Communications and Fr. David
OCMC Associate Director Fr. David Rucker and his family celebrated Holy Week and Pascha with the children and nuns of the Hogar Raphael Ayau.
Although this orphanage has been open to children since 1857, it is only since 1996 that the Orthodox nuns of the Monasterio Ortodoxo Lavra Mambré have run this vital ministry of the Church in Guatemala.
Every year since 1998 OCMC Mission Teams have come to minister to these precious youngsters, who range in age from infancy to their early teens. Currently, approximately 70 children live at the Hogar.
The Hogar has had visits from several priests and from two OCF Real Break teams during the Lenten season, but they do not have a permanent priest.
Fr. Rucker has made two previous trips to the orphanage, but this was his first time to celebrate Pascha there. He was impressed by the children, who knew many of the Holy Week and Pascha hymns by heart.
When asked about his trip, Fr. David Rucker said:
When I learned that the blessed mothers of the monastery, over 70 children in the orphanage, and all the staff and Faithful would be without a priest in Guatemala, I thought, «How can I say no to them?» I was going to be serving in a parish in the USA with several priests and two Deacons ministering to perhaps 500 people, and here was an entire country without a single Orthodox priest during the highest feast days of the year.
Many years ago my wife and I prayed a very simple prayer: «God, our family belongs to you. We will go wherever You send us. We will do whatever you ask us to do. We belong to You.«
Serving in Guatemala this past Holy Week and Pascha was a great privilege for our family. As is the case with almost all missionary work, we received far more than we could ever give. It is our joy on behalf of OCMC to contribute in a small way to all that God is doing in Latin America through the prayers of these blessed mothers and the children they love and serve. «The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest» (Mt. 9:37-38).
Mother Inés was invited to go to the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore where Father Dean Moralis is the pries to give a retreat. Due to health problems she was unable to attend at the last moment and Mother Christophora, Abbess of the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in Ellwood City was able to go on her behalf and preach a wonderful retreat. Thank you Mother. Mother Inés is following her treatment for a problem on the cervical vertebrae. We thank Dr. Fredy Abed from our parish, who was very kind and efficient taking care of Mother Inés at the hospital and afterwards, and the other generous doctors. We also thank all the people who have called and phoned to know about her with so much love. Thank you for your prayers!
Sergio Valaam was transplanted in Pittsburgh! Cynthia Raftis and Demetria Pappas have been taking care of all the needs of the chubby small fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers! Please visit the news about Sergio on this webpage.
Two students of Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (Ana María Salas de Morales and Marily Gálvez de Mata) started their practices for Special Education. They are helping children with difficulties in their development and learning. The students of the different universities in Guatemala City are a great help for the children.
Mr. Alan Russell came to the Hogar to follow up with the wood projects at the woodshop here. The girls from high school are learning a lot with him, the workshop is almost ready to start with nice wood projects in May. At the end of his week here, he treated all the children to ice cream, nice cookies, and cakes to celebrate some birthdays. Gracias… muchas gracias!
Harriet Stratis and the Lipane Family (Jim, Georgia, and 14 year old Josh) came for a couple of days. On Holy Thursday for the Catholic Church they went to Antigua to visit some churches and see the processions, they were accompanied by the older girls. On Good Friday for the Catholic Church, Mother Ivonne took Harriet and again, the teenage girls to walk all around downtown to see the processions and visit some of the churches. At least 5 kilometers were walked by these Orthodox on that interesting and pious afternoon for the lay Roman Catholics in the country. Harriet was very interested as she is an art restorer in Chicago. We hope she liked these beautiful days. Some of the children also saw some of the processions passing by the streets of the Hogar.
We had a quiet start of Holy Week since we did not have a priest to celebrate the Saturday of Lazarus, Palm Sunday, and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The children took care of the church and they decorated it with palms and we also had the procession around the Hogar. On the first three days we read the four Gospels, many children participated and we all took turns to read one chapter of each Gospel.
