Friday, March 29, 2019

75 ≠ 200: Miracle of Multiplication

The eyes of the world see Juarez, Mexico as nothing more than a cesspool of violence, political corruption, and drug trafficking. However, a mere glance below the surface allows one to understand things a bit differently. There are 1.3 million people trying to survive in the desert where water is often unavailable for months on end and fresh food is albeit nonexistent. Education is insufficient and employment opportunities are often fought over. The cartel is exponentially more powerful than the local authorities; they make the rules and penalizes harshly anyone unwilling to play along.  Drugs, alcohol, and soccer are people's only chance to escape the painful reality of their existence.

It is in this very dark place that we saw Jesus reveal Himself as hope to the hopeless.

The collection of white-washed buildings in the middle of this photo make up "Las Alitas", which is a neighborhood house of formation run by the Lord's Ranch missionaries

In the Bible, we read about how Jesus multiplied a basketful of bread and fish to feed thousands.

Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray for miracles and assured them that their prayers would be answered when made in faith.  As we read about the disciples' missionary travels in the New Testament, we see that Jesus' promises are true.

Amidst a collection of cement block houses built atop a buried garbage dump there lies a beautiful little chapel where the community members gather for Holy Mass, fellowship and faith formation.

In February, when we went to Las Alitas one Saturday, we brought with us a bag of 75 beautiful cross bracelets that had been donated by a friend, who intended for us to share them with the folks in Mexico. I gave the bag of bracelets to the priest, asked him to bless them and then distribute them at the end of Mass.  He was delighted by the generous donation and was happy to be able to share them with the community members.

At the end of Mass, as promised, Father Fran spoke about the importance of praying unceasingly.  As he held up one of the bracelets he encouraged folks to use the beads to think of 20 things they're thankful for OR 20 people they'd like to lift up to the Lord in prayer OR recall 20 sacrifices they've made for others as an offering to Jesus.

Fr. Fran also spoke about the world church. When people put on their bracelets each day, he encouraged them to reflect on the truth that they are part of the HUGE worldwide Catholic family. He encouraged them to pray for the family that donated the bracelets as well.

As he held up the bag of bracelets, Father pointed out: "Obviously there aren't enough for everyone".  Therefore, he said that he would invite groups of people up to receive them until they were gone, starting with the seniors.

About 25 people slowly arose and made their way to the front of the church.  Father gave each person a beautiful blessing and then slid the bracelet onto his/her wrist.

Next, he invited all of the mothers up to receive a bracelet and spoke about the importance of a mother's prayers.  There were at least 20 women in line.

Next, were the fathers.  About 8 men lined up and graciously received the gift.

As Father passed out the bracelets I could see that the inventory in the bag was diminishing....but there were still so many people who would be blessed to have such a beautiful prayer tool.

Fr. Fran glanced into the bag and announced that there were about 15 bracelets left.  He asked if there were any more adults that hadn't yet received one.  About a dozen people approached the altar.

I fell to my knees and begged Our Lady of Guadalupe for her intercession.

Mary's only desire is to lead people to her son. I believed without a doubt that these bracelets would remind people to pray, and thus draw them closer to Jesus. They would remind folks that they are not alone; they are part of the world church and although some of their brothers and sisters in Christ are very far away, they still love them.

As I thought about how these bracelets could draw people closer to Jesus, I continued to beg Mary to petition Our Lord, just like she did at the wedding feast of Cana, for a miracle of multiplication.

After distributing bracelets to all of the adults Father looked in the bag and announced that there were about 15 left.  He seemed a bit surprised but continued to invite all of the teens up. A line of about 30 kids formed instantly.

After all the teens had received bracelets, Father held up the bag and announced with a huge smile that there appeared to be about 15 bracelets left. He then asked the kids, ages 9-12 to come up.  The kids ran because they could see that there weren't many bracelets left and the line extended out the doors of the church.  At this point, Father could not deny the miracle that was happening right before our eyes.  He laughed, held up the bag, and announced that by the grace of God there were about 15 bracelets left.  He invited all the small children to come up, at which point about 30 kids got in line.

After all of them had bracelets, Father looked in the bag and announced ONCE AGAIN that it appeared as though there were about 15 left.  He kept laughing and shaking his head.  Then he finally said to the group, "Sometimes Jesus multiplies food, other times he multiplies bracelets."  Everyone looked around in awe.  Father then asked one of the community leaders about the women who were gone that weekend on retreat.  He wanted to make sure that they too received bracelets.  The woman and her friend counted together, on their fingers, the number of women that were absent.  The woman's eyes got really big as she said, "Father, we think that there are 15 women on retreat this weekend."  His eyes welled with crocodile sized tears and he said, "Let's give Jesus a round of applause!  The whole room erupted in joyful laughter and clapping.  Still, on my knees, I was sobbing and could only say, "Thank you, Jesus!!  Thank you, Mama Mary!!  Thank you, Jesus!!  Thank you, Mama Mary!!"

Psalm 62:6 says, 
"My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope."

Thank you, Jesus, for revealing Yourself in such a simple and yet undeniably powerful way, that those feeling overcome by the darkness could see Your light and feel Your love. 

