Feliz Páscoa – A Corumbáense Easter

Easter for the catholic church is a huge celebration.  Coming at the end of the Lenten period, when many observe praying, fasting and alms-giving, Easter becomes a joyful time to celebrate the risen Christ.  Last year I spent the Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday – at a silent retreat, with the religious order, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, at Kairos Centre in Roehampton, London.  I recall writing in my journal  about the Greek word  ‘Kairos’ , which means “favourable time or graced moment”. Taking a couple lines from one of the convent’s posters,  I wrote “Now is the favourable time and Christ is its turning point.  Kairos time calls for an openness to the future and Kairos encourages us to let go and let God”.  DSCF5251So here I am one year later, in Brazil, experiencing Easter the brazilian way and slowly learning to let go and let God.

The week commenced with Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos), a joyous celebration of palm waving during the opening procession walk at Cristo Redentor followed by a mass with lively singing.  Holy Thursday turned out to be a special mass where the priest, as Christ representative washed the feet of parishioners. What made the service so special at Don Bosco parish was the difference in how this ritual was performed. Padre Pascal the parish priest began washing the feet of  teenagers who in turn moved into the congregation to wash the feet of parishioners.  The words, “Do this in memory of me” kept playing over and over in my mind as I watched these teenagers take up the mantle of serving others as Jesus had demonstrated.

DSCF5448DSCF5419On Good Friday, I visited the local parish with the intent of spending a few hours quietly in adoration. Surprisingly, group after group of children and young people kept coming and going every hour as part of their time to watch and pray with the Lord on this holy day of remembering His death.  By early evening, a small group of young people and leaders from Don Bosco project, CAIJ, (my place of work)  joined with other parishes for the Stations of the Cross street procession through the streets of central Corumbá.

DSCF5440DSCF5433We would stop at different homes, each representing one of the fourteen stations telling the story leading up to the crucifixion of Our Lord.  The families had set up small altar type tables decorated with flowers and adorned with devotions to their saints, Mother Mary or Jesus.   As we stopped to pray at each station-home, Padre Pascal in the lead would greet families, give a blessing and pray. So beautiful.  Motorists stopped their cars to pray stations with us.   Passers-by emerged from shops to give reverence to the occasion.  Children ran to watch the procession.  The young lad playing the part of the soldier struck the ground repeatedly with his real whip as we made our way up the steep hill; Jesus carrying his cross, falling three times to the wails and cries of the young  womenfolk.  It all seemed so real and moved me to tears.

Two hours later, we jumped into the Kombi and made our to way Parque da Independencia for an outdoor musical theatre “the story of Jesus”, performed by another group of teenagers.  The story span the life of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection.  Saturday we returned to the parish of Don Bosco for the Easter Vigil and awoke early for an Easter Sunday mass at the local parish of Cristo Redentor.  Jesus is Risen, indeed!

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Bolivia frontier town, where heat and humidity rule

DSCF5078I must admit that living this close to the Bolivian border had set my imagination alight with endless possibilities of taking a few side trips and exploring what that country had to offer.  So when the offer came to visit the nearby town of Puerto Suarez to do a bit of shopping (I had been told this is a much cheaper option than Corumbá), I jumped at the chance.  I even dressed for the occasion instead of the weather which was a big mistake upon reflection as the day turned out to be another scorcher.  On my shopping list, a belt to hold up all my trousers and skirts which are now two sizes too small, some toiletries and a backpack (muchila).

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Our mini-adventure began with the 10 minute journey to border control where we witnessed heavily armed police and crowded queues of people trying to get into the immigration control office to enter Brazil.  Once we crossed without too much fuss, paid our toll charge on the Bolivian side, my first impressions did a head long collision with my imagined thoughts of Bolivia.  It was so dry and dusty that we had to wind up our windows despite the sweltering heat.

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But thank God, this did not last too long.  We meandered through the town and made our way on to a single carriageway, Camino a Santiago de Chiquitos, that provided beautiful vistas of the Pantanal.    The Bolivian portion is about 10% of the total area of the Pantanal and only 350 metres above sea level but it has a high concentration of flora and fauna.

I was grateful for the mini-stops we made at the eco-tourism viewing gallery, one of the town’s unique churches with its hand-carved doors  illustrating the main stories in the bible, and of course the super mercado where all the prices were in Bolivianos and we had to divide by three  convert the prices to $Reais.   I will let the photos help with the story.  Enjoy!

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Young Leaders Day Out

DSCF4088At the end of school holidays in early February, the older youth from CAIJ were treated to a fabulous day- out at the military recreation centre, located a short distance from the Corumbá – Bolivia border.

The day started with an evaluation/reflection exercise on their experience as young leaders and ways they could improve.  This was then followed by some team building games, churrascarias for lunch, a fun afternoon in the swimming pool, some football, volleyball and hanging out in the shade.  If ever you are in Corumbá, then this is a great place to visit for rest and relaxation, and of course, to cool down when the temperatures are soaring above 35 degrees Celsius. 

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The Way

DSCF4258I glorify the Lord this day as I travel from Corumbá to Campo Grande – the awe-inspiring scenery – blue skies, mountains, rivers, foliage, flora and fauna.  My heart takes a leap at the signs of Gods’ wonders.  I  am reminded that “His love endures forever”, and how everything “praises the Lord forever.”  DSCF4260

 

I thank god for the gift of awe and wonder.  It is a marvelous thing under heaven.  The red earth, a result of millions of years of creation in God’s hands, what splendour…and yet he is not finished with our gentle earth to whom he has given us stewardship over.

 

DSCF4273We too are like potters, with the earth in our hands.  We too are chosen to create a world for those who will come after us.

 

DSCF4059We are His – His children, chosen, friends, beloved.

Drive to Corumba – heading towards the Pantanal

Eucalyptus trees

Eucalytus tree forest

Yacare Caiman

Jacare crocodile

River Paraguay Bridge

Ponte Rio Paraguai

Paraguay River

Rio Paraguay

As Serras Gêmeas

Maciço do Urucum (Pantanal) – As Serras Gêmeas

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