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Weavings Reflection: May 2024

Weavings is a monthly reflection that is the collective effort of the Wheaton Franciscan Covenant Companions and Sisters to provide spiritual nourishment that helps us feel God’s presence in daily living and invite an openness to God.

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I Return to San Lucas Toliman

by Pat Faivre, Covenant Companion

Since 2014 I’ve been making a yearly journey to the town of San Lucas Toliman in the central highlands of Guatemala which lies along the shore of scenic Lake Atitlan.

A San Lucas Mission van picks me up at the airport in Guatemala City and we begin our 3 hour drive. It’s a hot and dusty trip but I’m rewarded by my first view of Lake Atitlan and the volcanoes that surround it.

Lake Atitlan

Then we descend into the town of San Lucas Toliman where I’m greeted by the noise of traffic and tuk tuks, hawkers in the market, street preachers promising salvation, trash blowing around in the streets along with the feral dogs. Added to that is the realization that I’m going to have to draw on my basic Spanish skills to navigate day to day life. But since this is my 9th visit to this community, I know I’ll find my footing and enjoy my stay!

Town Square
Neighbor’s House
Marie Emmer

I was first invited to visit San Lucas Toliman by my friend, Marie Emmer. Marie was a public health nurse who retired to this community when she was 60 years old. But instead of having a leisurely retired life, she chose to serve the people of this community until the time that cancer brought her home to Illinois!

On my first visit, Marie arranged housing for me and a room in a local hotel where I offered my first small acupuncture clinic. This community and these people tugged at my heart and I vowed to return.

10 years later the acupuncture clinic has moved to the San Lucas Mission Hospital where we offer acupuncture and physical therapy services for 12 clinic days over a 4 week period of time. My translator, friend, and now Certified Guatemalan Acupuncturist Enma Letona and I work side by side.

I’m thrilled that our patients see that one of their own is treating them and not only the “white lady” who comes once a year. Because of our presence at the hospital, we are able to refer to other medical teams such as primary care, surgeries and physical therapy.

Enma giving instructions for exercises
Pat providing acupuncture

I also want to mention that Sr. Fran Glowinski told me recently that she had been to San Lucas Toliman several times with her students from Loyola.. She and her students had helped build an addition to the San Lucas Mission Hospital where I now have my acupuncture clinic. Isn’t the working of the Holy Spirit an amazing thing?

Ribbon Cutting

When I became a Covenant Companion in December 2019, Sr. Beatrice Hernandez asked me to join the Care of Creation Team of the Ministry Fund of the Wheaton Franciscans. I immediately thought of the San Lucas Mission and a water infrastructure project that needed funding. Over the last 4 years, the generosity of the Ministry Fund has supported a water needs survey by Engineers Without Borders. They created a master plan for delivery of spring water to each home of the small, impoverished communities that are around San Lucas Toliman.

Over the last 2 years the construction phase of building catchments, pipes and pumps has been completed in two communities and one more is scheduled to begin in March. Last Tuesday the Mission arranged to take me on a tour of 3 communities that have benefited from these funds. One community, Nueva Providencia, was so grateful that they greeted my arrival with firecrackers, a marimba band and balloons. I was even asked to “cut the ribbon” on a solar array that will power the pump! A group of 6 women spoke at lunch and expressed their gratitude that they no longer needed to carry laundry down the mountain to do their wash in the stream.

Marimba Band

As I head into my final days in San Lucas Toliman, I’m already making plans for my return in the winter of 2025. This community has stolen my heart–so how could I not come back!

Gracias de Dios!

3 thoughts on “Weavings Reflection: May 2024”

  1. Avatar
    Beatrice M Hernandez, OSF

    What a wonderful reflection you have shared with us about how the people of this poor area have touched your heart. I am so grateful that you continue to be involved personally with those in need. Thanks for who you are and what you do to make a difference in our world.

  2. Avatar

    I am so inspired by Pat Faivre’s mission to San Lucas Toliman! Your beautiful reflection brought tears. I have such happy memories of Santiago Atitlan , when I visited in 1989. Thank you for bringing the Ministry Fund to these brave, strong women who work so hard to serve their families and communities.

  3. Avatar

    Pat, thank you for sharing your healing gift of acupuncture and your Healing gift of Being you.
    Marie must be very Proud knowing you continue to serve in San Lucas Toliman and on the Ministry Fund with the Wheatons ,where she found love and support as She walked her way HOME. Love you. Charlotte

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