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Feature Articles

Experiencing God's People

In March S. Donna Steffen traveled to Guatemala to teach English to students at Colegio Monte Real, a school for children from ages 4 through ninth grade. S. Donna’s reflection follows:

“From March 12-30, 2012, I spent time in Guatemala with S. Sarah Mulligan, who lives and ministers in Mixco. S. Sarah arranged for me to teach in a nearby school run by her friends, Maria Eugenia and her son, Francois. In addition to his administrative work, Francois also teaches math and science. The school, Colegio Monte Real, holds classes from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, classes are offered on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings to adults who have never completed their basic education.

“I was so impressed with this school. They began each day with a prayer and a pledge of allegiance composed by Francois that spoke of giving oneself for the good of God, classmates, family and Guatemala.

“Francois is very determined that the students learn English and familiarize themselves with computers so that one day they can get a job and have a better life. He and I taught English and computer skills together. First, though, he converted his and his mother’s living space into a computer lab with 12 computers and a modem. Each day he had an idea, and we taught, playing off of one another well. I noticed the bright eyes in many of the students, and wondered how hard their lives are now, and how their lives will unfold.

“My guitar has been sitting under my bed for about 30 years, since I left teaching at Seton High School in Cincinnati. It now has a wonderful new home at a boarding school for high school girls run by S. Mary Faye, CPPS. With a book showing some chord fingering, and some very simple instructions from me, the girls were playing the guitar in minutes. It was delightful to see.

“In addition to these experiences, S. Sarah and I found a ‘new’ used car for her - no easy feat in a developing country; acquired a new computer for the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic where she ministers; worked with her staff to complete the pick-up of all that was recycled at the clinic since last summer; and visited a U.S. Sister of Mercy in an outlying area, near Honduras. The Sister began a coffee cooperative, even exporting fair trade coffee to Starbucks. I also was at a staff development day at the clinic, a procession for the Feast of St. Joseph at the local parish, and two large processions of the Passion of Christ in Antigua.

“More than the activities, I truly appreciated getting a sense of the people and life in Guatemala, as well as S. Sarah’s ministry there. I am so blessed to experience God’s people, and to now have faces as I remember them with fondness and prayer.”