On Holy Tuesday we received bad and sad news since our dear friends Mr. Khalil Musa Bassila and his daughter Marjorie (Mamush for all who loved her) were tragically killed in Guatemala City. We attended the funeral and the burial on Holy Wednesday. That same day, we received the news that ninety seven year old Tia Concha (Mother Ines’s aunt and grand- mother to our babies) peacefully reposed in the Lord, we attended the wake and the burial on Holy Thursday and Father David Rucker accompanied us. Memory eternal!
Some of the boys at AkTenamit arrived on Holy Tuesday, they look and are so happy at Rio Dulce. The ones who came to worship our Lord for Holy Week were: Cristian and his brother Cristopher, Mauro and his brother Edgar, Jorge Luis, and Jember. They were a great help in the Altar serving with Father David.
Father David Rucker from OCMC arrived at noon time on Holy Wednesday accompanied by his family, Matushka Rozanne, Lauren, and Andrew. He celebrated the Service of Holy Unction on Wednesday evening. All the services for Holy Thursday and Holy Friday were also celebrated.
On Holy Thursday Roberto Brol was chrismated into the church. He was very close to our dear Irina Darlee and he was brought to our church by Irina. He was chrismated on that day as it was Saint Ireneus! Many years to Ireneo! Sadly, that afternoon Ireneus’s uncle was tragically killed. Memory eternal to José Angel Morales.
The Vesperal Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Saturday morning was so joyful and the light entered abundantly into the church when changing the dark vestments into white ones! Glory to God for the light!
We started Nocturns at 11:30 pm and continued with the reading of the Gospel outside, followed by Matins, and the joyful Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. The children were wide awake and sang throughout all the service following the joy that Father David felt.
After the blessing of the Kulish brought by the Russians, the hard color eggs brought by the Arabs, and and the Cheese Pascha we went to the comedor to have a Paschal breakfast at around 4 am. The family of Father David went back to Florida early in the morning and he stayed behind for a couple of days in another mission.
The Agape Service took place at noon time on Pascha and many Russians visiting the Russian Embassy in Guatemala attended church and participated also of our Paschal luncheon. The children ate a lot and received many candies that the missionaries had brought. After the meal the children received their bag of presents with new clothes and toys kindly brought by the missionaries in the mission teams. We thank you all for making this possible!
Father David celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Bright Monday, we were all tired but it was such a bright Liturgy! The proclamation of the Gospels was read in the four corners of the church for our joy. He left afterwards for a special mission of OCMC among the natives. We are tremendously grateful to Father David for coming to be with us and celebrate so beautiful, together with his family. Many years dear Father David!
The following days some of the children were able to visit Aquarium Nais Restaurant and enjoy the tropical fish in the Aquarium. Later on, lunch was in Pollo Campero so the children were thrilled. We thank Harriet Stratis and the Lipane family for treating the children to this nice Bright Week treat!
On Bright Thursday we rented a bus and all the children went to the Monastery where Father Antonio Perdomo, who was visiting Guatemala on behalf of OCMC, celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Afterwards a delicious brunch was served with grilled chicken and rabbit! Some of the children went down to the lake and almost everyone visited their new home being built.
Mr. and Mrs. John and Susan Ralich Quick arrived to Guatemala to have a meeting with the court system as the adoption of little Kimberly is extremely delayed. Please pray that the adoption continues and is concluded for the joy of this family.
Students of Universidad Landivar brought a joyful morning to the children, they had piñatas full of candies and many activities for them, they also gave a delicious snack of hotdogs to them. That same day, in the afternoon, students of Universidad del Itsmo brought their choir so the children could hear them sing. They also gave them a snack.
Some of the children celebrated their birthdays in April: Jorge Luis, Carina, Rafaela, Manuel Alexander, Rebeca, Moisés Abraham, Kevin Suar, and Cristian. Many years to all of them!
We thank all the people that help us! God bless you!