Redefining Community

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By: Bobby Alvarez

Bobby Alvarez has been serving as a Finca Missionary since Oct. 2014.  Bobby is one of two missionaries that returned to the Finca in Sept. 2015, after a security incident that took place outside of the Finca in May, 2015, affecting one of our missionaries and Executive Director.  


 

The Finca was in the middle of a blackout when I finally arrived in the early evening on September 3rd. It had been a long 18 hours of traveling for me, first a red-eye flight to San Pedro Sula followed by a seven hour drive across the northern coast of Honduras. Throughout most of the trip, I was in a continual state of surprise that I was actually coming back.

11692678_10155740376530223_6164118021629648637_nTwo months before, I was spending Fourth of July with my missionary community in Cable, Wisconsin. We were calling it a retreat to discern steps forward after the security incident in May, but it turned into a goodbye party as it quickly became apparent that no one was returning to the Finca. For me, the decision to stay in the states came down to needing a community to go back with me. Without one, I knew that there was no way I would be able to adequately give of myself at the Finca. In the few weeks after the retreat, I began a half-hearted job search, for the first time in my life caught without a clear idea of what to do next.

Then, mostly through the force of inertia––I don’t know if I ever said a firm, Yes, so much as a series of equivocating Yeah-but-I-need-to-think’s until I was buying a plane ticket––I was back at the Finca. Kevin, my lone community member and the linchpin to my agreement to return, came out of the blackout with a headlamp bobbing on his head. He had already been back for about ten days and was eating dinner is House 3 when I arrived. After exchanging greetings, we went into the house to unload my things.

Upon entering the house, the first thing I not20168627952_fb2b22a3b7_ziced were that the benches that we ate on were on top of the dining table. The lady who cleaned our house in our absence had put them there to better sweep the ground. And she did a good job at cleaning––the whole house was preternaturally clean, the surfaces clear and dusted, none of the clutter that ten people so easily accumulated when we were living there four months ago. We lit a candle to see better but its soft glow seemed to dissipate quickly with nothing to reflect off of in the unoccupied space. The house felt empty.

If you gave me the option to jump ship at some point in the following 72 hours, I probably would’ve taken you up on that. The loudness of my community’s absence made me deaf to anything else, including the community already beginning to form around me. Missionaries often talk about the three levels of community at the Finca: the missionary community, the wider Finca community, and the community of us and the villages around us. In the past few months, the wider Finca community has stepped into the void left by the departure of the missionaries.

A good example are our new Friday nights. In the past year, Friday nights were nights off, time for us missionaries to relax, play a game of Hearts or Catan, or perhaps sneak in an episode of Breaking Bad or The Office. For Kevin and I, Friday nights are now spent in House 4. With only two of us, we are on a rotating meal schedule, and House 4 happens to be our Friday night stop. After a meal of flour tortillas, beans, eggs, and mantequilla––now one of my favorite meals––we hang out. We’ve played countless games of chess, games of Risk, hide and seek, talked about American sports, argued over whether it would be better to be a Jedi or a superhero, and if it a superhero, which is the best one.

22704454267_a5a7d7987e_zI still reserve myself the right to look back nostalgically on my community from the past year, but a new community has formed for me here at the Finca. Starting with Kevin and going out, my community now includes our children, house parents, tías, and sors in more intimate ways than at any point in this past year. And that is something to be grateful for.


Allison, Marie and Melanie, photographed here with a Franciscan brother while studying in Antigua, Guatemala

Allison, Marie and Melanie, photographed here with a Franciscan brother while studying in Antigua, Guatemala

Update: On Dec. 22, 2015, the incoming missionary class arrived at the Finca!  We are so blessed to have Melanie, who will serve as a Kindergarten teacher, Allison, who is serving as a nurse at the Finca’s Sacred Heart Clinic, and Marie, who will be assisting in the Sacred Heart Clinic.  Bienvenidas!

 

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