Since we have been on this journey something which I have found difficult is the language barrier. I took two years of Spanish in high school which has helped me read signs and menus. However, I cannot converse with anyone. This has been very difficult because I love talking with people. I enjoy sharing the faith and praying with people. When we visit the homeless here all I can do is be present with them. I do not understand Spanish, and especially if their words are slurred. This is all I can offer which is what God wants. This experience has helped me to see that words are not always necessary, I can be present with someone without speaking. God gave me a beautiful moment though, in which I was able to communicate with someone…
Three of us were walking around the Basilica in a garden. Suddenly, the guards were closing the gates because it was 6 pm. We did not know that they closed at 6 pm. We scrambled to find an exit from the garden which wasn’t already closed. By Gods providence we were able to find an open gate which led into a crowded street market. We navigated our way out of the street market so that we could head back to the convent. As we were walking back two of us had to go to the bathroom. We found one on the side of the road which cost 5 pesos to use. The owner of the bathrooms came out and told us the bathrooms were closed. So, we kept on walking. I did not realize that the owner of the bathrooms had followed us for 300 yards or so until he caught up to us. He spoke broken English and Spanish trying to introduce himself to us. John the Spanish speaker in our group explained that we are seminarians studying to be priests. The man told us he loves seminarians. He also explained how he use to know God but now he does not, and he is confused. I asked him if he would like to pray together. He was hesitant at first, but then shrugged his shoulders and said sure. John translated the prayer into Spanish for the man. To put this experience in context, we were praying on the side of the road with people walking around us and cars passing by. Once we got done praying the man gave us all a hug and said “I have God in my heart”. In his eyes I could see that he had an encounter with God. Then he then held out his hand which had 10 pesos and told us to go use the bathrooms with his own money. A beautiful example of how God changes hearts. We did not use the bathrooms though, we explained that we were close enough to the convent that we will just go there. The most beautiful part of this experience was that after we got done talking the man went off on his own way. Many people we have encountered here want money or something from you. This man not only offered us money but he went off on his own way. He did not need anything else, he was satisfied. The man had encountered God and was filled.
This experience made me reflect on many of the passages in the Bible, where people had encounters with Christ and were satisfied they could not continue living the way they had been living. Much like Zacchaeus encountering Christ. Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his own house, just as Christians we welcome Jesus into all aspects of our lives.