Pilgrimage to Saltillo, the Ranch, & AdorationOn Wednesday, we loaded up and headed to the nearby city of Saltillo to attend noon Mass at the Cathedral and visit the Miracle Chapel there.
It was just before noon when we arrived at this beautiful church. Just after noon, a little very old man hobbled his way onto the altar and checked to make sure everything was in place. I took him to be the caretaker. The "Mr. Jimmy" of the Cathedral that made sure everything was just perfect for Father. Then he disappeared behind the altar, and a few minutes later he reappeared wearing the violet colored "skullcap". He was the Bishop! He was going to be our celebrant. This was awesome, but I was even more blessed when he kissed the altar and then came our way before beginning Mass.
He began at the front pew shaking each person's hand. He welcomed each one of us personally as we kissed his ring. I watched in awe as he did this for all 60+ people in our group as well as all the other Mexican Mass participants there. This was so heartwarming to witness especially when visiting a foreign country. He was truly persona Christi.
After Mass, we toured the Catherdral for a few minutes taking in all the smaller altars, chapels, confessionals, and prayer rooms. Everything was absolutely exquisite.
Seven years ago one of the families in our group had visited the Miracle Chapel which is located next to the main chapel. They had prayed for a baby that doctors had suggested be aborted due to birth defects that the child would have. After refusing, the mother gave birth to a little girl that wasn't expected to live very long. From what I heard, she's a beautiful little girl now that is bringing so much joy to her family. One of the ladies returned to the Miracle Chapel to return a pin that would be placed on the wall signifying the miracle that occurred.
After Mass, we gathered on the Cathedral steps for the official group picture. I had seen so many of these pictures on the FMC website, on FMC missionary blogs, and on Facebook pages. I couldn't wait to be in one of these official pictures in front of the Cathedral in Saltillo. Here we are with our awesome group!
We stopped on the way down to pray with a guy in a wheelchair that was selling gum, candy, etc. at the foot of the Cathedral steps. I later learned that this was this particular guy's spot, and he had become a friend of the FMC Missionaries. Whenever a missionary group came to town, they always took time to get him something to eat and drink and to pray with him. I later learned that some of our young missionary guys had taken him across the street to the restroom before Mass. These boys had paid for him to use the restroom, undressed him, helped him on to the toilet, and had stood in the stall holding him up while he used the restroom. These boys were truly Jesus to this man!
We had reservations for lunch at a restaurant in a hotel several blocks away. Our group of 60+ walked through the streets of Saltillo stopping occasionally to give a few pesos to the homeless on the streets. We arrived at the hotel to find the elevator was out, so we all headed up six flights of stairs. Again I thought I'd never make it, remember I had climbed a mountain the day before? My legs didn't hurt except climbing or going down stairs. My upper thighs ached with every step. I laughed all the way up as I struggled with one of the Mexican women that was with us---she was 7 months pregnant and giggled through the whole journey.
Finally, she and I made it to the top. Our group filled up the entire dining room. The view was absolutely gorgeous.
After lunch, we boxed up our leftovers that we would hand out to the hungry, homeless on the streets. The look on the face of the woman Emily gave her box too was pure love. Something that we usually forget at the restaurant or leave in the car had made someone's day. We then headed out to the market place which is similar to the French Market in New Orleans. The kids all spent their souvenir money, and we bought a few blankets to leave at the Mission House.
Then we set off to find that one convenience store that sold Dr. Pepper! Coca-cola is HUGE in Mexico. People walked around town drinking it out of two liter bottles the way we drink them from cans. It was always funny to see. My husband was craving Dr. Pepper and had definitely earned it on the mountain climb the day before. I found the store very quickly and bought my wonderful hubby three of them! He deserved them all, but he gave one to one of the missionaries that was also craving a Dr. Pepper.
It was then time to meet the group to head back to General Cepeda. We had one more stop before going back to the Mission House. A rancher that was friends with FMC's founders had come to the Mission House earlier that morning and invited us to stop at his ranch on our way home. A group with little ones returned to the Mission House while the other half of us stopped in to see his place. It was awesome. We drove down his long driveway through his beautiful pecan tree orchard to his ranch-style house.
He showed us his pure white "Holy Spirit" doves that he raises and told us all about his ranch. He has sheep which give him "poop" to fertilize his pecan trees. He talked about his worm farm and then showed us into his home. The kids were impressed by his ginormous swimming pool.
It was so peaceful! We all poured out our hearts to Jesus that evening and allowed Him to fill us so that we could continue to be His hands and feet on Earth. The night was so perfect that many didn't want to leave after Adoration. Some followed Christ back to the chapel and continued their prayers. Some just slept right there in the courtyard under the stars. It was such a perfect end to another awesome day in missions!