500 feet above sea level on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.
Our convent was a small one-story building about a block’s distance across an empty field from the shores of the lake. One morning at about 5:30 I sat at the window facing the lake to say my morning prayer. At this pre-dawn time the lake was just a black shadow to me. It wasn’t long before I saw the first glimmer of the sun about to rise. The lake then began to take on a dark blue hue, which slowly turned to a softer shade of blue that glistened in the steadily rising sun. Marvelous!
At that moment I learned the meaning of a new Spanish word, amanecer, which means “to awaken.” The Aymara people do not say sunrise but rather el amanecer, the awakening of the dawn. The sky appears to slowly turn a deep purple, then almost a cardinal red, then peach or even gold, all against a blue sky spotted with white clouds. I have seen the awakening of the dawn!
This is just one of the marvels of God’s creation, and God allowed me to witness all of it the first morning of my new mission.
Helen Phillips, M.M.
The members of St. Anthony of Padua community in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, commemorated the feast of their patron saint with a novena and festival. The lovely open-air chapel, which sat on a hill, was overflowing for the closing night’s Mass. Having the electricity go out for most of the service did not dampen anyone’s spirits. Instead it created a lively candle-lit atmosphere.
Our curiosity was piqued when folks processed to the altar with a large cloth-covered cardboard box. At the end of the Mass, lines formed and individuals waited patiently to take from the box a small bread roll, a pupusa, the Salvadoran filled-tortilla specialty. In the dark, we all proceeded carefully downstairs and outside to watch the colorful fireworks and eat our pupusas.
Margo Cambier, MKLM
I was talking with some people outside our college in South Sudan when I felt something wet in my hand. I looked down and a little girl had come up and put her cold, sweaty, little hand in mine. She wanted to greet the foreigner.
I greeted her in the usual English, “How are you?”
She replied, “I am fine.”
In Zande, the language spoken here, I then asked her name.
“I am Isabella,” she said with a toothless smile.
“How old are you, Isabella?”
“I am 4.”
Then off she went to play with her friends. She didn’t know it, but she made my day. She is the future of South Sudan. Her smile gives me hope that the future of this war-ravaged new nation will brighten.
Gabe Hurrish, MKLM