Land of Eternal Spring......But
Fr. Romeo Nimez, CICM
GUATEMALA IS WIDELY Known as the “Land of Eternal Spring. Because of its beautiful attractions, the varied and pleasant climate, the breathtaking scenery of ocean views, lakes and active volcanoes and the beautiful women. But, to many inhabitants of Guatemala, this country is also called the land of eternal bolos, bolas, and balas, that is, drunks, rumors and bullets. This combination makes Guatemala a truly interesting, unique and complicated country.
Fr. Romeo Nimez, CICM was born in Anao – aon, Surigao del Norte. He was joined the CICM group in Maryhurst Seminary, Baguio City and his novitiate and theology in Maryhill Seminary, in Taytay Rizal. Fr. Romeo’s first mission assignment was in Guatemala. He as been the Provincial Superior of the CICM mission for six years and recently he was appointed as parish priest in one of the marginal urban areas of the city.
In a typical village one can easily observe, particularly on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening that men and women flock together to the local “hot” spot known as bar. There they drink in order to fill their heats desire, to drawn their problems, sadness and solitude. This common practice aggravates the problem of the prostitution. Women from El Salvador, Nicaragua and even from the Dominican Republic all share in the spending sprees if the Guatemalans. Indeed, drinking makes family life impossible: husbands freely spend the money they earn on the wine and women while their wives and children are starving.
In this country, people easily distort the truth, they are easily convinced that what they tell as lies are the hard facts. This practice if rumor mongering naturally creates confusion and conflicts in the lives on many. At times people no longer known what is true and what is false. People kill because of rumors.
This is the old problem as of peace and order, in this country almost all conflicts are solves by means of bullets. Both military and the guerrilla groups try to maintain “peace” by means of guns. Thousands of innocent’s victims have died due to the fact that everybody wants to win. Meanwhile, the common delinquents take advantage of this situation by imitating the military abs the guerillas. They rob banks, stores and people on the street. The result is that people are afraid to walk in the streets, even in the early hours of the night. They prefer to stay at home where it is safe. It is considered a good day when there is no murder here.
In spite if this rather cruel and confused situation id the country, families with hope and principles hold onto what is right and fulfilling. For example, there is the family if Julio Rodriguez, the sacristan if one of our CICM parishes, Julio did nit lose courage and hope when his wife left him a few years back and immigrated to the United States to seek a better life. He has his three children to take care of and he manages to fulfill his role as father and do his work as a sacristan. After he rings the church bells for the first Mass at six in the morning he goes to the market to buy food for the family. While the Mass is going on he is busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the children. He has taught his children responsibility, too. His oldest son has been trained ad an altar server so that he can serve the Mass while his father prepares for the morning meal. His other children help in cleaning the church,, inside and out. Sometimes on holidays he takes the children for walks in the park just so he can spend time with them talking and laughing. From time to time, his ex-wife remembers to send a few dollars from the states for school tuition for the children but even without benefit of schools, Julio has worked hard to give his children a solid Christian upbringing.
There is also example of Don Manuel, the gardener if the CICM Provincial House in Guatemala City. He comes from Solola, one of the most violence-stricken provinces of Guatemala. Don Manuel and his family fled the violence of the barrio and settled down in the capital. He was a catechist in the barrio, but he had to bury his Bible and other catechetical material in order to find new life in the city as an “internal refugee.” His hope for a better future helped him be strong and faithful to his Indian identity and religious training. His wife and children retain their Indian traje (dress) even though there is a strong danger of being rejected and persecuted because of it. Early in the morning his wife goes to the market to buy vegetables, fruits and meat and then resells them in the streets of the neighborhood to help support the family. Meanwhile, Manuel worked hard as the gardener and handyman. Although he work full day, he still find a time, especially on Saturdays, for catechetical work in the neighborhood if the Provincial House. He visits families, prepares their children for First Communion and animated the Christian community to practice their faith. Amid the hardship and pain of being uprooted and cut off from his culture in the province, Don Manuel has not forgotten his life’s work: to care for his family and spread the word of God.
Basic Family Value
Despite the existence of bolos, bolas and balas there are still many Julios and Manuels in this beautiful country. Due to the extreme poverty, the insecurity of repeated military dictatorships, family disintegration caused by constant emigration to the United States, and Mexico, the basic family values of togetherness, love, respect, unity, martial fidelity and responsibility toward the children are constantly threatened.
Land of Eternal Spring
It is s long and difficult struggle to keep the family intact. But here is hope that sooner this country will indeed become again the “Land of Eternal Spring,” where every one lives in harmony, in peace, and in love.