Argentina and Nora hugging after Mass
I don’t know if Argentina will ever cry for me, but here’s the story of how Argentina made me cry for her. Father came to pick us up at our center in the evening after our second day of working in the village in order to bring us to Sabana Cruz, where we would have Mass and in English! He insisted we use the military truck for the 15 minute drive. After washing off the day’s sweat and putting on a dress, we had to hop on one of those things and eat some dirt on our way to the Santisima Cruz Catholic Church. For real? It reminded me of a trick I use when one of our little boys seem tense or anxious about something. I ask him about monster trucks and, without fail, a huge smile appears as the anxiety fades away. When I saw that same smile on Father while he was behind the wheel, I knew the answer to the question was, yes; for real. Oh, well.
Padre Jáson was talking to a few of the locals so we had some time before Mass started. I sat there looking at the pretty, simple church and it seemed like it was an ornate basilica in Rome, in comparison to the chapel we were in hours ago in the village of Manyaya. What do they both have? They all have? They all have an altar of sacrifice. I was dwelling on the humility of Our Lord and how He comes to us in the flesh everywhere, and Psalm 8 came to mind “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor,” (5-6). (This just so happened to be the Psalm read at Mass that day, by the way!)
Shortly after Mass started, I saw a local woman, out of the corner of my eye, come join us for Mass. She seemed like she was coming towards me, so I reached over to move my Bible and prayer book but then she sat in the pew behind me. After Mass, I noticed she picked up my prayer book and began looking through it, stopping at each prayer card. She stopped at one particular card for a long time while she was in the middle of the book, but it was slightly in the beginning half of the book. I feared it was my grandma’s card and I would have to give it to this poor old lady and just then, as I played out the whole scenario in my mind of having to say goodbye to Nona (which I’m sure had her cracking up in heaven), she closed the book. I turned around to introduce myself and thank her for singing at Mass. Argentina greeted me with a big smile and proceeded to tell me that she was so happy to meet me and see us missionaries at their church. Well, then I had to open my Bible and offer her a 4 x 6 Divine Mercy image I had from the Divine Mercy Center in NJ. She rejoiced and proclaimed that she was once told that she would never walk again and indeed did not walk for two years. She told me “Jesus healed me first, then the doctors healed me,” to which I responded, “You’re a miracle!” When we walked outside she, pointed to her home across the street, which was a little bigger than my parking spot, and waved over for her granddaughter to come and meet us. As I introduced another missionary, Julie, to Argentina and conveyed her miraculous healing testimony, Argentina held out her new gift and proceeded to gaze at the image of Divine Mercy and began to sing! There we were, standing on the sidewalk, and this grandmother, full of love and faith, is serenading Jesus, as though He was standing right there. “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10: 14-15). Argentina and her child-like love and humility moved me to tears.
by Nora, CBC Missionary to Bánica, Dominican Republic, Feb. 2017