Today was primarily a very long travel day, beginning with a 6:00 a.m. flight to Chicago, then on to Panama, and finally arriving in Medellin a little after 5:00 p.m. (We are in the same time zone as back in Kalamazoo). We were both very grateful that the flights were all uneventful, no long layovers between flights, and all our bags arrived at the same time we did. Waiting for us outside the baggage terminal at the Medellin airport were Mother Consuelo and Sister Mary Teresa. While this part of the world is known as "eternal Spring" with moderate and pleasant temperatures all year long, we are at the time of year for the rains, so the weather was cloudy, grey and rainy.
The drive to the Motherhouse in La Ceja took less than an hour on narrow roads shared by cars, trucks, busses, motorbikes and bicycles. It takes a very skilled driver to maneuver all the various traffic, and Sister Mary Teresa did a fine job.
We arrived at the Motherhouse to see all the Sisters (about 25) standing outside ready to warmly greet us. They sang us spirited songs of welcome, and gave us beautiful gifts of a sombrero for each of us (mine reminds me of a big 10-gallon white cowboy hat) along with a beautiful hand-woven shawl. After getting a chance to greet each and every one of the young sisters/postulants (average age probably 25), we went into the dining room for a delicious meal, followed by the highpoint of the day, celebrating Holy Mass together in their brand new chapel.
The last time I was here, they had a dream of one day building a new chapel because what they had was small, and their numbers were growing. Since then, and with the financial support of many of the generous people of our own Diocese (in particular the Parish of San Felipe de Jesus), the Sisters have built a gorgeous new Chapel---much larger than one would think of when thinking of a "chapel". I celebrated the Mass in Spanish and attempted to preach as well in Spanish, and all in all, we had a beautiful and prayerful celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The Sisters of the Holy Spirit sing with that very same sense---that they are filled with the joy and life of the Spirit within them.
Following the Mass, it was time for everyone to retire after a very long but wonderful day. Father Fabio and I are both staying here in the Motherhouse, and each of us were shown to our very nice guest rooms, where I for one, had a restful and welcome sleep, bringing this first day of our pastoral visit to a peaceful conclusion.