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit in nudging you to support us financially so that we can 
continue serving those in most need, please visit either:


call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!
In HIM, Karen Carmody

Friday, March 15, 2019

Visits to Mission Churches in El Paso by Chris

Over 30 years ago, my sister Sue and I were blessed to be able to go out to Arizona to visit our grandparents on our father's side.  Our grandfather spoiled us on that trip and I recall the details like it was yesterday.  We made a side trip to visit my Uncle Ed in California.  Along the way, our grandpa sprang a surprise on us and said that we are stopping by to visit the old mission church in San Juan Capistrano.  I had no idea when I was 12 why we were going there but I loved the place.  I remember taking my old SLR 35mm camera that used actual film and I had some really low ISO film and a polarizing filter and the pictures from that place turned out amazingly sweet (thank you, Jesus!).  The visit really blessed me and I look back on it now as one of the many ways which the Lord was preparing me for a life in missions.
This is similar to a photo that I would have taken when I was 12 with my polarizing filter!!!

During our time in El Paso, we learned that there was a scenic byway called the "El Paso Mission Trail".  Our dear friend that delivered food with us each week in Juarez at the food bank, lived by these mission churches and offered to bring us along on a personally guided tour.  How could we refuse such a generous offer?  So one Friday afternoon, after we had returned from the food bank in Juarez, we hopped on the trail and were very blessed to be able to visit these historic churches.  We visited Ysleta mission first, which is the church our friend was married in 59 years ago!  This church was constructed in 1682:

Ysleta Mission is the oldest continuously active parish in Texas....since 1682!!!!

Katelyn praying inside of Ysleta mission
Here we are with our friend on the tour of Ysleta!
While Karen and Katelyn were in the church praying, a woman came in and sat down and started sobbing.  Karen felt called to go over to her to see if she was OK.  Karen then proceeded to minister to this woman for the next 30 minutes or so and in the end, wound up giving her the shirt off her back.

Our next stop was Socorro mission, which has the honor of being the 2nd oldest mission church in Texas, after Ysleta.  You can see a statue of St. Michael the archangel down below on the left side of the altar.  The story of that statue is that is was meant for another church but when it arrived in Socorro, the wagon would not move any further due to the statue's weight multiplying.  The party that was charged with transporting the statue took this as a sign from God that the statue was meant for this mission church and there it has stayed.
Socorro mission, built in 1691, 2nd oldest mission in Texas
I love the banners that they had for the upcoming Sunday's gospel in both English and Spanish
Our last stop on the mission trail was to the San Elizario Presidio chapel.  This church was built much later in 1789 and the current chapel was rebuilt in 1877.  All three of these churches are still used to celebrate mass each week (each day in Socorro) as well as being favorite spots for local weddings.
Karen and I on the steps of San Elizario
We all really enjoyed the afternoon visiting the El Paso Mission Trail and we definitely felt close to the missionaries that started these missions 337 years ago and it made us think of the chapels we have seen built in our time in missions.  Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit in nudging you to support us financially so that we can 
continue serving those in most need, please visit either:

call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!
In Him, Chris

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Blessings of Butchering a Cow by Anna

    Our education is in God's all-knowing Hands! 

We have been so blessed, especially in our education.  God has Not abandoned us. He provides for us in ways that we never would have thought to ask for because He knows exactly what we need!!  In Peru, I really wanted to do more hands-on science experiments, but I never had the chance. Since we have been back in the states I have been able to do TONS of hands-on science AND I'm almost finished with my science book, which is a deep dive into anatomy.  Even though God sometimes doesn't give us what we want, when we want it, He always gives us what we need when we need it. He is SO good.

I just got done learning about the digestive system and the excretory system. It was such a
great opportunity to help the folks on The Lord's Ranch butcher their cow because it helped me to see how all these systems work. Cows have four stomachs, so it was a little bit different than humans, but it still allowed me to see how everything is connected.

It all started by shooting the cow. We were surprised to see that it immediately dropped to the ground.

Then we cut its neck artery which we learned gets a lot of blood out because the heart will continue to beat for about 15 minutes after the cow is shot. It was cool to watch the heart pumping the blood even after the cow died.

After waiting for the blood to pump out the guys tied the cow up by the feet and hauled it off to the barn.

At the barn, we cut off the head and feet.  Then we began skinning it.

When it was laying on its back without a head or feet it kind of looked like a huge chicken.

We all helped out skinning even though it all kind of grossed out Katelyn and Jack.  They mostly just watched.

While we were skinning we started to see the nerves making the muscles twitch, which was cool.  You can watch it in this video:

 After we skinned it we realized just how much meat a cow really has. We cut open its belly between its rib cage and took out everything in its body cavity, which was fun to watch it all slide out. We had to have some buckets ready to catch it all. Then the guys cut the cow in four with a Sawzall. We hung the pieces up so the coyotes wouldn't get them.

After taking a lunch break we came back to dissect all the organs.

It was very fun and slimy. 

My mom was pretending like the huge cow tongue was hers. 
She's so weird!!

We cut open the cow's head and dissected the eyeballs, the brain and the tongue.

We got to see how all the organs are connected - like by the tubes and stuff.
We cut apart the organs so that we could see the pancreas, liver, lungs, gall bladder, intestines, stomach, and everything.

When we cut the organs open I could see, in real life, what the pictures in my science book showed.  It was awesome!

After dissecting the moms did a fabulous job getting the cow organs into huge buckets so that we could dump them out in the desert for the coyotes to find, which I got a kick out of.  It was a very messy cleanup and the moms sounded very funny.  Even the other family's little girl stopped watering the hay to see what the commotion was.

All in all, it was a very fun educational experience. 
God is good even when what He knows we need are cow guts.

In the good and bad we will continue to trust God with everything - even our education. He does far better things than we ever could and I trust that He will give us exactly what we need to do what He wants of us. Today it's learning about how to butcher a cow.  Who knows what it will be tomorrow? 

If you ever find yourself worrying or doubting, just remember that 
"God works for the good of those who love Him". 
Romans 8:28

Thanks for journeying with us!
Love, Anna