It’s been a while! We’ve been busy with the mission to the rural communities – with names like Queni, Cotosi, Wilacala, Ilave, Santawara, Calacala — and I kept saying I would upload pictures and write something, and time just slipped by. Very poor conduct for a blogger.

One of the places we visited was Chakawaya. I’d visited there before. We drive for an hour, leave the car, and then proceed on the three hour hike down into the valley below and up the other side. It’s tiring. The descent is tricky and steep in places, and part of the “path” is a small ledge that conducts water. Usually only the locals and their sheep use it! This photo gives you the idea, and here are some others of the trek to Chakawaya, and some others from some from Queni, in the warm valley. The community of Chakawaya is small, but faithful, and we had a lovely day which included catechesis, visits to the sick, confessions, and Eucharist. The next week we visited Calcala and Amparani. They are two remote communities on the Altiplano, windy and cold. We stayed the night with the folks in Calacala (which translates to “Stones! Stones!” and that’s a good description). The Calalcala community is one of our best-formed groups, with great catechists, so the Eucharistic celebration is beautiful and faith-filled.

This past week we celebrated the patronal feast of Mocomoco: The Birth of Mary. It’s a wild, wonderful time, filled with celebration. We preached on the responsibility of the community to see that poor girls have a chance at the future to which God calls them, and invited both residents and visitors to contribute to a fund to send a female student to college. Usually the Sunday collection is about 20 bolivianos ($3). This week, 3500 bolivianos ($500!), including two special gifts by visitors. If you want to help, click the “Donate” button right now 🙂

We danced traditional dances for three days, ate good food, and shared life. But the highlight –for me and the folks as well — was the participation of Diego, our pastor, in one of the Morenada dance troupes! Wearing the traditonal outfit, that weighs about 30 lbs., he danced and sweated his way through the streets! I tried using qik video to stream the dance, but the connection just didn’t have enough bandwidth to capture the moment. There’s a series of little moments of video on you tube for your viewing pleasure.

I’ll be home for a visit soon, and hope I get to see as many of you as possible.